Following three weeks of examination hearings, the Inspectors examining the Oxford City Council Local Plan have expressed that their preliminary view that the Local Plan is legally compliant and that, subject to the modifications proposed by the Council (which are to be consulted upon), the Plan would be likely to meet the test of soundness. In particular the Inspectors expressed a preliminary view that:
- the Council had correctly assessed the need for housing including affordable housing;
- the Council had correctly identified the housing capacity of the City and had sought to maximise the amount of housing that could be delivered in the City, particularly on brownfield sites;
- the Council’s housing land supply trajectory was reliable and that the case for a stepped trajectory had been made and was realistic; and
- subject to the limited exceptions identified by the Council, obtaining affordable housing contributions from student accommodation was a sound response to the acute affordability issues and inequalities in the City.
The Inspectors recognised, again on a preliminary basis, that the modifications required to be made to the Plan will increase windfalls and boost housing supply in the City, but not to such an extent that it would affect the neighbouring authorities’ need to contribute to meeting the unmet housing needs of the City.
The modifications proposed by the Council will now be subject to consultation and Sustainability Appraisal and the Inspectors final conclusions on the soundness of the Plan will be issued once they have considered the consultation responses and any Sustainability Appraisal addendum.