West Oxfordshire is going to change dramatically over the next decade. If you want practical solutions rather than unbridled development, vote Lib Dem at the local elections on May 6th. The future of our district and county depends on it.
Ten thousand houses are coming to West Oxfordshire in the next ten years. While new housing is needed we do not support this scale of building and want to ensure that growth is sustainable, driven by local need and controlled by local democracy. We want to foster communities rather than dormitories. We want to see spaces for employment and digital infrastructure. We want to reduce traffic jams with enhancements to green infrastructure and active travel (cycling, walking etc.). We want to support biodiversity. We’d like to make the most of our beautiful countryside as well as the parks in our towns and villages.
A Community Approach
- Review whether housing requirement figures for West Oxfordshire are for local need and not growth for growth’s sake
- Review the Local Plan to reflect the impact of Covid-19 and how we organize our lives in the wake of the pandemic as well as the climate emergency
- Coordinate and develop infrastructure so it is adequate for and supports new housing
- Encourage MMC (Modern Methods of Construction) and other innovative approaches to construction, ownership and tenure—such as Community Land Trusts
- We will prioritise two and three-bed housing and starter homes to meet the needs of local people.
- Support vibrancy of town and village centres—especially given competition from online shopping—keeping them as attractive destinations for people and encouraging active transport.
- Design residential areas to foster community spirit, e.g. with places to meet and genuinely mixed communities
- We strongly oppose the erosion of local democratic control in recent planning reforms
- Council to take more control of housing. At present, WODC permits property developers to build expensive houses in exchange for a limited amount of affordable housing. We will look into alternative delivery mechanisms such as Development Corporations, as used in other areas, to make housing delivery more efficient and less disruptive.
- Net zero carbon for all new housing developments
- Interweave green space throughout residential areas to create a linked green infrastructure network for cycling and other active travel.
- Insist on generous amounts of green space in all new developments for both wildlife and for people to enjoy
- Apply best principles learnt from the Garden Village in Eynsham
Genuinely Affordable Housing
- Focus on making more social rented housing available
- Ensure developers make a fair contribution to infrastructure costs and affordable housing
Clean, non-polluting transport
- Rebuild a rail line connecting Carterton, Witney, Eynsham and Oxford, in order to create a fast, sustainable travel solution for West Oxfordshire
- Dual the North Cotswold Line along its full length
- Ensure the availability of fast EV charging points in all communities, to encourage the transition to electric cars.
Connecting rural areas with main centres
- Restore the many rural bus services which have been cut, connecting smaller settlements to towns, train stations and major bus routes, reducing isolation of communities and residents, already made worse by COVID-19
- Plan for cycle routes alongside main roads, with cycle sheds/stands at bus stops, train stations and in town centres
- Improve cycle routes that are barely fit for purpose.
- Retain car free areas in the centre of Witney
Climate change and loss of biodiversity
- Encourage and support local community action, such as tree planting, both in towns and rural areas
- Generate ideas from the community, eg via citizens’ assemblies, youth groups, farmers’ groups
- Planning process: WODC must only approve buildings built to low carbon standards
- Encourage public, shared and active spaces in the design of any new residential and business
- Set targets for both the production and consumption of energy
Improve waste disposal activity
- Identify a site in the north of West Oxfordshire district
- Set targets for increasing the proportion of waste that is recycled
- Ensure cooperation with neighbouring districts to standardise recycling systems and minimise carbon cost of collections, e.g. via new green vehicles
Health and social services
Support keeping dependent residents in their homes
- Work to support both volunteer and professional community carers and find solutions to the current crisis
- Encourage development of better care for dependent residents at home by up-skilling social care workers (this model has worked elsewhere, eg in the Netherlands)
- Bring back lost day care centres and parenting groups, so new parents, especially mothers, are not stuck at home alone
Focus on Mental Health
- Help make communities ‘mental health aware’
- Explore developing local Mental Health Weeks
- Work to make day care more accessible to residents wherever they live
Home design to promote health and long-term security
- Support designs for homes and developments which encourage healthy lifestyles
- Promote plans for homes which can embrace lifetime changes (eg. age, disability)
Education and Young People
Vulnerable and disadvantaged Young People
- Make additional resources available extending skills and meeting the needs of those most vulnerable and harder to reach children/young people and in danger of exclusion
- Review of school travel arrangements so that those in rural areas are not disadvantaged
- Restore lost youth services
- Ensure further education is given greater prominence and importance and not treated as the expendable when prioritising resources.
- Increase opportunities to instigate/encourage support and new training opportunities (for development of life skills as an essential part of the curriculum in our schools)