West Oxfordshire Local Plan Housing Consultation

Drawing the evidence together

4.81 The analysis outlined above has sought to consider a range of issues that have an influence on the number of new homes that should be planned for. To summarise:

  • The Government's 2011 household projections suggest an increase of 527 households per annum in West Oxfordshire (2011 - 2021) which represents 12.1% growth, higher than the county average (7.0%) the regional average (10.8%) and the national average (10.0%) and higher than neighbouring Cotswold District (7.1%);
  • As part of the SHMA, the 2011 projections have been extended to 2031 and adjusted through two alternative projections. Taking account of vacancies and second home ownership the first projection identifies a need for 512 homes per year in West Oxfordshire and the second projection a need for 541 homes per year;
  • The SHMA acknowledges however that the demographic and economic projections for West Oxfordshire have been influenced by an above average rate of house building in the period 2005 - 2010 and suggests that there is potentially a good basis for adjusting them in line with national practice guidance which highlights the need to consider previous over-supply as well as previous under-supply of housing;
  • A separate analysis has been prepared which suggests that when long-term migration trends are considered, the number of homes likely to be needed in the period 2011 - 2029 is around 8,712 (484 homes per year);
  • Modelling of the most recent 2012 based population projections published since the SHMA, suggests that the number of homes needed in the period 2011 - 2029 ranges from 8,254 (459 homes per year) to 9,917 (551 homes per year) depending on the household formation assumptions used. The midpoint of the range is 9,086 or 506 homes per year;
  • The most recent economic forecasts used to inform the SHMA suggest the number of new jobs that could be created in West Oxfordshire in the period 2011 - 2031 ranges from between 5,200 - 7,900 jobs. This is much higher than an earlier forecast provided by the same consultant in 2012 which suggested an increase of 2,700 jobs over the same period. This highlights the volatility and unreliability of economic forecasting as a way of determining future housing requirements;
  • The SHMA suggests that to support 6,100 jobs, the annual dwelling requirement would be 590 homes per year and to support 7,900 jobs, the requirement would increase to 661 homes per year. However, those calculations are informed by the same population projections used in the household projection which, as explained previously, has been inflated by above average rate of house building in the period 2005 - 2010. There are also limitations surrounding the type of jobs-led model (JLM) used in the SHMA;
  • The SHMA suggests a net need for 274 new affordable homes per annum although this falls to 257 per annum when affordable housing already in the development pipeline is taken into account. Both of these estimates are higher than the Council's previous 2011 assessment which identified a need for 220 affordable homes per annum. To deliver 274 affordable units, assuming 40% delivery on market-led housing schemes the overall housing requirement would be 685 homes per annum, to deliver 257 homes the overall requirement would be 643 homes per annum and to deliver 220 homes 550 homes per annum;
  • The SHMA acknowledges however that the affordable housing model used is not designed to or necessarily suitable for considering overall housing need and that expressed over a 20-year period, it is likely to over-estimate the levels of housing provision necessary;
  • There is less market pressure in West Oxfordshire (and Cherwell) compared to the other Oxfordshire authorities and the SHMA makes no upward adjustment to housing numbers in this regard;
  • Long-term rates of house building show that in the 20-year period 1991 - 2011, the average completion rate in West Oxfordshire was 474 homes per year. This provides a good indication of likely deliverability and market capacity over several periods of recession and growth;
  • In terms of housing land availability the SHLAA update identifies potential capacity of around 8,200 homes (excluding windfalls) in the period to 2029;
  • Infrastructure capacity is an important consideration in terms of the District's ability to absorb additional growth;
  • West Oxfordshire is a predominantly rural area and is heavily constrained in environmental terms by a number of factors including the fact that one third of the District is designated as AONB. These constraints have a tangible impact on the potential delivery of very high levels of house building in the District. The South East Plan recognised these constraints and set a target of 365 homes per annum, purposefully lower than the 2004 household projections in place at that time; and
  • An independent Sustainability Appraisal concludes that although higher levels of housing delivery would fulfil certain housing and economic objectives they would have a negative impact in terms of environmental and heritage considerations.

4.82 On the basis of the analysis above, the conclusion reached is that the level of new housing that should be planned for is at least 525 homes per annum, a minimum of 9,450 homes over the Local Plan period 2011 - 2029.

4.83 This quantum of housing represents a significant increase over and above the previous target derived from the South East Plan and is much higher than the long-term average completion rate 1991 - 2011 (474 homes per year). It will therefore achieve the 'significant boost' in housing supply required by the NPPF.

4.84 The proposed target has regard to current demographic and economic projections in line with guidance but recognises the fact that these projections have been affected by abnormally high rates of house building and in-migration from 2005 - 2010.

4.85 The proposed target will allow significant headway to be made towards meeting identified affordable housing and economic needs whilst recognising the environmental and infrastructure constraints facing the District.


Consultation Question 2) Proposed Housing Target

Do you support the proposed Local Plan housing target of at least 9,450 homes to be provided in West Oxfordshire over the period 2011 – 2029 (525 per annum)?

If you do not agree with the proposed target, please explain why and identify which alternative target you consider should be used.

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