Draft Core Strategy January 2011 - interactive online version

7 Economy and Town Centres

Economic Objectives

7.1 We must plan for economic growth to maintain high and stable levels of employment and ensure that the local economy remains competitive in the long term. Economic growth will support vibrant communities in our towns and villages, a living and working countryside and is a means to help achieve our environmental objectives. The key challenge for West Oxfordshire is to deliver economic growth which is sustainable - economic growth which does not adversely impact upon the quality of our environment.

7.2 The Economy Study, Retail Needs Assessment and Town Centre Surveys identify the characteristics of our local economy and future challenges including:

  • A diverse range of mainly small service based businesses, a significant manufacturing sector and particular specialisms in bio-medical equipment manufacture and motorsport
  • A growing tourism sector with a local strategy to increase the spend of visitors in addition to the volume
  • A significant agricultural and land based sector facing challenges through changing markets, regulations, funding regimes and climate change
  • Generally vibrant town centres where recent and emerging investment will meet short to medium term shopping needs, although there is a continuing risk of village shops and services closing
  • A range of business premises and locations, although many are ageing and there is a need for new land to provide flexibility for business expansion or inward investment
  • An ageing population, low forecast increase in the future labour supply and low unemployment
  • A high level of out-commuting to higher wage jobs, in strong competing centres nearby, leading to traffic congestion on major routes
  • A likely deficiency of next generation broadband in the rural areas in the future
  • Potential for spin off from the Oxford high tech economy and investment at RAF Brize Norton
Our economic objectives include:
  • To achieve sustainable economic growth which improves the balance between housing and local jobs, provides a diversity of local employment opportunities, and flexibility to adapt to changing economic needs.
  • To achieve a prosperous and sustainable tourism economy.
  • To promote safe, vibrant and prosperous town centres and resist proposals that would damage their vitality and viability or adversely affect measures to improve the centres.

7.3 There are many parts of the Core Strategy which will contribute to achieving these objectives. Overall, the strategy seeks to support businesses in West Oxfordshire by retaining land for employment in sustainable locations and enabling businesses to grow and expand through a positive and flexible policy framework.

7.4 Although population projections suggest the number of workers in West Oxfordshire will increase little, if at all, over the plan period, there is potential to reduce commuting to other areas. As many people commute to higher skilled and higher paid jobs elsewhere, seeking higher skilled and higher value jobs close to where people live will help to reduce commuting. In addition evidence [1]indicates that additional employment land will be needed to provide flexibility for business expansion, relocation and inward investment opportunities.

7.5 The strategy makes provision for new land for business, focussed on the main towns where it can be best served by transport and communications infrastructure, and support a range of businesses including larger scale businesses and high technology sectors:

  • In Witney available employment sites to the west of the town will be retained (approx 10ha) and complemented by a strategic allocation of new employment land to the west of the town (10ha minimum). With improved access to the A40 planned, this area has potential to attract and develop a cluster of high technology manufacturers in the healthcare sector.
  • In Carterton around 7.5ha of employment land remains available and will be retained at Ventura Park and at West Oxon Business Park. With ongoing investment at RAF Brize Norton this will help to diversify and expand the employment base of the town.
  • In Chipping Norton around 5ha of land available will be retained to provide for a range of employment with potential to more than make up for past job losses.

7.6 We also want vibrant town and village centres and to improve the strength and diversity of the rural economy. The overall Spatial Strategy provides opportunities for new business development, directing them to the services centres and villages, where there are also opportunities for new housing. The following policies provide further detail on our approach to shopping and other town centre development, the efficient use of existing employment sites, farm and country estate diversification and sustainable tourism development.

7.7 In addition, the Council will continue to work in partnership to seek to ensure businesses have the support, skills and infrastructure they need to grow sustainably.



1. Economy Study and subsequent updates [back]