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Planning Oxfordshire's Environment and Transport Sustainably - "POETS"

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The idea of POETS was formulated in early 2019. Since then we have been formulating ideas and producing material for decision makers.

The group started with four people with many years' experience at senior level working in Oxford and Oxfordshire. They are supported by others who have worked for the County or District Councils, in the local universities or as consultants. We are concerned by the Climate Change Emergency and are advocates of 'housing for real need', located where alternatives to private cars are available.

In early June 2019 we wrote to all Oxfordshire MPs, and Councillors on the County and District Councils, urging them to scrap plans for the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway, critically examine projected housing numbers, adopt a genuinely consultative approach and press for changes to national planning, transport and housing policy.

Later in June we published two reports spelling out ideas on alternatives to the Expressway, and on balancing economic growth with issues relating to climate change. Alternatives to the expressway proposed are:-

  1. Introduction of active management strategy along key lengths of the A34
  2. Completion of the East-West Rail link between Oxford and Cambridge
  3. Increase Rail Capacity and electrify the lines between Didcot and Oxford (Wolvercote)
  4. Re-opening of the Cowley Branch Line
  5. Development of Bus Rapid Transit Networks
  6. Establishing a comprehensive Network of Cycle Routes particularly into and between all larger towns
  7. Establishing a Behavioural Change Unit

In October 2019 we responded to the "Connecting Oxford" proposals from Oxfordshire County and Oxford City Councils, and also to the "English Economic Heartland"s Outline Transport Strategy.

In November 2019 we published reports on Housing need and Growth, and on Affordable Housing, together with a one page overview report. Key points made are:

  1. Current proposals will fail to deliver sufficient genuinely affordable housing to rent or buy. Speculative house building currently planned will lead to an increase in car commuting - the antithesis of what is needed to respond to climate change.
  2. The housing market is broken. Successive overnment policy has failed to deliver the amount of affordable and social housing needed.
  3. We would like to see are a reinvigoration of public sector housing, capturing a much higher proportion of the rise in land values arising from planning permission.

In December 2019 we published a reflection and call to action to start a discussion on the current lack of democratic legitimacy in Oxfordshire and the wider region's planning and transport.

These letters and reports can be viewed or donwloaded from our publications page.

We are currently looking at the issue of "Land value capture" (seeking to ensure a fairer distribution of the uplift in value between the landowner, local communities and the government) and we are critically examining the cases made for the expressway.

© POETS, 2019