Oxfordshire Growth Board | Oxfordshire County Council

Oxfordshire Growth Board

Joint Statutory Committee of the six councils delivering projects from the City and Growth Deals.

The purpose of the Oxfordshire Growth Board

The Growth Board is a joint committee of the six councils of Oxfordshire together with key strategic partners. It has been set up to facilitate and enable joint working on economic development, strategic planning and growth. It does this by overseeing the delivery of projects that the councils of Oxfordshire are seeking to deliver collaboratively in the fields of economic development and strategic planning.

It also oversees all the projects agreed in the City Deal and Local Growth Deals that fall to the councils, working collaboratively, to deliver and has an overall responsibility to manage these programmes of work alongside the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP). Finally it also exists to advise on matters of collective interest, seek agreement on local priorities and influence relevant local, regional and national bodies.

Oxfordshire statement of co-operation

For all local planning authorities, county councils and a number of other public bodies in England the ‘Duty to Co-operate’ set out in the Localism Act requires co-operation on issues of common concern in order to develop sound local plans. As part of implementing the Duty to Co-operate all Oxfordshire authorities have signed up to a Joint Oxfordshire Statement of Cooperation.

The Oxfordshire Statement of Co-operation outlines matters on which the six local authorities in Oxfordshire will continue to cooperate.


All  minutes and agendas for the Growth Board are on the websites of the lead authority. There you can also find the questions posed by members of the public to the Board at the meetings and the responses.


The Growth Board core voting membership comprises Leaders or Cabinet/ Executive Members from each of the local authorities.

The current voting members


Current non-voting representatives

  • Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership
  • Oxfordshire Skills Board
  • Oxford Universities
  • Homes and Communities Agency
  • Environment Agency
  • Network Rail
    When considering road and rail infrastructure matters.
  • Highways England
    When considering road and rail infrastructure matters.

Public participation in Growth Board meetings

The Growth Board meets in public and it allows public participation in its meetings. Details of how the public can participate in the meetings are available below. The questions and statements to the Board from the public are published alongside the agendas for meetings and here.

Programme reporting

The Board receives regular updates from officers on progress with the City Deal and Growth Deal projects. Copies of the latest programme reports are below.

Oxfordshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA)

The SHMA is a technical study intended to help the Oxfordshire local planning authorities understand how many homes will be needed in the period 2011 – 2031. It also considers the housing needs of specific groups such as older people, minority groups and people with disabilities and what housing growth will be needed to support the economy.

The Oxfordshire SHMA was commissioned jointly by all the Oxfordshire district councils supported by Oxfordshire County Council and published in 2014. You can find links to the  documents  containing the findings of the SHMA below.

The housing figures included within the SHMA constitute an objective assessment of housing need in line with the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework. These figures do not in themselves constitute plan targets but district councils must demonstrate how they have considered the conclusions of the SHMA in their Local Plans and justify why they may have deviated from those conclusions..

Oxfordshire economic forecasting

The SHMA’s assessment of housing need must consider what future housing growth will be required to support the ambitions for economic growth set out in the Oxfordshire Strategic Economic Plan. Accordingly the  Oxfordshire Economic Forecasting Report was jointly commissioned by all Oxfordshire authorities and the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership to identify the economic potential of Oxfordshire. The findings are contained within the SHMA report.

Post SHMA Strategic Work Programme

It is generally agreed by the councils that Oxford cannot fully accommodate its housing needs within its administrative boundaries .The Post SHMA Strategic work Programme (the Programme) comprises a number of projects that collectively examine what the best spatial options for accommodating the unmet need might be across the County.

The Programme will not make decisions on where housing growth should go as this is the responsibility of district councils in their Local Plans. However the Programme will seek to provide an apportionment of the agreed level of unmet need between the Oxfordshire district councils that they can then take forward in their local plans. This apportionment will be based upon a comprehensive, county-wide evidence base that will serve to also inform local plans.

The Growth Board receives regular reports on the progress with the Programme. 

The component projects that make up the Programme are as follows.

A review of the capacity of Oxford to address its housing need

Before the partners considered how to address the unmet housing need of Oxford it agreed to a project to try to arrive at a common position on the scale of unmet need. Accordingly a report was commissioned to examine this issue. Following consideration of the report, all authorities agreed a working assumption of 15,000 homes for Oxford City’s unmet need to 2031. All authorities agree to work towards this in good faith, based on the previously agreed process, which includes the review of the Oxford City’s Local Plan.

Green Belt study

The second component of the Programme is a project to study the existing Oxford Green Belt to see how it performs against the five purposes of green belt that are set out in law. The study is the first of its kind since the Oxford Green Belt was formalised in the 1970s and gives a comprehensive picture of how well the Green Belt is performing for Oxfordshire.

Spatial options assessment

The next project was the identification and assessment of a list of 36 plausible areas of search as strategic options for growth. The areas of search are high level areas for development consideration rather than precisely defined sites, with an agreed minimum threshold of 500 dwellings and a clear relationship to Oxford in terms of proximity and accessibility. 

The project tested the 36 areas of search against a number of agreed criteria to assess their ‘relative’ sustainability at a strategic level. These criteria included a number of sustainability issues such as infrastructure, water supply, flooding etc. Importantly it ensured a common approach was taken to the expected housing density of the proposed options and also tested the suitability of the areas of search against the primary requirement of the Programme to meet the housing needs of Oxford City, for example by physical proximity or public transport links.

Transport infrastructure assessment

Recognising that the options for considering the locations for meeting the unmet need of Oxford may compound existing transport infrastructure challenges, a  project was commissioned to consider the transport implications.It looked at the transport implications of development within  the 36 areas of search  that could potentially accommodate the working assumption of Oxford City’s unmet housing need.

Education assessment project

The Programme recognised that housing growth generates the need for new education provision, which can be expensive to provide. To ensure these issues were considered at an early stage a project was completed that conducted a high level assessment of the implications for the provision of primary and secondary school places from the potential development of the 36 identified areas of search for accommodating Oxford’s unmet housing need.  The report offers a RAG rated  assessment of the issues that would need to be addressed should any Local Plan choose  to consider developments in the areas of search.  

Post SHMA Strategic Work Programme

Each of the above projects then feeds into a final summary report that draws together the conclusions of the above projects into a proposed apportionment for the working assumption of Oxford’s unmet housing need of 15,000 new homes to 2031. The apportionment will then be taken forwards through the district Local Plans.

Growth Board Memorandum of Cooperation

The Memorandum of Co-operation is a formal agreement by the councils of Oxfordshire to address the working assumption of the unmet housing need for Oxford through the agreed apportionment, together with a summary of how the apportionment will be addressed through each district’s Local Plan processes.

Growth Board contact details

The officer contact is Paul Staines, Growth Board Partnership Programme Manager.

Paul Staines
 c/o Oxfordshire County Council
County Hall
New Road
Oxford, OX1 1ND

Email: paul.staines@oxfordshire.gov.uk

Last reviewed
23 September 2016
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