Council challenges government planning blueprint on democratic grounds

Residents in Oxfordshire are being assured that national changes to planning laws that could reduce local democratic input on key decisions are being challenged by local councillors.

Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet members have written a response to government to reflect their concerns over future planning policy as set out by in a recent high-profile consultation.

In August 2020, the government published Planning for the Future, a white paper that sets out significant changes to the current planning system in England. It will have a significant impact on planning authorities, including Oxfordshire County Council.

Councillor Yvonne Constance, Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport Infrastructure, said:

“We all recognise that the planning system as it now operates needs to change. However, this white paper raises significant concerns, and in light of that we have robustly challenged some of the proposals.”

The changes relate to making local planning blueprints known as local plans shorter and more visual, with a timescale for preparation of 30 months. The white paper also proposes to abolish S106 and the Community Infrastructure Levy and replace it with an Infrastructure Levy, meaning that the current system used by local authorities to negotiate funding with developers for infrastructure such as roads and schools will change significantly.

While the county council can support some of the proposals, such as making local plans easier for people to read and respond to, the council’s Cabinet has a number of serious concerns about other aspects of the white paper. These include the potential that some may decrease local democratic input into plans as they progress. The County Council is also keen to ensure Government does not forget about what the council’s role is within the development process and ensuring infrastructure is brought forward in a timely way.

Oxfordshire County Council’s letter to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the council’s detailed response can be found at:


The consultation closed on 29 October and invited comments from the public, businesses, local authorities, home builders and other bodies that have an interest in the planning system.

The government will analyse the responses over the coming months. Changes to the planning system will become law in due course.

For further information contact 01865 323870 or email Press.Office@Oxfordshire.gov.uk