Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting OXFORD NEWS to 80360 or email us
Neighbours sign up to shape future of Headington
TWENTY-FIVE people in Headington have signed up to help shape the area’s future.
About 100 people attended a meeting organised by the charity Headington Action to look into setting up a neighbourhood forum to help guide planning policies for the area.
Now the forum will draw up a local plan to cover issues affecting the area, including where new homes, shops, offices and other development should be built.
It can also help protect green spaces and influence what new buildings look like.
Headington Action chairman Patrick Coulter said: “If we do produce a plan for Headington it will be the collective will of the community.
“I have never found in Headington a shortage of people willing to get stuck in and involved in community work.
“This is a new process. That makes it a bit scary but a bit exciting.”
Some attending the meeting said they wished the group had been formed 20 years ago.
Others were critical of council planning decisions over the past two decades which they said had let down the area.
Under the new forum, people will get the chance to shape in more minute detail locals aspects of the Local Plan for Oxford.
Two options were on the table – a legally-binding neighbourhood plan and a community plan, which is more of a wishlist of things people would like to see in the area.
Wolvercote, Summertown and Jericho have already adopted neighbourhood plans.
Marston, Risinghurst and Cutteslowe have gone with the community plan option.
Those attending the meeting saw a presentation by the Wolvercote Neighbourhood Forum, which convinced them to take the neighbourhood plan route.
Organisers also mentioned parallels drawn with a neighbourhood plan drafted for the St James area of Exeter.
The area also houses a university and faces similar traffic issues.
Local forums are a Government initiative under the Localism Act to devolve more power to local communities.
Under a neighbourhood plan, communities can put together planning policies which are legally binding, to sit alongside those created by councils.
They will not be able to reject planning policies or any developments already supported and planned for in the Local Plan.
Planning officers should consider any policies created with similar weight to council policies when making a decision on applications.
Once the plan is written, in about 18 months time, it will be sent out to the people of Headington for a local referendum.
There are still places available to get involved in the Headington Forum. If you are interested contact email@example.com