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We had completed the consultation and policy formation phases – whereby we have taken the views of people who live, work and study in Headington to shape a plan with policies to meet our vision and objectives – before Christmas. We are now in a phase of formal consultation with organisations specified in law as requiring an engagement. These include bodies such as Natural England and Thames Water and also some, such as Oxford University Hospitals Trust, who have had an engagement already (thankfully it was decided that we could skip the marine management organisation and the coal authority). At the same time we have been engaging with the City Council, who, as the planning authority, are responsible for ensuring we follow the process, but who are also the owners of many of the local policies we are working with.
We are, therefore, collating comments from these various groups and the Steering Committee’s job is to maintain, wherever possible, the ideas that everyone had balancing that with what we are allowed to do. Much of the feedback has been really useful, helping us to shape what we have proposed in a way that it can be implemented. In a couple of areas it’s clear there are points of difference, and we will be going to the Forum to confirm what to do – should we stick with the policy or alter it? We’ll put the plan version that goes out to the Forum on our website, and then put up our last internal version after the Forum signs it off.
These consultative phases are important, but also a bit behind the scenes, so it might look like not much is going on. There will be a City Council consultation, consideration by the Executive Board, then an inspection and finally a referendum – so no one will be short of an opportunity to engage with the plan.