Oxford Local Plan 2036: Proposed Submission Draft Consultation

Chapter 8- Providing communities with facilities and services and ensuring Oxford is a vibrant and enjoyable city to live in and visit

8. Providing communities with facilities and services and ensuring Oxford is a
vibrant and enjoyable city to live in and visit


The opportunity to participate in cultural activities is important, whether
it be through leisure, recreation, community events or learning, as it is
fundamental to how people experience and perceive the places the
communities they live in, work in and visit. Availability of a variety of
facilities and shops attracts people to district centres and the city centre
and helps to keep them vibrant.


Part 1: Ensuring Oxford is a vibrant and enjoyable city to live in and visit


i. Ensuring the vitality of centres


8.1 Oxford as a sub-regional centre provides a wide range of services and facilities
to both the city’s residents and those living in the sub-regional catchment
area. Thus it is important that the vibrancy and vitality of Oxford’s centres are
maintained and enhanced through the plan period. The city centre, district
and local centres offer the opportunity to access a wide range of ‘town
centre uses’ including retail, leisure, entertainment, office, arts, culture and
tourism. These functions are vital to the long-term sustainability of the city
and make Oxford an attractive place to live, work and invest.


8.2 Oxford has both a strongly performing city centre and a network of district
centres offering a wide range of services and facilities and also a series of
local centres which provide for much of their neighbourhoods’ day-to-day
needs. The vision for this Plan is to build on these strengths and focus
growth in these centres (see Chapter 1).


8.3 Oxford’s hierarchy of centres will be used to direct ‘town centre uses’ to
the most appropriate location with regard to their scale, function and
character. Oxford’s centres will be the first option for locating growth and
development. Priority will be given to those centres higher on the hierarchy.
As set out in the NPPF a sequential test will also be applied to proposals
for town centre uses, with sites within centres prioritised over edge of
centre locations and edge of centre locations preferred over out of centre
locations. In considering planning applications for ‘town centre uses’, the
City Council will require details of the application of this sequential test
and also require an impact assessment (for applications over the identified
threshold).


8.4 Policy V1 sets a local threshold for impact assessments to be provided
in respect of proposals comprising over 350m2 gross of retail and leisure
floorspace which are to be located outside centres or allocated sites.

Policy V1: Ensuring the vitality of centres

Planning permission will be granted for the development of town centre uses (retail, leisure, entertainment, office, arts, culture and tourism) within the defined city, district and local centre boundaries, provided the use is appropriate to the scale and function of each centre and reflects its distinctive character.

Oxford’s city, district and local centres are shown on the Policies Map.

Proposals for development of town centres uses outside a centre must demonstrate compliance with the ‘sequential test’ (that is: development should be located in town centres, then in edge of centre locations and only if suitable sites are not available should out of centre sites be considered).

Planning applications for retail and leisure development outside centres which are 350m2 (gross) or more, must be accompanied by an ‘impact assessment’ and as part of such an assessment, demonstrate with evidence that there will be no adverse impact on the vitality and viability of the existing centres, and that good accessibility is available for walking, cycling and public transport.

 

Questions

There are questions you can answer here, but you must either register or log in first.

ii. Shopping Frontages in the city centre


8.5 Oxford is a world- class city with a prosperous economy and a historic core
that attracts tourists from around the world. The city centre fulfils many
functions both regional and local and will continue to be the main focus
for retail together with a wide range of leisure and cultural uses. The city
centre contains much of the academic core of the University of Oxford
and is a centre of employment. There are key areas of significant change
within the city centre where future development and regeneration will be
concentrated. However, this will require new infrastructure and innovative
approaches to ensure people can move around the city by walking, cycling
and public transport within an improved public realm.


8.6 Retail patterns and behaviours have been changing in recent years with
a growth in online shopping making the future of high streets uncertain.
However current evidence and market predictions indicate that there will
still be an important role of destination shopping where shopping becomes
part of a broader day out linked with eating out and other leisure activities.
The development of the Westgate Shopping Centre, reopened 2017, with
its numerous eating and drinking outlets, cinema and other leisure activities
mixed in with the retail units is a good example of this trend.


8.7 The vision for the city centre is for it to continue to be the primary location
for retailing as well as other town centre uses. The Westgate Centre provides
for much of the forecast retail need for the Plan period, and will have an
effect on shopping patterns and the operation of the other shopping streets
of the city centre. Whilst some of the retail focus will shift towards the new
stores provided at the Westgate, this in turn will offer other shopping streets
of the city centre the opportunity to refocus, provide for smaller chains and
independent retailers, and offer additional town centre uses.

Policy V2: Shopping Frontages in the city centre

Planning permission will only be granted at ground floor level within the city centre for the following uses:

  1. Class A1 (retail) uses; or
  2. Class A2 – A5 (financial and professional services, restaurant, pub and take-away) uses where the proposed development would not result in the proportion of units at ground floor level in Class A1 use falling below 60% of the total number of units within the defined Primary Shopping Frontage or 40% of units in the rest of the Shopping Frontage;  or
  3. Other town centre uses where the proposed development would not result in the proportion of units at ground floor level in A1 use falling below 60% of the total number of units in the Primary Shopping Frontage or below 40% of the total number of units in the rest of the Shopping Frontage and where the proportion of units at ground floor level does not fall below 85% in the Primary Shopping Frontage or the rest of the Shopping Frontage,  and in all cases where proposals for these other town centre uses:
    (i) promote the diversity of and range of uses available to shoppers and visitors to the centre, enhancing their experience; and
    (ii) promote an active street frontage both in terms of increasing footfall and retaining an active window display.

In exceptional circumstances, planning permission will be granted for changes of use from A1 or other A class uses to other town centre uses that would lead to a breach of the percentage thresholds, if it is demonstrated that changes in the retail circumstances of Oxford city centre mean that there is no longer demand for the existing levels of A1 or other A class units, and if sufficiently robust  evidence is provided to clearly demonstrate that the uses proposed would not adversely impact the function, vitality and viability of the particular street frontage itself or the shopping frontage as a whole. The following criteria must all be satisfied:

d. marketing of the property for its existing use for at least a year, at a realistic price,  and evidence of lack of interest clearly shown to demonstrate a lack of viability; and

e. evidence of changing retail needs in Oxford city centre; and   

f. it would not result in such a concentration of a particular Class A use, other than Class A1 (retail), that it would lead to a significant interruption of the shopping frontage, reducing its character, attractiveness and function (considered to be if there are more than 4 adjoining units within the same use class (other than A1)); and

g. it promotes the diversity of and range of uses available to shoppers and visitors to the centre, enhancing their experience; and

h. it would make better and more efficient use of the upper floors where relevant, introducing new uses, such as residential and or office space for start-ups and incubator / innovation uses; and

i. it promotes an active street frontage both in terms of increasing footfall and retaining an active window display.

Planning permission will not be granted within the Westgate Shopping Centre where it would result in a change to the established and approved mix of uses[1], which are as follows:

j. Class A1 (retail) uses: no less than 60%

k. Class A2 – A5 (financial and professional services, restaurant, pub and take-away) uses: no less than 20%

l. Class D2 (assembly and leisure) uses: the existing library floorspace should be maintained

The Shopping Frontages are defined on the Policies Map.

 

[1] The mix of uses is established in the outline planning permission 13/02557/OUT

 

Questions

There are questions you can answer here, but you must either register or log in first.

iii. The Covered Market


8.8 The City Council recognises the importance of the Covered Market in
adding to the range of shopping provision in the heart of Oxford, as well
as for its unique heritage. It is a Grade II Listed Building dating from the
1770s and extensively re-built and enlarged in the 19th century. It provides
accommodation for a range of traditional Class A1 uses such as florists,
butchers, bakers, jewellers and clothing, many of which are family-owned
business and which contribute to its distinctive character. In addition, there
is a range of caterers, many with eat-in food, which occupy about 25%
of the units. The City Council wish to maintain, enhance and promote the
character and offer of the covered market.


8.9 The City Council’s leasing strategy was updated in 2015. This is part of
a toolkit to be used by the Market’s Manager to deliver the vision and
objectives for the Covered Market, which is that it continues to host high
quality independent retailers and innovative caterers and is a must-visit
experience.

Policy V3:  The Covered Market

Planning permission will only be granted within the Covered Market for the following uses:

  1. Class A1 (retail) uses; or
  2. Class A3, A4 and A5 (restaurant, pub and take-away) uses where the proposed development would not result in the proportion of units at ground floor level in Class A1 use falling below 50% of the total number of units within the market; or
  3. Other town centre uses where the proportion of A1 does not fall below 50% of the total number of units within the Covered Market  and where the total proportion of Class A1, 3, 4 and 5 uses does not fall below 80% of the total number of units within the market.

All proposals for uses other than A1, A3, A4 or A5 should provide evidence to demonstrate that the proposed uses would not adversely impact the character, function, vitality and viability of the market by satisfying the following criteria:

  1. it promotes the diversity of and range of uses available to shoppers and visitors to the market, enhancing their experience;
  2. it promotes an active frontage in terms retaining an active window display;
Planning permission will only be granted for alterations to or extensions of the Covered Market when it can be demonstrated that their design is informed by an understanding of the unique qualities and heritage interest of the Covered Market itself and its setting.

 

Questions

There are questions you can answer here, but you must either register or log in first.

iv. District and Local Centre Shopping Frontages


8.10 Oxford benefits from a network of district and local centres that provide
a wide range of amenities for their local communities and in the case of
district centres, on a much wider basis, beyond the city centre. There are
significant benefits to be secured from providing facilities more locally for
communities; this can help to reduce the need to travel and the need
to access the city centre, easing the pressure on the main arterial roads
into the city centre. In addition, by developing and expanding the offer
at district centres, the critical mass for developing public transport and
cycling links directly to (from outside the city or the Park and Ride sites) and
directly between the district centres can be created. This would help make
it possible to travel to and between district centres without having to go
via the city centre, relieving pressure on the network.


8.11 As set out in the Vision, a key part of the strategy for the Local Plan
is to develop this network of centres further, to provide more facilities
and amenities in local communities to reduce the need to travel and
to accommodate much of the projected need for town centre uses.
Throughout this Plan a range of policies set out a distinctive role for the
district centres establishing their importance to the overall strategy. Each of
the District Centres provide a different mix of facilities and amenities and
have very different characters, strengths and opportunities.

Policy V4: District and Local Centre Shopping Frontages

Planning permission will only be granted at ground floor level within District and Local Centre Shopping Frontages for the following uses:

District Centres:

 

Cowley Centre District Centre:

 

  1. Class A1 (retail) uses; or
  2. Class A2 – A5 (financial and professional services, restaurant, pub and take-away) uses where the proposed development would not result in the proportion of units at ground floor level in Class A1 use falling below 60% of the total number of units within the defined Shopping Frontage; or
  3. Other town centre uses where the proportion of A1 does not fall below 60% of the total number of units within the defined Shopping Frontage and where the proportion of Class A uses does not fall below 85% of the total number of units defined within the Shopping Frontage.

East Oxford-Cowley Road, Headington, and Summertown District Centres:

d. Class A1 (retail) uses; or

e. Class A2 – A5 (financial and professional services, restaurant, pub and take-away) uses where the proposed development would not result in the proportion of units at ground floor level in Class A1 use falling below 50% of the total number of units within the defined Shopping Frontage; or

f. Other town centre uses where the proportion of A1 does not fall below 50% of the total number of units within the defined Shopping Frontage and the proportion of Class A uses does not fall below 85% of the total number of units within the defined Shopping Frontage.

Blackbird Leys District Centre:

g. Class A1 (retail) uses; or

h. Class A2 – A5 (financial and professional services, restaurant, pub and take-away) uses where the proposed development would not result in the proportion of units at ground floor level in Class A1 use falling below 40% of the total number of units within the defined Shopping frontage; or

i. Other town centre uses where the proportion of A1 does not fall below 40% of the total number of units within the defined Shopping Frontage and the proportion of Class A uses does not fall below 85% of the total number of units within the defined Shopping Frontage.

Local Centres:

j. Class A1 (retail) uses; or

k. Class A2 – A5 (financial and professional services, restaurant, pub and take-away) uses where the proposed development would not result in the proportion of units at ground floor level in Class A1 use falling below 40% of the total number of units within the defined Shopping Frontage; or

l. Other town centre uses where the proportion of A1 does not fall below 40% of the total number of units within the defined Shopping Frontage and the proportion of Class A uses does not fall below 85% of the total number of units within the defined Shopping Frontage.

In exceptional circumstances, planning permission will be granted for changes of use from A class uses to other town centre uses that would lead to a breach of the percentage thresholds, if it is demonstrated that changes in the retail circumstances of the district centres means that there is no longer demand for the existing levels of A1 or other A class units, and if sufficiently robust evidence is provided to clearly demonstrate that the uses proposed would not adversely impact the function, vitality and viability of the shopping frontage as a whole. The  following criteria must all be satisfied:

m. marketing of the property for its existing use for at least a year, at a realistic price,  and evidence of lack of interest clearly shown to demonstrate a lack of viability; and

n. evidence of changing retail needs in the district centre; and

o. the proposal would not result in such a concentration of a particular Class A use, other than Class A1 (retail), that it would lead to a significant interruption of the shopping frontage, reducing its character, attractiveness and function (considered to be if there are more than 4 adjoining units within the same use class (other than A1)); and

p. it promotes the diversity of and range of uses available to shoppers and visitors to the centre, enhancing their experience; and

q. it would make better and more efficient use of the upper floors where relevant, introducing new uses, such as residential and or office space for start-ups and incubator / innovation uses; and

r. it promotes an active street frontage both in terms of increasing footfall and retaining an active window display.

The Shopping Frontages in each District Centre and Local Centre are defined on the Policies Map.

 

Questions

There are questions you can answer here, but you must either register or log in first.

v. Sustainable tourism


8.12 Tourism is an important element of Oxford’s economy. The city is world
famous and attracts an increasing number of visitors and overnight stays;
it is a crucial destination of the national tourism industry. The city has many
important established tourist attractions, such as the Ashmolean Museum
and Modern Art Oxford. The City Council will support extension and
enhancement and promote greater use of all existing attractions.


8.13 However, a very large number of tourists make very short visits, often only
for part of, or one day. The economic benefits to the city of these short
visits are slight, while the impact of these visits is significant. Many of these
short-visit tourists arrive on coaches, which adds to the pressures on the
highway network, adds to congestion and requires land for parking. These
transport impacts are addressed in Section 7 on Transport.


8.14 Policies which facilitate longer stays will result in greater spend in Oxford’s
shops and restaurants which will in turn boost their viability and Oxford’s
economy. In addition to tourists the short-stay accommodation market
is very strong for business travellers in Oxford and provision of more
accommodation would additionally help support the economy objectives
of this Plan. When Oxford’s hotel occupancy and room rates are compared
with those of comparable cities, there is significant unmet demand and
potential for growth in all varieties of short-stay accommodation.


8.15 The amount and diversity of short-stay accommodation to support this aim
will be achieved by permitting new sites in the city centre and on Oxford’s
main arterial roads, and by protecting and modernising existing sites to
support this use.


8.16 A feature of the Oxford holiday and short term let market is the use
of student accommodation in the university holidays. Use of student
accommodation to cater for the conference and holiday let markets at
times when it would otherwise be vacant is an efficient way to provide for
these needs.


8.17 Increasingly, short-term lets of domestic properties are being marketed
as holiday lets and for those who work in Oxford during the week. The
way that properties are being let means that no planning application to
change use from a domestic property is currently required. Currently few
regulations apply and business rates are rarely applicable, but the City
Council will continue to monitor this situation.


8.18 Improvements to the quality of existing attractions will be encouraged,
with new attractions that add to diversity in Oxford. It is important that
any new attractions are located where they are easily accessible by public
transport, in particular the city centre, and where such uses can contribute
to regeneration.

Policy V5: Sustainable tourism

 

Planning permission will only be granted for development of holiday and other short stay accommodation in the following locations: in the City Centre, in District Centres, on sites allocated for that purpose, and on Oxford’s main arterial roads where there is frequent and direct public transport to the city centre.[1]

Proposals for short stay accommodation must also meet all the following criteria:

  1. it is acceptable in terms of access, parking, highway safety, traffic generation, pedestrian and cycle movements
  2. there is no loss of residential dwelling; and
  3. it will not result in an unacceptable level of noise and disturbance to nearby residents.

Planning permission will only be granted for the change of use from holiday and other short-stay accommodation when any of the following criteria are met:

d. no other occupier can be found following a realistic effort to market the premises as set out in Appendix 8.1, for continued use as holiday and other short stay accommodation (whether or not of the same form the existing use); or

e. evidence of non-viability is submitted; or

f. the accommodation is in a location unsuitable for the use as demonstrated by being contrary to the location requirements or any of the criteria a-c above.

Planning permission will be granted for new tourist attractions where proposals meet all of the following criteria:

g. they are realistically and easily accessible by walking, cycling or public transport for the majority of people travelling to the site; and:

h. they will not cause environmental or traffic impacts; and:

i. they are well related to any existing or proposed tourist and leisure related areas; and

j. they add to the cultural diversity of Oxford.

 

[1] Abingdon Road, Banbury Road, Botley Road, Cowley Road, Iffley Road, London Road, Marston Road, Oxford Road, Woodstock Road

 

Questions

There are questions you can answer here, but you must either register or log in first.

vi. Cultural and social activities


8.19 Oxford has a rich infrastructure of cultural and social activities and venues,
from theatres, museums, cinemas, galleries, sports and music venues to
restaurants and pubs. These uses help to keep the centres vibrant and
active and add greatly to the local quality of life. However, such uses can
be vulnerable to redevelopment pressures from higher land value uses.
The City Council wants to encourage such uses to develop, modernise and
adapt for the benefit of the communities they serve.


8.20 The City Council will encourage new proposals for cultural and social
uses in the city centre and district centres as appropriate town centre uses
that can add vibrancy and activity. Existing facilities will be protected in
accordance with the policy.

Policy V6: Cultural and social activities

Planning permission will be granted for proposals which add to the cultural and social scene of the city within the city and district centres provided the use is appropriate to the scale and function of the centre.

Proposals for cultural, entertainment, leisure and tourism (not accommodation) uses will only be permitted where the following criteria are met:

  1. they are realistically and easily accessible by walking, cycling or public transport for the majority of people expected to travel to and from the site; and
  2. they will not cause unacceptable environmental or traffic harm or adversely affect residential amenity; and:
  3. there is no negative cumulative impact resulting from the proposed use in relation to the number, capacity and location of other similar uses (existing or committed) in the area; and
  4. they add to the cultural diversity of Oxford; and
  5. policies V1 and V2 are complied with.

Public houses

Planning applications for the change of use of a public house must be accompanied by evidence to demonstrate that the continuation of the use of the premises as a public house is not viable.  It must be demonstrated that:

a. all reasonable efforts have been made to market the premises for its  existing use (refer to Appendix 8.1); and

b. all reasonable efforts have been made to improve the operation and management of the business; and

c. it is demonstrated that suitable alternative public houses exist to meet the needs of the local community.

Where a building is to be demolished or substantially re-developed; the impact on character, design and heritage and to the wider streetscape must be demonstrated to be insignificant.

 

Questions

There are questions you can answer here, but you must either register or log in first.

Part 2: Providing communities with facilities and services


vii. Infrastructure and cultural and community facilities


8.21 It is important that new development in Oxford is supported by the
appropriate infrastructure and community facilities. Providing and
improving access to educational, health and community facilities greatly
improves the quality of life for residents, builds strong communities and
also helps to address inequalities.


8.22 The City Council, working with other Oxfordshire Authorities under the
Oxfordshire Growth Board has a good track record of securing external
and central government funding to help deliver infrastructure including
as part of the Housing and Growth Deal. Partners of the Growth Board
will continue to seek to secure additional infrastructure funding where
available to support the growth of the city and county.


8.23 Cultural and community facilities can be very wide ranging. In seeking
social inclusion and a high quality of life, the City Council’s approach is
to make accessible a diverse range of facilities, from performance venues
to libraries. Sometimes co-locating multiple facilities on a single site can
be an efficient way to improve accessibility. Community facilities can
include community centres, schools, children’s centres, meeting venues for
the public or voluntary organisations, public halls and places of worship,
leisure and indoor sports centres, pavilions, stadiums, public houses, club
premises or arts buildings that serve a local community. Other types of
buildings might also be classed as, and function as, community facilities.
These are important in meeting social, leisure, cultural and religious needs
of Oxford’s diverse communities.


8.24 The City Council will seek to protect existing facilities and will support
improvements and more intensive use of existing sites. Sometimes
facilities might not be fit-for-purpose or provide poor accessibility where
improvements on site or nearby might be more sustainable. Co-locating
multiple facilities on a single site can be an efficient way to improve both
quality and accessibility.


8.25 Where community facilities (including sports facilities and schools) are
provided, the City Council will seek to secure community benefits through
sharing schemes and joint user agreements.


8.26 The City Council has been working closely with partners including the
County Council as the Local Education Authority and the NHS Oxfordshire
Clinical Commissioning Group to plan for the future needs of the city
and will continue to work in partnership to ensure that new development
is provided with access to school places and medical facilities, and that
existing access is improved. Over the lifetime of the plan it is very likely that
there will be more changes in the ways that education and health services
are delivered and provided. Close partnership working will be essential
to ensure that communities continue to have the best possible access to
facilities.


8.27 The majority of planning permissions will be liable for a Community
Infrastructure Levy (CIL) payment towards the funding of infrastructure
in Oxford. The City Council will continue to use legal agreements and
conditions to secure other benefits (including affordable housing and
community access to facilities through joint user agreements) in line
with the policies of this Plan and consistent with the CIL regulations.
The City Council will also continue to work with a range of partners and
organisations to secure funding towards the cost of infrastructure through
a range of mechanisms.


8.28 The City Council will keep the Infrastructure Delivery Plan regularly
reviewed, and use this to prioritise the infrastructure necessary to support
the growth of Oxford.

Policy V7: Infrastructure and cultural and community facilities

The City Council will work with service providers to improve access to social and community infrastructure and in particular from new development.

The City Council will seek to protect and retain existing cultural and community facilities.   Planning permission will not be granted for development that results in the loss of such facilities unless new or improved facilities can be provided at a location equally or more accessible by walking, cycling and public transport.  In principle, applications to extend capacity, improve access and make more intensive cultural/community use of existing sites will be supported.

Planning permission will be granted for new state schools, primary healthcare facilities and community centres where the City Council is satisfied that the following criteria are satisfied:

i) the location is easily accessible by walking, cycling and public transport; and

ii) the proposal will meet an existing deficiency in provision or access, or the proposal will support regeneration or new development; and

iii) the proposal will not result in an unacceptable environmental impact.

 

Questions

There are questions you can answer here, but you must either register or log in first.

viii. Utilities


8.29 It is important that new development in Oxford is serviced by the
appropriate utilities infrastructure. Developers will need to ensure that they
have explored the connection and capacity practicalities with electricity,
gas, water, sewerage and digital communications providers. This will be a
conversation that needs to take place between the developer and utilities
providers at various points through the development process, starting
from earliest design and planning and on into the construction phase. The
City Council will also seek reassurance from developers proposing major
development that they have also explored these issues with providers at
the planning application stage and that a satisfactory arrangement can be
delivered.

8.30 The City Council will seek to ensure that all new development, and wherever
possible all residents and businesses, have access to superfast speeds of
internet connectivity. Oxford’s strengths in the knowledge economy (see
Chapter 2: Economy) provide a real opportunity for it to drive forward the
research, testing and development of digital technologies. Partners in the
academic, research, technology and public sectors have come together as
Smart Oxford, a strategic programme to develop and promote Oxford as
a smart city. The aim of Smart Oxford is to provide a test bed for world
class researchers and innovators which will generate growth and jobs to
advance economic and social prosperity, and help improve the quality,
effectiveness and efficiency of city services. The City Council recognises
this as a rare opportunity to both support an emerging market sector and
to secure benefits on the ground for the city’s residents and businesses.

Policy V8: Utilities

Planning applications (except householder applications) must be supported by information demonstrating that the proposed developer has explored existing capacity (and opportunities for extending it) with the appropriate utilities providers.  Planning permission will not be granted where there is insufficient evidence on utilities capacity to support the development and that the capacity will be delivered to meet the needs of the development.

Planning permission will only be granted for B1/B2 employment over 1000 square metres where   provision is made for high quality digital facilities. The City Council will work with providers to deliver the expansion of high quality digital infrastructure throughout Oxford.

The siting and appearance of utilities infrastructure should be designed to minimise impacts on amenity and to be as unobtrusive as possible.

 

Questions

There are questions you can answer here, but you must either register or log in first.