In his Newsletter from John Howell today (Feb 17) he writes:
SODC Local Plan
The solution to the issue of what happens to the South Oxfordshire Local Plan lies, as it always has done, with SODC. The Council was advised by its own officers (3 October 2019), by Government via MHCLG (20 September 2019), and, for what it is worth, by me, to allow the Plan to go to Examination in Public before an Inspector, with the ability of the Council to put forward changes. It now looks as if SODC is at last going to take that advice and is gearing up to do so. An examination is the place where issues such as those over the Green Belt and whether its use is appropriate and proportionate can be resolved. SODC had chosen not to take this course of action and thus the Secretary of State suggested that Oxfordshire County Council could take it through to public examination and then implement it. I have been clear all along that to take the emerging Local Plan to public examination, and for the current administration to put forward their proposed changes for consideration by the independent Inspector, would be the best course of action.
Contrary to the enormous political posturing which is going on this issue, one cannot gerrymander democracy. Many of the other Local Plans produced by District Councils in Oxfordshire have already been through the democratic process and this is likely to be compromised by the actions of SODC. That is why many of them have objected to the course of action SODC is proposing.