Oxford’s Economic Strategy has been approved at a meeting of Oxford City Council’s Cabinet on 15 June.
The strategy sets out the need to harness Oxford’s economic strengths to ensure they benefit more local people and businesses – including through fairer wages, investment in skills and affordable business space – while also transitioning Oxford to a zero-carbon city.
The strategy, which builds on the Oxford 2050 Vision and Oxford 2036 Local Plan, has had extensive engagement and input from local residents and businesses, which informed the revised version approved at Cabinet.
The strategy has three pillars, which will be pursued over the next ten years: Inclusive Economy, Global Impact and Net Zero transition, in line with Oxford’s Climate Assembly Recommendations:
- Zero Carbon – seeks to develop innovation and knowledge to drive the global and local low carbon economy and embed zero carbon principles in future decisions, whilst supporting business and residents to do the same
- Global Impact – seeks to build on Oxford’s strengths as an innovative, and impactful economy, developing ideas that will change the world in areas such as life sciences, energy and social enterprise
- Inclusive Economy - seeks to address economic inequality and develop new approaches to support the least advantaged people in the city.
Oxford’s Economic Strategy highlights the many actions the City Council and its partners are already taking to support a fairer, greener and impactful economy such as:
- Meanwhile in Oxfordshire – a £1.875m programme to bring long-term vacant units into re-use and provide affordable space for independent business, ethical retailers, social enterprises and community groups
- Setting up the Inclusive Economy Partnership with over 100 local organisations, to jointly enable a fairer economy
- Kick Start work placements – working with local SMEs to create around 130 paid placements for 16-24 year olds on Universal credit
- Repurposing buildings such as 1-3 George St, to provide affordable and flexible workspace for small businesses
- Oxford North Development Training, Employment and Business Strategy - seeking to ensure local people and businesses benefit directly from construction and occupier employment opportunities
- Owned by Oxford - a partnership of local organisations using Community Wealth Building to create a fairer economy, where more enterprises are community-owned
- Working with Network Rail and Oxfordshire County Council to secure investment at Oxford Station
- Taking forward the development opportunities in the West End including Oxpens, Island Site, Osney Mead and others
- Working with Oxford Business Park and Oxford Science Park to enable intensification and new investment in line with Local Plan policies
- Energy Superhub Oxfordshire - A World-first low-carbon mobility, electricity and heat energy Superhub
- The establishment of the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership, where Oxford’s leading businesses and organisations are working together to achieve Net Zero by 2040
A number of important revisions were made to Oxford’s Economic Strategy in response to stakeholder feedback, including;
- Making clearer the City’s stated commitment to sustainable economic development, recognising the challenge of meeting the needs of Oxford’s residents, while also meeting our environmental goals
- Zero carbon movement and connectivity – highlighting the initiatives City and County Councils, and transport providers, are working to implement to address congestion, supporting more people to walk/ cycle, and enhance public transport provision post-pandemic
- Highlighting the ongoing significant need for the provision of genuinely affordable housing (defined in the report to be consistent with other Oxford City documents as social or council housing and shared ownership housing)
- Seek more sustainable workspace and lab space provision across both allocated and ‘brownfield’ sites, meeting growing demand in certain sectors, such as life sciences and technology
- Seek more inclusive representation on the Oxford Economic Growth Board to include a range of perspectives on economic growth, including circular economy approaches
Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council, said:
“We are committed to building a fairer economy for Oxford, including through the Oxford Economic Strategy and Local Plan.
“I’d like to thank all those who took the time to respond to the consultation. It was very important to us to hear the views of local residents and businesses as we do our part to support the city’s economic prosperity in particularly challenging times.
“Our Oxford Economic Strategy seeks to support our recovery but also to make the city’s recovery from the pandemic equitable, so that all of our residents can benefit from our global success in areas such as science and innovation.
“I am pleased residents share our interest in Oxford’s economic future, particularly around supporting local people to access skills, training and education opportunities and adapting to current economic challenges.
“Some specific steps that Oxford City Council is taking in support of this strategy and to harness the local economy to ensure it benefits more residents, is through our work on supporting apprenticeships, the Oxford Living Wage and small business workspaces in Cave Street and George Street.
“We’re working at the very local neighbourhood level and among marginalised communities to build capacity and economic opportunity through projects like Meanwhile in Oxfordshire, Owned by Oxford, and the place-based interventions working group of the Oxfordshire Inclusive Economy Partnership (OEIP)”.