City Science was commissioned by Oxfordshire County Council on behalf of the Oxfordshire Growth Board, a strategic partnership between Oxfordshire County Council, Oxfordshire’s five District Councils and other key strategic partners, to deliver the Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy (OxIS). A needs-based infrastructure strategy, it establishes future investment priorities as well as potential delivery and funding opportunities for strategic infrastructure, to support the delivery of the emerging Oxfordshire Plan 2050. A key focus was embedding a ‘needs-based’ approach to support sustainable, clean, healthy, and inclusive growth considering future time horizons of 2040 (Stage 1) and 2050 (Stage 2). This approach ensured that core needs such as decarbonisation, biodiversity, social cohesivity, wellbeing, safety and innovation, were at the heart of future infrastructure delivery. City Science has successfully delivered Stage 1 of OxIS to public consultation. We will soon begin Stage 2 which will identify future infrastructure needs to 2050, aligned with the growth trajectory identified in the Oxfordshire Plan.
For Stage 1, we worked alongside our partner organisations, COCREATIF and binit, to develop and deliver a long-term framework for Oxfordshire to identify the priorities for investing in strategic infrastructure to 2040, aligned to the five OxIS themes of Environment, Health, Place-Shaping, Productivity and Connectivity.
- Extensive stakeholder engagement with decision makers, infrastructure providers and other subject matter experts
- Developing a strategic ‘needs-based’ framework and mechanism for Oxfordshire’s Local Authorities to identify and prioritise infrastructure scheme investment against 25 future needs
- Collaboratively identifying infrastructure required to support sustainable, clean, healthy, and inclusive growth identified in the various adopted Local Plans to 2040 as well as the aspiration to maximise Oxfordshire’s potential as a global innovation hub
- Investigating and detailing infrastructure funding delivery mechanisms
City Science Response
City Science developed a ground-breaking needs-based infrastructure strategy, using a bespoke multi-criteria assessment to appraise and prioritise delivery strategic infrastructure schemes across Oxfordshire. Our bespoke ‘needs-based’ approach involved:
- Development of Oxfordshire’s existing strategic infrastructure context and governance across thirteen types, ranging from energy and transport to green infrastructure
- Collation of a county-wide lens of forecast housing, employment, and population growth to 2040 using the framework of established District Local Plans
- Development of a place-based framework approach to group areas of future change considering towns, such as Bicester, and rural communities, such as Eynsham
- Identification and development of 25 outcome led needs for future infrastructure to 2040 through collaborative stakeholder engagement, detailed geospatial data analysis and in depth understanding of the emerging policy context. This included needs such as decarbonisation, biodiversity restoration, enhanced wellbeing, social integration, economic and enhanced sustainable transport connectivity across the five OxIS themes
- Collation and distilling around 1,300 infrastructure schemes to 256 strategic infrastructure schemes through development and application of bespoke filtering criteria
- Creation and application of a bespoke needs-based infrastructure appraisal framework agreed in partnership with Oxfordshire’s local authorities to prioritise strategic infrastructure schemes based on the identified 25 needs
- Development of an infrastructure funding strategy, highlighting potential avenues for infrastructure delivery
- Identification of recommendations for future infrastructure schemes to meet unmet needs to 2040, such as zero carbon building retrofitting schemes, freight decarbonisation hubs and strategic inter-urban cycling infrastructure schemes
Our approach was underpinned by a truly collaborative approach to stakeholder and public engagement. This included: close partnership working with Oxfordshire’s six local authorities; extensive thematic subject matter workshops; frequent attendance at member-led briefings, and collaborative engagement with a wide range of infrastructure providers including: utility providers, transport operators and government bodies such as Homes England, the Environment Agency, and Network Rail.
Our award-winning team of software developers also built an innovative map-based tool to support the public consultation process and allow people to clearly visualise schemes and the appraisal scores assigned across the five OxIS themes.
We delivered OxIS Stage 1 in a Summary Report alongside a full Technical Report to support the public consultation process. Our Summary Report provided a clear non-technical indication of the key Stage 1 outcomes that could be easily understood by stakeholders and members of the public.
Our infrastructure prioritisation approach was well received across the county and has already been embedded into Oxfordshire County Council’s funding and decision-making processes, to ensure that infrastructure investments align with the County’s future decarbonisation needs. Our bespoke approach has also been used to inform future infrastructure strategies emerging across the Oxford-Cambridge corridor.
“City Science have been flexible and collaborate in their approach, this was a refreshing change and enabled us to deliver something new and innovative.”
Rose Sutton, Oxfordshire County Council.