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Cllr Dr.Paul Barrow - Report for Parishes - August 2022

on Tue, 30/08/2022 - 5:00pm

 

Abingdon Reservoir – where are we? 

Water and reservoirs have been in the news recently with the concern that a requirement for new reservoirs seems to have equal billing with Transfer from further north and west (Severn-Thames Transfer) and fixing leaks.

Regarding the Abingdon reservoir, Water Resources South East (WRSE) published the summary and statistics of the Response to the consultation on their ‘Emerging Regional Water Resources Plan’ in May.

There was across the board criticism of the Plan from Stakeholders, and as admitted by them, WRSE were taken by surprise at the scale and the level of dissatisfaction in the responses.

The Group Against Reservoir Development (GARD) are waiting to hear that WRSE have really listened. Ofwat have criticised the lack of detailed cost and environmental evidence in the plan and WRSE have committed to provide more in the draft plan in the Autumn.  

Interestingly, there was a lot of support for Severn Thames Transfer which is GARD’s preferred alternative to the Reservoir. The WRSE response can be seen at https://wrse.uk.engagementhq.com/our-regional-plan, following the link to the “Emerging Regional Plan consultation response”. Ofwat’s criticism of WRSE is at https://www.ofwat.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/14-03-2022-WRSE-regional-plan-letter-for-web.pdf.

Further information can be seen at GARD’s website (www.abingdonreservoir.org.uk).  

Wantage Hospital and local health services - again

Changes in the local health service seems to be a constant feature in these reports!

We have been waiting for Oxford Heath (OH) to present their plans for county-wide provision of community health services. I have been worried, as the Vale representative on HOSC, that this is a huge undertaking and we have heard almost nothing in detail and we will want to know the evidence base for any decisions taken, which was a major failing for the OX12 pilot study. Local concerns about the future of Wantage Hospital are certainly in OH’s mind and we were invited to look around the hospital on June 23rd. OH presented the overall rationale behind community health services which we had heard before and the outpatient services which are currently run from the hospital including ophthalmology, ENT, eating disorders and mental health, in addition to existing activities such as adult and children’s speech and immunisation. We looked at the maternity unit, which is very modern but currently unused, as a result of staff shortages generally in Oxfordshire so that Wantage staff have been redeployed to Wallingford! I have suggested that we try for London weighting for NHS staff in Oxfordshire but was told that it had been considered many times and is unlikely to happen.

However, we have also been told of another layer of reorganisation to attempt to break the log-jam of acute bed shortages with the knock-on effects for the ambulance service. The emergency and community health service are to be merged into an Integrated Improvement Programme (IIP) again with the aim of accelerating the policy of Home-First/Discharge to Assess. This is a great idea but is a huge transformation and it concerns me that we have three reorganisations happening simultaneously: the BOB ICS, Community Health Services and now IIP. We don’t know whether there are sufficient resources for all this.

If you are having problem finding an NHS dentist please let me know so that I can pass this on.

Ock Catchment Partnership

During the summer I attended a meeting of the Ock Catchment Partnership (https://freshwaterhabitats.org.uk/projects/catchment-projects/river-ock-...) which is seeking to clean up rivers and streams in the catchment area of the Ock, which leads into the Thames at Abingdon, and its tributaries including Letcombe, Childrey and Stutfield brooks, chalk streams which run through some of our parishes.

Oxfordshire Plan 2050

The Oxfordshire Plan 2050 which was to set out development plans across the county has ended up in arguments about housing arrangements between Oxford city and the more rural areas and has collapsed. Local planning will now revert to our districts with the council concentrating on the new Local Plan.

The main concern for us remains housing development to meet Oxford’s unmet need. This is more of a concern for the towns rather than in the larger/smaller villages and in open countryside.

Permitted Development

Permitted development is the relatively small-scale development that residents might want to do that is not significant enough impact to require a full planning application. It is worthwhile finding out what can and what can’t be done without obtaining planning permission. A good technical guide can be found at:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/830643/190910_Tech_Guide_for_publishing.pdf

and some basic information about planning and permitted development rights (PDR) can be found at: www.gov.uk/guidance/when-is-permission-required

We occasionally come across these and it is worth while checking up on your rights and responsibilities should a minor development be considered. The Vale Planning Team can also be consulted.

The guidelines cover the rules in Schedule 2 of the Order. Part 1 includes extensions, loft conversions and roof light, buildings and development within the curtilage of the house, driveways, chimneys and satellite dishes. Part 2 covers gates, fences and walls, exterior painting, EV charging points and CCTV. Solar panels are also covered.

In our area, changes made in 2018 allow the change of use from agricultural buildings to residential for up to 5 homes as permitted development. This does not apply within the AONB where planning permission is still required.

It is worth noting that changes to planning policy in 2020 are aimed at increasing flexibility to attempt to deal with the housing crisis (UK population has increased by 23% (14 million extra) in 60 years – not surprising that there is a crisis). These include upward extensions, demolition of unused buildings and rebuilding as residential and also pubs operating as takeaways!

Cllr Dr. Paul Barrow

[email protected]

https://www.facebook.com/Cllr-Dr-Paul-Barrow-104943001583284 

District Councillor for Ridgeway Ward