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Wantage & Grove Campaign Group August 2020 Update, inc Wantage planning

on Thu, 30/07/2020 - 4:07pm

An update from Julie Mabberley, ​Campaign Manager at the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group.

Sorry for such a long gap since the last email, but there hasn't been much news and we don't like sending out emails when we have nothing to say.

Anyway now for an update.

First; I received an email today from the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust which is complaining that the builders of the Stockham Park Farm development still haven't built the bridge over the Canal which they promised in 2015. The consent states that "The approved bridge shall be constructed prior to occupation of any dwelling in accordance with the approved details and shall be available for use at all times thereafter." The development is almost complete so I think they are a little late! If you want to help, then an email to the District Council Enforcement Team with a copy to your local councillor would be good. The reference to quote is "Condition 23 of the planning consent dated 23 June 2015 (P14/V1810/FUL)". The enforcement team are available at [email protected] and your councillor's details are available on the Council website at Find your Councillor (click).

There should have been a Grove Airfield Forum meeting this week but the Vale Officers "have not been able to set up a clear process for facilitating such a meeting virtually at this time" - I'm not sure why they haven't managed to set up a process, all parish councils seem to be able to.

We know that both the Temporary Community Building and the construction of replacement pitches and facilities were supposed to be delivered by occupation of 50 homes and that was sometime last year but we are told that the District Council is not pursuing penalties at this time, instead is working with the developer to ensure infrastructure is delivered as soon as possible. We also know that works to realign Denchworth Road (and therefore losing use of the existing pitch) won’t commence until the replacement pitch is in a position where it can be handed over to the Parish for use. 

Anyway, we received an emailed report which, among other things, reported that "The Infrastructure and Development Team advise that there are significant concerns regarding the location and type of [temporary community] building secured in the S106 as well as concerns regarding its ability to manage the building due to a lack of budget to support operating costs and concerns regarding management responsibilities. The District will be seeking from the developer a commuted sum to pay for the use of existing community facilities by community and non-profit groups as an alternative to the temporary community building until such time as the permanent community building is available. Awaiting confirmation of commuted sum from developer." Now I know we were a little concerned about a house and garage being used as a temporary community building but not to provide one at all seems a bit of a change without any consultation. If we get any more information, we'll let you know.

The first Charles Church patch on the Airfield now has 45 out of the 55 homes sold so is getting on and Persimmon has over 110 occupations. Some of the new applications seem to be submitted under the name of Persimmon Wessex (which according to Companies House is a dormant company) so we guess Persimmon are putting some parts of the airfield in the hands of a subsidiary. Persimmon Homes are now fully operational back on site so construction should continue at a pace.

They are now consulting on the Primary School 1 Development Brief ahead of formal submission to VoWH District Council. This should be delivered by the time that 400 homes are occupied so probably a few years from now. Officers at OCC have confirmed that they are still pursuing an All-through school but as a split site school not all on one site. They are using the County Council school space standards from 2014 so the plans won't make any allowances for more space in a post Covic world. The site of the school will be opposite the entrance to Savile Way so expect parents to drop off children along Newlands Drive as well as along the roads in the development. There are no plans for the school yet so we'll have to see what they come up with.

Still in Grove - you may remember from our last email that the land near Edington Place was being auctioned in June. It was bought by Ozzy Developments from Ealing for the sum of £36,000 but they have now realised that as it is classified as "highways" land and therefore can't be built on unless a stopping up of the highway is granted by the Department of Transport. They have asked Grove Parish Council if they can swop the land for another patch they can build on but Grove said no.

More land in Grove is now up for sale - this time it's the verges and small patches of grass off Mayfield Avenue but this is also classified as "highways" land so subject to the same rules.

We've also had an update from Crab Hill. They expect to have 100 occupations by the end of the year.

The Primary School remains on track for pupils to start in September. The major access road from the A417 will be partially completed prior to school opening to serve the school and will be fully complete prior to 350th occupation but the link road isn't due to start until Summer 2021. We hope that this doesn't mean that they lose the government funding.

St Modwen Homes are offering discounted sales on their homes to key workers including NHS staff and teaching staff, so if you are interested then get in touch.

If you have been into Wantage Market Place since the beginning of July, you will have seen those garish temporary barriers behind the taxi rank. The Town Council has decided to close off the western end of the Market Place from the Church to allow more space for pedestrians and under the Covid-19 regulations they don't need to consult with anyone first. There are plans afoot to close off more of the Market Place and once again they don't need to consult but we believe that discussions have been held with the bus companies and the Chamber of Commerce. We have no more details. Hopefully when they have made decisions, they will find something more in keeping with the conservation area than temporary barriers.

The Vale of the White Horse District Council have set up an online consultation to determine the priorities for their Corporate Plan. It’s over a year since they were elected so I guess it’s about time they started to work out what they want to do before 2024. 

They have identified their themes for the corporate plan as:

  • Providing the homes people need
  • Tackling the Climate Emergency
  • Building Healthy Communities
  • Building Stable Finances
  • Working in Partnership
  • Working in an Open and Inclusive Way.

We are invited to suggest what they should focus on so go to https://survey.southandvale.gov.uk/s/Valecorporateplanfeedback/ to give them your ideas.

Still no news about Wantage Hospital - our County Councillors have been writing to the NHS about the possibility of re-opening the in-patients to support the re-enablement of patients recovering from Covid but have received no response. The Health Overview Scrutiny Committee at the County have expressed concern to the Oxford Health Trust but it won't do any good. Some of the Parish Councils have now decided that enough is enough and will be writing to the Secretary of State for Health pointing out that a temporary closure of FOUR YEARS isn't very temporary and we want it open again.

Even though we don't send out an email every week - we do write the column for the Wantage Herald and after publication these are available on our website at https://www.wantageandgrove.org/columns.php

Lock-down is finally coming to an end and it's important that we support the local businesses so be brave and start venturing out again, just remember to stay at least 2 metres away from people unless you are wearing a mask.

That's all for now.

Stay safe and if there is anything we can do to help you then please get in touch.

Thanks for reading,

Best wishes
Julie Mabberley
Campaign Manager
Wantage and Grove Campaign Group
www.wantageandgrove.org