Wantange and Grove Campaign Group (WAGCG)
Wantage and Grove Campaign Group Updates and News

Last updated 14 April, see also more commentsfrom residents


  • 14 April - Party name confusion for Vale of White Horse election - See BBC Oxford
    A political party contesting several seats on an Oxfordshire council has caused confusion by using the same name as an apolitical local campaign group.
  • 14 April - Hundreds protest in Wantage - See the Article and video from the Oxfordshire Guardian
    A crowd of hundreds swamped Wantage Market Place yesterday in protest of over-development across Oxfordshire. About 200 campaigners and residents rallied from 11am until 3pm and listened to speeches from each of Wantage’s five election candidates fighting to become the constituency’s next MP.
  • 23 February - High Court Decision supports the Secretary of State - See the High Court Decision
    To quote the Judge "There was, in my view, nothing legally wrong with the Secretary of State's conclusion that although the policies for the supply of housing in the development plan were not up to date, and although this development would add to the supply of housing in the district, the proposal's conflict with the neighbourhood plan was in itself a powerful and decisive factor against granting planning permission." Also it was reasonable "for the Secretary of State to conclude that the "adverse impacts" of the appeal proposal, and especially its conflict with the Broughton Astley Neighbourhood Plan, would "significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits in terms of increasing housing supply". This was, in my view, a wholly unimpeachable planning judgment."
  • 23 February - Gladman gives up in the Slad Valley - See the article in Coxwold Life
    See the article below from 2 February about planning in the Cotswolds, focusing in particular on the impact of land agents such as Gladman Developments on rural communities in the region. Now, local people in Stroud and Slad are celebrating a victory over the developers.
  • 19 February - The Secretary of State disagreed with the Inspector’s recommendation, dismisses the appeal and refused planning permission to Gladmans in Faringdon - See the letter from the Department for Communities and Local Government
    Though the benefits in this case are considerable, the Secretary of State concludes that the adverse impacts in regard to landscape and amenity, together, would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits when assessed against the policies in the Framework taken as a whole. He concludes that there are no material considerations that indicate the proposal should be determined other than in accordance with the development plan.
  • 2 February - Planning in the Cotswolds: Deal or no deal? - See the article in Coxwold Life
    So here’s the pitch to struggling farmers from Gladman Developments: ‘Let us try to make you a few million pounds by getting planning permission on your land and you pay nothing unless we succeed - which we do nine times out of ten.’ So who’s going to say no to that? And it’s a loophole in our barmy planning laws that allow this to happen
  • 24 January - Public rally against building in rural Oxfordshire - See the ITV News
    A coalition of community groups and campaigners held its first major rally in David Cameron's constituency of Witney, to protest against the construction of housing developments in rural areas.
  • 24 January - ROAR Rally, Saturday 24 January - See the ROAR website
    Join the ROAR Rally to say 'NO to unsustainable development in Oxfordshire'! Rural Oxfordshire Action Rally (ROAR) is calling all action groups, parish councils and residents to join them as they present a united front opposed to the senseless concreting over of green fields surrounding our towns, villages and hamlets in the name of economic progress.
  • 20 January - South Oxfordshire and Vale council staff are working "flat out" to recover after fire - See the Oxford Mail
    Staff at a fire-stricken council are working "flat out" to get services back online for 256,000 residents, one of their chairmen said yesterday. South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) and Vale of White Horse District Council relaunched their websites yesterday but said it will take a week until its whole IT system was up and running. The computer system which the councils share was destroyed in an arson attack on their offices.
  • 19 January - Creating a single council for Oxfordshire would save up to £33m a year - See the Press release
    The saving could be made by combining the county, four districts and city council into a single ‘unitary’ local authority. The report concludes that savings could be made by reducing bureaucracy and the costs of democratic decision making, while creating a single council that would be better able to meet the major challenges of a growing and aging population.
  • 15 January - Was planning row behind arson attacks in Oxfordshire? - See the Telegraph
    Police are investigating theory that a grudge over a planning application could be behind three arson attacks in Oxfordshire, which destroyed a council office, a cottage and a funeral parlour.
  • 15 January - South Oxfordshire fires: Farmer caught in 30 year planning row under arrest - See the Mirror
    Andrew Main, 47, is being questioned by police on suspicion of arson over the devastating fires, all involving gas canisters
  • 13 January 2015 – Nearly 70% of the public do not think that politicians care about affordable housing in rural areas. – See the CPRE press release
    The UK public have little faith in Westminster to deliver positive change for people living in rural communities, according to a YouGov survey published today by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and leading rural housing association Hastoe. Just 4% think that May’s general election will have a positive effect on people living in rural communities; almost half of the 2,110 respondents thought that the election would have no impact.
  • 5 January 2015 - Lewis launches plain speaking planning guide - See Localgov.co.uk
    A ‘plain English’ guide to the planning system has been published by the Government in a bid to get more communities involved in the planning process.
  • 1 January 2015 - The developers must be made to show their sums - See the the Guardian view on affordable housing
    Hiding behind commercial confidentiality to keep viability assessments secret is a public betrayal
  • 28 December - Top 10 housebuilders to rake in £2.1bn in 2014 - See the Guardian
    Collective pretax profits up 34% on last year while number of affordable homes built in England falls to eight-year low
  • 20 December - This housing free-for-all is scarring our most precious countryside - See the Telegraph
    The Coalition's planning reforms have permitted grotesquely inappropriate development to flourish.
  • 16 December - New tri-county council alliance announced - See the Press Release
    In the first tri-county council alliance of its type, the Leaders of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire, Ian Hudspeth, Martin Tett and Jim Harker OBE, jointly signed a bold offer to Government to unlock further economic growth and significantly build on the £45 billion (GVA) the area already generates.
  • 16 December - NPPF fails to protect against unsustainable development, reports CLG committee - See the Article on Outlaw.com
    The communities and local government (CLG) committee has published the results of its inquiry into the operation of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), warning that the framework "needs to do more to protect against unsustainable development in England".
  • 15 December - Villagers 'under siege' from aggressive developers after planning reforms, say MPs - See the Telegraph
    Towns and villages are caught in a “battleground between developers and local authorities” over “speculative” developments in the wake of controversial planning reforms, MPs say.
  • 13 December - ‘Lasting harm’ warning over Harwell homes - See the Oxford Mail
    Building 1,400 homes at Harwell would cause “long-lasting harm” to an Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty (AONB), custodians have warned. North Wessex Downs AONB made the warning in a letter to the leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, Matt Barber.
  • 13 December - 'Streetwise' builders fighting planning protections to build in two thirds of rural areas, says National Trust - See the Telegraph
    16 out of 27 local authorities in the National Trust's survey had seen their local plans, which set out where building can and cannot take place, challenged by house-builders.
  • 8 December - Great Western Park residents angry over lack of facilities - See the BBC
    Residents of a 3,300-home development in Oxfordshire claim they have been "cut off" after promised community facilities did not materialise.
  • 2 December - Bicester announced as new garden city - See the Telegraph
    A garden city in the Home Counties to provide thousands of houses for young families is to be announced in the Autumn Statement. Plans for a new settlement in Bicester, Oxfordshire, containing up to 13,000 homes, will be funded with nearly £100?million of public spending and loans.
  • 1 December - £15 billion ‘Road investment strategy’ will increase the capacity and improve the condition of England’s roads - See the Government statement
    The government is investing in over 100 new road schemes over this parliament and next, 84 of which are brand new today. This includes minor improvements to the A34.
    This major reform will add over 1,300 extra lane miles on motorways and trunk roads and fix some of the most notorious and longstanding problem areas on the strategic road network. These plans are published today in the first ever ‘Road investment strategy’, which has been developed to keep the population connected and the economy growing.
  • 1 December - Cutting clutter is common sense - See the Civic Voice
    A powerful coalition of civic, transport and heritage bodies have today launched updated guidance by calling on the Government to consider conducting research into the safety impact of cutting street clutter in our towns, cities and villages.
  • 29 November - Why even an old ruin can be so elevating for the human spirit - See the Observer
    Cooke says "good and lovely buildings gladden the heart; their aesthetic pleasures make people feel substantively better. More than that, they provide a healthy sense of perspective. By connecting us subtly to the past, they somehow lighten the load of the present. And which of us doesn’t sometimes desperately need that?".
  • 29 November - Young Londoners flee capital for the regions - See the Guardian
    Ambitious thirtysomethings are leaving London in droves. Record numbers are turning their backs on the capital and flocking to England’s regional cities, according to an analysis of official data that suggests a significant exodus from London is under way.
  • 19 November - Parliamentary Debate on the 5 Year Housing Targets - See the Love Goostrey summary of Hansard
    The MP “requested this debate specifically about housing land supply and local authorities’ difficulties in seeking to uphold robust and well-considered planning policies in the face of repeated and determined speculative applications by developers, who are consistently using the requirement for a five-year housing land supply to their own advantage, rather than to the advantage of local residents and would-be home owners.”
  • 19 November - Planning law change 'catastrophic' for rural areas - See the BBC News
    The government wants to scrap the requirement for developers to provide affordable housing on smaller developments. Campaign groups say that supplies of affordable housing would "dry up". The government argues that the change would remove red tape and encourage more house building.
  • 19 November - Property developers 'let off the leash' in rural Britain: Countryside bible in war on 'predatory' house builders - See the Daily Mail
    Charities warn countryside is under threat from relaxed planning laws as developers build on greenbelt sites. Buntingford in Hertfordshire, Leintwardine in Herefordshire, and Castle Cary, Somerset, are identified as most at risk. Magazine blames developers 'let off the leash' by David Cameron for ‘ugly, poorly conceived housing sprawl
  • 22 October - Three ways to improve Labour's housing review - See the Guardian
    Labour’s plan to increase housebuilding to 200,000 new homes a year needs more teeth if it is going to make a difference.
  • 19 October - Is it time to rethink Britain's green belt? - See the Observer
    It’s meant to curb sprawl and give city dwellers the benefits of the country. But some feel it protects the rich, stops houses being built and encourages commuting.
  • 17 October - Revealed: Labour plans to build on the Green Belt if it wins election - See the Telegraph
    The Lyons report singles out the Green Belt around cities like Oxford, Cambridge, York and Bristol as ripe for development.
  • 16 October - TCPA welcomes Lyons Review calls on Government to immediately promote programme of Garden Cities - See the Press release from the The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA)
    “The Lyons Review has rightly placed the housing crisis and the need to deliver more homes at the top of the political agenda. The TCPA strongly supports the recommendation in the report that a new generation of Garden Cities should be promoted immediately by an incoming Government.”
  • 16 October - Lyons review for Labour urges new powers to boost housebuilding - See the Guardian
    Housing industry welcomes 180-page review calling for 200,000 new homes to be built each year.
  • 12 October - Britain's elderly face retirement home shortage - See the Telegraph
    Britain's growing elderly population is facing a chronic shortage of homes with retirement villages and assisted living accommodation making up just 2.8pc of all new property being built in the UK.
  • 10 October - Forget the seaside: it's the rural vote, stupid - See the New Stateman
    Perhaps the idea of a new "green shield" to protect the countryside is an unfortunate starting point to win back Tory voters. It makes the Tories look as if they are resorting to the political equivalent of free "garage glasses" to win back the rural vote.
  • 10 October - Councillors vote against proposed City of York local plan - See the Yorkshire Post
    Controversial plans to make land available for thousands of new homes in York look set to undergo major changes after the resignation of two councillors from the ruling Labour group. The resignations mean Labour is now running the council as a minority administration with opposition parties able to block its measures if they work together.
  • 9 October - Oxfordshire council mulls garden city bid for eco town scheme - See Planning Resource (Subscription required)
    Cherwell council has confirmed it is considering making a bid for a major housing scheme in the Bicester area to be designated as a garden city.
  • 7 October - Local needs must be put first in housing - See the letter in the Oxford Mail
    There are very real fears that, unless a lot of thinking goes into how Wantage can sustainably integrate large increases in its local population, it will become yet another ‘dormitory town’ serving the ever-growing London economy.
    We must put local needs first in developing housing, infrastructure and jobs. It is also vital we don’t let development occur unplanned – creeping sprawl eating up green field sites – the green belt – with endless increases in the numbers of vehicles on the roads.
  • 6 October - Councils must protect our precious green belt land - See the Government Press Release
    Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis said that thousands of brownfield sites are available for development, and should be prioritised.
  • 5 October - Grassroots rebellion over arrogant leadership in Devon and Cornwall - See the Western Morning News
    Westcountry councils face a growing rebellion from a grassroots movement weary at being ruled by an out-of-touch and “arrogant” leadership, the Western Morning News on Sunday reports today.
  • 4 October - William Cash: I’m fighting for what I believe in, Dad - See the Telegraph
    My cause happens to be about saving England from rural vandalism.
  • 3 October - Market towns may be forced to treble in size - See the Telegraph
    Market towns could be forced to treble in size with “huge slabs of identikit” housing developments after the election in the "biggest and most worrying threat" of our time, the chief executive of a English Heritage has warned.
  • 27 September - David Cameron offers 20% discount on new homes - See the Guardian
    Prime minister commits to building 100,000 homes in England, highlighting affordable housing as a key election issue
  • 26 September - Cut-price homes for the under-40s through David Cameron’s new help-to-buy scheme - See the Telegraph
    Brownfield homes to give under 40s a foothold on the property ladder.
  • 26 September - ‘It’s the end of the green belt – and a way of life’ - See the Portsmouth News
    People fed up with a housing boom that is eating up the countryside have said: ‘Enough is enough.’ With schools and doctors’ surgeries full to the brim and more and more congestion on the roads, people are worried that the scale of new development is out of control.
  • 25 September - Planned Abingdon estate to expand to 1,000 homes - See the Oxford Times
    Meeting fresh house building targets means a planned estate in Abingdon could almost double in size. Vale of White Horse District Council wants to increase the Dunmore Road estate, alongside the A34, from 610 to 1,000 properties.
  • 22 September - Rabbit hutch Britain: Draconian building rules mean homes are the smallest in Western Europe - half the size of those in Ireland - See the Daily Mail
    Residential floor space in Britain is on average just 66 square metres (710 square feet) per household, compared to a spacious 118 square metres (1,270 sq ft) in Ireland, 115 square metres (1,238 sq ft) in Denmark or 110 square metres (1,184 sq ft) in Italy, according to data compiled by the Institute of Economic Affairs.
  • 18 September - Move to consolidate housing standards - See the Planning Portal
    The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has begun consulting on proposed changes to the existing housing standards regime. The changes will involve consolidating existing regulations into five covering: home security, space, accessibility, water efficiency and waste storage.
  • 17 September - The truth about property developers: how they are exploiting planning authorities and ruining our cities - See the Guardian
    Affordable housing quotas get waived and the interests of residents trampled as toothless authorities bow to the dazzling wealth of investors from Russia, China and the Middle East
  • 10 September - No rollback on NPPF say builders - See the Central Lobby
    Ahead of the National Federation of Builders’ events at the party conferences, chief executive Richard Beresford tells Central Lobby that the next government must stay the course on house building.
  • 8 September - New home surge is ‘catastrophic’: Face of rural England could change forever - See the Daily Mail
    The CPRE demanded a shake-up of the reforms claiming there were problems with how the targets for housing were set, including a lack of guidance for councils and a system which overstates demand.
  • 8 September - Labour architect peer says building on greenbelt 'a ridiculous idea' - See the Guardian
    Lord Rogers of Riverside has attacked proposals to build up to 40 new garden cities on the greenbelt as "a ridiculous concept" and has called instead for the developments to be stitched into existing cities using derelict sites.
  • 7 September - Planning rules 'risking the countryside' - See the Telegraph
    Nearly 30,000 homes have been built in valuable areas of countryside despite local opposition because of confusion caused by the Coalition’s planning reforms, a report suggests.
  • 8 September - Planning loophole causing glut of house building in the countryside - See the Report from CPRE
    A new research paper from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) shows that steep targets for the amount of land councils must allocate for housing are opening the door to major housing developments in the countryside.
  • 6 September - Oxford could rival the strategy adopted by Cambridge for growth and expansion - See the comment from David Cowans, Chief Executive of Places for People
    The personal and human nature of the vision was particularly impressive, with the proposal offering improvements to residents in existing cities in terms of better services, facilities and transport links plus quality homes for their children who otherwise, may be forced out into other locations.
  • 4 September - Housing Minister Brandon Lewis' response to Wolfson Prize - See the Government Response
    We are committed to protecting the green belt from development as an important protection against urban sprawl - today’s proposal from Lord Wolfson’s competition is not government policy and will not be taken up.
  • 4 September - Prize-winning designer says double size of 40 English towns - See the Guardian
    Britain's housing crisis could be largely solved by doubling the size of 40 towns and cities including Oxford, Norwich, Reading and Stratford-on-Avon using garden city extensions, according to the winner of a £250,000 economics prize awarded on Wednesday night
  • 4 September - We need 40 garden cities across England, says economics prize winner - See the Telegraph
    David Rudlin, from the design consultancy Urbed, said the homes would be enough to provide new homes for 150,000 people in each town over the next three decades.
  • 3 September - Deputy Prime Minister announces plans for a new map of accessible green space for England and Wales - See the Ordnance Survey
    The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, today announced that Ordnance Survey would compile and release data to allow for a new map of every publicly accessible green space in England and Wales to be developed, and will allow anyone with access to the internet to find the location of their nearest park instantly.
  • 1 September - Green spaces under threat from planning system and funding crisis - See the Telegraph
    Coalition of UK's leading environmental groups warn there may be "little or no money" left for the upkeep of Britain's green spaces and parks by 2020 due to funding cuts
  • 1 September - Conservative publishes Manifesto with major changes to housing policies - See the www.conservativehome.com
    Britain doesn’t just need more homes, it also needs better, more affordable homes. A building boom that sucks in cheap money looking for a quick return will not deliver affordability. We must therefore freeze out the property speculators with an ownership first condition on the development of new housing. Councils would be given the power to reserve the sale of new homes to those intending to live in them.
  • 26 August - More parking for new homes will end ‘vicious cycle of clogged up streets’ - See the Government Press Release
    The government is proposing further action is taken to rein back in arbitrary ‘maximum parking standards’, which have previously prevented and restricted house builders from providing homes with car parking spaces that families want and need.
  • 3 September - Housing developers divided on need for broadband in new homes - See the Cable.co.uk
    UK housing developers are taking inconsistent approaches to the installation of broadband infrastructure in new homes
  • 28 August - Rippon bungalows selling off plan - See the Nottingham Post
    BUNGALOWS have always been sought after – their single level living appealing to a variety of home buyers. And yet builders steer away from them, often deterred by the amount of land they take up. The builder says the high level of interest is also due to the spacious design and opportunity to personalise these homes, which may be reserved off-plan
  • 18 August - Planning Minister “absolutely right” to promote bungalows as part of the solution to the housing crisis, says CLA - See the Country Land and Business Association
    The CLA today (18 August) backed Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis’ calls to prioritise the building of bungalows for older people, freeing up larger family homes. The organisation said for a number of years it has highlighted the lack of housing available in rural areas for older generations, leaving many with no choice but to relocate to towns.
  • 18 August - The 'quintessentially British' bungalow can help solve the housing crisis - See the Daily Mail
    We must learn to love the 'quintessentially British' bungalow again if we want to solve the housing crisis, says minister
    • Empty-nesters 'should be able to downsize without being forced into flats'
    • Housing minister Brandon Lewis called them 'an important part of the mix'
    • Only 2% of English homes are bungalows and only 300 were built in 2009
  • 13 August - Smoke and mirrors get in the way of rural housing debate - See the Western Morning News
    I do not know many people in the Westcountry who would welcome a politician saying: “We are going to build all these new houses – and just building them is going to create so many new jobs we will have to bring workers in from Eastern Europe to help – then they can live in some of the few affordable homes that have gone up and look for new jobs once the last slate has been put on the last bijou, unaffordable, home.” But it is exactly the kind of crazy scenario we are looking at when we smash through the smoke-and-mirrors surrounding magic catchphrases like “cut-red-tape” and “seeding economic opportunity”.
  • 11 August - No, Minister - we do not want our fields to be full of houses - See the Western Morning News
    It seems Brandon Lewis’s belief that citizens are now happy and at one with the way planning matters are dealt with could be nothing more than wishful thinking. A great many Westcountry residents see the “developer’s charter” as something that lines the pockets of the few while leaving fast-changing communities with existing infrastructures that cannot possibly cope. Others, far from being Nimbys, are wondering why the region’s precious open countryside – which fuels tourism, the South West’s biggest income driver – is being treated with all the respect and regard planners used to give redundant Second World War aerodromes.
  • 7 August - Why most planning decisions should be taken out of the hands of councillors - See the Guardian
    Unlike councillors, planners have the skills and experience to make these decisions. It's not undemocratic – it's giving power to those most qualified, says Redbridge council leader.
  • 7 August - Planning reform package unveiled for consultation - See the Planning Portal
    The Government has published proposals to make the planning system more streamlined and effective. A-100 page document, now out for consultation, highlights plans to change the neighbourhood planning regime, amend planning regulations and planning conditions, as well as modifying the planning application process and introducing new thresholds for environmental impact assessments.
  • 6 August - UK homeowners start to panic sell in the face of house price uncertainty - See the Telegraph
    Panic selling is expected to sweep Britain as homeowners try to cash in on record high house prices before the market starts to cool, new data finds.
  • 3 August - Government could buy homes blighted by developments or offer owners council tax cuts while building takes place. - See the BBC News
    Homeowners could be compensated if the value of their property falls when new garden cities are built, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has suggested.
  • 1 August - Is localism preventing the development of new homes? - See the Guardian
    They are both government priorities, but involving communities in planning decisions appears incompatible with housebuilding
  • 31 July - Wantage Neighbourhood Plan - See the Oxfordshire Guardian
    A Neighbourhood Plan is being compiled setting out how Wantage will develop over the next 20 years.
  • 29 July - Why is housing policy such a mess? - See the RSA Blog by Anthony Painter
    One of the lesser noted aspects of the last few years is a soaring housing benefit bill. This has been pretty striking feature of the last decade or so. In fairness to the current Government the rate of increase has slowed somewhat in the last four years. Yet, the increase is still £4billion per annum or so. This is despite the initiation of policies such as the benefits cap that were intended to reduce the outlay. What on earth is going on?
  • 29 July - Hot-desking to help residents work at home - See the Wantage Herald
    People working from home in Wantage and Grove can now take advantage of a communal computer in the town centre. The Mix community shop in Mill Street, Wantage, is hosting hot-desking facilities from this month.
  • 26 July - Drivers face a 24-mile detour during works - See the Wantage Herald
    SOME 6,800 drivers between Wantage and Faringdon will be asked to take a 24-mile diversion route for 13 weeks this autumn. Commuters have been told to take the A420 and A338 while Network Rail rebuilds Challow Station Road bridge on the A417 from Saturday, September 6. Those cars will join the 13,000 daily journeys already made on the A338 between Wantage and Oxford.
  • 25 July - Plans for Bus Relief - See the Oxfordshire Guardian
    A shuttle bus between Wantage and Faringdon could be launched while the A417 Challow Road is shut for four-month long bridge works. The plans were raised by Network Rail during a packed meeting for residents at Faringdon Corn Exchange on Tuesday night.
  • 11 July - Grove keeps its Identity - See the Oxfordshire Guardian
    Leaders have said the identities of Wantage and Grove will be preserved by the planned new boundary changes published yesterday. A report of where Wantage town will end and Grove village begin was revealed ahead of a full meeting of the Vale of White Horse District Council (VOWHDC) on Wednesday, July 16. Grove leaders have welcomed the plans which they say protects the village’s identity.
  • 9 July - Can we stop the countryside becoming a retreat for the rich and retired? - See the Guardian
    Young families and the low paid are being priced out of rural England, but this can be reversed if tackled at a local level.
  • 9 July - Lyon’s proposals to ‘turn screw’ on Councils to ensure Houses get Built - See the blog from Andrew Lainton
    Speaking to the LGA in Bournemouth, Sir Michael Lyons said a Labour government would not be abandoning the current national planning policy framework that requires councils to make land available, and if anything it would be turning the screw on councils.
  • 8 July - It is up to councils like Cheltenham and Tewkesbury to arm themselves against opportunistic developers, top planning MP suggests - See the Gloucestershire Echo
    Mr Betts does not believe the NPPF is a “developer’s charter”. “With a local plan in place, it shouldn’t be,” he said. “The NPPF really underpins that local plan and development will take place in accordance with the local plan. “So if developers put in applications on sites that haven’t been allocated for that purpose then they should be refused.”
  • 7 July - Cameron and Clegg announce £2bn Heseltine growth deal winners - See the Local Government Chronicle
    Manchester, London and the north-east have emerged as the big winners from a £2bn fund for local growth deals announced today. The fund, to be spent on housebuilding, transport links and skills and employment projects in 2015-16, was set up following a call from Conservative peer Lord Heseltine for a devolved budget for local growth in 2012.
  • 7 July - Local authorities to choose sites for local development orders, says DCLG - See the article on Out-law.com
    The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has said that local planning authorities will take the lead in deciding which brownfield sites will be effectively pre-approved for residential development under proposals announced by the chancellor of the exchequer in June.
  • 7 July - UK regional investment plans revealed - See the Guardian
    Lord Heseltine hails £5bn investment in new homes, transport and training as 'giant step in the rebalancing of our economy'
  • 2 July - Application approvals unchanged since NPPF, says report - See the article at Planning resource(Subscription)
    The government's major shake-up of planning policies two years ago has not resulted in councils granting more planning permissions, new research claims.
  • 2 July - Construction activity surges in Britain to meet housebuilding demand - See the Guardian
    Building companies hire staff at the fastest ever rate as construction industry data for June beats City's growth forecasts
  • 2 July - London house prices leap by 25% in rise unequalled since 1987, new data shows - See the Guardian
    Average house price in capital breaks through £400,000 barrier – double UK average – reports Nationwide
  • 26 June - The fields of old England are being lost - See the Guardian
    We need to recapture the postwar vision that preserved our countryside and gave us our sense of Englishness
  • 25 June - UK faces 'significant' shortage of farmland by 2030 - See the BBC News
    Britain is running out of land for food and faces a potential shortfall of two million hectares by 2030 according to new research
  • 20 June - George Osborne's planning U-turn spells hope for countryside - See the Telegraph
    Daily Telegraph campaign has helped forge a decision to force councils to 'pre-approve' building on over 90 per cent of brownfield sites suitable for housing.
  • 17 June - Social landlords could build 100,000 new homes a year, says campaign - See the Guardian
    "Through increased grant, better planning, lifting of borrowing caps and new towns and garden cities, we could build 100,000 social rented homes a year."
  • 16 June - Politicians just don't understand what it's like to be a renter - See the Guardian
    MPs who rent a second home on expenses have access to luxury properties just a short walk from their workplace. It's a far cry from most private renters' lives.
  • 14 June - Eric Pickles unveils plans to help protect Britain's 'green and pleasant land' - See the Express
    Derelict warehouses and factories will be used to help meet the demand for houses so Britain can remain a "green and pleasant land", a cabinet minister had said.
  • 13 June - City targets possible sites in Green Belt for new housing - See the Oxford Mail
    Moves to earmark Green Belt sites around the outskirts of Oxford for new homes have been dismissed out of hand.
  • 12 June - Loosen the Green Belt - See the Leader in the Oxford Times
    It is clear that one way or another Oxford is going to have a review of its Green Belt and the suitability of parts of it to accommodate more housing.
  • 12 June - Towns are targeted for new housing: - See the Daily Mail
    Planning restrictions on disused urban sites to be swept away to reduce impact on the countryside.
    - George Osborne will unveil further details of the proposals tonight
    - As part of the deal the Green Belt will be protected
    - Eric Pickles said Government will find ‘practical ways of removing red tape'.
  • 11 June - Is it time that there was a review of Oxfordshire’s Green Belt land? - See the Oxford Mail
    YES: As a councillor representing a ward on the outskirts of Oxford, I appreciate our local natural environment, writes Van Coulter,
    NO: The Green Belt does not need a review – it is serving us well as it is. What’s more, it is essential to Oxford and Oxfordshire that it remains in place, writes Michael Tyce
  • 10 June - Shortage of available housing land may cause 250,000-home shortfall in England and Wales by 2018, says report - See the article at Out-Law.com
    A lack of available sites for housing development may cause a deficit of over 250,000 homes in England and Wales in the next four years, according to a report from planning consultancy Turley.
  • 9 June - U.K. Home Shortage Seen Everywhere But Not Proven - See the article at Bloomberg
    What if there is no housing shortage after all? That would undermine the conventional wisdom. It’s the case made by Andrew Brigden, chief economist at Fathom Consulting in London and a former Bank of England economist.
  • 9 June - Councils warn of planning by appeal - See the article at LocalGov.co.uk
    Cllr Tony Newman, of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) environment and housing board, is expected to tell members of the communities and local government (CLG) committee there is a ‘risk that national policy could be reinvented through planning by appeal’.
  • 8 June - Good news for the green belt as George Osborne plots ways to encourage building on brownfield sites - See the Telegraph
    The Chancellor will use Mansion House speech this week to offer new ways to persuade developers to build more homes on derelict sites in towns and cities
  • 5 June - Oxfordshire's Green Belt ‘may have to change’ - See the Oxford Times
    A planning inspector has said a complete review of Oxfordshire’s Green Belt may be needed. His comments came as he temporarily halted an inquiry hearing into Cherwell District Council’s development strategy yesterday.
  • 3 June - TCPA launches new garden cities document after questioning Government commitment to model - See the Horticulture Week
    The Town & Country Planning Association (TCPA) is today launching a new set of garden city standards after questioning if the Coalition Government is serious about creating new garden cities.
    The standards consolidate the key lessons learned from the TCPA’s previous research into the challenges of delivering garden cities and detail what each of the garden cities principles entails as well as provide guidance on what it believes the principles should deliver to new communities.
  • 3 June - UK house prices rise as first-time buyers panic buy - See the Telegraph
    Nationwide house prices rise 11pc in the year to May with first-time buyers accounting for nearly half of all house purchases.
  • 2 June - Queen's speech: Infrastructure bill to let developers off zero-carbon pledge - See the Guardian
    Bill would exempt all small housing developments from new green standards and allow builders to pay their way out of full obligations.
  • 31 May - Restoring brownfield sites in our inner towns and cities - See the Article in the Civitas Magazine
    Restoring brownfield sites in our inner towns and cities should receive more tax breaks and the pressure for new roads, schools, public transport, shops, hospitals and other costly infrastructure to support new developments in greenfield areas would be eased; much of our countryside would be preserved for food production and, crucially, we would be investing in a thriving future for our town and city centres and their communities.
  • 30 May - Developers able to demolish affordable housing provision - See the New Statesman
    A new law is allowing property developers to wriggle out of their affordable housing obligations
  • 29 May - Carbon benefits of homeworking under the spotlight - See the Guardian
    Carbon costs of heating a home office are offset only if replacing a four-mile journey by car or a 16-mile train journey, says report
  • 28 May - England's unaffordable countryside risks becoming an old people's home - See the Guardian
    Scrapping affordable housing requirements in rural areas will see young people and those on low incomes priced further out.
  • 3 February (but still current) - Affordable housing does not mean what you think it means - See the Guardian Blog
    Beware of politicians talking about affordable homes. New 'affordable' housing is not actually that affordable
  • 28 May - England's unaffordable countryside risks becoming an old people's home - See the Guardian
    Scrapping affordable housing requirements in rural areas will see young people and those on low incomes priced further out. The latest government policy change proposes that a developer's obligation to build affordable homes should be waived if they are building 10 homes or fewer.
  • 28 May - Road closure plan branded as ‘absolutely disgraceful’ - See the Oxford Mail
    NETWORK Rail has warned three communities in the Vale of White Horse of further road closures as part of its electrification scheme. But county and Wantage town councillor Jenny Hannaby yesterday said she would pressurise the company to put in a temporary bridge for its project in Challow, where it has said the A417 would be shut for four months.
  • 27 May - 200,000 New Homes a Year is an “Unachievable” Figure - Building Momentum, Housebuilding Report 2014 - See the report from Knight Frank
    Only 6% of housebuilders believe that the key target of 200,000 homes to be built every year is deliverable, according to Knight Frank’s Housebuilding Report “Building Momentum”
  • 27 May - Henley MP lambasts new housing numbers - See the Henley Standard
    JOHN Howell has criticised a report that says up to 825 new homes should be built in South Oxfordshire every year. The Henley MP says the figure is too high and is calling on the Government to review the methods used to calculate it.
  • 22 May - Bridge replacement to start in November - See the Oxfordshire Guardian
    Work to build a new bridge to stop the A338 shutting for six months will start this November, Network Rail announced yesterday.
  • 21 May - A338 Wantage Road bridge to stay open during £2bn rail electrification upgrade - See the press release from Network Rail
    Following discussions with Oxfordshire County Council on Tuesday 20th May 2014, Network Rail put forward a proposal for the road bridge to remain open to traffic during the work. The new bridge will be built off-site, keeping disruption to a minimum. The work will begin in November 2014 and is scheduled to be complete by summer 2015.
  • 22 May - Don't turn countryside to concrete: Cameron ally attacks fellow minister on planning reform - See the Daily Mail
    Ed Vaizey claims countryside could be swamped with unwanted homes
    Planning law reform could cost votes among supporters, he said
  • 20 May - Embarrassment for David Cameron as his own election agent fights new homes in PM's back yard - See the Telegraph
    David Cameron’s own election agent and one of his ministers [Ed Vaizey] are fighting plans to build more than 100,000 new homes in Oxfordshire
  • 18 May - Labour: let councils decide on green belt developments - See the Telegraph
    Hilary Benn, shadow communities secretary, promises the most radical devolution of power from London to English councils for 120 years, if Labour win next general election
  • 15 May - Labour drops plans to axe national planning rulebook - See the Telegraph
    Labour drops plans to reform controversial planning rules which are allowing builders to push through new housing schemes across the country.
  • 13 May - Stop unnecessarily threatening the green belt, Nick Boles tells councils - See the Telegraph
    MPs have complained that councils are needlessly earmarking sites on the green belt for development.
  • 9 May - Horrid housing is spreading across the land - See the Telegraph
    All over the country, villages are under seige from developers. Where will it end?
  • 7 May - No compensation over Network Rail work - See the Wantage Herald
    Businesses will not be offered compensation when Network Rail closes major roads for up to four months at a time, the Government has said.
  • 7 May - Right to Build: Nick Boles tells councils to offer land for self-builds 'or be sued' - See the Guardian
    The planning minister has unveiled self-build campaign Right to Build, the son of Thatcher's Right to Buy scheme – and he wants it to be 'an electric shock to the system'. But are we ready to become a nation of house-builders?
  • 5 May - Are the government‘s planning reforms releasing more land for housing? - See the Telegraph
    The rise in planning approval rates indicates that the National Planning Policy Framework has begun to release more sites for development
  • 4 May - Number of new housing estates jumps by a quarter since planning reforms - See the Telegraph
    New figures reveal extent to which Government’s relaxation of planning rules has seen a significant rise in the number of large scale developments being pushed through
  • 4 May - We need to build on hundreds of square miles of green fields, says Lord Wolfson - See the Telegraph
    Let's build on green fields, and review of green belt rules, say Conservative peer
  • 2 May - Failure to include affordable housing in new garden cities is big disappointment - See the Guardian
    Ignoring the need for social housing betrays one of the fundamental principles of garden cities
  • 1 May - Time to give communities a real say in the planning process - See the National Planning Policy Framework (Community Involvement) Bill - Ten Minute Rule Motion - 30th Apr 2014 by Greg Mulholland
    It is time to get the balance right between the need for more housing - but it has to be the right sort of housing in the right areas - and the right of local communities to have a genuine say over how their local area is developed and changed. It is time communities were given a real voice and that voice must listened to.
  • 25 April - William Wordsworth would be in 'fits' about planning reforms, says Sir Andrew Motion - See the Telegraph
    The former Poet Laureate launches scathing critique of scale of development being allowed in the countryside, claiming that William Wordsworth would be appalled
  • 24 April - PM calls for planning changes to deliver infrastructure - See the Planning Portal
    David Cameron has stressed the need for further measures to streamline the planning system as he and the Chancellor highlighted that more than 200 projects in rail, road, local transport, flood defences, broadband, airport infrastructure and waste management are due to start construction in 2014 to 2015.
  • 23 April - Rethinking Housing Infrastructure - See the Comment at Places for People
    Housing quality doesn't just impact quality of life, it affects economic growth as well. But high-quality housing isn't just about design and architecture, it's about creating neighbourhoods. New homes have to be supported by facilities that make people's lives easier and more fulfilling - in turn, helping to attract and retain people that will make communities, villages and towns prosper.
    To achieve that, there needs to be change.
    We need to recast planning policy so that infrastructure provision forms a key part of the permission. Any plans for new housing developments must include a range of services and facilities that will help that development thrive and make it attractive to existing communities. And those potential benefits need to be tabled, discussed and debated right at the start of the process.
  • 23 April - Locally-led housing developments to receive funding boost - See the Information Daily
    New funding will help local areas ‘unlock’ locally-led housing developments and accelerate local growth. Local leaders will be able to bid for a share of £50 million to invest in infrastructure that can support new homes. The money will be made available throughout 2015-2016, through the Local Growth Fund, to allow locally-led housing developments to move forward.
  • 22 April - Why the nimbys are winning the UK's housing battles - See the Guardian
    Councils bow to pressure from vocal affluent communities while poorer neighbourhoods are excluded from the debat
  • 22 April - Builders use red-tape reforms to duck deals on affordable homes - See the Independent
    Developers are using a new law intended to cut bureaucracy and kick-start the economy to challenge their obligation to contribute to the building of affordable new homes.
  • 21 April - New garden cities not required to include low-cost homes, minister says - See the Guardian
    Nick Boles says no stipulation would be imposed on schemes, despite Nick Clegg's pledge that they would help solve housing crisis
  • 16 April – Planning reforms: room for improvement
    - See Adjacent Government
    Michael Carnuccio, Policy Officer at the National Housing Federation examines how, 2 years on from the NPPF, affordable housing delivery is addressed…
  • 16 April - Local planning authorities are being set unattainable building targets - See the letter in the Telegraph
    The National Trust again warns that many English councils must accept building on protected countryside. This often arises because the National Planning Policy Framework requires local planning authorities to plan for unattainable 20-year housing targets, based on population growth projections from the Office of National Statistics
  • 15 April - Three garden cities to be built, Nick Clegg announces - See the BBC
    Mr Clegg, speaking at his monthly media conference, sought to invoke the same spirit as 1940s politicians when he issued a "call-to-arms for visionaries" to set out plans for schemes and published a prospectus inviting bids from councils.
  • 14 April - Enterprise zones struggle to boost jobs - See the FT
    Some of Britain’s enterprise zones have yet to create a single job in a sign that a flagship government economic policy could fail to meet expectations.
  • 14 April - Planning wars strangle new housing - See the Guardian
    Two years since a new policy was meant to speed up housebuilding, councils and developers are still at loggerheads
  • 14 April - Planning reforms leave villages ‘under siege’ from builders with ‘horrendous’ schemes given green light - See the Daily Mail
    Reforms are forcing local officials to approve ‘horrendous’ developments
    Villagers in most picturesque parts of England say they feel under siege
    Meanwhile, councillors claim they are no longer free to make decisions
  • 13 April - Local authorities ‘hustled’ into passing greenfield planning permissions - See the Telegraph
    Pressurised councils mean greenfield sites ‘no longer sacrosanct’, says National Trust director Dame Helen Ghosh
  • 8 April - Renters may abandon a government that fails to stand up for their rights - See the guardian
    The government's efforts to improve standards for private renters do not go far enough – and it could cost them in the polls.
  • 5 April - Vale of White Horse plans for new homes 'will ruin villages' - See the Oxford Mail
    VILLAGERS have warned their communities will be changed beyond recognition by the new list of thousands of homes planned across the Vale of White Horse.
  • 4 April – MPs launch inquiry after research questions ineffective Government planning targets – See parliament.uk The Communities and Local Government Committee today launches an inquiry into the operation of the National Planning Policy Framework.
  • 31 March - Planning champions for every area of country to fight unsightly developments - See the Telegraph
    Planning 'champions' should be appointed in every community in the country to oppose unsightly unpopular developments, an independent report for the Government says today.
    The 200-page review by leading architect Sir Terry Farrell said every council should nominate a “civic champion” to “improve design quality”.
  • 30 March - Builders 'churning out same old boxes’, says Kevin McCloud - See the Telegraph
    Builders are using relaxed planning rules to construct “enormous slabs of thousands of boxlike” homes in towns and villages as though they were “dropped out of a C130 Hercules”, according to the presenter of the television programme Grand Designs.
  • 28 March - Sir Simon Jenkins: 'We are creating Detroits in the north while we are eating up the countryside' - See the Telegraph
    “People are seriously angry. They feel that the Government has betrayed something they love and they feel confident that what they love is loved by most English people and the evidence supports that view. And there is no necessity for this massive development. The idea that we need 250,000 new homes and therefore they must be in the countryside is a daft statement.”
  • 26 March - Britain is facing a housing disaster as it is one million homes short, warns new report - See the Daily Mail
    Exactly a decade on from the Barker Review of Housing Supply that warned that at least 210,000 private homes a year were needed in England to avert a housing crisis, the scale of the housing shortage has become apparent says the Home Builders Federation (HBF).
  • 24 March - We do not want rabbit hutches and boxes to be built - See John Howell MP Hansard 24 Mar 2014: Column 66
    "A key element of Ebbsfleet must be an emphasis on design. It is essential that it is an attractive place where people want to live. Design must play a key role because of the importance that the project will have in the minds of other people who are thinking about having a garden city. We do not just want rabbit hutches and boxes to be built. All eyes will be on this city in determining whether communities are willing to participate."
  • 21 March - Budget 2014: Plans for new generation of garden cities - See the Telegraph
    Ministers will publish a "prospectus" on garden cities allowing local councils to start developing plans for new towns across the country, the Chancellor says
  • 21 March - Budget effects on development - See the blog at the Community Voice of the People
    A "prospectus" on garden cities allowing local councils to start developing plans for new towns across the country and a review of "permitted development rights".
  • 19 March - It’s the ‘duty to cooperate’ and the ‘right to grow’, stupid! - See the blog by David Marlow
    Is there a potential disconnect between Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in their leadership of local growth and development?
  • 18 March - ‘Bridge closure will put traders at risk’ - See the Oxford Mail
    Residents say businesses will be put at risk if a main road into Steventon is shut for 10 months. Steventon Parish Council says Network Rail has told it will have to close the bridge on high street for either five or 10 months to rebuild it.
  • 16 March - 15,000-home garden city to be built at Ebbsfleet - See the BBC News
    A garden city with an initial 15,000 homes will be built at Ebbsfleet in Kent, George Osborne has announced. The chancellor told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show the site was chosen because there was "fantastic" infrastructure and it was in south-east England where pressure on housing has been high. "Explaining the decision to choose Ebbsfleet rather than richer parts of the country, Mr Osborne said: "In Ebbsfleet there is the land available, there is fantastic infrastructure with the high speed line. "It's on the river, it's in the south-east of England where a lot of the housing pressure has been. "And crucially you've got local communities and local MPs who support the idea."
  • 14 March - Bampton: infamy in the Prime Minister’s back yard - See the Telegraph
    Housebuilding in David Cameron's Witney consituency appears to contradict his stated position on planning.
  • 14 March - Plans rejected for 970 new homes on Louth's Legbourne Road - See the BBC
    Plans have been rejected for what would have been the largest ever single residential development for a Lincolnshire market town. East Lindsey District Council rejected plans for 970 homes and a school to be built on the outskirts of Louth. The 150 acre Legbourne Road site would have also included community facilities and open spaces. The authority said the scale of the housing scheme was too large for the town to sustain.
  • 14 March - Didcot’s science park gets £42m boost for estate’s infrastructure - See the Oxford Times
    A GOVERNMENT agency will provide a £42m loan to speed-up the development of a science park in Didcot. The loan will be used to build schools, colleges and community centres to support people living at the Great Western Park estate which will eventually contain 3,300 homes.
  • 13 March - Call to review estate plan for 1,500 homes between Wantage and Grove - See the Wantage Herald
    A group of residents has called on the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to review the planning permission for a 1,500-home estate.
  • 10 March - Our policies are absurd and my colleagues are hated, says minister - See the Telegraph
    Stephen Williams, local government minister launches attack on his boss, his colleagues and his own department's policies
  • 9 March - The English Housing Survey 2012-13 H eadline Report was published on 26 February. - See the Government report
    The report covers a range of topics related to the physical condition of homes and the circumstances of the people that live in them. This was the first release of data from the 2012-13 survey.
    Of the estimated 22.0 million households in England, 65% (14.3 million) were owner occupiers, 18% (4.0 million) were private renters and 17% (3.7 million) were social renters.
  • 8 March - Councils should plan for more bungalows to cope with OAP boom - See the Telegraph
    Councils will be forced to make sure that there are enough bungalows for pensioners when approving new housing schemes, under new planning rules.
  • 7 March - Boles launches Planning Practice Guidance - See the article at Out-Law.com
    Local plans in the UK can pass the test of soundness even where housing supply land cannot be identified for years 11 to 15 of the plan period and windfalls can be counted over the whole plan period under new planning guidance published today.
  • 6 March - Developers to get incentives to build new homes in towns and cities - See the Telegraph
    Developers are to be given cash incentives to encourage them to build more homes in towns and cities instead of the countryside.
    Developers of brownfield sites will no longer have to pay tens of thousands of pounds of fees under the Community Infrastructure Levy, under changes to the National Planning Policy Framework.
  • 3 March - We want to make it harder to build on flood plains, says Nick Boles - See the Telegraph
    Developers will have to pass stringent tests if they want to build on flood plains, a minister has said.
  • 26 February - Griff Rhys Jones denounces interpretation of national planning system - See the Press release from Civic Voice
    Griff Rhys Jones, the President of Civic Voice, has (25th February) spoken on BBC Daily Politics out about the ambiguity of the National Planning Policy Framework.
    Griff added ““To have a presumption in favour of brownfield sites is not the same as having a policy that brownfield sites should be built on first. It is obvious that housing on 'greenfield sites” generate much more profit for developers, but planning policy should not be about helping developers to profiteer. But to the man in the street, this is exactly what the National Planning Policy Framework is doing”.
  • 26 February - Has crash made us a developer’s paradise? - See the Banbury Guardian
    Cherwell may have lost the power to control housing development in Banburyshire over the next 17 years, it is feared.
  • 26 February - Henley population could increase by 20% - See the Stratford-on-Avon Herald
    The railway line has previously been a boundary for the town and with a population around 3,000, residents are concerned that nearly 200 new homes would increase the size of Henley by up to 20 per cent. - See more at: http://www.stratford-herald.com/local-news/7775-henley-population-could-increase-20.html#sthash.gjrk8DVD.dpuf
  • 26 February - Ancient woodland losses 'not accounted for', say campaigners - See the BBC
    The scale of ancient woodland being lost to development in Britain is being made worse because of a lack of accurate data.
    The Woodland Trust says that systems are so poor, the government cannot say how much ancient forest has disappeared in the last 10 years.
  • 25 February - Planning officers urge improvement to development plans regime - See the article on localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk
    The current system of development plans is “essentially sound” but there are a number of areas where it could be improved, the Planning Officers Society has said.
  • 24 February - Vale to get thousands more homes after target is raised - See the Oxford Mail
    Last year, Vale of White Horse District Council said it needed to build 13,000 new homes, mostly in Wantage, Grove and Didcot. Now thousands of extra homes will have to built after a council’s target for how many new properties it needed to cope with growth was recalculated.
  • 24 February - Accident highlighted the real importance of A338 - See the letter in the Oxford Mail
    THE vital role the A338 plays in the roads system through Oxfordshire was highlighted by the need to use it as an alternative route following the collision on the A34.
  • 18 February - Minister lobbied over village homes - See the Blackpool Gazette
    Mark Menzies has written to the Planning Minister, Nick Boles, after meeting anti-development pressure group –the Community Association for the Protection of Wrea Green (CAPOW) to discuss its concerns over the number of possible new housing estates being earmarked for the picturesque village.
  • 15 February - Flood-hit areas earmarked for more homes - See the Telegraph
    Councils have issued plans to build hundreds of new homes in some of the areas worst affected by the country's flooding crisis
  • 13 February - Beware politicians trying to be armchair hydrologists - See the Guardian
    "politicians seek to become "armchair hydrologists" or reach for the easy option of looking for scapegoats in the middle of a national crisis"
  • 11 February - 600-home scheme refused in Yorkshire despite lack of five-year land supply - See the Harrogate News
    Harrogate Borough Council has refused the planning application for housing on an greenfield area of land off Penny Pot Lane. Following 90 minutes of questions and debate, councillors voted with 10 supporting a refusal, 6 abstentions and none supporting the development.
    The validity of the traffic modelling was questioned. Local residents had undertaken their own actual studies and thought that traffic volumes would be much more than the standardised model used by Highways and the developer.
  • 6 February - New Homes Bonus payments top £900m mark - See the government Planning Portal
    Housing Minister Kris Hopkins has confirmed the final allocations for this year’s New Homes Bonus payments - totalling over £900m - which will be shared among England’s 353 councils. The minister said: “The New Homes Bonus lets local people share in the benefits of development, with councils free to spend the money to benefit their local area. (What has the Vale spent our moeny on?)
  • 5 February - Flooding bill would require developers to pay for sewer improvements - See the article in Inside Housing
    A new bill which would force developers to stump up the cost for improving sewers to prevent floods was introduced to the House of Commons. Currently, water companies and their customers foot the bill of any improvements required.
  • 5 February - Specialist planning court outlined Inside Housing
    Planning disputes will be fast-tracked through a specialist court, under government plans was set to be unveiled yesterday. Justice minister Chris Grayling hopes the court will prevent costly legal challenges which have delayed the progress of developments. Under the plans, due to be outlined in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, only those with a financial interest in schemes will be allowed to mount a challenge.
  • 4 February - Housing crisis will continue for 10 years, George Osborne warns - See the Guardian
    Chancellor tells House of Lords more needs to be done to overcome imbalance between housing supply and demand.
  • 30 January - £7m investment gives a boost to local businesses - See the Oxford Mail
    A £7m cash boost for the Science Vale Enterprise Zone could lead to more investment in the area, it has been claimed. The money will pay for a 4,000 square metres highly specialised laboratory and bioscience innovation hub that will create 370 new jobs at Milton Park.
  • 30 January - Biggest new homes boom since the crash - See the Telegraph
    Figures show 133,670 homes were built in 2013, the highest since the start of the economic downturn in 2007
  • 30 January - What does it tell us about the housing market that my flat earns so much more than I do? - See the Guardian
    Realising that my two-bedroom flat in South London now earns more than I do was a bitter-sweet moment.
  • 30 January - City Deal promises £1.2bn investment in Oxford and Oxfordshire and thousands of new jobs - See the County Council Site
    Oxfordshire’s ground-breaking ‘big science’ research centres are at the heart of a drive to grow the economy and create 19,000 jobs. The City Deal between local partners and national government was signed on January 30. This means that around £55.5 million of government funding can now be controlled locally to boost innovation and business growth, create jobs and help secure Oxfordshire’s place as a world leader in technology, knowledge and expertise. Ultimately the deal is expected to be worth over £1.2 billion when private sector investment is taken into account.
  • 30 January - New affordable homes programme starts up - See the Government Planning Portal
    The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has begun inviting housing associations, councils and developers to bid for a share of £1.7bn for new affordable housing outside London. The funding will be available for scheme over the next three years, 2015-18. Ministers say that this Government money, combined with private investment, will result in the provision of affordable homes at the fastest rate for 20 years.
    Is some of this money included in the "City Deal" promoted above?
  • 30 January - City urged to invest in affordable housing schemes - See the Guardian
    Coalition fears current levels of building will not meet the demand for properties, particularly in south-east England.
  • 29 January - Ministers to give £3.8m for Wantage relief road - See the Oxford Mail
    A £15m relief road plan to ease traffic congestion in Wantage from the effect of 5,000 new homes has been given up to £3.8m in Government funding. The Department for Transport said it will give “up to £3.8m” to Oxfordshire County Council for the project. The council plans to open the road by March 2017.
  • 29 January - High Court to decide meaning of 'deliverability' in the NPPF - See the article at out-law.com
    The High Court will this week hear arguments about the meaning of 'deliverability' in planning policy in a case involving a challenge to an outline planning permission for a 300-home development at Barrow on Soar.
  • 28 January - Boles’ blunder will put our rural landscape on sale to highest bids - See the Western Morning News
    A Government planning minister seems to be set upon an idea that will allow the development of any old building large or small without planning permission – Martin Hesp believes it could irreparably wreck our countryside.
  • 27 January - Great Western railway electrification to London 'a farce' - See the Western Daily Press
    One of the biggest infrastructure projects the West of England has ever seen has descended into “a farce and a nightmare” after running into a series of problems. Work to electrify the Great Western mainlines to the region from London is under way in earnest across Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, but is causing main roads across the area to be closed for months, with alternative routes “wrecked”, and a growing list of complaints, delays and struggling businesses.
  • 26 January - Petition launched against 'planning free-for-all' in the Somer Valley - See the Somerset Guardian
    A petition is being drawn up to be presented to Parliament calling for an end to what is becoming a planning free-for-all. Midsomer Norton's Bath and North East Somerset councillors Paul Myers and Michael Evans say the Government's theory of localism needs to become a reality to ensure there are jobs and transport infrastructure to match the creation of new homes.
  • 24 January - Villagers claim lives put at risk by closure of rail bridge - See the Oxford Mail
    The lives of pedestrians are being put at risk because traffic cannot cross the closed Fulscot Bridge, South Moreton Parish Council has said. While the bridge is closed, heavy traffic is being diverted on to Dunsomer Hill, a winding road that connects North and South Moreton.
  • 24 January - New garden cities won't deal with short-term housing crisis, says Coalition planning adviser - See the Telegraph
    Lord Taylor of Goss Moor, a Liberal Democrat peer who has recently overhauled planning rules for the Coalition, said “three garden cities are not going to make a major difference” because of the length of time it would take to build them.
  • 22 January - ‘New homes a risk to Grove’s identity’ - See the Oxford Mail
    IF new homes are built on “the last gap between Grove and Wantage” it will erode Grove’s village identity, a councillor warns.
  • 22 January - Push is made to reopen Grove's railway station - See the Oxford Mail
    Wantage MP Ed Vaizey met transport minister Baroness Kramer to call for a railway station to be reopened at Grove
  • 19 January - We want to build 'a garden city or two' says Eric Pickles - See the Telegraph
    The Communities secretary also insisted that his department had not drawn up a secret report on garden cities – but said another department may have the document. The news came as Britain’s biggest fund manager unveiled plans costing £5billion to help build a new generation of new towns across the UK.
  • 18 January - Nick Clegg tells David Cameron to be 'honest and upfront' about plans to build new garden cities as green belt land is 'eaten away' - See the Daily Mail
    - Deputy Prime Minister acknowledged green belt was being 'eaten away'
    - Mr Clegg said there was 'no point in hiding' from the need for new houses
    - New settlements in Yalding, Kent and Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire
  • 17 January - Nick Clegg tells David Cameron to come clean on new garden cities - See the Telegraph
    Deputy PM says insists that report into viability of building large new settlements to alleviate Britain’s housing crisis will be published by Coalition
  • 15th January - A bubble? No, this is a toxic housing crisis - See the Independent
    There is no “housing bubble”, folks. What we have here is a toxic and growing housing crisis, red in tooth and claw, which is damaging the lives of many and will damage the lives of many more.
  • 15 January - This road and railway bridge is an important matter - See the Letters Pageof the Oxford Mail
    The A338 comprises the only direct main route connecting Wantage/Grove with Oxford, Abingdon, Witney and the villages to the north of the railway. The road and railway bridge are essential elements in the local infrastructure, as should be obvious to any competent professional agency. There is no way the A338 can be reasonably closed for the duration (reportedly up to six months) of the replacement bridge works; the gross adverse impacts on the local communities and economy that would result are self-evident.
  • 15 January - Bridge meeting highlighted apparent lack of local knowledge - See the Letters Pageof the Oxford Mail
    I believe that the meeting in Grove regarding the bridge closure on the A338 was not a waste of time as it highlighted, to a very full house, just how badly the huge developments taking place in Grove and Wantage are being managed, together with the apparent lack of local knowledge of those involved in the process.
  • 15 January - No alternative to raising the level of the A338 - See the Letters Pageof the Oxford Mail
    While the necessity of raising the level of the A338 bridge over the railway line at Grove seems obvious, it cannot be either necessary, nor reasonable, for Network Rail to ride roughshod over the daily journeys of so many people for so long.
  • 15 January - ‘Nothing less’ - See the Letters Pageof the Oxford Mail
    Network Rail are at war with the rest of us: they have decided that rebuilding this bridge, rather than lowering the track to accommodate electrification, is in their longer-term economic interests: they intend to inflict all the damage and inconvenience on motorists and bus users rather than their own business customers.
    The county council must stand up to this modern-day corporate bully: either a full bailey bridge for the A338 or lower the track. Nothing less will do.
  • 15 January - Would new Garden City be the best way to tackle the need for Oxfordshire homes? - See the Oxford Mail
    YES says Cllr Richard Webber, Lib Dem opposition leader on Vale of White Horse District Council. My position is that building a Garden City in Oxfordshire is something that needs to be seriously looked at. We are bursting at the seams in the county’s villages and this is likely to go on and on because the Local Plan [a council blueprint for where development should go] will not be in place for a year. It would take the pressure off Grove, Wantage, Kingston Bagpuize and all the places in my patch – which has to put up with a lot.
  • 13 January - Government takes 'nuclear option' with new planning laws - See the Telegraph
    Coalition accused of taking 'nuclear option' on planning by giving developers power to push ahead without council approval and environmental assessments.
  • 11 January - Leader blocks six-month closure of A338 for rail works - See the Oxford Mail
    Oxfordshire County Council leader Ian Hudspeth announced last night on Twitter the council had refused the application from Network Rail to close the A338 from February 10 for electrification works.
  • 11 January - MP joins Devon protest against 'open season' planning rules - See the Western Morning News
    Hundreds of protestors marched through Feniton amid fears the Government’s controversial planning policy has declared “open season” on East Devon and could see the area swallowed up by mass development.
    The peaceful protest, which was supported by Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton Neil Parish, was staged to highlight the effects of the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which came into effect last year.
  • 11 January - Support our planning reforms or quit policy board, Number 10 tells Nadhim Zahawi - See the Telegraph
    Nadhim Zahawi, a backbench Conservative MP, told to support the Government’s planning reforms or quit as a Number 10 policy adviser.
  • 11 January - Conservatives 'suppressing garden cities report' - See the BBC
    The Conservatives have been accused of suppressing a report which recommends building two new garden cities to combat the housing shortage.
    Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron said he believed the report identified two potential sites - in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.
  • 11 January - Garden cities: David Cameron accused of stifling plan for new communities - See the Guardian
    Lib Dems say PM is playing 'nimby' because Tory voters might oppose thousands of new homes in their areas.
  • 10 January - Two new garden cities for southern England in 'secret' Tory plan - See the Telegraph
    A secret Whitehall report recommending that two new cities are built in southern England to combat the housing shortage is being suppressed by David Cameron, The Telegraph can disclose.
  • 10 January - Floodgates well and truly open - See the West Sussex County Times
    The floodgates were opened by the 2013 National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), giving the un-elected Planning Inspectorate (PI) an excuse to permit speculative development, where house building lacks population growth.
    It was clearly unreasonable to hold Local Planning Authorities (LPA) responsible for such backlogs, which occurred because disposable incomes have declined and because developers will not build houses that they can’t sell, at the profit expected...
  • 9 January - ‘Network Rail must find a solution to bridge closure’ - See the Oxford Mail
    Network Rail should not be allowed to shirk its responsibility over the closure of the A338 for a £1bn electrification project, says Wantage MP Ed Vaizey.
  • 9 January - ‘Network Rail must find a solution to bridge closure’ - See the Wantage Herald
    Wantage and Grove Campaign Group (WAGCG) has urged residents to apply “as much pressure as possible” to get a temporary bridge installed by The Volunteer pub during the closure later this year.
  • 9 January - Government’s plans for common land biased against public - See the Open Spaces Society
    We have criticised as biased Defra’s announcement today (9 January) that it will bring into effect only part of the law for updating the common-land registers, to favour landowners against the public interest.
    The environment minister Dan Rogerson has said that the government will implement part 1 of the Commons Act 2006 fully in Cumbria and North Yorkshire. In the rest of England it will be implemented only partially, enabling landowners to remove commons from the registers without the balancing provision enabling the public to add land which was wrongly excluded.
  • 9 January - Rural planning reforms designed to cut red tape are causing 'physical harm' to the countryside, warns senior Tory - See the Daily Mail
    - Nadhim Zahawi warns new rules were causing 'pain' to rural communities
    - Reforms brought in last year slashed 1,000 pages of planning rules to just 50
    - Mr Zahawi said reforms had led to 'bizarre levels of proposed development'
  • 8 January - A third Government debate on Planning Reform led by David Heath MP - See the written record at Hansard
    a couple of extracts:
    David Heath MP: "Something is seriously wrong not with the principle but with the operation of planning reform. It is causing great concern throughout the country. There is concern that communities will be distorted by opportunistic developments that our local authorities are apparently powerless to stop in the present circumstances. We must look closely at that. I do not want suburban sprawl across my rural constituency, but I see a risk of that. Of course I want houses to be built—we have a desperate need for them— but I want the right houses in the right places for the right reasons determined by local people. Those are exactly the principles that the Minister has espoused in his planning reforms. What I do not want, to almost quote the immortal words of Peter Seeger, is little boxes made of ticky tacky."
    Nick Boles MP: This is "something of a “Groundhog Day” experience for me. I am absolutely sure that this is not the last time that I will have this experience" "We are not looking to change the NPPF, because after such a dramatic change in the planning system, stability has an enormous value."
  • 8 January - Councils should not charge section 106 unless 'pressing need' exists, says Boles - See the article in Inside Housing
    Developers should not be made to pay section 106 contributions unless there is a ‘pressing need for them’, the planning minister has said.
    Nick Boles slammed local authorities for ‘pocketing’ millions levied from developers to fund infrastructure, amenities and affordable housing.
  • 8 January - ’Network Rail must find a solution to bridge closure’ - See theOxford Mail
    NETWORK RAIL should not be allowed to shirk its responsibility over the closure of the A338 for a £1bn electrification project, says Wantage MP Ed Vaizey.
    Wantage and Grove Campaign Group (WAGCG) has urged residents to apply “as much pressure as possible” to get a temporary bridge installed by The Volunteer pub during the closure later this year.
  • 8 January - Coalition's legacy could be 'harm to countryside', No 10 adviser warns - See theTelegraph
    Number 10 adviser criticises Government planning reforms and warns that the damage being done to the countryside could end up being the Coalition's biggest legacy.
  • 7 January - MP urges Arun to ‘reject damaging housing plan’ - See the Littlehampton Gazette
    Nick Herbert, MP for Arundel and the South Downs has issued an ultimatum to Arun District Council – reject unsustainable housing plans or face the consequences.
    "The committee should not simply have translated the figure for housing need into a housing number (580 houses a year over 15 years).
    The National Planning Policy Framework is clear that a local plan CAN deliver a lower number of houses than the objectively assessed need “... if any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits ....” (NPPF, para 14).
    Yet this point is simply omitted from the chief planning officer’s report to the committee, and the balancing exercise has not been undertaken."
  • 7 January - Councils deny 'sitting on' regeneration cash - See theLocalGov Website
    Councils have denied ‘sitting on’ millions of pounds of Section 106 money intended for social and community projects.
    Freedom of information requests to all 353 local authorities in England by the BBC found that £421m had not yet been allocated to future schemes and over the past five years £9.8m had been returned to developers.
  • 7 January - An indication of traffic chaos lying ahead/ - See theOxford Mail
    We need everyone to write to our MPs and the county councillors saying nothing less than a bailey bridge solution is acceptable to Wantage/Grove. If they get several thousand letters they may pay attention.
  • 6 January - £1.5bn 'community cash' unspent by English councils - See theBBC
    Councils in England are holding on to £1.5bn of unspent Section 106 "community money" given to them by developers during planning talks.
  • 3 January - Road closure for railway work prompts planning plea - See theOxford Mail
    Drivers are facing months of serious delays as the A338 between Wantage and Oxford is due to be closed for up to six months while Network Rail electrifies the Didcot to Swindon main line.
    Vale of White Horse District Council is now pushing for clear plans to be put in place to ensure the local economy, residents, and commuters are not badly hit by the works.
  • 2 January - A338 temporary bridge ‘unlikely’ to be installed - See the Oxfordshire Guardian
    Residents of Wantage and Vale of White Horse District Council are calling for Network Rail to install a temporary bridge on the A338, while electrification work is carried out.
    The road is set to be closed for up to six months during 2014 as work to raise the Station Road bridge is carried out, leaving motorists facing an 18-mile detour.
    But a spokesperson for Network Rail said that while a final decision is yet to be made, they are “unlikely” to build a temporary bridge at the site.

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