The Covid-19 pandemic is allowing the government to take emergency powers and some of these will have practical consequences for all of us.
For example, changes to our town centres to make them more suitable for social distancing will not require any consultation with residents.
The County, District and Town Councils will be able to widen pavements by narrowing roads or take away parking without consulting us first.
The Town Council will be able to test its ideas for part pedestrianisation of the Market Place without consulting with the businesses in the Market Place, the bus companies or the residents of Wantage.
Developers will be able to work longer hours and on weekends by putting in an application to the planning authority.
If the District Council Planning Department don’t respond within 14 days (under the Business and Planning Act going through Parliament at the moment) the application will be automatically approved.
The current rules allow builders to work between 07:30 –18:00 Monday to Friday and 08:00 to 13:00 on Saturday but to increase the number of new homes built quickly these restrictions are being relaxed.
So expect that infuriating beep beep of the reversing vehicles to go on much longer.
Some applications have already been approved but the hours vary by developer.
The Care Home on Grove Road in Wantage can extend their hours to Monday to Friday 7am-7pm and Saturday 8am-4pm until the end of August.
Bellway Homes on Crab Hill can work until 9pm Monday to Friday and 5pm on Saturday.
Cala Homes on Crab Hill can work from 6:30am-7pm for a period of at least 6 months.
David Wilson Homes on Grove Road can work from 7am to 9pm until 31 May 2021.
The decision notice from the Planning Department states (for every application):
“The Written Ministerial Statement advises the local authorities should not refuse requests to extend working hours until 9pm Monday to Saturday without very compelling reason for rejection.”
“Please avoid noisy/disruptive work in the evening as you may still be subject to nuisance regulations.”
Crest at East Challow have also requested an extension until 9pm Monday to Saturday to 31 May 2021.
Stepnell (the developers of the Care Home) have written to local residents saying that if there is a specific event, day or occasion for which they would like the working hours to be restricted then get in touch.
We don’t know if any of the other developers have offered anything similar.