We spent last week finalising our responses to the consultations for the District Council Corporate Plan and the Oxfordshire 2050 Open Thought Initiative.
The world after the Covid-19 lockdown and whatever comes next could be a very different place.
More people could be spending their time working from home and more of us are using the internet for everything from family gatherings and meetings to shopping and medical appointments.
But this is encouraging isolation and assumes that people have the space in their homes to separate work and home lives.
I know how difficult it is to try and concentrate on work with other people (or pets) vying for attention.
One of the questions in the Open Thought consultation was:
“What if…We ensured that communities were built up again where you could get all your main day-to-day needs within a 15-minute walk, thus reducing reliance on cars and building a better community?
“Could this be applied across Oxfordshire, even down to village level?
“Should we be promoting the return of the neighbourhood or corner shop?”
So what are our main day-to-day needs?
Food has to be the main one, but a social life has to come a close second. Work or school probably comes next with leisure facilities and open space following on.
Health and care and other shopping facilities may not be main day-to-day needs for most of us but they are critical when needed and also employment.
For most of the population of Wantage or Grove, parts of East and West Hanney, Ardington, Letcombe Regis and East Hendred, food can be bought locally although choice may be limited.
East Challow and most of the smaller villages aren’t so lucky.
Nearly every village has a hall or church which can (when open again) provide some social activities. Some even have a pub.
Work is more of a challenge, some major employers are concentrated in Wantage and Grove but most people travel further afield to Harwell, Milton Park, Culham, Oxford or London.
Getting to these places from OX12 definitely needs a car unless you are brave enough (and fit enough) to cycle.
Schools are a similar problem, some of the villages have primary schools but many are over-subscribed and children are often allocated schools much more than a 15-minute walk away.
Is there a subtext in this question which suggests that small villages need lots more houses to make village shops and schools viable?