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Column 11th August 2021

Infrastructure would be better if it was timely

The Herald reported last week that one of the biggest housing estates ever planned for Oxfordshire, set to consist of 4,524 homes, has been given the go ahead.

This development, to be called Valley Park, will be built between the 3,300 homes on Great Western Park and the A34 and should include a significant amount of infrastructure for the residents.

The outline application for the development was approved by the Planning Committee earlier this month but the funding agreement has not yet been signed.

The agreements between the Vale and County Council, the applicants and land owners should secure affordable housing, housing for care, schools and on site infrastructure including roads, local centres, allotments, play areas, fitness facilities, sports pitches, sports pavilions, public open space and a community building as well as financial contributions towards new and existing infrastructure improvements, including schools, public transport, road improvements, cycleway and footpath improvements, sports and health.

The issue will be possible delays in delivery of infrastructure as I discussed last week when talking about the Grove Airfield development.

Take the proposed sum of £3.261m for providing accommodation for new primary care infrastructure for example.

The NHS would like the money to be available within 12 months of the agreement being signed but the applicants have offered four payments to be made after 250, 500, 750 and 1,000 occupations.

Didcot primary care network has stated that they have no additional capacity to accommodate additional staff to meet the need of residents of the area over the next few years so waiting until at least 1,000 more homes are occupied (excluding those from other developments) will stretch the health care facilities past breaking point.

Anyone living in the Wantage area will know that we have been waiting for an extension to the Health Centre on Mably Way since 2012 and still have no date for delivery.

Our health centre is short of space and short of staff and Didcot is in a similar position so any delay to expansion of facilities in this whole area will affect us all.

We understand that one of the developers who may be building Valley Park is Persimmon and if our experience at Grove Airfield is anything to go by, then the local Councillors and Officers reviewing the agreements prior to approval need to ensure that infrastructure will be timely or penalties incurred.


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