I mentioned recently that I would use this column to answer some fundamental questions from people who have recently moved into the area, asking about the scale of development and the lack of infrastructure.
So Question 3: I hear that the District Council is now working on a new Local Plan. What will be the impact of this on Wantage and Grove?
The current Local Plan 2031 was finally completed and approved in 2018 but the Vale of the White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Councils are now working on a new joint Local Plan to 2041.
In the previous column I mentioned the requirement to start with the ‘objectively assessed need’ for housing to provide a target for the number of new homes to be built.
At the moment the Future Oxfordshire Partnership (formerly the Growth Board) is working on a strategic plan for Oxfordshire to 2050 and as part of this they have commissioned a new housing needs assessment.
The Oxfordshire Growth Needs Assessment (OGNA) is a growth plan agreed by the Councils and the Local Enterprise Partnership without any public consultation which sets out the ambitious plans for growth in Oxfordshire to 2050.
It includes three alternative growth forecasts for Oxfordshire from 100,000 to 150,000 new homes by 2050.
In common with the previous assessment, we dispute the methodology used to produce the figures and believe that even the lowest figure is inflated on very dubious evidence.
Whatever the final figure is, you can bet that it will result in the housing requirement for the Vale being (once again) over 20,000 new homes by 2041.
Developers are already pedalling plans for 800-1,000 new homes between Wantage and East Challow, almost 1,000 new homes between Grove and East Hanney and 300 homes east of the A338 in North Grove.
As far as we know, none of these plans will include any employment opportunities so the concept of 15 or 20 minutes neighbourhoods (creating places where resident’s everyday needs, such as education, employment, community health and wellbeing facilities and recreation opportunities can be met within a short walk or cycle ride) won’t apply to the new conurbation of East Challow, East Hanney, Grove and Wantage.
I’m not sure that the concept of zero carbon will ever apply to this area when the nearest employment hubs remain at Harwell or Milton Park.
So the short answer to the question is more homes are very likely.