WaGCG : Wantage and Grove Campaign Group
Wantage and Grove Campaign Group (WaGCG)

Column 1st June 2022

Has planning changed since the Coronation?

What was Planning Law like in 1952, the year of the Coronation?

By the end of the War, bombing damage had impacted on the quantity of housing stock, but additionally, many of the unsanitary, overcrowded slums were in need of replacement.

Something had to be done.

Planning Law changed dramatically with the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947.

This Act required planning permission to be obtained when using land for development; ownership alone no longer conferred the right to develop the land.

It also required any land for development to be sold to a developer at its existing-use value. After planning permission was granted, the developer would be assessed a "development charge" based on the difference between the initial price and the final value of the land.

Where the landowner refused to sell land at the "undeveloped" price, the Central Land Board had authority to purchase it compulsorily and resell it to the developer.

Haven’t things changed?

In the 1951 Election, the Conservatives replaced the Labour Government and Winston Churchill became Prime Minister.

In 1952 they passed a new Act of Parliament which encouraged ‘town development in county districts for the relief of congestion or over-population elsewhere’.

The Act defined town development as ‘is undertaken primarily for the purpose, of providing accommodation for residential purposes … with all appropriate public services, facilities for public worship, recreation and amenity, and other requirements’.

Do you get a feeling of Déjà vu?

As rationing came to an end in the 1950’s, a growing economy meant that 250,000 new high quality council houses were being built by local authorities each year.

The following years brought the creation of New Towns outside the London Green Belt, culminating in the creation of Milton Keynes in the 1960’s.

This new town was to be the biggest yet, with a target population of 250,000 and a 'designated area' of about 22,000 acres (9,000 ha).

At designation, its area incorporated the existing towns of Bletchley, Fenny Stratford, Wolverton and Stony Stratford and another fifteen villages and farmland in between.

So joining towns and villages together isn’t new.

Unless our new Joint Local Plan 2041 (covering both the Vale and South Oxfordshire) designates a ‘new town’ incorporating Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage and all the villages in between we have nothing to worry about, do we?

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