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

Column 9th August 2023

Britain’s house-building capital.

There was an article in the Sunday Times last week which included the statement “This corner of Oxfordshire has quietly become Britain’s housebuilding capital. Between the 2011 and 2021 censuses, the constituency of Wantage grew by 9,390 households, a rise of 21 per cent — more than any other in Britain.”

The article focuses mainly on the lack of services in the area and “Great Western Park, a new village of 3,300 homes built throughout the 2010s”.

This got me thinking – what is a village?

There’s no official designation of what a village is. If a settlement does not have a town charter, town council or licence to hold a market from the Crown, and of course is not a city, then it has every right to be called a village.

But what’s the difference between a village and the suburb of a local town or city?

A village could be defined as one church community – but with so many different churches these days and many Vicars or Priests being responsible for more than one Church, I’m not sure that this applies any more.

Does a village have a Parish Council – if so, I don’t think Great Western Park is a village. I don’t think it has a village hall or a church either.

Kidlington is described as the largest village and civil parish in Oxfordshire, with a population in the 2021 census of 13,600. It has a Parish Council, a village hall and a church.

Grove is also a village with a Parish Council, a village hall and a church and a population of 8,333 at the 2021 census.

For comparison, Wantage had a population of 13,100, a town council, a number of churches and a market charter but I’d hesitate to call the Beacon a Town Hall since it’s owned by the District Council not the town.

The article also focused on the lack of health facilities and the 90-minute round trip to the John Radcliffe Hospital.

We at least can register with a GP in Wantage, in Didcot the practices are only taking children, adults have to stay with the surgery near their previous home.

We used to have an MP who stood up for facilities in his constituency but as he currently serves as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, (Michael Gove MP), I guess he has to be careful what he says.

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