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

Column 30th August 2023

Should there be 30 more homes on AONB in Ardington?

At the last Ardington and Lockinge Parish Council meeting in July, there was a presentation by the Lockinge Estate of their future proposals for an area on the eastern edge of Ardington including a visitors’ centre to attract visitors to the community wood, approximately 30 new houses, a new shop and the relocated café.

The main aims of the proposed development are to ensure a sustainable population via a modest increase, to release capital partially for new community facilities and for re-investment into the estate, to increase the availability of affordable housing, to reduce traffic movements in the villages and to manage public access.

The Estate’s philosophy remains the same: to ensure a vibrant local community which includes services partially supported by the Estate.

The suggestion is that the development at this location will reduce the traffic through the village by providing amenities on the edge of the village, bringing traffic to the eastern side of the village from the A417 not through the village from the west.

The Estate emphasised that this is the first consultation on this new proposed development and comments and feedback should be addressed directly to the parish council in the first instance.

The Estate will then determine if there is sufficient community support to proceed.

The whole of Ardington and Lockinge are in the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) so this new development would also be in the AONB.

So far, all the development we have seen locally has been on the north side of the A417, as AONB status has protected the south side.

The current Local Plan includes Policy 35 which states that development proposals for small scale countryside recreational facilities will be supported, provided that it does not harm the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and respects the settlement character, locality and intrinsic beauty.

The Parish Council does not have a neighbourhood plan and the District Council is preparing a new Joint Local Plan with South Oxfordshire so local policies may change in the next few years.

The Government is also reviewing planning policies so their view on development in the AONB may also change.

We have a lot of villages in the AONB around here and no major developments have been allowed in them in recent times.

If you have a view on this proposal then please get in touch with the Parish Council via their website.

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