The aims of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group (WAG) say “We are not against any development in Wantage and Grove but:
We’ve been campaigning since 2012, since the National Planning Policy Framework first became law and the Vale District Council started to plan for more than 20,000 new homes.
The Government requires developers to pay for most of the infrastructure required (schools, roads, health centres, community centres, public transport and leisure facilities).
Developers only have to contribute to these things if it is financially viable for them to do so and only for the people who live in the new homes, so when they only build 200 homes, it isn’t enough to pay for new roads, schools etc.
The Council also receives money from the Government for building new homes (the New Homes Bonus) and should spend that on the infrastructure that the developers don’t pay for or don’t contribute enough to pay for the whole thing (like our mythical new Leisure Centre).
In 2011 Abingdon had a population of 38,000 and is allocated 1,000 new homes in the Local Plan, bringing their population to about 40,500 by 2031.
Wantage and Grove had a population of 18,500 and are allocated more than 6,500 new homes, so the estimated population will increase to 35,000 (nearly as big as Abingdon).
Abingdon still has a fully operational Community Hospital, a Minor Injuries Unit and 32 GPs.
Our Community Hospital was temporarily closed to in-patients in 2016 and our Minor Injuries Unit was temporarily closed in 2002. We have 14 GPs and any expansion of the Health Centre or reopening of other facilities is still uncertain.
Abingdon White Horse Tennis and Leisure Centre (built in 2011 and newly refurbished) has 8,892 square metres of facilities and Abingdon also received a major renovation of their outside swimming pool (when ours was closed and the land sold many years ago).
The Wantage Leisure Centre built about 41 years ago has 3,803 square metres of facilities and the promised new leisure centre (now delayed) will have 4,646 square metres (just over half the size of the White Horse Leisure Centre).
We can all argue about whether the developments around Wantage and Grove are proportionate and sustainable, but it’s clear that the infrastructure isn’t enough to enhance and improve quality of life for its residents.