I've just looked back at the last email and realised that it was before Christmas. So Happy New Year! I hope that you have survived the first weeks of the year and look forward to getting out and about soon. This is a long email so you might want to get a cup of coffee before you start.
First I want to tell you about a Zoom session this Thurday evening (25th February) at 8pm. Newbury Street Patients Group are organising a talk on "Keeping a Level Head in Lockdown" by Dr Carrie Ladd, Dr Katie Brice and Georgia Green from Mind. I know that I've found this current lockdown particularly challenging and I'm interested to hear what they have to say about mental health. You can join the session at https://wantagetc-gov-uk.zoom.us/j/93644528382 Meeting ID: 936 4452 8382
Now back to more normal business
1. Wantage Neighbourhood Plan
We all submitted our comments to the Neighbourhood Plan over Christmas and we're now waiting for the Town Council to publish the comments and see what happens next. In the meantime, the Town Council has published the results of the survey into the temporary part-pedestrianisation of the Market Place. You can see the results here https://wantagetowncouncil.gov.uk/wantage-residents-say-yes-please-to-pedestrianisation/ I guess the next stage is to implement the plans although it seems funny that we'll be closing the end of Newbury Street and half of the Market Place because of Covid about the same time as all the restrictions are lifted.
2. Covid testing in Wantage
We hear that from today, 23 February, the Beacon in Wantage will become a Covid-19 testing site for public-facing workers and volunteers who are not displaying symptoms. People in these roles who cannot work from home and do not have access to workplace testing will be able to book a weekly test at the centre. To book a test go to https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test
3. County Transport Strategy
The Local Transport and Connectivity Plan (LTCP) is Oxfordshire’s long term countywide transport strategy and takes into account our strategy for digital infrastructure and for connecting the whole county. Feedback from the engagement (which we participated in) in spring 2020 and other data has been used to write this draft vision sets the direction for transport in Oxfordshire to 2050.
The Vision document itself is only a 17 page document (and lots of fluff) so a fairly easy read. There is also a longer (47page) Baseline document, which is full of interesting facts and figures so may also be worth looking at. The consultation runs to 29 March and we'll be submitting a response. If you want to help (or submit your own comments then you can access the details here.
4. Leisure Funding
The District Council cancelled the plans for the new Leisure Centre inbetween Wantage and Grove about a year ago and said that they would prepare a new leisure strategy before deciding where to spend the money. The strategy still hasn't materialised but after some pressure from Jenny Hannaby, Jane Hanna and others has announced that community groups and sporting organisations in Wantage, Grove and Faringdon will help to identify how the money will be spent. The groups are being asked for their thoughts on the need for leisure locally, which will feed into a review by the district council.
The Council will receive at least £6.4 million for leisure facilities from developers of approved homes in Wantage and Grove and have also received millions of pounds in new homes bonus payments from the government. They could have applied for lottery funding to top up the amount so we wait to see who they talk to and what comes out the these new discussions.
5. Planning Issues
a) The land north of Grove Airfield.
I mentioned the new application for this area between Grove Airfield and the Denchworth Road in the last email. This was in the Local Plan with an allocation for up to 400 homes yet Persimmon want to build between 500-700 homes. For details see our Grove Airfield Expansion page or see the application on the Vale website. Application P20/V3113/O
County have now submitted their comments and they are being quite outspoken.
Part of the reason for including this site in the Local Plan was to ensure that the Grove Northern Link Road (GNLR - intended to divert traffic away from the old centre of Grove) is completed.
Some of this road has already been built as it goes through the Bellway Development from the A338 near Bellengers, but it is currently a no-through road. There is a small stretch of this road which should go round the back of Grove cemetery and cross the Denchworth road into the Airfield development which is not included in any planning application.
The County comments that it is highly likely that this development will be reliant on the completion of the GNLR to provide sufficient capacity to accommodate the traffic from the new development.
They point out that the majority of the application site is within the same ownership as the patch behind the cemetery and imply that the applicant should include this land within this proposed development to ensure the delivery of the GNLR and that the application shouldn't be approved without it.
b) The Care Home on Grove Road
Some of you might have seen the article in the Herald about "up to100 new jobs will be created with the opening of a 'luxury' care facility". The article referred to the recruitment of staff for the new Care Home being built on Grove Road, Wantage. The site being constructed includes 50 Extra Care Apartments and a Care Home for 65 residents. Well, that was last week's plan. Then an application was submitted for a “minor material amendment” to the plans. Without changing the exterior of the building, or increasing the number of parking spaces, the owners want to increase the number of residents in the care home from 65 to 74. They also don't intend to increase the number of care staff. The plans remove about half of the community space in the building and two of the offices and turn these spaces into extra rooms for residents. Comments can be submitted at P21/V0261/FUL before 17 March.
c) Park Farm, East Challow
Late last year, the latest application to increase the density of the development by an additional 13 homes was turned down by the District Council on the grounds that it was considered to be "a poorly designed, cramped and congested scheme" which created "unreasonable living conditions". A further application has now been submitted but this one doesn't change the number of homes but increases the number of bedrooms instead. They are planning to alter the designs of 8 homes and add a total of 3 bedrooms. See P21/V0293/FUL for details.
d) Crab Hill / Kingsgrove
There is an application in for another phase of the Crab Hill Phase 4, Centre East. This is still off the A417 to the East of Wantage and is behind (to the north of) the Bellway "Greensands" development and to the easy of the Cala "Fullers Meadow" development. Application P20/V2756/RM is for another 171 dwellings. This will make a total of nearly 600 homes so far on Crab Hill.
e) Grove Airfield / Wellington Gate
As mentioned in December, latest detailed application [P20/V2994/RM] is for another 169 homes on the Airfield but Persimmon still haven't submitted the application for the first primary school (planned for to open September 2023) or seem to have managed to finalise the application [P20/V1014/RM] for the sports pitches and temporary changing facilities. The application [P20/V0617/DIS] in which they plan to move the Denchworth Road at the Cane Lane junction now shows a diversion via Mably Way, Main Street, Denchworth Road and Newlands Drive, so that's an improvement. More than 250 homes are already occupied and with this new application that makes a 420 homes planned out of the 2,500 on the development.
I'm sure there are other things I should have mentioned (like more verges for auction in Grove) but I think that this is enough for now.
Don't forget that you have to travel, you can access information about roadworks around here at https://one.network/ and if you don't get the Herald and would like to read our columns, we include them on our website at https://www.wantageandgrove.org/columns.php after they have been published.
That's all for now. Stay safe and if there is anything we can do to help you then please get in touch.
Thanks for reading,
Wantage and Grove Campaign Group