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

Newsletter 16 June 2021

I’ve just looked back and realised that it’s about 6 weeks since the last update! Where does time go?

I’m sorry but this will be a long email while I catch up.

Our Annual General Meeting took place via Zoom on 28th April. My report is available HERE or via our website if you are interested.

First Planning Issues

The application to increase the number of bedrooms in the new Care Home on Grove Road from 65 to 74 has been approved. A quote from the Officers Report stated that:
“Given that there are no external changes to the building or landscaping, there are not considered to be any impact upon adjacent residents as a result of the proposed amendments. The minor increase in traffic trips that will be generated from the additional bedrooms is not considered to have a detrimental impact upon the amenities of adjacent residents”
This week, the owners of the extra care apartments in the other half of the building (nearest the allotments) have applied to squeeze two more flats in – one with three bedrooms and the other with two. In the supporting documentation they state that “two additional extra care units will not lead to a quantifiable increase in parking demand. Therefore, there is no requirement to provide additional parking and there is no additional risk of overspill car parking on the highway network.” See planning application https://data.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/java/support/Main.jsp?MODULE=ApplicationDetails&REF=P21/V1456/FUL#exactline
We assume that the Council officers will accept this statement as they don’t have to travel along Grove Road or up Harcourt Way.
Harcourt Way is already full of parked cars and we understand that the police don’t object because it slows the traffic but if the cars are parked such that you can’t see if anything is coming the other way then it has to be dangerous.

The application for “up to 400” dwellings on Monks Farm (north of Grove CofE School and west of current developments near Bellingers Garage and east of the cemetery) has finally be approved and the Section 106 agreement signed. It doesn’t include the completion of the Grove Northern Link Road (GNLR) connecting to Denchworth Road because there’s an area of land near the cemetery which they don’t own, so it includes the diversion of the Northern Relief Road past the entrance to The Maples. Highways have approved this but raise concern over the capacity of the existing A338 junction into the site and state that “This is based on a short section at the Denchworth Road end of the NLR not being part of this application, resulting in a risk that the road is never completed as a through route.”
Conditions include;

  • No development shall commence until a detailed plan of the bridge over Letcombe Brook for the single road crossing has been submitted to, and approved in writing by, the local planning authority.
  • No occupation beyond the 150th dwelling forming part of the development thereby permitted shall occur until a vehicular access link between the spine road within the development and Denchworth Road has been completed and is suitable for bus operation.This could either take the form of the Grove Northern Link Road (GNLR) connecting to Denchworth Road, coupled with a widening of a section of Denchworth Road or, if this is not achievable, an access link to the wider section of Denchworth Road near to the junction with Maples Close.

What’s the point in approving all these homes if the roads which are necessary are never built? – we had a similar problem with the ill-fated roundabout in East Challow and are likely to have the same issue in a few years’ time with the change from the double mini roundabout at the Lord Nelson which should be changed to a single roundabout. While I’m on the topic of roads – there is also Featherbed Lane which should have been straightened with a roundabout at the end by now.

These road issues seem to have two causes – firstly the developers not wanting to spend the money and the highways team approving applications which they can’t implement, but secondly landowners now wanting to sell the land. The County Council seems very reluctant to get the necessary compulsory purchase orders and there seems to be little we can do to make them.

The other application for Monks Farm / Grove Wick Farm (west of Williams F1 and south of the railway) is still outstanding. This is an application for up to 220 dwellings together with access, associated landscaping and public open space, tennis courts, infrastructure and biodiversity enhancements P19/V1420/O
The Tree Officer is still not happy. Parish Council still object, Landscape Officer has objected, Cycling groups don’t like it, ramblers want a new footpath over the railway, residents of Letcombe Gardens don’t like the new site using their road and anyway this land was supposed to provide more employment not more homes!

Development continues on Grove Airfield, more than 250 homes are now occupied and work on the realignment of the road to the south of the development continues. There is a total of 421 units approved to date with a further application submitted for the next 169.
The first sports pitch and temporary changing facilities (due after 50 occupations) is still not approved so they are at least 18 months late and the second application for two additional pitches (due by 500 occupations) was supposedly to be submitted in May.
There is still no final agreement on the provision of a temporary community facility, negotiations on funding use of existing community facilities elsewhere in Grove instead of using a adapted house are still in progress.
The first primary school should be built and handed over by September 2023, Primary school 2 is due by 800 occupations. Persimmon are only supposed to be handing over the site of the Secondary School to OCC (not actually building it), no dates for this have been given.
Although the new development includes lots of cycleways along the new roads there are already problems with people parking on them. The County’s answer to this is that this will be resolved by strengthening road markings and (when the roads are finally handed to OCC) enforcement of double yellow lines.

As I’ve mentioned before Persimmon also have an application is for Land North of Grove Airfield P20/V3113/O up to 700 homes between the Grove Airfield Development and the Denchworth Road. No further news at the moment .

I’ve also mentioned the Park Farm, East Challow application P21/V0738/FUL with an proposed increase of 10 additional dwellings and a revised housing mix.  This remains outstanding although a slightly older application for this site to change a two bedroom home to a 5 bedroom home comes to the District Council Planning Committee next Wednesday 23 June. The agenda and papers for the meeting are http://democratic.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=102&MId=2859&Ver=4 and you can watch the meeting on YouTube.

Land on the corner of Ashfields Lane and the A338 in East Hanney is subject to an application for demolition of existing structures and the erection of 50 dwellings, provision of public open space, formation of vehicular and pedestrian accesses from the A338, provision of pedestrian access to Ashfields Lane, landscaping and other associated works. See P21/V0376/FUL
The Drainage Officer has objected and there is a campaign in Hanney to object to this application. Other officers object to the landscaping (or lack of it). Almost 80 residents (so far) are objecting to the density, access via the A338, lack of local facilities and impact on the water table.

The Lidl application for a new store next to Mably Way roundabout has gone to appeal and we are waiting for the determination from the Planning Inspector. Don’t hold your breath, these things take time!

On Crab Hill, over 160 homes are now occupied and the primary school is open.
The footpath between Phase 1 of the development and Whitehorns Farm road remains closed but we are assured that the gate will be made compliant soon and a new access (which doesn’t go through the childrens playground) will be completed shortly.
The road through the development has been partially completed providing access to the school. The eastern end will be completed up to the WELR roundabout by summer 2021. The work on the Wantage Eastern Relief Road is due to start on site in Autumn 2021 and completed by Summer 2022.
A provider has been selected to deliver the care home on site. It will have around 70 rooms.
No news is available about the new Community Centre planned for the development.

The footpath between East Challow and Stockham Park through the Childrey Park development remains closed even though the hoardings next to the main road and the mesh fencing next to the houses that are almost complete (next to Challow Park studios) have now been removed. Thanks to Shirley for the update.

The final planning point is that there are several applications to add more flats into Wantage Town Centre including:

  • The subdivision of the funeral directors shop & house on Church Street into Funeral Directors Shop & two 2 bedroom self contained flats.
  • The change of use from "offices" back to "residential flat" of the first floor of Caprinos Pizza in Wallingford Street
  • The conversion of outbuilding behind the Blue Boar in Newbury Street to two apartments (it had planning permission for a restaurant).

None of these applications include parking so more people are likely to need to park somewhere near the town centre. There is very little chance of these applications being refused.

Now health issues.

Newbury Street Practice has a new phone number 01235 639 521 and a new phone system so if you have their number recorded anywhere don’t forget to change it. It should now be a lot easier to get through on the phone.

The Newbury Street Patients Group are hosting another Zoom talk next week. It’s entitled “The Importance of Cancer Prevention and Early Diagnosis” and takes place via Zoom on Thursday 24 June at 8pm. The link to join the Zoom Meeting is https://wantagetc-gov-uk.zoom.us/j/94410757942 and the Meeting ID:   944 1075 7942.

There is still no firm news about the expansion of the Health Centre. We are still waiting for funding approval from the NHS and as the reorganisation of Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group into the BOB (Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and West Berkshire) Integrated Care System is in progress, the promise of funding may disappear again!

Wantage Hospital Inpatient Beds still remain temporarily closed after five years. The latest news is that Diane Hedges stated at the Oxfordshire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee in April that the future plans for Health and Care Services in OX12 will be determined as part of the Community Services Strategy which will take at least 18 months. In a report for the Oxfordshire Health and Wellbeing Board tomorrow afternoon it states:
“Wantage Community Hospital is central to the plans for community services in Wantage, Grove and the surrounding villages.
Services currently being delivered from the community hospital include: Speech and Language Therapy (children’s and adults), Podiatry, School health nurses, Oxford University Hospital maternity services and birthing unit, Healthshare musculoskeletal services (MSK).
Since the beds were temporarily closed in 2016, significant expansion of new care pathways has enabled more care to be provided to older people directly in the home, which is generally their preferred option. This includes the accelerated roll-out of the ‘Home First’ and ‘Ageing Well’ pathways in the OX12 area, which has contributed to a further drop in the need for bed-based hospital care.
Over the last 12 months we have seen a significant average reduction in length of stay and reducing bed occupancy levels, suggesting that there is no current need for greater numbers of general community beds.
In the short term, in order to test plans for more accessible services to a greater number of people in the community, we propose to run ‘test and learn’ pilots of outpatient services at the Hospital, starting by the end of quarter 2. These will focus on addressing identified local population needs – current plans include Audiology, Ophthalmology, Ear Nose and Throat as well as Mental Health services (all ages).”

Wantage Neighbourhood Plan
This is a quote from the Town Council Website:
“The updated draft Wantage Neighbourhood Plan published in November 2020 is undergoing further amendment in response to input from the survey that closed on 15 January and from the District Council Planning Department. The next version of the Plan will be published in early March”
We’re not sure which year!

Wantage Pedestrianisation
The current close of the western end of the market place is only in place until early July (under current Covid rules) but this may be extended. According to the last Town Council Newsletter (which I can’t find on the Council Website):
“The success of the vaccination programme to combat Covid-19 makes it unlikely that there is sufficient time to proceed with the temporary pedestrianisation of the south side of the Market Place before the pandemic restrictions are removed.”
“The temporary closure of the western end of the Market Place will continue until pandemic restrictions are ended” … “It remains the Town Council’s policy to make the western end closure permanent.”
“The temporary closure has helped to identify a number of issues that would need to be addressed for a permanent scheme, including access for delivery vehicles and improvements to the appearance of the closed area. Work will be continuing on developing proposals over the coming weeks.”

Finally, James Goodman has resigned as a Town Councillor (the only Conservative on the Council at the moment). So there will have to be a by-election soon or the Council will co-opt a new member.

Phew! That’s enough for now.

Don't forget that if 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,

Best wishes

Julie Mabberley
Campaign Manager

Wantage and Grove Campaign Group

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