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

Newsletter 23 November 2021

I know that three weeks ago I said that I would send out a regular planning update, but as usual other things took priority - sorry!

Anyway, no news about any of our Councils offering to force a peer review on the housing need number that I referred to in the last email (see https://www.wantageandgrove.org/newsletters.php if you want to refresh your memory). I thought that the new administrations had been elected on the basis that they would work for the interests of their electorate. Isn't it interesting how quickly they forget what they were elected to do?

This Thursday is the HOSC meeting (Oxfordshire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee) when representatives of the County and District Councils have the opportunity to receive and scrutinise the Health and Care services provided to the residents. Funny enough although I'm sure 'care' is just as important as 'health' it rarely appears on the agenda although both are discussed at the Health and Wellbeing Board which manages the delivery of these services.

It's now over a year since the HOSC meeting which heard about (I almost wrote 'discussed' but they didn't discuss it) the Strategic Development and Quality Improvement Plan for the Community Services that Oxford Health Foundation Trust (OHFT) provides in Oxfordshire, in partnership with Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG). I quote from the report tabled at the meeting in November 2020:
'To inform the planning process, we are currently in the process of synthesing the information we have gathered to populate our newly adopted strategic framework with proposed outcomes for community services by the end of December 2020, with the intention of sharing it with partners for review in the new year.
In parallel, we are developing proposals to pilot new services in OX12 and will share these with the Town Council Health Sub-committee and OX12 Task & Finish group shortly. We remain committed to developing services that will ensure a sustainable future for Wantage Community Hospital and this work will also inform the development of services more widely.'

I'm a member of the Town Council Health Sub-committee and I haven't been to any committee meeting where any proposals were tabled. I think they must have forgotten that we exist.

The 2020 report goes on to say:
'We also recognise that HOSC has been requesting a resolution of the status of the inpatient unit at Wantage for an unacceptably long time on behalf of local residents, for which we apologise, and that the matter must be brought to a conclusion as soon as possible.' 

Now, a year on, the report being presented to the meeting this Thursday states:
'we are looking at how we make best use of our community hospitals across the county. As part of this, and in keeping with the plans previously discussed with the Committee, several new health services for adults and children are being piloted at Wantage Community Hospital this winter. This will provide more local care and easier access to clinical expertise for the community. Significant progress has been made despite the considerable workforce challenges facing the NHS, including:

  • launching new mental health services in October and expanding the local provision to include a wider range of child, adult and older adult mental health services. The plans include an eating disorders clinic, perinatal mental health, and a neuro-development clinic that will provide assessments of young people to diagnose ADHD and autism and develop appropriate support. In addition, the award-winning Talking Space Plus therapies service will provide cognitive behavioural therapy and counselling service at Wantage to people with moderate anxiety and depression.
  • setting up new NHS ophthalmology clinics at the hospital, which are due to launch this month.
  • planning for ENT clinics to start next year, subject to the successful recruitment of staff.
  • holding discussions with local GPs about the potential for using rooms at the hospital to support primary care services while the plans to extend the health centre are progressed.

The new outpatient services add to the existing provision based at the Hospital, which includes speech and language therapy for children and adults, podiatry, musculoskeletal services and school health nurses. Oxford University Hospitals is continuing to provide maternity services. Regrettably, due to staffing shortages, it is not currently possible to support births at the unit, although local home births are being offered to local residents where clinically suitable.
It is important to note the roll-out of these new services does not represent the long-term decision on the future operation of the inpatient beds at the hospital, which will be determined over the coming months through the process set out in this paper.'

So it's now almost 5½ years since the temporary closure of our inpatient beds and nearly 20 years since our minor injuries services stopped. Enough said!

The planning application on the extension to the Mably Way Health Centre still hasn't been approved. I think that the planning team has requested a biodiversity metric assessment and proposals for a biodiversity enhancement plan and a survey of the willow trees by the project arboriculturist to identify the location of such trees, showing root protection areas, and if necessary, redesign the route to minimise impact on these trees. They suggest that the route should also be redesigned to follow the path and through the gate, so the hedge can be retained. I believe that both of these will be required before permission is granted.

The planning application has been submitted for the first primary school on Grove Airfield (and it's the Grove Airfield Development Forum next week so I may find out more details) but given that the plan for the first football pitch was submitted in April 2020 and still hasn't been approved I wouldn't plan for your child to attend this school anytime soon.

Some of the new residents of this area are now getting interested in the planning issues and lack of infrastructure so I'm using my weekly columns in the Herald to answer some of the questions:

Question 1: What is the so-called 'need' for new housing in Wantage and Grove and who or what body has decided this?
Question 2: How many homes have been built since 2011 and how many have been approved to be built in the next five years?

Rather than include the full answers here (and make this email seem even more like a book) see https://www.wantageandgrove.org/column.php?id=237 for a copy of the column.

Tomorrow's column answers Question 3: I hear that the District Council is now working on a new Local Plan. What will be the impact of this on Wantage and Grove? see https://www.wantageandgrove.org/column.php?id=238 if you want to read it online.

Finally: some planning applications:

P21/V0738/FUL Park Farm East Challow - an uplift of 10 no. additional dwellings, approved.
P21/V1141/FUL Land at Highfield Barn, Priors Court Farm, Hyde Road, West Hanney Change of use of land from agriculture to the siting of up to 10 glamping pods, car parking and all weather pedestrian path. Refused
P21/V2959/RM Grove Airfield Reserved Matters approval for the construction of a single storey (2 form entry) primary school with nursery, and associated landscaping, hard and soft play spaces and car and cycle parking provision (mentioned above).
P21/V2546/RM, Crab Hill Construction of new road carriageways - this is a change to the approved outline design which changes the road layout on the western part of the development, removes some footpaths and cyclepaths and appears to change the ground heights behind Charlton Heights to raise the new homes above the ground level of those they will back onto.
P21/V2489/FUL, Victoria Cross Gallery Market Place - Conversion of first & second floor offices to form 6x 1 bedroom flats. Revised plans 10 November. More flats without any parking or cycle storage.
P21/V2416/FUL, The Health Centre, Mably Way - Single storey extensions to front and sides of existing medical centre, with associated relocation of existing parking spaces, and new parking spaces and landscaping (mentioned above).
P21/V2040/RM, Care Home, Centre West Phase Kingsgrove - construction of a 72 bed care home (Use Class C2), with associated access, parking, landscaping, plant and site infrastructure. Another care home with inadequate visitor parking.
P21/V1346/FUL 4 Newbury Street, Wantage Conversion of outbuilding behind the Blue Boar to two apartments and minor alterations to ground floor public house – additional information provided 6th October - not a very positive report on the future viability of the pub.
P21/V1265/RM South East B, Crab Hill (Bellway Homes) Reserved Matters application for the approval of landscaping, scale, appearance and layout for the construction of 121 dwellings - we've objected to the parking layouts.
P21/V0376/FUL: Land at Ashfields Lane and A338 East Hanney. The application is 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. Lots of local objections
P20/V3113/O Land North of Grove Airfield up to 700 homes between the Grove Airfield Development and the Denchworth Road - the local plan includes up to 400 homes on this site not 700.
P20/V2426/FUL Monks Farm – area just south of Williams need a variation to condition 13 because The Environment Agency have been consulted and advised that as a number of dwellings are now occupied they are unable to advise discharge of this application (they should have been asked before occupation). – I assume the building is continuing or has been completed without this …
P20/V1014/RM Grove Airfield application for 1 sports pitch and ancillary facilities comprising parking, temporary changing rooms and toilets. Amended plans submitted 4 November 2021. Should have been available for use before 50 homes were occupied!
P19/V1420/O Monks Farm: Residential development for up to 220 dwellings together with access, associated landscaping and public open space, tennis courts, infrastructure and biodiversity enhancements. New plans received 1 September incorporating a new bridge over the Brook but still insufficient ecological info. Tree Officer 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
P18/V2025/O The expansion of Elm Farm Business Park revised application on 28 August 2020.

That's all for now.

Thanks for reading,

Best wishes

Julie Mabberley
Campaign Manager

Wantage and Grove Campaign Group

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