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Newsletter 22 December 2021

It's a cold winter day and about a month since the last email so time to write one last one (I hope) before Christmas.

Still no news about any of our Councils offering to force a peer review on the housing need number that I referred to in previous emails (see https://www.wantageandgrove.org/newsletters.php if you want to refresh your memory).

Since the last email I have attended a Town Council Health Sub-committee meeting. At the meeting the Clerk reported that he had consulted lawyers about the continuing 'temporary closure' of the inpatient beds in Wantage Hospital and the result was that any action would take until next summer to obtain a result and as the Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) are stating that consultations would take place next summer then it's not worth wasting time and money. As OCCG have promised a consultation about every two years since the 'temporary' closure in 2016 I don't believe it will happen. Anyway it's now 5½ years since the temporary closure of our inpatient beds and nearly 20 years since our minor injuries services stopped.

I still haven't heard any update about the reopening of beds in the maternity ward (closed in August) apparently because of a shortage of staff - I wonder how long it will be before that becomes a closure?

I have however been sent an update on the 'temporary' closure of Physio again (the last time was 2017-2019). I quote:
"The challenges with Wantage have been since after lockdown lifted as capacity in clinic has been reduced from 4 bays and a private room to 2 bays due to social distancing requirements. 
Healthshare maintained clinics on site 2 days a week in the 2 bays until August when one of the physiotherapists resigned. The second of the two left at the end of October. Healthshare have recruited new staff to replace them and also done some internal manoeuvring to have clinics starting again in the first week in December and increasing in January when their new starters are on board.
By the end of January Healthshare will have an Extended Scope Practitioner Clinic, physio and pelvic health operating out of Wantage with podiatry added as soon as restrictions lift enough to use all 4 bays."
We'll see what happens.

The planning application on the extension to the Mably Way Health Centre still hasn't been approved although new plans for the car parking areas have been submitted.

If you read the Herald you will have seen my column about the snicket (alleyway) in the north east corner of the site between the Icknield School (or King Alfred’s East Site) development and Charlton Road. Initially this alleyway was just a rough sloping footpath which used to be used by the school children and in the Design and Access Statement for the new development it was described as a “key pedestrian link”. One of the objectives was for the route “To open up public access into the development through the creation of a fully accessible, integrated and secure green infrastructure network which caters for a range of users”.
Unfortunately, the developers don’t seem to have read their own material.
The alleyway has been levelled up and a flight of steps placed at the northern end making it totally inaccessible to anyone who can’t manage steps.
Now that the discrepancy has been pointed out to them, the developers have submitted a retrospective planning application to get approval for the steps in the hope that they won’t have to do anything.
Please join the list of people who are objecting to the application to keep the steps by commenting on the application at https://data.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/java/support/Main.jsp?MODULE=ApplicationDetails&REF=P21/V3349/FUL Then click on the planning application tab and a link to the application should appear. Follow that link and then there is an orange comment button half way down the page. Click on this and then follow the process to insert your comment.
Let’s make another footpath in Wantage accessible to everyone.

As I mentioned last month 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. I've now covered Questions 3 and Question 4 (although the answer to question 4 continues as it's a big subject - it's taken 2 weeks so far and will probably take another 2 weeks to complete):

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?
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?
Question 4: What infrastructure is going to be provided to match this huge increase in population, if any?

Rather than include the full answers here (and make this email seem even more like a book) see https://www.wantageandgrove.org/columns.php for the columns.

The application for the construction of a 72 bed care home on Crab Hill (Kingsgrove) P21/V2040/RM was deferred at a Vale planning meeting. This was not because of a shortage of parking but because 8 of the parking spaces which aren't on the Care Home Site but across the road, mean that there will be no footpath and pedestrians would have to walk in the road to pass the parked cars. Apparently this was acceptable to both the County Council Highways team (who obviously don't care about pedestrians) and the District Council Planning Team (who believe that trees are more important than pedestrian safety).  Luckily the Councillors disagreed and sent the developers away to rethink. They submitted new plans today amending the number of 'shared' parking spaces from 8 to 6 and planning them in such a way that a footpath exists. I guess that this will now be approved even though there are only 26 spaces on site (including a delivery bay, an ambulance bay and two disabled bays) with a maxmimum number of staff on site at any time being 33 and 72 residents who might have visitors or health visitors. The 6 additional spaces across the road will be shared by visitors to the primary school and those visiting the community centre.

Then we have advance notice of some new developments likely to come our way.. A Screening Opinion is required to determine whether an Environmental Impact
Assessment is required prior to submitting a planning application and is a way of developers testing the water prior to submitting a full planning application. Two screening requests were submitted recently.

  1. P21/V3299/SCR, land to the North of Challow Road, Wantage - Request for a Screening Opinion with regard to proposed application for approximately 200 dwellings - decision made that no Environmental Statement is required.
  2. P21/V3066/SCR, Tulwick Park, East of Grove - Request for a Screening Opinion with regard to a residential development for up to 300 homes, with associated landscaping, parking and infrastructure - - decision made that no Environmental Statement is required.

So I guess full applications may be submitted soon for both of these developments, or at least in the revised Local Plan.

Finally: some amended planning applications:

  1. P21/V2546/RM, Crab Hill Two sets of amended plans since last month for 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.
  2. P21/V2416/FUL, The Health Centre, Mably Way - Single storey extensions to front and sides of existing medical centre (mentioned above) - amended plans for landscaping and parking.
  3. 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 - amended plans since last month.
  4. 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. Amended plans since last month reducing the number of new homes to 44.
  5. P20/V1014/RM Grove Airfield application for 1 sports pitch and ancillary facilities comprising parking, temporary changing rooms and toilets. Amended plans submitted 19 November 2021. Anyone would think that Persimmon had never laid a football pitch before.

That's all for now.

All of us at the Campaign Group wish you a safe and happy Christmas and best wishes for a healthy 2022.

Thanks for reading.

Best wishes
Julie

Julie Mabberley
Campaign Manager

Wantage and Grove Campaign Group
www.wantageandgrove.org


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