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

Newsletter 13 May 2022

Yes I know it's a long time since the last email but I don't want to write one when there isn't much to say.

Anyway there's now lots to update you about.

First, the Vale Local Plan

Yesterday (12 May) the Vale and South Oxfordshire District Councils launched a consultation on the new Joint Local Plan which will guide the kinds of new housing and jobs needed and where they should go, informing planning application decisions for the districts. This consultation is on the main issues facing our districts and how we could use the Joint Local Plan to address them. See Joint Local Plan for details. We have until until 11.59pm on Thursday 23 June 2022 to respond.

We let you have our comments in due course.

The housing numbers for this plan will come from the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 and will probably be based on the Oxfordshire Growth Needs Assessment (OGNA), an analysis which produced three alternative figures for the housing growth across Oxfordshire from 2020 to 2050.

The options are:

  • The “Adjusted” Standard Method uses a questionable methodology where the consultants have created their own demographic projections to suggest that 101,580 more homes are required.
  • “Business as Usual” is an employment projection based on a period of post 2008 recession high growth and suggests that 123,390 more homes are needed
  • “Transformational” is an economic trajectory based on an update of the Local Industrial Strategy’s aspirational ‘go for growth’ scenario and requires 152,790 more homes.

For a critical view of the OGNA see our Herald Column from 22 April Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

We have no idea what is happening on this Oxfordshire Plan since it's all behind closed doors but there is nothing on the website updated since July 2021. At a Vale meeting earlier this year the fact that it was very difficult to get agreement across all of the Councils was mentioned.

Of course if the Councils don't get their plans out before 2024 they will be impacted by changes to planning procedures mentioned in the Queens Speech this week and included in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill. We've started looking at that in the column which has just been submitted to the Herald for next week's edition see Is local democracy dead?

In the last newsletter I mentioned the local Annual meetings of the Council (these are not formal council meetings but a legal requirement to explain to the residents what the council is doing on your behalf).
Wantage Town Council held their meeting in the Beacon at 7.30pm on 4 April. They did have copies of the latest Newsletter and the Mayor did give a brief overview of what the Council is doing. Crab Hill developers gave a presentation about the status of the development and the Silver Band also gave a short presentation. There must have been about 30 people there other than the councillors.
Grove Parish Council held their meeting in the Old Mill Hall on 22 April. The Chairman of the Council gave a summary of the year and there was the opportunity to ask questions. It was very disappointing to see only 6 people in the audience.

I can confirm that there will be another consultation on the Wantage Neighbourhood Plan soon because they can't submit the plan to the District Council until they have publicised it "in a manner that is likely to bring it to the attention of people who live, work or carry on business in the neighbourhood area" (Regulation 14). I don't know when this will start but don't believe there are many additions to the plan which was prepared in 2015. Of course this does mean that anyone new to Wantage since then won't have had the opportunity to contribute.

Now a little bit of good news: the footpath between Challow Road and Canal Way (now in the Childrey Park development) has been closed for 3 years but has now, finally re-opened. Of course the vegetation along the path is now very overgrown. Someone has cut back the vegetation in the top section of the path but the ‘hedge’ section and down to the village hall needs a lot of work but at least it's open.

The Betjeman Park’s Anniversary Exhibition, which celebrates 20 years of the Park, opens on 14 May at the Vale and Downland Museum in Wantage. Please go and take a look. It's on until 2nd July.

Please make sure that our Annual meeting is in your diary. We'll be holding it on Wednesday, 25 May at 7:30pm in Wantage Methodist Church. You can either attend in person or join us virtually on Zoom.
I'll be there in person to tell you what we think the future is for OX12.
I'll be commenting on the new local plan consultation and everything which has happening in the last ten years and what infrastructure should be provided with the money from past and future developments. We already know about 2000 more homes which developers would like to build here (most of which aren't included in the current local plan). We really need to plan for a load of infrastructure and fire up ALL of the councils to make sure that the infrastructure gets delivered so come and join in the conversation.

If you want to attend via Zoom then you will need this link: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/99546461243?pwd=R2M2YUlqMXArSXVicTR3TkVKR21UZz09. Please remember that only members can vote at the meeting but anyone can attend.

Many months ago (September last year) we participated in the consultation on the Oxfordshire-Cambridgeshire Arc Spatial Framework. There are still no signs of any results from the consultation and according to the Arc timetable the next online consultation was due in 'Spring 2022'.
Spring is almost over and summer is here but no information seems to be available as to how this consultation will take place and what it will cover. We suspect that the Government is quietly dropping the idea of the Arc and moving the money further north as part of the levelling up agenda but it would be nice to know if the requirement for a million new homes in the arc had also vanished. We heard that Chris Pincher (then Housing Minister), stated last summer that the ambition to build one million homes in the Arc was “not a government target and it is not a government policy”, but the consultation took place after that, so things are a little confusing.
We submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities asking for a copy of any document or report on the results of the online consultation which we responded to or some explanation for the delay and a date by which we might expect to see the results.
After the allotted 20 working days we received a response stating that our request was vexatious (they had apparently received 150 similar requests) and that they would not respond. Any excuse! I've asked our MP to find out what is going on.

Now that we are all out and about again don't forget that you can check for road works which may delay your journey at https://one.network/

That's all for now. I'm sure there are many things I've forgotten to mention so there might be a follow-up email soon but stay safe until then.

Thanks for reading.

Best wishes

Julie Mabberley
Campaign Manager

Wantage and Grove Campaign Group

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