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

Newsletter 9 January 2023

Dear [Forename]

Happy New Year.

My wishes for 2023 include (in no particular order) that:

  • Persimmon deliver all the infrastructure that they legally have to on Grove Airfield to match the 500 homes build so far, and keep building new homes at the current rate
  • Oxfordshire County Council finally finish the Wantage Eastern Relief Road that was promised when the outline permission was granted for Crab Hill in 2015
  • The Grove Northern Relief Road progresses on the path that was originally proposed (from near Belingers to the Cemetery) and joins up with the road though the Airfield.
  • The plans for improvements to Steventon traffic lights at the A4130 / B4017 junction and Featherbed Lane are finally actioned
  • The inpatient beds in Wantage Community Hospital reopen and help to relieve the bed-blocking in the JR
  • The Maternity Services in the Wantage Community Hospital reopen fully (see below for an update)
  • The Appeal against the refusal of the application for 300 new homes at Tulwick Park on the Eastern side of the A338 is refused
  • St Modwen (and all of their subcontractors) continue to ensure that the plans for drainage channels just over the back fences of homes on Charlton Heights are implemented (not like the gap that they promised East of Charlton which is now included in residential gardens)
  • The cycleway to Harwell finally is resurfaced so that it is usable
  • The plans for Grove Station actually include an implementation timetable
  • The new White Horse District Council Local Plan doesn't include yet another 2000+ new homes in OX12
  • The plans for an Anaerobic Digester between Grove and East Hanney are refused
  • The Leisure Centre in Wantage finally gets the renovation which has been talked about since 2005 and the learner pool which has been discussed since at least 2010
  • The Beacon reopens properly as a community Hub for Wantage
  • Wantage and Grove get two all weather pitches suitable for football, hockey etc.
  • The plans for the Airfield Community Centre take account of the comments which we submitted to Persimmon in December
  • The proposed Mega-reservoir (see below) is removed from Water Resource Plans
  • The steps in the Snicket between the Bovis development on King Alfred's East Site and Charlton Road are replaced with the sloping path that we expected
  • The belisha beacons at Fitzwaryn are replaced with a Puffin Crossing
  • We get enough Doctors, Dentists, other medical staff and care workers to ensure the health and wellbeing of us all.

When all of this has happened the Campaign Group will have nothing to campaign about!

In the meantime...

The Mega Reservoir - a Bad Idea
As I mentioned in the last update, the plans for the reservoir are open for consultation again.
The Thames Water Plans were only released on 13th December so we haven't had time to review them throughly yet but they are planning to hold some events to show us the plans.

  • 20th January 2023 2pm – 8 pm – Trinity Church Abingdon – Drop in session
  • 1st February 2023 - Westgate, Oxford – ‘pop-up event’
  • 18th February 2023 2pm – 8pm - Steventon Village Hall – Drop in session

Let us know if you attend any of these events.
We will be holding a meeting on 27th January in Old Mill Hall, Grove where GARD (Group against Reservoir Development) will present details of the plans and how we can oppose them so please put the date in your diary. It will start at 7.30 pm.
The Plan includes the ‘Abingdon’ Reservoir. If approved, a start would be made in 2025, and the reservoir would be filled from 2037 to 2039 and be ready for 2040.
As I mentioned in my column in the Herald last week, the water isn’t really for Thames Water customers. The plan shows that up to 120 million litres per day could flow from Oxfordshire to Southern Water (Southampton) and up to 100 million litres per day could flow from here to Affinity Water (Slough).
So as usual we’re a dumping ground for construction that no-one else wants.

Now some good news - the Wantage Midwifery-led Maternity Unit (MLU), run by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which was temporarily closed to women and their families in August 2021 will reopen on Monday 9 January 2023. Hurrah!

And an update to the comment in the last update about the Botley Road - the County Council reports that Network Rail will no longer be able to meet its 9 January 2023 start date for the redevelopment of Oxford Station. So far there has been no new announcement to let people know what is going to happen and talks expected to continue for at least the next two weeks.

The final bit of good news for today is that Arriva, Oxford Bus and Thames Travel, and Stagecoach have capped adult single bus fares at £2.00 from January to March under a Government backed scheme. (Long distance coach services such as the Airline and Oxford Tube are excluded). We have two very good services from Wantage and Grove into Oxford (S9 and X1) and we really encourage people to try them out.

Now other consultations:
The Government has launched its consultation on proposed changes to national planning policy which runs until 2 March. Alongside it, they have published a proposed text of the NPPF revisions. The government says it will respond to this consultation by Spring 2023, publishing the framework revisions as part of this, “so that policy changes can take effect as soon as possible”. The government also promises a wider review of the NPPF, to follow Royal Assent of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill and will consult on the detail of these wider changes next year. See https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/levelling-up-and-regeneration-bill-reforms-to-national-planning-policy

The Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire (BOB) Integrated Care Partnership’s (ICP) has a vision for a set of proposed priorities to support improved health and wellbeing across the county. https://news.oxfordshire.gov.uk/health-and-care-proposals-need-public-feedback/ . You can comment until 29 January.
I'd have thought their main priority to reduce the number of admin staff and increase the health care professionals so that we don't receive messages like this:
NHS services under pressure. Emergency departments (A&E) at all hospitals in the Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West (BOB) area are under significant pressure and patients are facing very long waits. You can help the NHS in the following ways:
- Only call 999 in the event of a serious or life-threatening emergency.
- Visit 111.nhs.uk or call 111 if you need urgent medical help and are not sure what to do.
- Don't come to the Emergency Department with minor injuries, as you will be signposted elsewhere.
- Use your local pharmacy if you can - they can help with a range of minor health issues including colds, skin problems and earaches.

The County Council is consulting on 20 mph speed limits in many parts of the county. The only ones in OX12 at the moment are Sparsholtand Westcot Sparsholt & Westcot - proposed 20mph speed limit | Let's Talk Oxfordshire and East Hanney East Hanney - proposed 20mph speed limit | Let's Talk Oxfordshire
The proposal to introduce a 20mph speed limit throughout Sparsholt & Westcot, replacing the existing 30mph speed limit in its entirety is open for comments until 5pm on Friday 20 January
The proposal to introduce a 20mph speed limit throughout East Hanney, replacing the majority of the existing 30mph speed limit in the process. The 30mph speed limits will be retained on the A338 Oxford to Wantage road south of its junction with the Steventon Road, and on Steventon Road eastwards of its junction with the A338 - where they will meet the existing 50mph speed limits which will also remain. You can comment until 5pm on Friday 3 February.

The District Council has published a timetable for the new Joint (with South Oxfordshire) Local Plan to 2041 (note it's 2041 now not 2040). The next consultation is currently planned take place on Preferred Options in August/ September 2023.
I don't suppose that this will be affected by the Council Elections in May - but who knows.

Current major planning applications include an application for an Anaerobic Digestion facility to be built at Grove Farm off Cow Lane near the Sewage works (and the Letcombe Brook) between Grove and East Hanney. Planning Application P22/V2955/FUL (whitehorsedc.gov.uk) See our column in the Herald on Wednesday (or preview it here - https://www.wantageandgrove.org/column.php?id=304) for a few more details. You can comment until 1 February.
In summary, an Anaerobic Digester eats silage and farm waste and creates biomethane, carbon dioxide, a nutrient rich solid fertiliser and soil conditioner, and a liquid fertiliser (digestate). This is an industrial scale unit for which all inputs and outputs will be moved by tractor and trailer, heavy goods vehicles and tankers at a rate of 70 vehicles per day (more during harvest) along the A338. It would be located next to Cow Lane and the Letcombe Brook. This is a green field site between Grove and the Hanney's which would become an industrial park. Again we’re a dumping ground for construction that no-one else wants.

I mentioned the Tulwick Park Appeal last time so this is just a reminder that the Inspector appointed to decide the appeal is J Bore MRTPI and the inquiry will open at 10.00am on 21 February 2023. It is currently scheduled as 6 sitting days. Papers for the appeal can be found on the on the District Council website in the planning application folder. https://data.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/java/support/Main.jsp?MODULE=ApplicationDetails&REF=P22/V0550/O.

I'm sure there are other things I've forgotten but this is definitely enough for today!

We are still getting new organisations, sports clubs etc. to add to our new page on the website. See www.wantageandgrove.org/organisations.php. So if you made a new year resolution to do more sport or take up a new hobby, you might find the local organisation here.
We know that there are many organisations missing from this list and so if you have contact details for any of the organisers of other clubs, societies etc, or wish us to add your organisation to the list, please let us know. If you have already been in contact - bear with us, as you can see there's a lot to do at the moment.

Finally don't forget that you can check for any road works which may delay your journey at https://one.network/

Thanks for reading.

Best wishes

Julie Mabberley
Campaign Manager

Wantage and Grove Campaign Group


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