First a correction of a typo in the Housing Numbers section of Part 2
"If the Government doesn't change the planning policies on the Duty to Co-operate it will also require more homes to be built in the Vale to satisfy the housing needs for the City as the City says it can NOT build enough homes to meet the need." I missed the most important word! - dyslexia strikes again...
The City cannot or will not build enough homes (because it thinks that allowing land to be used for employment is more important). Of course using land for employment just increases the need for housing so creates even more of a problem for the rest of the County.
Now other news:
I spent a very boring 3 days a couple of weeks ago sitting in the Beacon at the Planning Enquiry listening to Barristers on behalf of the District Council and David Wilson Homes arguing about the interpretation of the words used in Local Plan part 2 about Housing Targets in front of a Planning Inspector.
If you are really bored your could read the their closing arguments which are on the Vale website at https://data.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/java/support/Main.jsp?MODULE=ApplicationDetails&REF=P22/V0550/O in the Appeals folder but I wouldn't recommend it.
The main point hinges on whether Core Policy 4 (in Local Plan part 1) determines the Objectively Assessed Housing Need (OAN) or whether it's Core Policy 4a (in Local Plan part 2). Core Policy 4 is now more than 5 years old which allows the Vale to recalculate what OAN should be based on the latest data (less than it was). But Core Policy 4a (which added the supplement to meet the need of Oxford City) is less than 5 years old and so if this provides the legal OAN then we don't have a "5 year Land Supply" and developers can get approval to build anything anywhere until then next Local Plan is approved or Policy 4a is more than 5 years old (which ever comes first).
The Inspector is now deciding who is right and will make his decision soon.
This shows the importance of getting the wording in legal documents like a local plan correct and getting the housing need figure right as well.
I seem to write about leisure facilities (or lack of them) regularly but don't switch off quite yet.
The District Council has to produce a new Leisure Strategy as part of the next Local Plan so will have another attempt to work out what they think we need in OX12 so if you are involved in any sports clubs or use local leisure facilities, now might be a good time to ensure that your local Councillors know what you need.
Of course there are Council elections for District Councillors (and town/parish councillors) in May so you might have to talk to both existing Councillors and any new ones but do make sure they know what we (the residents) want.
While I'm on the subject of Local Elections ...
This is your once in 4 years opportunity to make sure that the Councillors are listening to you. They will be knocking on doors throughout the area from now until May so make sure you tell them what you think of what they have done for you in the last 4 years or should do in the next. If you want any ideas then you could look back at my wish list for 2023 https://wantageandgrove.org/newsletter.php?DateID=2301091536
The Annual Council meetings where the Councillors tell you what they have done in the last 12 months are coming up so you could speak to them then. Wantage Town Annual meeting is on 22 March in the Beacon at 7.30pm. Grove Annual Meeting is on 28 April in Old Mill Hall also at 7.30pm. Letcombe Regis Annual Meeting is after the election on 15 May in Letcombe Regis Village Hall at 7pm, but I haven't managed to find out any information about the other Ox12 parishes.
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Crab Hill Planning Applications
You may remember that we raised the issues relating to the approved application for land levels and drainage on the western end of the Crab Hill site being overridden by the latest application P23/V0134/O (which adds 34 more homes to the 1500 total). We have been copied in on a letter from the Agent which states that:
"the levels, earthworks and drainage as approved will be implemented in full to prepare the ground ready for the development of the dwellings in due course that will come along as a reserved matters application in accordance with the new outline consent" also that the Planning Officer "is proposing to impose a condition that cross refers to the AiW6 consent and requires the western area of the site to be implemented in accordance with the aforementioned consent". So hopefully everything should be OK.
Health Centre Construction
The extension to the Health Centre on Mably Way is progressing well and the new consulting rooms will be ready for use by Easter. The next phase of work relates to the waiting rooms so expect changes to waiting rooms and access to be organised shortly. New parking spaces are being laid out and disabled spaces are at the front of the building and (although not very convenient now) will be very convenient for the new entrance when everything is completed. We hope that everything will be finished by the end of the year.
There is still a shortage of Doctors and we understand that both practices are using Locum GP's as must as possible, but this is a country wide problem not just a local one.
As I mentioned last month, a Health and Wellbeing Event at the Beacon on 22 April 12.00- 16.00 is being organised by the Patient Groups of Newbury Street and Church Street Practices. Many of the 150 sports, cultural and community organisations included on our website at https://wantageandgrove.org/organisations.php have been invited to participate in the event so if you want to find out more about any activity in OX12, please come along - or if your group wants to be represented there (and haven't received an email about it) then please get in touch at email@example.com.
There is a website at https://wellbeing.ox12.org which should provide more details. Thanks are due to Persimmon, St Modwen, Hendred Ukulele Group and the Coop for sponsoring this event and to the Mayor of Wantage for providing free use of the Ridgeway Room at the Beacon.
Bus Fares - remain at £2 per single fare until the end of June so take advantage if you can.
Botley Road will be closed to through traffic for seven months from Tuesday 11 April to allow Network Rail to begin work on its £161 million redevelopment of Oxford Station and rail upgrade. It will also be closed March 2024 - October 2024.
Those regular readers will remember the Oxford Cambridge Arc which we though had been forgotten by the Government since the results of the last consultation have never been published. Well, the government has increased its funding support for the Oxford-to-Cambridge Pan-Regional Partnership (PRP), the new name for the Arc Leadership Group. Following confirmation of £250,000 funding last October, the PRP has now been awarded no less than £2.5m. It is seeking overseas investment to strengthen the area's position as a hub of innovation with, as a board member claims, 'ambitious and bold plans' to 'deliver growth and prosperity'. To many, this means a return to the 1 million new houses ambition previously promoted by the original Arc Leadership Group. So much for leveling up the rest of the Country. See https://stopthearc.org/
Finally don't forget that you can check for any road works which may delay your journey at https://one.network/
Thanks for reading.
Wantage and Grove Campaign Group