There are always a few silly ideas that surface in the summer holidays and this year is no different so settle down for a long read..
First is Grove Gateway. https://www.thisisoxfordshire.co.uk/news/23684457.draft-masterplan-new-railway-station-near-wantage/
This is a speculative proposal by Richborough Estates to build about 900 homes, another primary school, employment opportunities and "assisting in the delivery and re-opening of Grove station" between Grove and East Hanney. Whilst I'm all in favour of Grove Station I'm not convinced that the contribution from 900 homes (including 230 affordable homes) will be sufficient and it's not in either the Government or Network Rail's plans for the foreseeable future, but it's a good selling point for the proposal.
Anyway, this would have to overcome the appeal decision against homes south of East Hanney and get included in the up-coming joint Local Plan so there's nothing we can do now.
The second silly idea was the application P23/V1197/S73 to remove the restriction allowing only 55 dwellings to be built until the bridge over Letcombe Brook is completed (to allow access to the A338 for the Grove Northern Link Road) on application reference number P21/V3516/RM. This is part of the Monks Farm development north of Grove and Grove Council and local residents objected strongly so the application was withdrawn. I believe that discussions are underway between interested parties so something may emerge.
The linked application P23/V1198/S73 increasing the limit from 55 homes to 83 homes before the bridge is built remains and should be considered at a planning committee soon. There are District Council Planning Committee meetings on 6th and 27 September so we'll let you know what happens.
The Government confirmed last week that funding for local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) is set to end in April 2024 so these non-elected quangos will disappear. The Government says that they will now support authorities like the County Council to take on the functions currently delivered by LEPs (business representation, strategic economic planning, and the delivery of government programmes where directed) but are only guaranteeing funding for 2024/25.
This at least resolves one conundrum - when one of our colleagues wanted to ask the District Council a question about the Strategic Economic Plan being prepared by OxLEP he was told that the question would be answered by the Deputy Leader as "Councillor Thomas, Leader of the council, is a Director of OxLEP and will be acting at the OxLEP board in the best interests of that company."
So, it seems we have the curious situation where our Council Leaders (on OXLEP because they are Council Leaders) are bound by their duties as directors to vote in what they believe to be the best interests of OxLEP, even if they do not consider that to be in the best interests of their residents.
The proposal to make most (but not all) the roads in Wantage subject to a 20mph speed limit hasn't been discussed at a County Council Highway's meeting yet so we don't know what the view of the residents are. But such decisions in other parishes have been decided even when less than 10 people have expressed an opinion. Previous consultations have asked “If the 20mph speed limit proposals are implemented, is this likely to influence you to change your mode of travel in the area” The majority of responses have answered “NO”.
I guess the Government statement that they are considering restrictions on Council's ability to impose these speed limits will just encourage our Lib Dem County Council to go ahead.
The Kingsgrove (Crab Hill) application for their Central Park and the proposed zig-zag footpath up the hill pass the allotments on Grove Road P23/V1296/RM should also come to a Planning Committee soon but in the meantime the plans have been amended so you have another chance to comment until next Monday 21 August. The Central Park will include allotments, 3 sports pitches, a sports pavilion, kick about/ amenity space, a Community Orchard, a variety of play areas for different age groups and a skate park.
One interesting point is that the parking is not part of this application and public parking near the allotments has already been approved. There will be 22 spaces (including 3 disabled spaces) for the whole of the central park, allotments and any other uses - imagine that when both full size football pitches are in use and people want to access their allotments.
While I'm on this subject, these 22 spaces should also be available to parents dropping off children at the primary school. The school is open and it has 5 visitor parking spaces (including 2 disabled spaces) and 36 staff spaces. St Modwen has already employed a parking warden and parking tickets are being issued when parents drop off their children at the school. County Parking Policy says that there are enough spaces but it doesn't help when spaces have not yet been built and penalty tickets are being issued.
I did say it was silly season.
You must have heard about the plans to upgrade the roads around Didcot and provide a route from the Milton Roundabout over the Thames south of Abingdon. If planning permission were granted, the delivery of the development would be part-funded by a grant of about £240 million from Homes England, but the Oxfordshire County Council's planning committee rejected the plans.
It has now been called in for review by the government and it could take months (or even years) for a decision to be made.
This will affect the timetable for the Joint Local Plan as a total rethink may be required if these infrastructure plans are rejected.
Thames Water seems to be in the news regularly at the moment but their (and Water Resources South East) responses to recent consultations have been delayed until early September. GARD (Group Against Reservoir Development) and supportive Councillors are meeting with Ofwat, the Environment agency and other regulators so hopefully some news soon.
As you know, you can read columns from the Herald at https://wantageandgrove.org/columns.php, previous newsletters at https://wantageandgrove.org/newsletters.php and find a list of many of the sports, cultural and community organisations in OX12 at https://wantageandgrove.org/organisations.php
Finally, for those with small family members, the Church Street Patient Group (with the support of the Newbury Street Patient Group) are holding a talk on Monday 18th September by Dr Mackenzie titled: 'My child is ill, what shall I do?’. It starts at 7pm at Wantage Methodist Church and also on Zoom. More details are available from firstname.lastname@example.org.
For roadworks see https://one.network/.
Thanks for reading.
Wantage and Grove Campaign Group