Wantage Neighbourhood Plan. The Plan was first drafted in 2014/15, with the help of the Campaign Group but was rejected by a planning inspector in 2016. The updated Plan has been modified to amend or remove the policies that were deemed unacceptable by the Inspector, but disappointingly we believe that all other policies remain unchanged.
There is a copy of the draft plan (before changes as a result of the last survey in 2021) on the Town Council website.
The plan was developed in 2014/15:
After the District Council had approved the application from Wantage Town Council to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan in January 2014, the Town Council hired a Consultant and the District Council provided expert assistance. Volunteers were recruited.
The teams of Volunteers prepared SWOTs (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). They also prepared surveys sent to residents and stakeholders.
Feedback from the 1600+ surveys completed by residents and a workshop with a group of 40 stakeholders helped to identify the areas where policies would be useful.
The Draft Plan was published for comment and over 1000 comments were received.
The updated Pre-Submission Plan was based on all of this feedback and expert advice and was published for consultation again. More comments were received and more changes were made as a result. This plan then went to a Planning Inspector for comment.
In 2016 the examiner recommended that whilst a number of policies would meet the basic conditions in the draft neighbourhood plan, many weren’t backed up by sufficient evidence. His report is available here.
Only 11 policies remain in the plan.
1. Town Centre Policy Area
2. Protection of Employment Sites
3. Design – General Principles
4. Design – Character Areas
5. Design – Housing Types
6. Green Infrastructure Network
7. Green Infrastructure – Letcombe Brook
8. Green Infrastructure – Local Green Spaces
9. Infrastructure Investment
10. Community Facilities
11. Community Assets
Views of residents were last sought in 2014 – since then we have almost 1,000 more homes occupied in Wantage and another 1,500 in the OX12 catchment area and a significant change in the population.
Those new residents have been denied their views on what the plan for the town should include.
This plan was written in 2015 and many things have changed since then, including the approval of Vale Local Plan Part 2 with many policies which cover similar things to those in the neighbourhood plan.
Some of the policies refer to the “use classes” which guide the use of land and buildings. These “use classes” changed in September 2020 and the plan still refers to the old “classes”.
We’re not sure what effect this would have on the policies but they are probably out of date.
All the maps in the plan relate to 2015 and therefore exclude several of the major new developments in the town.
The concept plans for green infrastructure links and cycle ways include potential routes through some of these new developments which can no longer be achieved.
One of the policies relates protecting Assets of Community Value and the ambition (when the plan was originally written) was for several assets in the town to be designated. Yet no record of any designations can be found.
We think the Neighbourhood Plan needs a refresh before it is submitted.