Wantange and Grove Campaign Group (WAGCG)
Wantage and Grove Campaign Group (WaGCG)


The Scrutiny Committee of the District Council is meeting in Wantage on 17th April to consider the head of planningís report on the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) and Economic Forecast Model. The meeting takes place in the Beacon (Civic Hall) and starts at 7pm. It is open to the public.

The list of Councillors attending the committee meeting includes our own District Councillors (Charlotte Dickson and Fiona Roper). We hope that they have read the forecast model and the SHMA summary (detailed report still not available) and noted that the economic forecast includes such items as the fact that agricultural employment in the Vale will double in the next twenty years!

According to the report from the head of planning;
"Adjustments include 5,400 Ďabove trendí jobs in research activities would be expected to be provided at Harwell and Milton Park with an additional 2,500 Ďabove trendí jobs to be provided at Harwell in the space science and satellite technologies industry."
The trend for the last 3 years is flat so we're not sure where these jobs will come from. Scientific organisations are not traditionally large employers.

If this is what our housing targets are based on then it's all pure fiction.


Local Plan Update

The draft Local plan has been updated based on two key documents which have been produced recently.

  1. The Oxfordshire Economic Forecasting Final Report
    This suggests that new economic growth projects are expected to result in employment growth in the Vale of 23,000 jobs between 2011-31. However, between 2011 and 2014 growth has been nil so we are sceptical about this projection.
  2. The Oxfordshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment
    This used the new Economic Forecast as a base and then identified a need for up to 20,560 new homes in the Vale between 2011 and 2031. This is an increase of 7,430 on the figures used in the draft plan released in 2013.
We believe that these figures are optimistic in the least and probably no more accurate than the 2008 report which made provision for growth of around 14,300 new jobs, including 143 hectares of employment land, and at least 13,294 new homes during the plan period from 2006 to 2029.
We would be interested in seeing exactly what the growth in employment has been since 2006 to see how accurate that forecast was.

Anyway, the Vale has taken these figures and found a number of new sites around the Vale suitable for more housing development. Most of these sites are near Harwell and Didcot but some are in the Green Belt north of Abingdon and the nearest to us are at site near the A338 in East Hanney (just south of the Steventon road) and another site in East Challow near the A417. Both of these sites are recommended for about 200 homes. See our comments on the revised plan.


ANOTHER application is in for Monks Farm - outline planning has only been granted on the first tranch since 11 February and now they have submitted an outline application for the next 75 homes behind Bellingers' Garage.


CLOSURE OF THE A338 - Negotiations Continue
No news yet but Network Rail are considering options ... Ed Vaizey is actively on the case...
[show detail]


The Public Enquiry for the appeal against the refusal of the application for a development to form 45 sheltered apartments for the elderly on the site of the Police Station and Magistrates Courts has been dismissed. More details can be found on our page here.


The Communities and Local Government Committee has launched an inquiry into the operation of the National Planning Policy Framework. The inquiry follows research findings, published by the Committee, that some local planning authorities may be forced into perverse behaviour to meeting the NPPF policies and government targets. Written submissions can be sent to the Communities and Local Government Committee.


The outline application for 2500 homes on the brown field site at Grove Airfield and the outline application for 1500 homes on Crab Hill green fields have both been recommended for approval by the Planning Department. Negotiations with the developers on infrastructure funding continue...


Is the Oxford Garden City what the Government has in mind?

According to the latest news, the secret Whitehall report recommending that two new cities are built in southern England is proposing Yalding, Kent and Gerards Cross, Buckinghamshire. So no government funding for properly planned developments in Oxfordshire. We remain in the hands of developers who seem to get to build what and where they chose.


Open Letter to Matthew Barber, [show detail]

And his reply.


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We should like to thank the Wantage Camera Club (Ian Bateman) for our banner at the top of the page.

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