Wantange and Grove Campaign Group (WAGCG)
Wantage and Grove Campaign Group -
Public Address to Oxfordshire County Council

 

Julie Mabberley gave a Public Address to Oxfordshire County Council at their meeting on 2 April on the subject of ensuring sufficient infrastructure in accordance with the National Policy Framework.

We quote:

Wantage and Grove (approximately 15 miles South East of Oxford), together form a small Market Town which, according to the 2011 census, has approximately 7600 households. The 5500 additional homes proposed by the Vale of the White Horse will mean a 72% increase in the size of the area. This will add roughly 12000 people and 8500 cars to the town.

The Vale of the White Horse District Council has already approved planning applications for 200 houses at Stockham Park Farm on the outskirts of Wantage. Authority has been given to the Chairman of the planning Committee to approve a further application for 85 2-4 bedroom homes on Chain Hill.
    The roads around Wantage and Grove are rural “A” roads where, even now:
  • it is impossible to overtake a cyclist if there is traffic in both directions
  • when a bus stops to pick up passengers the traffic builds up behind the bus because it can’t get past
  • any problems with flooding or blockages on the A34 have a very significant impact on the volume of traffic
  • people in the villages off the road may wait up to 20 mins for a gap in the traffic in order to pull out.
But no objections have been raised to any planning application by the highways officers.

Based on statistics included in the “Analysis of travel patterns of people living in new homes built between 2001 and 2007 in the Vale ..” every 100 additional homes create 127 people driving to work. With 5,500 homes proposed for Wantage and Grove this means 7000 people driving to work, in addition to those who cycle or catch the bus.

Jobs are likely to be in the Science Vale at Milton Park, Harwell and Culham – 10 miles away.

Plans to alleviate traffic relate to particular pinch points not to the road itself. We are concerned that the Highways Officers are not considering the big picture or looking at the future impact when considering individual incremental applications.
Although some improvements to junctions and a relief road through the possible development at Crab Hill are proposed, the basic roads out of Wantage and Grove will continue to be narrow and dangerous.

There are no school places available in Wantage and Grove and primary school children are already being bused to schools in outlying villages. The only proposed school expansions are on the potential development of 2500 homes at Grove Airfield and the possible site at Crab Hill of 1500 homes. Neither of these developments has been granted outline planning permission yet but the incremental housing applications are being approved by the Vale without school places being available.
    We believe that these and similar issues relating to Health Centre facilities and drainage make the current situation contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework as, I quote:
  • …Planning… should proactively drive and support sustainable economic development to deliver the homes, business and industrial units, infrastructure and thriving local places that the country needs.
  • Plans and decisions should ensure developments that generate significant movement are located where the need to travel will be minimised and [where] the use of sustainable transport modes can be maximised..
  • The Government attaches great importance to ensuring that a sufficient choice of school places is available to meet the needs of existing and new communities. Local planning authorities should take a proactive, positive and collaborative approach to meeting this requirement, and to development that will widen choice in education. They should:
    -  give great weight to the need to create, expand or alter schools; and
    -  work with schools promoters to identify and resolve key planning issues before applications are submitted.
  • It is equally important to ensure that there is a reasonable prospect that planned infrastructure is deliverable in a timely fashion.

Current decision making does not appear to follow these principles.

The Wantage and Grove Campaign Group therefore urges the County Council to support this motion [item 16] and to find urgent solutions to this issue.

For details of the motion (which was not discussed at the meeting) see: item 16: This Council recognises the importance of housing development being planned in a sustainable way with the infrastructure required in place at an early stage.

 

 
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