The Crab Hill outline planning application has been approved - details of the section 106 agreement are available within application P13/V1764/O on the Council Website. The Developers website atwww.crabhillwantage.comseems to have been closed down. So we can only assume that they don't want anyone to see what they have promised to deliver in case we try to keep them to their promises.
Summary of key notes on the Outline Application - see your comments
Phases of development
Commencement of house building to the eastern side of the site (approx. 450
dwellings), including provision off the A417 Reading Road of a primary school
and part of the neighbourhood centre. Access to be achieved from two priority
‘T’ junctions off A417, as well as a newly constructed roundabout on the A417
incorporating the existing A417 Reading Road / West Lockinge priority ‘T’
junction and a short section of the WELR. This phase of the development
would commence in 2015 and is anticipated to be fully complete by 2019:
Commencement of house building (approx. 400 dwellings) to the western side
of the site including further provision of a neighbourhood centre. This phase
would include a new arm from the A338 Grove Road / A417 Mably Way
roundabout and the first section of the western end of the WELR. This phase
of the development would commence in 2019 with completion anticipated in
Construction of the remaining sections of the WELR before the completion of
the 851st dwellings, residential units (approx. 650 dwellings) and completion
of neighbourhood centre. Completion of development by 2029.
The density of the development ranges from 25 dwellings per hectare (dph) to 55 dph. The lowest
density development is located adjacent to existing housing in to the south
east and the north western edge of the site. The development directly
adjacent to existing residential properties at Charlton Village is low density at
25dph. The highest density development is 55dph and is located around the
neighbourhood centre in the centre of the eastern part of the site. The
average density in the residential blocks is 35.2 dwellings per hectare. This seems too high a density for the rural edge of a small market town, when the density in Charlton is 24dph and the lowest area is 8dph.
The Council's Core strategy - which we weren't asked to comment on suggested that the site could accommodate
"- Up to 1,500 dwellings at an average net density of 40 dwellings per hectare;
- a mix of housing types and sizes including extra care housing for the elderly;
- at least 40% of the houses should be affordable but some designed especially for people with learning and physical disabilities and mental health needs and extra care housing;"
Core Policy in the Draft Local Plan states that “On all new housing developments a minimum density of 30 dwellings per hectare (net) will be required unless specific local circumstances indicate that this would have an adverse effect on the character of the area." As our comments to the draft plan state "We believe that this Core Policy 20 is too restrictive and that a lower minimum density of housing should be considered. We live in a rural area and believe that open space and space to grow vegetables and park the cars necessary to live in the rural areas of the Vale is a minimum requirement."
We would also suggest that the development should contain bungalows (as recommended by Government Minister Eric Pickles).
The Maximum Building Height Zones Parameter Plan shows the potential maximum height of residential and commercial development ranging from 2 storeys (9m) to 3 storeys (12m). There are no 3 storey buildings in Charlton and any development over 9m would be out of character with the local area.
Access to the development
A roundabout incorporating the existing A417 Reading
Road / West Lockinge priority ‘T’ junction; two further junctions with the A417; and an access
from the existing A338 Grove Road / A417 Mably Way roundabout. During the final phase of development (2022-2029), the eastern and western spurs of the WELR will be linked and the road completed.
The application proposes that the bus services 30 and 36 be diverted to go through the development. But the 36 bus service will no longer operate in the sections between Wantage & Didcot from mid October. The 32 service between Grove, Wantage and Didcot will continue to run hourly for the time being.
The UK Government’s strategy Securing Our Future - A Strategy for Sustainable Development in the UK (DEFRA, 2005) identifies five key objectives:
- Living within environmental limits;
see Ecology and Flooding below, also
Some of the trees to the western end of the southern boundary are included within a tree preservation order, but given recent experiences with trees in Stockham Park, it is important that all of the trees and hedges that are to be
retained are included within a tree protection plan. Trees have to adapt to their immediate surroundings and any changes will have some effect therefore it is essential that a detailed tree survey that complies with the British Standard BS5837:2012 is undertaken before a scheme is designed. This will schedule the trees according to their suitability for retention and identify the extent of land required to ensure that they have the best chance of survival. Older trees are more vulnerable and they are often the most desirable to retain for both their amenity and conservation value. The tree survey should be carried out by an arboriculturist as detailed within the British Standard otherwise the planning application should be rejected.
- Ensuring a strong healthy and just society;
Services and Facilities
The Local Plan states that we should provide high quality and accessible services and facilities as part of new development when they are needed, so existing and new residents can enjoy a good quality of life. We need them at the beginning of the development to meet the needs of developments being built at the current time so schools, medical and leisure facilities should be included early in Phase 1 of the development if plans are to be accepted.
Can we rely on the County Council to ensure that: education, health facilities, social services, emergency services and other community facilities such as libraries and cemeteries are available when we need them? Shouldn't the Vale be requesting a plan for when these services will be available to meet the needs of any major housing development?
The police station in Wantage has closed and we now have access to a desk in Wantage Library 10.00- 14.00 Monday to Friday. This offers Tier 2 facilities. Outside these hours Didcot Police Station is open 9.00 - 17.00 Tuesday to Saturday.
Wantage Leisure Centre is estimated to be running at 100% full, at 810 visits per week in the peak period and there is no capacity to cater for any additional demand. 80% is usually considered full. "A visual inspection of the existing Wantage Leisure Centre was undertaken in October 2012. The cost of addressing the maintenance defects and to deal with the aging building immediately and in year 1 are estimated to be around £1.1m. A further £560,000 is estimated to be likely to be required between years 2 and 10." (Source: VoWH Leisure and Sports Facilities Strategy 2013 - 2029) - so we can't wait for additional facilities until later phases of development.
- Achieving a sustainable economy;
There is no accepted definition of a sustainable economy but by any definition it has to include jobs, homes, transport and services.
- Jobs will be mainly at Harwell, Milton Park, Culham, Didcot, Abingdon, Oxford and Swindon
- Homes will be here (when financial viable to the developer)
- Transport is car or cycle with a very limited bus service (3 per hour to Oxford, 1 per hour to Didcot train station, Swindon and Newbury Saturday service only)
- Shops mainly in Wantage Town Centre, Didcot, Abingdon, Oxford, Swindon or Reading
- Leisure centre is overused and in need of renovation
- Promoting good governance;
The police station in Wantage has closed and we now have access to a desk in Wantage Library 10.00- 14.00 Monday to Friday. This offers Tier 2 facilities.
Outside these hours Didcot Police Station is open 9.00 - 17.00 Tuesday to Saturday.
We have Grove Parish Council, Wantage Town Council, Vale of White Horse District Council, Oxfordshire Council Council, but little confidence in their ability to promote a sustainable economy.
The local Magistrates Court has closed and the nearest Courts are in Oxford
- Using sound science responsibly.
The district has the highest total greenhouse gas emissions in the County, and these are above the national average. Emissions from road transport are higher than any other district in the South East of England. However, the draft Local Plan has the objective of a Low Carbon Vale and making sure that land allocated for new development is located near to jobs and services, and can be accessed by public transport, cycling or walking. This application fails this test.
This is not an employment – led scheme. There will be some small scale employment provision associated with the facilities provided on site. This site is therefore not in itself, sustainable.
The Proposed Development clearly provides a mixed use
development. The mix of uses reflects the aspiration to create a new high
quality sustainable community around a neighbourhood centre but linked to
the wider town. But doesn't offer sufficient employment to its residents.
Transport - in development
Appendix A of the submission paragraph 5.8 states that "It is considered that neither the primary school or the local centre will generate new trips onto the surrounding local highway network and have therefore been excluded from
trip generation calculations." This assumes that no children from the rest of Wantage and Grove will attend the school or use the local centre. If this development is to be absorbed into the area this has to be the case therefore the transport calculations are based on wrong assumptions.
Paragraph 6.2 goes on to say that "distribution assumptions have been made for each of the phases .. these assumptions [are derived with] reference to the 2001 Census and specifically data sets which relate to travel to work patterns for the wards of Wantage Charlton, Wantage Segsbury and Grove.Transport patterns have changed significantly since 2001 as areas of employment have changed and travel patterns and lifestyles have also changed. We would consider that the calculations are based on wrong assumptions and should have been derived based on 2011 figures.
More than 50% of the hedgerows (including small sections of the species-rich hedgerow to the west of the site being lost, along with the ‘species-poor intact hedgerow’ and the ‘species-poor hedgerows with trees’ which run southwards in the eastern part of the Site as well as the majority of the ‘species-rich hedgerow with trees’ to the east of the Site which has been classified as important under the Hedgerow Regulations) will be removed.
Three species of bat (common pipistrelle, brown long-eared and whiskered/Brandt’s/Alcathoe’s bats) as well as Barn Owls were recorded as roosting in the Barn near the A417. This barn will be demolished. Additional roosting opportunities will be provided for bats in the form of bat boxes, bat bricks, and a bat barn/loft. A nest box for Owls will attached to the exterior of the barn to the south of the Site (locating it inside the barn would be inapproapriate as it is in daily use); and three nest boxes attached to trees in the Country Park.
According to the Barn Owl Trust: "The idea that the needs of Barn Owls can be catered for simply by erecting a nestbox on the nearest tree is very short-sighted and quite frankly inadequate. Such boxes will only last 10-15 years and cannot possibly be considered as adequate compensation for the loss of traditional nest sites. We therefore strongly recommend the creation of permanent provision within the roof space of a dwelling or other building in order to ensure that such sites remain available to Barn Owls for at least a hundred years". -See more
Where possible, the demolition of buildings and clearance of vegetation will be carried out between
October and February when birds are not breeding. Where this is not possible, clearance will only take place
once given the all clear from an Ecological Clerk of Works. These actions will ensure that there is no
contravention of the wildlife legislation.
22 Birds of Conservation Concern were recorded using the Site,
these included three UKBAP, red-list and LBAP species (lapwing, grey partridge and yellowhammer),
six UKBAP and Red-list species (linnet, house sparrow, skylark, song thrush, starling and herring
gull) and one UKBAP and amber-list species (dunnock). Furthermore, two red list species were
recorded (fieldfare and redwing) alongside another nine birds appearing on the amber list (barn owl,
barn swallow, black headed gull, common whitethroat, kestrel, lesser black-backed gull, meadow
pipit, mistle thrush, red kite and stock dove). It is unlikely to be possible to maintain the Site’s current farmland bird population postdevelopment. Some artificial nest boxes will be provided.
It is recommended that all habitat clearance should take place outside the main bird breeding season
(March-August) in order to avoid disturbing nesting birds which are protected under the Wildlife and
Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). Habitats which provide potential for nesting birds should be
maintained in such a condition as to ensure that it is not used for breeding purposes. If there is a
requirement to clear vegetation between March and September then it will be necessary to carry out
works under the supervision of an Ecological Clerk of Works.
The NPPF requires “… a site-specific flood risk assessment must demonstrate that the development will be safe for its lifetime taking account of the vulnerability of its users, without increasing flood risk elsewhere, and, where possible, will reduce flood risk overall.” Drainage from the site currently creates regular flooding on Harcourt Road and Grove Road. The Application states:
Historic land drainage plans indicate that there are a significant number of surface water land drains on-site. These were installed to move surface water away from flat areas of the Site more quickly, reducing the impact heavy rainfall has on the land use. As a result of this, discharge from the Site would be higher than Greenfield rates as the land drainage would increase the peak run-off rate. These drains discharge to varied locations, refer to Figure 4 in Appendix 12.1 for details (haven't found Appendix 12.1 yet).
The Proposed Development will not increase the flood risk elsewhere. The Surface Water Management Strategy indicates that surface water runoff from the proposed development can be managed to reduce greenfield runoff from the existing site, with localised modifications also helping to redirect surface water into less sensitive catchments away from Charlton village and Wantage (ref: Vol 07 Sustainability Assessment 3.2.25).
Prior to the commencement of the site preparation, earthworks and construction phase, site run-off will be controlled to mitigate both flood risks and sediment loading. It is assumed that a phased temporary drainage network will be implemented to prevent sediment laden surface run-off from leaving the Site or entering surface water such as the on-site drains and outfalls. The proposed temporary drainage strategy for this phase of the Proposed Development has not yet been developed. It is understood that this will be addressed during the detailed design stage.
Thames Water has stated that there would not be capacity within the local foul sewerage system to accommodate the flow generated by the Site. As a result of this, a sewer requisition study has been completed in order to find the best option for the Site. The current Thames Water proposals are for a new sewer to be provided to connect the north-west corner of the Site to the Wantage sewage treatment works.
It appears that the existing 0.79 hectares of allotments off Grove Road will stay and a further area of 0.45
hectares of allotment ground or community garden will be created within the centre of the development.