Wantange and Grove Campaign Group (WAGCG)
Topic Paper 5 - Supporting Economic Prosperity


The recommendations from the paper listed below (if implemented) do seem to enable a variety of employment opportunities to be created, which could include technical, scientific, industrial, educational, retail and tourism related occupations. However it is impossible to gauge quantitativley the number of jobs that would be enabled. The larger question is to what extent footloose employers will choose the South Vale for the location of their activities. What is well established is that such companies make physical communications a significant factor in their decision making process. Here Wantage/Grove does not score highly as it has a poor linkage with the A34 corridor and is not close to the motorway network and national rail. The other side of the coin is that the area (currently) has a good natural environment with a well educated population.

The number of extra jobs required will depend on the number of houses to be built in the 2029 Plan period. The draft Local Plan for the Vale requires Wantage and Grove to provide 5500 extra homes . Thus, this may require an extra 8250 jobs if we suppose 1.5 jobs per household.

The picture changes radically if we take the new household projection data issued by the Department of Communities and Local Government. This suggests that the previous growth rates are too high. This projection is of a 7.78% increase above the 2011 census figure in the Vale as a whole to 2021. Extrapolating to 2029 leads to an increase of 14%. If Wantage and Grove take the same proportion of the number of new homes in the Vale as in the Local Plan the total comes to 2886, or 2387 if the 489 new homes approved in major developments since 2011 are taken into account. This leads to a requirement of an extra 3580 jobs.

As we have frequently stressed the proposed extend of the housing development appear to be unsustainable taking the meagre plans for the infrastructure into account. In practice it is likely that an automatic stabilizer will come into play insofar as developers will be unlikely to build houses at a rate greater than they can be sold. It is to be hoped that the draft Local plan will be amended so as to be in conformity with the new household projection data. All this points to the conclusion that the release of sites for housing development should be significantly scaled back in the 2029 Plan.

 

The recommendations that are most relevant and are intended to support the Vale local Plan 2029 Part 1. are given below

  • ‘Employment land supply –scale and location Identify sites to provide 143 ha plus a surplus to include the whole of Didcot A Power station site (total 173 ha). Include sites for employment development at Faringdon and Wantage/Grove within the 143 ha area to be identified.
  • Didcot A Power Station: Include a policy for the Didcot a site which is broadly supportive of B-class uses on half of the site. Further employment uses to be supported by the remainder of the site subject to market demand. Complementary alternative uses (such as institutional or community uses) also to be supported on the remainder of the site, subject to a master planning process, and subject to these uses being compatible with the neighbouring Didcot B power station.
  • New employment development on unallocated sites and rural employment: Include a policy which is broadly supportive of new employment development on unallocated sites providing that certain criteria are met
  • Change of use of existing employment land and premises: Include a policy which seeks to protect all employment sites (but with criteria to indicate when changes of use are will be appropriate) and give strategic employment sites a high level of protection.
  • Higher and further education provision and Harcourt Hill campus: Include a policy to support further and higher education, and to support redevelopment of the oxford Brookes Harcourt hill campus. It might be appropriate for this to be covered by two separate policies, with one applying across the district and the other focusing on the Harcourt Hill campus
  • Tourism related development: Include a policy which sets out the approach to tourism related development in the market towns , local service centres, larger and smaller villages, at Harwell Oxford and Milton Park, and at service areas on the man transport corridors. Include support for small scale tourism development outside these locations providing that certain criteria are met, and explain exceptional circumstances when larger developments may be supported outside the named locations
  • Retailing and other town centre uses: Include a policy which sets out the retail hierarchy and directs retail and other town centre uses to sites within the existing town centres. Policy to also set out circumstances in which town centre uses may be supported elsewhere. Include local floor space thresholds for impact assessment to reflect the recommendations in the retail and Town Centre study. Local floor space thresholds to be set at 1000sq.m for development likely to have an impact on Abingdon on Thames or Wantage town centres and 500sq.m elsewhere ‘
    (other recommendations relate specifically to Abingdon and Botley have been omitted)

 
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