Wantange and Grove Campaign Group (WAGCG)
Magistrates Court Planning Application

 

Renaissance Retirement has received planning permission to build 32 sheltered apartments (comprising 50 bedrooms) and 15 parking spaces on the site of the Police Station and Magistrates Courts.

I'm sure retired people won't mind the access route for secondary school children through the car park and the school science block (taller than the Beacon) right next door. I'm also sure that the size of the parking spaces (too small to allow disabled access) won't be a problem.

There is also the problem of providing space for buses and other vehicles, which will serve the residents, to pull in without obstructing access and parking in the development or on the highway, Church Street is not wide enough for this.

 

This land faces Church Street and is next to the Civic Hall Car park. If we are trying to rejuvenate the Town Centre then this is a perfect site for further commercial development and/or more car-parking for the Town Centre.

We know that we are an aging population and the need for sheltered, extra care housing and residential care homes will increase but do we need them to occupy space so close to the town centre when the increasing population will require more shops (of a wider variety than exists at the moment) and more parking?

The design and access statement also states that "Renaissance Retirement will also provide the House Manager with a‘resident’s people carrier’ vehicle for use for weekly shopping visits to the nearby supermarket and for other resident’s outings, thereby further reducing the need for households to be car owners". We're not sure this will fit in any of the parking spaces...

Also the National Policy Planning Framework requires that local planning authorities should:
"recognise town centres as the heart of their communities and pursue policies to support their viability and vitality"
"It is important that needs for retail, leisure, office and other main town centre uses are met in full and are not compromised by limited site availability."

Will this development support this?

See the objection from Wantage Town Council:
Strongly object. The Town Council would prefer to see the site developed to provide additional car parking for the community on a mixed use basis. There is not enough parking within the proposed development which could adversely affect the availability of public parking space. The Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group is currently considering whether the area south of Church Street is to be deemed suitable for retail development. The need for retirement homes within the town is questioned. The viability and desirability of the site could be adversely affected by the proposal of King Alfred s Academy to build a tall science block immediately adjacent to the development. The plans give no indication of how these two developments will relate to each other. There is a need for the developments to be considered together and consideration be given to the overall impact on the adjoining conservation area..

See our objection:

This is overdevelopment of this site. At the initial consultation session, the comment was made that 11 parking spaces for a development with 50 bedrooms was ludicrous. The response was that the average age of residents would be over 70 and people don't drive at that age. All of the people commenting at that time were over 70 and all owned at least one car. With the lack of public transport around Wantage a car is vital. It is the only way to get out of the town and the only means of transport for people visiting residents. We recognise that the application now includes space for 15 cars but the age range for this development is 55 and over. We suggest that at least those residents under the age of 80 are likely to own cars and if there are not enough spaces in the development then these residents will try to park in the Civic Carpark which is already close to capacity and with the 5000+ homes approved around Wantage already will only get worse.
We support the proposals being formulated by the Neighbourhood Plan and believe that this land should be preserved for use in the expansion of the town centre to enable it to support the massive growth of the town being imposed by the local planning authority. Isn't it time that the planning authority took responsbility for coherent town planning?

 

A previous planning application for a development to form 44 sheltered apartments for the elderly including communal facilities (Category II type accommodation), access, car parking and landscaping on the site of the Police Station and Magistrates Courts was turned down and the appeal by the developers was also dismissed. Go to the Original Planning Applicationto see the comments that have been submitted and the documentation relating to the appeal.

 

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