Within the Draft local Plan there is a presumption in favour of sustainable development within the existing built area of Market Towns, Local Service Centres and Larger Villages in accordance with Core Policy 1. [show detail]
The scale of development on these strategic sites will enable infrastructure to be provided that offers wider benefits to their local areas.
1.4 Significant work has already been carried out to inform the local plan, starting in 2007.
The economic conditions have changed dramatically since 2007.
1.6 It is important that the strategic sites help to deliver sustainable development in
accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework (the Framework). New housing and jobs
need to be well located, be easily accessible and help to facilitate the delivery of new
infrastructure (such as road improvements or the provision of new schools).
Therefore, they must put new housing on Crab Hill, because it's the only way to pay for the Eastern Link Road, even if most of the jobs are 10 miles away.
1.8 It is important that the options we develop are also tested through Sustainability Appraisal.
This statement appears in every paper; they all pass the test (of course).
2.0 The National Planning Policy Framework (the Framework) sets out the government’s planning
policies for England and how they are expected to be applied. At its heart is the need to ensure
planning contributes towards the delivery of sustainable development, which should encompass economic,
social and environmental considerations in equal measure.
This definition of "sustainable development" appears in many of the papers.
2.6 The South East Plan has been particularly relevant for identifying the Vale’s housing target
and for establishing the spatial strategy.
So what is the housing target based on now, after the SE Plan has been dropped?
Table 4.1: Summary of the strategic site selection methodology
Stage 2 Consider critical constraints (national policy considerations)
• North Wessex Downs AONB
Stage 4 Other factors (where relevant)
• Agricultural land quality
• Landscape quality
But they still chose Crab Hill as a strategic site!
Wantage and Grove 4.18 - 4.23 [show detail]
4.18 Three strategic site options have been assessed in Wantage and
Grove. The economic and social benefits of providing more homes
should slightly outweigh the adverse consequence of development on
green field land mostly of good agricultural quality (a status common to
them all and an impact unavoidable in the district if sufficient homes are
to be provided). Whilst the sites have relative pros and cons in
landscape, environmental and accessibility terms, no one site is
considered likely to be significantly more sustainable than the other
two, and most of their relative sustainability disadvantages appear
capable of being mitigated to some extent.
4.19 The Crab Hill site north east of Wantage has the principal advantage of being large enough to take sufficient homes to achieve economies of scale in school and service provision including a full, two-form entry primary school. It would also directly enable provision of the Wantage Eastern Link Road (WELR), a strategic transport infrastructure priority for the wider Science Vale UK area. This is the site’s main ’delivery’ advantage over the alternatives: it significantly reduces the total cost to be found from elsewhere, and avoids the cost and uncertainty associated with the compulsory land purchase process.
4.20 This site has landscape and visual prominence relative to alternatives in the area, but these have to be seen in the context of the impact that would arise from the construction of the Wantage Eastern Link Road, which would be needed anyway, to address existing congestion and to support development elsewhere in the area. The landscape and visual impact of development at Crab Hill can be successfully mitigated, for example through careful planning of the proposed country park.
4.21 Land north of Grove (Monk’s Farm) is currently promoted as a second preferred site in the Wantage and Grove area. The site is considered to be readily deliverable and would help enable delivery of the North Grove Link Road. This link road is an important local priority. Allocating the site would also assist delivery of the WELR (described above) through developer contributions.
4.22 The site is visually less prominent and less harmful to landscape character than either of the other Wantage and Grove alternatives, and is well placed for local services in Grove. It includes areas of Letcombe Brook flood plain and suffers from surface water flooding, however these disadvantages are capable of successful mitigation. The site is large enough to include a primary school and would also include additional employment land adjacent to the existing Williams F1 site. This would help provide additional local employment benefits close to where people live.
4.23 The other alternative site Land west of Wantage (Stockham Farm) has gained planning permission for 200 dwellings in 2012.
This site [Crab Hill] has landscape and visual prominence [i.e. housing would damage the
landscape] relative to alternatives in the area, but it will provide the Wantage
Eastern Link Road.
The Wantage Eastern Link Road will only move the congestion to the A417 between Wantage and Rowstock and housing would damage the landscape but they still chose Crab Hill as a strategic site!
4.24 In the areas of planned strategic growth (Wantage and Grove and Harwell and Didcot), Local
Plan Working Groups have been established to facilitate closer working with the town and parish
councils for the areas most directly affected.
Given that the Wantage Town Council and the Grove Parish Council have both decided that it is impossible to oppose these developments regardless of the views of the residents, this is not very helpful!
5.2 The recommended preferred options are as follows:
• Up to 400 dwellings at Harwell Oxford Campus - where there are likely to be some jobs
• Up to 1500 dwellings at north east Wantage (Crab Hill) - where most of the jobs will be 10 miles away
• Around 750 dwellings at land north of Grove, east and west of the Letcombe Brook (Monks Farm) - where most of the jobs will be 10 miles away
• Around 350 dwellings at land south of Park Road, Faringdon, and - where most of the jobs will be in Swindon, Harwell, or Oxford
• Up to 2,150 dwellings at land north and south of Wantage Road (Valley Park) within Harwell Parish to the east of the A34 and adjacent to Didcot - close to Milton Park and Harwell where most of the jobs are likely to be.
5.3 The process of identifying strategic sites and the evidence to support them is ongoing and the final set of evidence documents will be published to support the pre-submission Vale Local Plan 2029 Part 1 later in 2013.