Wantange and Grove Campaign Group (WAGCG)
TOPIC PAPER 3 - Strategic Sites

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.

The following comments and paragraph references refer to the Topic Paper 3 - we have reviewed the Sustainability Appraisal separately

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]

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.

To summarise, it seems that all decisions result from:
• predictions of population growth in the Vale,
• the decision to include Wantage and Grove in the definition of "Science Vale UK", and
• predictions of employment growth in Milton Park and Harwell but not in Wantage and Grove.

Given the above predictions, it would appear that the Vale planners have decided where they want their strategic sites, and have then produced impossibly long reports to justify their decisions.

 

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