Wantange and Grove Campaign Group (WAGCG)
Wantage and Grove Campaign Group Updates and News

News from 2013, see also more commentsfrom residents


  • 29 December - Nearly half of new homes are built on greenfield sites - See the Sunday Times
    ALMOST half of new homes in England are being built on greenfield sites, raising further fears about the effects of the government’s reform of planning laws.
    According to the latest available official statistics, only 53% of housing development in 2011 was on brownfield sites, even before planning reform made greenfield development easier.
  • 26 December - A338 Wantage Road closure needs 'better planning' for drivers - See theBBC
    A proposal to close a commuter route in Oxfordshire for six months has no "robust" plan to deal with any traffic chaos, the local council has warned.
  • 18 December - Affordable housing: 20% of something is better than 50% of nothing - See the Guardian
    Before we hold our noses in disgust at housebuilder profits, we should remember that nearly all new social housing is paid for by them. Section 106 agreements – the financial contributions made by developers to planning authorities – have been used to pay for social housing since 1989.
  • 18 December - Fears grow six-month road closure will ‘cause traffic chaos’ - See theOxford Mail
    THE A338 from Wantage to Oxford will close for up to six months next year amid fears of “traffic chaos”.
    From February 10, 11,600 journeys made every day on the road will have to use an alternative route, yet to be decided.
    The road will be closed for Network Rail to raise the Station Road bridge at the Volunteer pub by several feet for its electrification project.
  • 14 December - Airfield homes get go ahead - See the Oxfordshire Guardian
    Plans have finally been granted to build 2,500 homes on Grove airfield.
    The development, over 10 years in planning, will also include a shopping centre, two primary schools and a secondary school.
    The decision was made at a Vale of White Horse District Council (VWHDC) planning committee meeting last week.
  • 10 December - Councils in popular areas should build more homes to stop house prices rising, Nick Boles says - See the Telegraph
    Ministers want to slow house price inflation by forcing councils to build more new homes in popular areas, the planning minister says
  • 9 December - Centre to grow after care home bid fails - See the Oxford Mail
    DOCTORS in Wantage have won a battle against a private health care firm. Mably Way Heath Centre said a 60-bed care home, if built next door, would prevent it expanding to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population.
    Last month, Government planning inspector Ken Barton backed the doctors and defended a decision made by Vale of White Horse District Council in May this year to refuse the plan by Ashley House.
  • 9 December - ACS: planning rules have failed town centres new retail development applications show - See the Retail Times
    The NPPF is simply not being applied properly, as under-resourced councils fail to get to grips with making coherent local plans and out of town developers fill their boots.
  • 6 December - ‘Hold developers to account on facilities for huge estate’ - See the Oxford Mail
    PEOPLE in Grove have been urged to hold housing developers to account after plans to build 2,500 homes in the village got the go-ahead.
    Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon were granted planning permission for the estate – expected to double the village population to 16,000 – at a Vale of White Horse District Council meeting on Wednesday night.
  • 5 December - Office for Budget Responsibility forecast that house prices will rise by almost a fifth in the next four years - See the Office of Budget Responsibility Forecast
    We expect house price inflation to be above 5 per cent in 2014 and 7 per cent in 2015. Relative to our March forecast, we have revised the level of house prices up 10 per cent by 2017-18.
  • 5 December - Government proposes making Local Plan mandatory - See the article at LocalGov.co.uk
    Councils could be legally bound to publish a Local Plan for regional development, under government proposals designed to support communities and developers.
  • 30 November - Planning system 'heavily skewed towards the interests of developers over those of the public', say architects - See the Telegraph
    The planning system is “heavily skewed towards the interests of developers over those of the public”, architects have claimed. The Royal Institute of British Architects hit out at the Coalition’s “unhelpful” planning reforms which have left Britain with "poor development".
  • 27 November - Pickles blocks Lancashire homes on design grounds - See the article in Planning Resource Planning Resource (subscription required)
    Communities secretary Eric Pickles has refused plans for a development comprising more than 200 homes in Lancashire, ruling that the scheme is 'relatively unsustainable because of failings with its design approach'.
    The decision letter said that the communities secretary had given "significant weight" to the fact that the council had confirmed that it cannot identify sufficient land to meet a five-year housing land supply. The main parties had agreed that there is only a 2.1-year supply of available housing land in Pendle, however, Pickles’ decision letter concluded that the lack of a five-year housing land supply "needs to be weighed against the adverse impacts of the scheme which, when assessed against the policies in the NPPF as a whole, significantly and demonstrably outweigh the identified benefits".
  • 21 November - Families priced out as number of affordable homes drop by 26% - See the Guardian
    Plummeting housebuilding rates in England spell disaster for thousands who are struggling to cope, say campaigners
  • 20 November - Government's handling of UK housing shortage to be reviewed - See the Guardian
    MPs launch inquiry into housing policy as planning minister admits parts of it may be too complex.
  • 11 November - The Greenbelt sacred cow: It pens in the poor for no environmental gain - See City A.M.
    Greenbelts combine the qualities of sacred cows and juggernauts. To question their benignly green and fair credentials is to invite abuse: yet the unstoppable damage they do to societal fairness, housing affordability, the economic efficiency of our cities, even the environment, is devastating.
  • 11 November - Controversial planning reforms make Britain a better place, Nick Boles says - See the Telegraph
    Nick Boles, the planning minister, says that although reforms make him unpopular, he wants to continue to make the world "a slightly better place"
  • 10 November - Stockton Borough councillors try to prise planning powers back from the government - See the Northern Echo
    A Council has overwhelmingly backed a motion urging the Government to return more power to its planning committee.
  • 9 November - Appeal to stand up to applications - See the letter in the Leamington Spa Courier
    "Planners appear to be afraid of refusing applications as they are in fear of them going to appeal and in their words “it will be taken out of our hands.” The threat of going to appeal is not a planning reason for refusal and it is about time planning committees considered local residents’ and objectors’ views."
  • 8 November - Build homes or lose planning permissions, Nick Boles tells developers - See the Telegraph
    Developers must start building homes or lose planning permission, the minister involved has said, as part of a Coalition drive to accelerate construction.
  • 8 November - 5,500 New Jobs on the way at Milton Park - See the Oxford Mail
    As part of a planned ten-year expansion of Milton Park, which would see it increase in size by almost 50 per cent, bosses are hoping to bring in companies from all over the world. There are currently more than 200 companies at the business park near Didcot, with 7,000 employees.
  • 5 November - Plan to cut new homes bonus 'poorly thought through', says MP - See Inside Housing
    According to Graham Jones (MP) "The government plan to take £400m from the new homes bonus funding and contribute to a £2 billion pot that Local Enterprise Partnerships – partnerships between local authorities and businesses – can bid for in 2015-16, contradicts the purpose of the new homes bonus and will effectively mean a further loss of funding."
  • 31 October - Pensioners want to 'end their days' in bungalows, says planning minister - See the Telegraph
    Nick Boles, the planning minister, calls for more single-storey homes to be built to meet the demand among pensioners. He told a planning conference the amount of bungalows built in the past few years had dropped because developers were focusing on higher density developments.
  • 28 October - Going, going, gone… England's disappearing landscapes - See the press release from CPRE
    In a major new report the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has gathered evidence from across England which reveals unprecedented pressure on our most treasured countryside following the Coalition’s planning reforms. The Government’s agenda for growth is fuelling the number of applications being made for major development in National Parks, AONBs and locally valued landscapes. CPRE is calling for a Parliamentary inquiry to review the impact of development threats and recommend policy changes.
  • 27 October - Sir Andrew Motion: Government's planning reforms leading to 'vandalism' of the countryside - See the Telegraph
    Sir Andrew, the rural campaigner and former poet laureate, warned that beautiful countryside landscapes “may one day only exist in the mind or on the printed page”.
  • 24 October - yet another Parliamentary debate on Planning and Housing Supply - See Hansard for full details

    For a Summary: [show details]

  • 18 October - Government rejects flood liability call for councils - See the article published in Housing Resource (subscription required)
    Ministers have turned down proposals from MPs that would have made local planning authorities responsible for increased insurance costs on new properties built in areas at high risk of flooding.
    DEFRA said the NPPF already stipulates that necessary development in flood areas should be "safe, resilient, and therefore insurable" and that local planning authorities already have the power to reject applications that increased flood risk. The full report in not yet available from the Government website.
  • 17 October - Planning for change - See the article in Inside Housing
    The feedback is in on the government’s new planning guidance, and Pete Apps shifts through it to assess the main issues
  • 15 October - Cambridgeshire housing development plans face objections - See the BBC
    Campaigners have handed 1,543 letters of objection against council plans to build thousands of new homes in parts of south Cambridgeshire.
  • 15 October - UK house prices hit record level, says ONS - See the BBC
    UK house prices have risen to a record level, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
  • 15 October - The housing crisis doesn't just need new homes, it needs new towns - See the Telegraph
    Whichever party puts a roof over people’s heads stands the best chance of winning the election.
  • 14 October - Only 'well-established' locals to be considered for social housing, new guidance says - See the Article in Inside Housing
    Only people with a ‘well-established’ connection to a local area will be considered for council housing, under measures proposed today.
  • 10 October - Airport commission chair says South East needs new capacity - See the short articleon Government Planning Portal
    Sir Howard Davies, the economist chairing the independent commission advising the Government on airport policy, has insisted that south east England will need “additional runway capacity in the coming decades”. In a speech, he argued that “to rely only on runways currently in operation would be likely to produce a distinctly sub-optimal solution for passengers, connectivity and the economy”.
  • 9 October - Corruption Risk on the Rise in Local Government - See the press release from Transparency International
    Transparency International’s new report “Corruption in Local Government: The Mounting Risks” warns that an unintended consequence of changes such as the Localism Act and those proposed in the Local Audit and Accountability Bill may be to create an enabling environment for corruption. The report notes that experts hold widely different views about the scale and prevalence of corruption in local government, but there was general consensus that recent changes would increase the risk of corruption happening in future. It identifies sixteen recent legislative changes which increase the risks, as well as other trends such as the decline in scrutiny by local press and the move to more private sector out-sourcing.
  • 7 October - Plan for over 5,000 homes is not sustainable without infrastructure and jobs - See the letterin the Oxford Mail
    ARTICLES in The Observer and The Sunday Times last weekend talked about the developments in Hook Norton increasing the size of the village by 10 per cent.
    What about developments around Wantage and Grove increasing the size of the town by 70 per cent?
  • 5 October - Housing supply can only be stepped up by 5 to 10 per cent a year - See the Articleon the Sutton Coalfield Site
    Housebuilders have warned Ed Miliband that his “wild” plan to double the number of new homes built in the UK to 200,000 a year is not physically possible.
    The country’s largest housebuilders met with chancellor George Osborne and Treasury officials last month to try and temper expectations that supply could be quickly increased – despite recent initiatives such as the Help to Buy scheme.
  • 4 October - Social housing grant to return - See the article at insidehousing.co.uk
    The Greater London Authority is considering funding the building of new homes for social rent in the 2015/18 affordable homes programme.
    A spokesperson for the Homes and Communities Agency would not confirm whether the agency will fund social rent in the rest of England.
  • 4 October - Council takes action on 'appalling' planning appeal ruling - See the Oxford Mail
    Council chiefs are seeking legal advice after four major planning applications were given the go-ahead on appeal.
    Cherwell District Council has hit out at the decision to approve almost 400 homes it had thrown out.
  • 4 October - Warning on green belt after planning inspector’s ruling - See the Yorkshire Post
    A senior councillor last night claimed it was essential a local plan was agreed to safeguard the defined green belt in York after a planning inspector overturned a decision not to allow a housing development.
  • 3 October - Decision due - See the Oxfordshire Guardian
    The decision as to whether 2,500 homes will be built on Grove airfield is set to be decided at a special meeting by Vale of White Horse District Council on December 4.
  • 3 October - CPRE lays into ‘ridiculous’ Vale airport plan - See the Wantage Herald
    THE Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has ridiculed a plan for an £18.2bn airport south of Abingdon. In a statement the CPRE said: “It was tempting to ignore these suggestions as just ridiculous nonsense, but stranger things have been known to come to pass.”
  • 3 October - Plans appeal - See the Oxfordshire Guardian
    Plans rejected by the district council to build 45 sheltered apartments in the old Wantage Police Station will now go to appeal.
  • 2 October - Thousands of affordable homes axed - See the Hinterland
    There is no scope of an increase in affordable housing completion rates. Freedom of information disclosures show that over five years more than 2,300 affordable homes have been axed from housing schemes across the UK even after builders and councils signed off section 106 legal agreements specified these homes must be built.
  • 2 October - Airport in Vale of White Horse would wreck quality of life ‘beyond imagining’ - See the Wantage Herald
    Drayton Villagers have told the Government that an international airport on their doorstep would “wreck the quality of life... beyond imagining”.
  • 1 October - New measures to increase rural home-building - See the Press Releasefrom the Government
    Towns and villages will now find it easier to get the development they need after changes to the village green system that will stop it being abused came in today.
    Village green status protects land that is regularly used for recreation but loopholes in the system have increasingly been abused by people looking to stop local development.
    The changes that come in today means it will no longer be possible to block local development by making spurious village green applications.
  • 1 October - Development will increase traffic to 'mind-boggling' levels in town - See the letterin the Oxford Mail
    I popped in to the Wantage Civic Hall to look at a display for the proposed Crab Hill development.
    I found myself among other anxious and angry residents, who are also worried about the probable impact of 1,500 houses on the site.
  • 30 September - How will our planners ever regain control? - See the letterin the Oxford Mail
    A more cynical person might believe that there is a massive conspiracy to smother the Vale of White Horse, Wantage and Grove Councils and the electors with such a mass of detailed information that some planning applications will escape the scrutiny that is essential to ensure that undesirable development is prevented and, hopefully, that there will be some community benefits as well as just houses.
  • 29 September - Cotswold village fights to stay small - See the Observer
    Hook Norton, home of the PM's favourite real ale, is in uproar as new planning regime is accused of ignoring local feeling. On Tuesday Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, signed off on a splurge of planning applications in the area which, combined with other plans, will increase the size of Hook Norton alone by more than 10%.
  • 21 September - Second public viewing for major housing plan - See the Oxfordshire Guardian
    Residents of Wantage and Grove have had the chance to check out revised plans for a major housing scheme in the area.
  • 18 September - Thousands of affordable homes axed - See the Guardian
    Councils across the UK cave in as developers refuse to undertake building projects unless they deliver healthy profits.
  • 17 September - Liberal Democrats pledges NPPF review to deliver green growth - See the article at Out-law.com
    Delegates at the Liberal Democrat party conference in Glasgow have voted in favour of a proposal to review the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to ensure it contributes "positively to creating a zero carbon Britain or to long term sustainability".
  • 12 September - Views wanted - See the Oxfordshire Guardian
    The deadline for comments to a planning application to build an extra 100 homes on Stockham Park Farm is approaching, as statements must be submitted by Wednesday.
  • 12 September - Report sets out blueprint to help build thousands of new homes - See the report produced by the RTPI
    The report highlights how new homes can be built in the places where they are most needed by unlocking existing large scale housing schemes and potential sites [show detail]
  • 12 September - Nick Boles: Let's allow more development in our national parks - See the Telegraph
    National Parks should not be protected "wildernesses" and new development should be allowed, the planning minister has said.
  • 12 September - ‘It’s as if a new estate agency called Cameron & Boles is flogging off all the best bits of countryside for a fast buck.’ - See the Mail
    When Nick Boles declared on Wednesday that he wants to help developers build on the National Parks, he proposed nothing short of a monstrous erosion of our rural heritage. But the suave Mr Boles did not appear at all chastened by the outrage that followed his provocative pronouncement. He never is.
  • 1 September - Council chief takes fight against housing to Minister - See the West Sussex County Times
    Writing to planning minister Nick Boles last week Ray Dawe (Con, Chantry) argued that the Government’s planning inspectors were approving applications regardless of any assessment of local conditions.
    He called on Mr Boles to implement interim measures to stop developers being allowed to build wherever they wanted, and told him that the slump in housebuilding was due to tough economic conditions out of the council’s control.
  • 30 August - Developments limited to 30 homes - See the Article in Planning
    A neighbourhood plan which stipulates that developments within or immediately adjacent to a Cheshire village should be limited to 30 homes has become the fourth such plan to be passed by an examiner.
  • August 27 - Tribunal warns that the Government acted illegally by denying public participation - See the Independent
    Plans for future wind farms in Britain could be in jeopardy after a United Nations legal tribunal ruled that the UK Government acted illegally by denying the public decision-making powers over their approval and the “necessary information” over their benefits or adverse effects.
  • 29 August - Council compensates householders whose properties may have been devalued - See the article on the Planning Portal
    Although the Local Government Ombudsman concluded that there was insufficient evidence to suggest that the planning authority had failed in its duty to notify nearby residents he did find that Redbridge had not fully and properly assessed the design of the development and its impact on residential amenity against its own planning policies.
    The watchdog agreed the value of two of the complainants’ properties may have been adversely affected.
  • 28 August - Planning Minister Nick Boles launches new national online planning guidance resource for public testing and comment. - See the Government website
    Following an external review, ministers have proposed a new streamlined planning practice that will provide the support for growth and creation of jobs and homes that the country needs. It will also provide clearer protections for our natural and historic environment by giving power back to communities who are generally best placed to make local decisions.
    Today sees the opening of the new tool in test mode and for comment: none of the current planning practice guidance will be cancelled until the final online guidance is in place and live later in the autumn.
  • 28 August - Town halls should ditch their “anti-car dogma” - See the article at EN for Business
    Town halls need to ditch their anti-car dogma and make it easier for people to park, according to Eric Pickles, secretary of state for communities and local Government. He said that such a move will support local shops and jobs, while boosting tourism.
  • 22 August - Government consults on minimum housing space standards - See the Planning Portal
    The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said the administration was inviting views on “minimum space and access standards that would allow councils to seek bigger homes to meet local needs, including those of older and disabled people”.
  • 22 August - Code for sustainable homes could be scrapped - See the article in Inside Housing
    The government has suggested the code for sustainable homes could be scrapped in a further bid to cut regulatory red tape for house builders.
  • 22 August - Minimum space standard would reduce number of homes built, Builders claim - See the Article in Inside Housing
    House builders have warned that fewer homes will be built if the government introduces a minimum space standard.
  • 22 August - 400,000 homes with planning permission still waiting to be built - See the press release from the Local Government Association
    The study, commissioned by the LGA and carried out by Glenigan, shows that there has been little progress made in reducing the bumper backlog over the past year.
  • 22 August - Plans submitted for 3,500 north Lincolnshire homes - See the article in This is Scunthorpe
    The Lucent Group has submitted plans for the Lincolnshire Lakes development, which would see the creation of two villages set against a backdrop of trees and water, on land to the west of Scotter Road.
  • 22 August - Government to publish guidance to open up planning appeal hearings - See the article on Out-Law.com
    New guidance to formally open up planning appeal hearings to be filmed, tweeted and reported will be published as part of the Government's review of planning guidance, Local Government Minister Eric Pickles has announced
  • 21 August - Legal moves ‘exhausted’ over unwanted housing - See the Wantage Herald
    Councillors say their “hands are tied” over an unwanted housing estate planned for Abingdon.
  • 20 August - Government plans national planning policy statement on housing standards - See the article in Planning
    The government has said it is minded to create a set of 'nationally described standards' for housebuilding which would be set out in a new planning policy statement to limit the amount of housing standards imposed by councils on builders.
  • 20 August - Builders face curbs on construction of ‘rabbit hutch’ homes - See the Financial Times (registration required)
    Housebuilders would be forced to construct homes with larger rooms under proposals to curb the proliferation of “rabbit-hutch” estates.
  • 19 August - Vale has hands tied over Drayton Road decision - See the Press Release from the District Council
    Having taken the highest level of legal advice, the Vale of White Horse District Council has reluctantly announced it is unable to challenge the appeal decision on the planning application for 160 homes on Drayton Road in Abingdon.
  • 14 August - British-produced food would run out today, farmers warn - See the Daily Telegraph
    Food supplies for the year would run out today if Britain had to rely on domestic goods alone due to a sharp fall in production in the past two decades, farmers have warned.
  • 12 August - Inspector rejects plans for 150 Cheshire greenfield homes as unsustainable - see the article in Out-Law
    Proposals for a 150-home development at Peel Hall Farm in Warrington would not be sustainable and would prejudice the local authority's approach to the release of housing land, a Planning Inspector has concluded
  • 9 August - Four Runway International Airport Proposed - See the Oxford Mail
    If built, the report submitted to the Airports Commission says that by 2060 the airport would be busier than the existing Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton airports in terms of numbers of passengers.
  • 7 August - No room for a care home - See the Oxfordshire Guardian
    With potentially 5,500 new houses planned to be built in the area, many are worried that the building of a care home will mean the health centre will not be able to expand in the future.
  • 2 August - No light, no space, no imagination: New homes must change - See the article on Yahoo
    When you look at what's being constructed, it's little wonder only one in four would choose to live in a new-build. Riba says that UK new builds are the smallest in Europe. It says that the Government must introduce minimum space standards or else it will fail an entire generation of new-build homebuyers.
  • 30 July - Inspector gives green light to 131 greenfield homes in Hampshire - This could have implications for us. - see the article in Out-Law
    Proposals for a residential development at Mengham on Hayling Island have been granted planning permission on appeal after a Planning Inspector concluded that the benefits of the scheme outweighed any potential harm caused by development on countryside land in an undeveloped gap between Gable Head and Mengham, which is part of an Area of Outstanding National Beauty (AONB).
  • 29 July - 300 seeking judicial review over Drayton Road - See the Herald
    Some 300 residents have signed a petition calling for a housing estate plan in Drayton Road to be challenged. Matthew Barber to consult lawyers.
  • 29 July - Policy risks preventing new affordable housing development, government warned - See the article in 24Dash.com
    A group of housing and environmental bodies have urged the government to ensure that the new viability test in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) doesn’t lead to less new affordable housing being developed. They warned that the test could lead to poorly designed development and a reduction in the ability of communities to respond to climate change.
    The group is asking the government to ensure that the viability testing:
    • considers the long-term economic, social and environmental interests of communities as well as developers and landowners;
    • be only one part of the wider evidence base of local plans whose objective should remain the long-term achievement of sustainable development;
    • be open to public participation.
  • 28 July - Campaigners’ fears for future of countryside - See the article in The Visitor
    The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) claims that the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) – intended to simplify planning – has instead led to more housing built on greenfield land.
  • 27 July - Nobody locally has the power in unwanted developments - See the article in the Mid-Sussex Times
    This letter suggests that the only way to stop these unwanted and unsustainable developments which are being rushed through before the District Plan is approved by Central Government is to wage a campaign against that Government. The power to approve or refuse these applications lies with the Government through its Planning Inspectorate and, it appears, they have immense powers given them by the National Planning Policy Framework(NPPF); unless it can be shown that a development is NOT sustainable, they are empowered to make a “presumption in favour of sustainability”. (The word “sustainable” has a very narrow meaning in this context.) What hope do we have locally when faced with such powers and a Planning Minister who has openly declared “war on the countryside” and who describes fields as boring?
  • 25 July - Row over police HQ flats scheme in Wantage - See the Wantage Herald
    A plan to turn Wantage’s former police station into sheltered housing has been criticised as a waste of potential commercial space.
  • 21 July - 100,000 homes may be built on Green Belt land - See the Telegraph
    Up to 100,000 homes are to be built on land from England’s protected Green Belt following the Government’s planning reforms. Every candidate at the next general election will be pressured by countryside campaigners to sign a charter committing them to reforming planning rules.
  • 15 July - Every candidate in next election to be pressured to sign charter to save English countryside - See the Telegraph
    Every candidate at the next general election will be pressured by countryside campaigners to sign a charter committing them to reforming planning rules.
  • 12 July - Ancient wood to be felled for quarry - See the Independent
    In a ruling that raises fears for the future of more than 300 ancient woods around the country, local government secretary Eric Pickles waived through an application to extend a ragstone quarry into the 400-year old Oaken Wood near Maidstone.
  • 18 July - Ex-Tory minister brands Government's planning policies an 'environmental disaster' that have led to the countryside being concreted over - See the Daily Mail
    Nick Herbert said new planning rules are leading to a ‘greenfield first’ building that is concreting over the countryside. He calls for planning inspectors to be stripped of the right to overrule local building plans.
  • 18 July - David Cameron has sent 'signal' to developers that they can build where they like, ex-ministers warn - See the Telegraph
    David Cameron’s government has sent a “signal” to developers that they can concrete over the countryside against the will of local residents as a result of controversial planning reforms, previously loyal Conservative ministers warned.
  • 17 July - Government debate on Localism in Planning led by Nick Herbert MP See the written record at Hansard
    "district councils .. do not believe that the [housing] targets have really disappeared"
    "although planning authorities are required to assess housing needs in their area .. it is important that they also weigh up the availability of infrastructure to support those housing needs"
    "there is now a growing risk that we will return to the bad old days of planning by appeal, under which the plans put together by local authorities are effectively overturned by the inspectorate"
    "a rate of house building is now being required that has never been achieved in the area, even in the boom years"
  • 16 July - Call to arms as CPRE unveil charter to stop destruction of the English countryside
    As the evidence mounts that Government planning reforms are not working the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) launched a three point charter to save our countryside. See their websitefor details.
    The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was intended to simplify planning and get houses built. The reforms have not delivered the housing people need and are instead causing harm to communities and landscapes.
    CPRE believes that unsustainable and increasing pressure is being placed on the countryside, and sensible planning is undermined by short-sighted pursuit of economic growth at any cost.
  • 12 July - 500 people say ‘no’ to homes See the front page article from theOxfordshire Guardian
    Protesters have made their case to Oxfordshire County Council stating their opposition to potential housing developments in Wantage and Grove.
    The Wantage and Grove Campaign Group committee have signed a petition on behalf of concerned residents, after the Vale of White Horse District Council (VoWHDC) draft Local Plan proposed 5,500 homes to be built in the area by 2026.
  • 5 July- New research: government reforms worry London planners
    The research by Sitematch Londonpublished last week found that twice as many London planners believe the NPPF has failed to improve the planning process as those who think it has helped.
  • 1 July - Flood insurance compromise deal reached - See the article on myfinances.co.uk
    A new deal has been reached between the government and the insurance industry that puts a cap on how much homes in 'flood risk' areas have to pay on their insurance.
  • 1 July - Thousands of homes built against EA advice 'uninsurable' - See the Telegraph
    The number of homes built against Environment Agency advice has almost quadrupled in the last year, new figures show, putting the owners of the houses at risk of living in homes that are uninsurable.
  • 1 July - Affordable homes budget cut by £104m as £400m Rent to Buy scheme launched - See Construction News
    Central government’s affordable homes funding is to be cut by £104m over the three years from 2015/16 but a £400m Affordable Rent to Buy scheme is also being launched, funding new-build homes to be let to tenants at affordable rents, with tenants then getting the option to buy the home.
  • 27 June - Affordable homes plans ‘undeliverable’ - See the Financial Times
    Plans to pump £3.3bn of public money into building affordable homes were criticised by industry as undeliverable, because of a deep cut in the amount of subsidy per home from an average £22,000 a home under the present affordable homes programme to around £18,000.
  • 27 June - Affordable homes subsidy - "a further disappointing cut in subsidy" - See the Guardian
    Housing minister defends government funding levels under the spending review against criticisms by sector leaders as Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) chief executive Grainia Long called the investment "modest", while National Housing Federation chief executive David Orr said it was "in reality, a further disappointing cut in subsidy".
  • 28 June - Investing in Britain’s future - more or less? According to a Treasury document, Investing in Britain's Future, published on 27 June as part of the spending review, part of New Homes Bonus money will be added to the new Single Local Growth Fund (SLGF) which Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) will then be able to bid for. The Spending Round announces that amongst the central government funding streams to go into the pot is £819 million from local authority transport funding, £100 million from local sustainable transport funding, £300 million from further education funding and £400 million from the New Homes Bonus. This money will be pooled within Local Enterprise Partnership areas (in our case, Oxfordshire) to support strategic housing and economic development priorities. The document also states that from April 2013, local authorities in England are retaining half of the business rates that are raised locally. So this should provide incentive for encouraging commercial expansion.
  • 11 June - Labour “would reverse” planning changes – yes or no?- See the commentfrom Action for Market Towns
    Recent reports by the Daily Telegraph (and BBC news) stating that Labour sources say the party would scrap the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), have been dismissed by planning commentator Andrew Lainton, who interpreted comments as only committing to “propose to scrap the special measures provisions from the Growth and Infrastructure Act.”
  • 6 June - The Coalition have got it wrong over planning.- See the Telegraph
    Hilary Benn believes that "Communities can shape what happens – deciding where the homes will go, being certain that the extra infrastructure (schools, shops, and GPs surgeries) will be there, feeling comfortable with the design and knowing that their children and people on the local waiting list will be at the head of the queue."
  • 5 June - EU urges government to increase housing supply- See the articlein Inside Housing
    The UK government must take greater steps to increase housing supply including through a more efficient planning system, a report from the European Commission has said.
  • 4 June - Is the NPPF Delivering Planning for People- See the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) Paper
    According to the LGiU the NPPF has failed to put communities at the heart of the planning system. The NPPF is, in fact, at risk of undermining localism for two key reasons. First, the challenging schedule set for implementing the NPPF and, second, an apparent centralisation of the planning system. The research also identified two external factors that are making Local Plans challenging to deliver: land-banking and resources in planning departments.
  • 30 May - High Street planning changes will create 'ghettos' of betting shops- See the Information Daily
    Local councils have warned that revised planning laws in England, which come into force today, risk “draining the life from high streets”. As part of government plans to boost the high street, business owners and developers will no longer need permission to change the use of certain buildings from one type of business to another for up to two years.
  • 30 May - Oxfordshire is riding on the crest of a £1bn development boom- See the Oxford Herald
    Research by the Oxford Mail has identified 24 key sites which are either in the pipeline for the near future or have created thousands of jobs for their immediate areas. It indicates that while the recession may have slowed growth at its height, the recovery is now well and truly under way.
  • 30 May - Social housing approvals up 45%- See the articlein Inside Housing
    Data published today by the Home Builders Federation shows plans for 7,952 social homes were approved across Great Britain from the beginning of January to the end of March. This was up 45% on the previous year, and 12% on the previous quarter.
  • 28 May - More people renting houses rather than owning them would be better for our economy - See the Telegraph
    Much is said in favour of the independence which property-owning brings, but it is easy to forget the loss of social and economic mobility that goes with it. Owning your own home, particularly at the child-rearing stage of life, is generally beneficial: it can – assuming that you are not trapped in too high a mortgage – provide stability and security. But if what you want is a more dynamic economy which can adapt robustly to changing circumstances, then you need people and money to be able to move. Locking them both up in houses does not facilitate this.
  • 23 May - High street regeneration: how a council boosted a revamp for local businesses- See the Guardian
    In a time of austerity where we are seeing what has been dubbed the death of the high street, regeneration work is not always a top priority for councils. Spending money to help businesses and provide residents with better high streets is often considered too much of a gamble. But it's worked in Leyton.
  • 20 May - UK spends £2bn housing homeless in B&Bs, hostels and shelters- See the The Guardian
    The UK has spent almost £2bn housing vulnerable homeless families in short-term temporary accommodation, according to figures that demonstrate the scale of Britain's housing crisis.
    Rising private rents, a shortage of affordable housing and benefit cuts have forced local authorities, particularly in London, to place increasing numbers of households in bed and breakfast accommodation, hostels and shelters.
    A separate investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has uncovered evidence that London councils are rapidly accelerating the rehousing of homeless households outside their home boroughs. Some 32,643 homeless households have been rehoused out of their borough since 2009.
  • 16 May - Minister claimed that building more homes in the countryside could add to its beauty- See the Daily Telegraph "Campaigners against the Government’s planning reforms are opposing social mobility, aspiration and the family" suggested Michael Gove
  • 9 May - Planning reforms 'will mean rampant barn-building'- See the Daily Telegraph Fresh changes to the planning rules could encourage uncontrolled building on farm land as farmers try to turn barns into houses, campaigners have warned
  • 2 May - Bungalow building hits 27-year low - See theTelegraph Bungalow building has ground to a near-halt over the past couple of decades, as planning policy has promoted higher-density development and builders have focused on bigger homes which offer them better returns on their land.
  • 2 May - Tesco internet warehouse 'to create 750 jobs' According to BBC Oxford: About 750 jobs could be created under plans to build a distribution warehouse processing internet shopping orders. Tesco wants to build the centre on three hectares of land at Milton Hill with plans for office space later.
  • 29 April - One in five over-55s wants to downsize - See theTelegraph One in five homeowners aged over-55 is planning to downsize over the next five years because they cannot afford running costs on their property.
  • 23 April - Why do we now build the smallest new homes in Western Europe? According to the Independent:Nick Boles says that developers stuff as many homes as they can onto a site and, in an attempt to make the properties affordable, skimp on room size, architectural features, materials and landscape design.
  • 22 April - Build more bungalows to solve housing crisis, says Policy Exchange - See theTelegraph Developers should be encouraged to build more single storey homes to encourage older people to move out of bigger homes and make way for younger families. Policy Exchange said that planning rules which have forced developers to build at least 30 dwellings per hectare had acted as a disincentive towards new bungalows by focusing on high density developments.
  • 29 March - Vale of the White Horse is a great place to live The Vale of White Horse is in the top ten of Britain’s most desirable places to live according to the Halifax Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey. The Vale of White Horse came eighth in a survey of 119 rural local authority districts. The district ranked highly for employment figures, average earnings and for low crime figures.
    How will this change with the implementation of the Local Plan?
  • 19 April - Figures suggest fall in need for housing- See Planningresource.co.uk (you do need to register but it is free)
    The Department for Communities and Local Government released new household statistics which suggests that the previous growth forecasts were way too high. See our evidence pagefor details.
  • 22 April - Campaigners plan fight against 1,275 new homes development- See the Gloucestershire Echo More than 200 people turned up to a public protest hosted by the Leckhampton Green Land Action Group (Leglag) to show their opposition to plans for 1,275 homes on land off the A46 Shurdington Road.
    We aren't the only ones...
  • 18 April - Concerns raised over 1,500-home plan- See the Wantage Herald A new 1,500-home estate on the edge of Wantage will have just 360 primary school places.
    That was one of the concerns raised at the first public exhibition of plans for the Crab Hill development on Monday.
    Residents are concerned that Wantage does not have enough jobs or school places for the new population, and the roads will become more congested.
  • 16 April - Britain may need to 'dig for survival', minister says- See the Daily Telegraph "..we are going to have to increase food production,” David Heath, the agriculture minister said.
  • 17 April - Concerns voiced at bid for 1500 homes- See the front page of today's Wantage Herald, for a summary of the consultation on Monday. This article hasn't appeared on the web yet so we can't link to it.
  • 16 April - Tussle over Oxfordshire countryside- See the FT (you do need to register but it is free) for an article which uses the Vale of the White Horse as an "illustration of the tensions affecting development across the economically vibrant southeast, [where] demand for housing and infrastructure to match the growth is colliding with opposition from local groups fearful of the impact on the beauty of the countryside"
  • 11 April - Development group to grill politicians- See the Wantage Heraldor the the Oxford Mail for a short note referring to our meeting with MP Ed Vaizey at Wantage Civic Hall on Friday, May 3, at 8pm
  • 4 April - Hawkhurst is a village once more - See This is Kent
    HAWKHURST residents can call themselves villagers once more after winning their long battle with planners. The target of building 240 new homes in Hawkhurst by 2026 will not reduce, despite the label changing from town to village.
  • 2 April - Public Address to Oxfordshire County Council Julie Mabberley gave a Public Addressto Oxfordshire County Council at their meeting on 2 April on the subject of ensuring sufficient infrastructure in accordance with the National Policy Framework.
  • 31 March - Planning: our rural romance mustn't stop us building homes- See the Observer We need at least 250,000 new-builds a year. Currently, only 100,000 are under construction. England alone has 62,000 hectares of brownfield sites, 750,000 empty properties and thousands of homes that require retrofitting to make them properly habitable. At the same time, builders have a land bank of 400,000 plots with planning permission but without a brick laid. Currently, it takes an average of 25 months from permission to build to completion of a home, although nine years has been known.
    Clearly, there is much to be done – not least the application of more innovative thinking by builders, planners and policymakers alike..
  • 27 March - We do not want to be Dormitory Town- See the front page of today's Wantage Herald, for a article linked to the consultation session at the Civic Hall. This article hasn't appeared on the web yet so we can't link to it.
  • 27 March - Providing support for growth in the Vale- See Press Release from the Vale of the White Horse District Council reminding us about the additional information released tomorrow.
  • 25 March - Middle England prepares for planning war over new developments- See the Telegraph.Authorities which do not have the plans in place will be subject to the framework’s “sustainable development” clause and will find it harder to specify where development can take place.
  • 23 March - Don't let Nimbys halt Nick Boles' planning revolution, business leaders say- See the Telegraph.“From a business perspective, Nick Boles has had the courage to do three things. He has boldly said that we need to develop a small amount of additional land in England if we are to be able to build vibrant communities, expand dynamic businesses, and house future generations."
  • 23 March - Housebuilding sets David Cameron and George Osborne against 'nimby' Tories- See the Guardian.Nationally, Tory council leaders have complained to Nick Boles about housing targets that are "out of scale" and fear defeat at the polls if they are forced to build against their electors' wishes.
  • 22 March - Planning minister’s war on the countryside- See the Telegraph.Property developers have been privately promised that planning laws will be liberalised again within weeks to allow them to begin a house-building boom backed by this week’s Budget. This appears to relate to homeowners not large developments.
  • 18 March - Residents 'powerless’ over greenfield homes- See the Telegraph.It appears that local communities are “increasingly powerless”.
  • 18 March - Developers offer 35 parking places as a sop- See the Wantage Herald. A developer hoping to build a 60-bed care home behind Mably Way Health Centre in Grove has offered to create 35 parking spaces for the centre, but we need more medical facilities with all the house building not just a nursing home. Please post your comments on the Council siteto show depth of feeling. See our comment opposing the development. [show details]

  • 15 March - Ministers ride roughshod over restrictions on speculative development- See the Telegraph. It's not just Wantage and Grove but that doesn't help us!
  • 15 March - Imposing housing developments from on high will build nothing but resentment- See the Telegraph.The Government must keep its promise to give local people the final word on planning
  • 14 March - How local democracy is being crushed under the jackboot of the Government's Mr Concrete- See Max Hasting in the Daily Mail
  • 13 March - Planning approvals and house sales rise- See the articlein Inside Housing
    Local authorities approved increasing numbers of residential planning applications in the last quarter of 2012 – although figures are still lower than 2006 and 2007 levels.
    Figures released by the Home Builders Federation today show 51,000 residential units were approved across Britain during the fourth quarter of last year. This was a 61 per cent increase against the same period in 2011 and 40 per cent rise on the three months to September 2012.
  • 13 March - Chain Hill Development was approved by the VoWH Planning Committee subject the the Chairman being satisfied on road safety. See our comments about Chainhill.
  • 12 March - Councillors for hire. Councillors across the country are offering themselves for hire to property developers who are hoping to take advantage of relaxed planning laws which come into effect within weeks, a Daily Telegraphinvestigation reveals today. This could appear to includeCouncillor Stewart LillyCounty Councillor for Sutton Courtenay & Harwell - for his response to our question see "Councillor Lilly".
  • 11 March - Allotments are also part of Sustainability See the Commentspage for details
  • 11 March - Drainage from the proposed developments and issues of safe drainage from the whole area, not just off the proposed development sites, should be equally considered with roads to complete the necessary infrastructure. See the Commentspage for details
  • 11 March - A34 Lane Closures overnight for 2 weeks from tonight near the Peartree Interchange. See the Oxford Times for details
  • 6 March - See today's Wantage Herald for our first Article 6 March 2013 - The article (on the Front Page) is much better than the one on the Web but I guess it's better than nothing.
  • 28 February - Housing Need Evidence [show detail]

  • 28 February - The dates and locations for the Local Plan consultation exhibitions have been released. [show detail]

  • 21 February - New alliance calls for "Smart Growth" investment in cities, not more 1980s-style sprawl [show detail]

  • 20 February - Abingdon Developers to Appeal [show detail]

  • 20 February - What is in the National Planning Policy Framework? We have extracted some relevant paragraphs on the National Planning Policy Framework page
  • 20 February - When will the new Local Plan be available for Public Consultation? 28 February - see the Local Planpage for details
  • 15 February - What about the increase in traffic during the building works? See the Commentspage for details
  • 15 February - 21 Wallingford Street The approved plan for 2 shops and 34 flats has now been withdrawn and a new application has been submitted for 2 shops and 26 flats (8x1 bedroom and 18x2 bedroom). They are still planning 29 parking spaces, most of which would be allocated to the flats.
  • 15 February - Old Station Road, Grove Outline planning permission has been granted for 133 houses on this site on the Northern edge of Grove next to the A338.
  • 10 February - Change in policy on housing allocation People throughout South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse are being encouraged to have their say on changes to the Housing Allocations Policy. This policy gives what is called reasonable preference to people in housing need and defines what constitutes need. Consultation closed on 1 March.
  • 5 February - Technical College proposed on Great Western Park in Didcot Great idea. We need more colleges but this will just add to the traffic on the A417 from Wantage to Didcot.
  • 26 January - Traffic Concerns mean that a plan for 160 houses in Abingdon is turned down But the potential for 8500 extra cars in Wantage and Grove with only limited improvements to existing roads are to the A417 junctions (Rowstock & Featherbed lane), and limited ones on the A338 doesn't seem to be a problem!
  • 9 January - Hands Off Our Land: Housing estates will not be ‘plonked’ next to villages, pledges David Cameron - See the Telegraph
    The Prime Minster suggested that the new planning rules which will fast-track planning decisions would be limited to schemes of fewer than 30 homes to avoid creating more urban sprawl.

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