Just time for a February update so here goes:
First a number of consultations (most of which I mentioned last month) that you might want to participate in:
Wantage Town Council have a survey on their website looking for support for the introduction of 20 mph traffic speed limits across the town. The deadline for this one is 21 March. https://wantagetowncouncil.gov.uk/20-is-plenty-proposal-and-survey/
As I mentioned last month, the plans for the Reservoir have reared their heads again. Water Resources South East (WRSE) is the grouping of 7 water South-East Water Companies – including Thames Water and Affinity Water. They have launched their draft Plan for the South-east water supplies for the period 2025 – 2100. It is open to public consultation. Their only proposal for the next 20 years is the reservoir. Don't believe them when they say it's going to be a great leisure amenity. It's going to be an above ground reservoir with banks 80 feet high filling the space between the A338 and the A34 north of the railway line. It's going to be less than half a mile from the new developments in Hanney and Steventon. It's going to take at least 10-15 years to build and will need about 120,000 lorry loads of aggregate to build the banks. A much more eco-friendly option is to transfer water from the river Severn. Our column https://www.wantageandgrove.org/column.php?id=259 tries to explain some of the facts. You can find the draft plan details and how to respond at https://wrse.uk.engagementhq.com/the-proposed-solution and GARD (Group Against Reservoir Development) have drafted some ideas for how to respond https://www.abingdonreservoir.org.uk/ The deadline for this one is 14 March.
I have benefited from the councils being able to meet remotely during the pandemic (you can even be at two meetings at once) but the Government rules allowing this to happen have now lapsed. The Vale and the County Council are both holding meetings via computer screens and providing recordings so that you can watch the meeting after the event but local town and parish councils don't have the technical capability to do this (despite the Town Council spending some of our money on computers for every Councillor). Anyway there is a petition to ask the Government to change the law - you can sign it here https://www.change.org/p/uk-government-and-parliament-for-councils-in-england-to-have-the-choice-to-meet-remotely
Also a reminder that the County Council is consulting on the draft Transport and Connectivity Plan to 2050 and there is an online survey https://letstalk.oxfordshire.gov.uk/ltcp. The deadline for this one is 16 March. If you get as far as Policy 93 - (page 120) it's probably the only one which has any real application to OX12 - I quote "Oxfordshire County Council will work with partners and stakeholders to develop tailored solutions for our smaller market towns and rural areas that improve connectivity, accessibility, and contribute to delivery of our transport vision" What partners and which stakeholders isn't clear but most of the other policies are much more applicable to Oxford City and any new large developments - it's too late to change anything on Grove Airfield or Crab Hill.
Existing communities don't feature much.
As I read it, the strategy is to get us all walking and cycling to local facilities and probably to paint cycleways onto existing roads in an attempt to say that it's safe to cycle. They are encouraging the used of shared car schemes and electric vehicles but don't have any plans to do anything about the high level of construction traffic (which they say is a specific problem in Oxfordshire) or delivery vehicles. We have drafted a response on your behalf so if you want to see the response before we submit it just get in touch - you could even amend it and submit your own version.
Again a reminder that the District Council (together with South Oxfordshire) have a draft Design Guide for you to review https://www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/vale-of-white-horse-district-council/planning-and-development/urban-design/joint-design-guide-consultation/ - for a council without any money they have obviously spent some of our hard earned cash on a website to show you how the design guide will work https://data.southoxon.gov.uk/JDG/Guide.html This is the next one we will be working on.
The planning application for the extension to the Health Centre might be approved in March and then contractors can be appointed. Hopefully we'll then get some kind of timeline for when it will be built. The plans have to ensure that the building can still be used while construction takes place.
I hear that the District Council has decided that much of the money for leisure facilities from developers in our area can be spent anywhere within a 15 mile radius. That's basically anywhere in the Vale and of course includes Abingdon so expect them to have great facilities soon! I don't hear anything about the Town Council contacting sports clubs in Wantage to offer to help them to apply for the money or proposing anything themselves like Grove Parish Council did last month.
The big planning news is that Lidl have submitted another application for a slightly smaller shop on the same site. P22/V0286/FUL You can comment until 16 March.
Don't forget the major roadworks at the Airplane roundabout. They are enlarging and realigning the roundabout so expect there to be four way traffic lights there for about two months. Works were due to start on Tuesday 22nd February 2022 and finish on Friday 22nd April 2022.
As you probably know the District Council are working on their new Local Plan which will decide where new homes will go for the next 20 years. The total number of new homes will be decided as part of Oxfordshire 2050 and we understand that Oxford City Council is pushing for the largest number even though the homes will be build in the Districts not in the City.
Regardless of which number is picked for the County (at least 100,000 but could be 153,000) many will be built around here and my column last week highlighted the fact that the developers seem to want to join East Challow, Wantage, Grove and East Hanney into one conurbation - see https://www.wantageandgrove.org/column.php?id=258 for more details.
Without a local area plan we could have a range of scattered local centres with no decent town centre any more. So this is another thing which our Town Councillors should have a view on but given that they still haven't finished with the Neighbourhood Plan started in 2016, I don't hold out much hope.
Now that we are all out and about again don't forget that you can check for road works which may delay your journey at https://one.network/
That's all for now. I'm sure there are many things I've forgotten to mention so there might be a follow-up email soon but stay safe until then.
Thanks for reading.
Wantage and Grove Campaign Group