Below are summaries of the plans and policies for a station at Grove by the different levels of Government.
At the start of 2020 the Department for Transport launched a £500 million fund “Restoring Your Railway Fund” (See: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/restoring-your-railway-fund). A bid for money towards developing a case for a station at Grove was made to this fund but has not been successful. (See https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/restoring-your-railway-fund-programme-update).
Network Rail is responsible for the delivery of rail infrastructure and in 2021 produced the “Oxford Rail Corridor study”. This looked at rail improvements from Didcot northwards as far as Banbury and made a number of recommendations. These included additional infrastructure to provide greater capacity in and around Didcot, with a proposal for a new station at Wantage/Grove, which would require additional main line infrastructure.
Regional Planning: England’s Economic Heartland (EEH)
England’s Economic Heartland (EEH) is the sub-national transport body covering a band stretching from Swindon to Cambridgeshire and from Northamptonshire to Hertfordshire. In 2022 they started a study looking at connectivity in the Swindon-Didcot-Oxford area which is due to be completed early 2023.
Oxfordshire County Council:
The Oxfordshire Transport Plan 4 for the period 2015-2031 has a specific rail strategy (see: https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/residents/roads-and-transport/connecting-oxfordshire/county-and-corridor-strategies). This document discusses the need for improvements to the rail infrastructure across Oxfordshire. The construction of East-West Rail is underway, and high priority projects include improvements to Oxford station and increased capacity between Didcot and Oxford. A station at Grove is not in the list of high priority projects but is listed as a potential future project with the following statement:
“The county council will seek to identify a site for a new station and evaluate the potential demand based on various growth and train service scenarios. Working with Vale of White Horse District Council we will seek to safeguard land within the Local Plan to protect the long-term ambition of a railway station.”
Following consultation Oxfordshire County Council adopted their new Local Transport and Connectivity Plan (LTCP5) in July 2022. This covers the period up to 2050. It is available here https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/sites/default/files/file/roads-and-transport-connecting-oxfordshire/LocalTransportandConnectivityPlan.pdf) This includes a policy to use the existing Oxfordshire Rail Corridor Study and Oxfordshire Connect projects to guide their approach to rail and priorities for rail investment in Oxfordshire. A separate, updated, rail strategy as part of LTCP5 is awaited (as of January 2023).
Oxfordshire County Council have approved an investment of £250,000 in their 2022/23 budget to undertake a strategic rail feasibility study to establish what it would take to advance the proposals for four rail projects: Links to Cowley, a station at Grove/Wantage, a new Witney/Carterton line, and the installation of double track on single track stretches of the North Cotswold Line. However, we do not know what portion of this money will be spent towards a station at Grove/Wantage.
Vale of White Horse District Council
The Vale of White Horse Local Plan adopted in December 2016 and covering the period up to 2031 refers to the station. The “Strategic Sites and Policies” Part 1 document has two relevant core policies:
At the time this plan was adopted the “Land for safeguarding future Transport Schemes” (in Appendix E) only included a parcel of land near the A338 bridge for a station at Grove. This does not coincide with that for the two preferred sites in the “Wantage & Grove Station. Statement of Opinion” report referred to earlier. However, the VoWH Local Plan Part 2 (Adopted October 2019) updates and expands this. Notably: it now safeguards three sites for a possible Grove Station. These correspond to three of the sites mentioned in the ‘Statement of Opinion’ report earlier. These being:
In 2022 work started on the a new joint Local Plan covering both the Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire that will supersede the existing plans and cover the period up to 2041. It is aimed that this plan be adopted late 2024.