Local Plan 2041
Public meeting to discuss preferred options for the Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Councils’ joint Local Plan 2041
A public meeting was held on 31 January 2024 at Snells Hall. It was attended by 35 residents and Parish Councillors. Presentations were made by John Sharp and Roger Turnbull. The Local Plan is to be jointly developed by South Oxfordshire DC and the Vale of White Horse DC. The timescale for the Plan is to have a working draft by Autumn 2024, submission by Spring 2025, independent examination by Summer 2025 and acceptance by late 2025. It was pointed out that was a very ambitious timescale.
The deadline for providing comments on the preferred options in this draft Plan is 26th February 2024 and it was requested that individuals as well as the Parish Council should respond.
The main points in discussion were:
- Houses and development
There was concern about East Hendred being classified as a “larger” village with implications for more growth. However, it was pointed out that there was less need for new sites in the period of this Local Plan due to sites being available from the current Plan.
Harwell was cited as a major growth area with a further 128 hectares to be developed in the Plan period. which has traffic & environmental impacts on East Hendred Parish. There was uncertainty what was driving the continual large growth at the Harwell Campus.
- Transport and Travel,
The transport methods outlined are more applicable to those who work close to home or are on a nearby bus/train route. Most people will continue to use cars to commute to work or for shopping. The A417 which links Wantage/Grove to the A34, Harwell and Didcot is already overloaded. The Plan seems weak in alleviating this problem.
There is a need for appropriate infrastructure (roads, schools, doctors’ surgeries) to be provided before major housing development was started. In practice such infrastructure tended to be built at the later stages of development with many early residents not having good facilities.
- Carbon net zero
In the presentations it was pointed out that the date for net zero for South Oxfordshire was 2030 whereas for the Vale DC it was 2045. There was considerable concern about these differing targets and how they might be accommodated in a joint plan.
- Power outages and water leaks
East Hendred has had increasing numbers of power and water supply outages due to aging infrastructure and the demands of new housing, both in the village and beyond. Repairing water leaks has disrupted local transport. Charging EV’s at night was also seen as adding to the local load. The proposed reservoir is unlikely to help with these problems. It was pointed out that these could only be dealt with by SSEN and Thames Water
- Neighbourhood plan
There was strong support for developing a Neighbourhood Plan for the village which would help to manage any future growth. Cost and timescale were seen as barriers, but it was felt that funding could be found if needed. The Parish Council is currently considering developing such a Plan and would need assistance if it goes ahead.
Proposed responses from East Hendred Parish Council to the Joint Local Plan Preferred Options consultation, taking feedback from the 31st January meeting into account
Q1. DO YOU AGREE TO REDUCING THE HOUSING TARGET?
A. Strongly agree.
It complies with the Government’s Standard Method for new homes.
The 20% growth in housing 2011-23 has not resulted in a 20% growth in infrastructure.
It will help achieve a net-zero Carbon target.
South Oxfordshire and the Vale DCs need to negotiate an agreed date for meeting the carbon-neutral target.
Q2. DO YOU AGREE TO NO NEW LARGE SITES BEING ALLOCATED?
There is currently a land supply for 19,508 new homes compared to a need for 14,390 homes = a 5,368 surplus.
Consider reducing housing supply from Large Greenfield Sites in the National Landscape &
Green Belt, for which there is no longer a need. e.g. Culham. (2019 Vale Local Plan Inspector
on new homes adj. Harwell Campus said there was no synergy or benefit from homes next to
Q3. DO YOU AGREE TO RAISE NET ZERO CARBON STANDARDS?
A. This is largely covered by new Building Regulations but need to ensure that both market &
affordable homes are still viable.
Q4. DO YOU AGREE WITH 50% AFFORDABLE HOUSING ON LARGER SITES?
A. Agree. Concern that effect on viability will lead to less affordable housing.
Q5. DO YOU AGREE WITH APPROACH ON EMPLOYMENT LAND?
A. Disagree. The Nutshell Consultation states that with less housing there is less need for employment land than in the current Local Plan Policy 6 (218 hectares incl.128 hectares at Harwell Campus), which has traffic & environmental impacts on East Hendred Parish.
The Parish supports sustainable growth at Harwell Campus. It wishes to be involved in the Masterplan, under Policy AS12, for new development to ensure the reduced area for employment at Harwell Campus (from 128 to 93 hectares) secures a 25% reduction in travel by car, and a 35 hectare increase in useful structural & perimeter landscaping, to protect & enhance the designated National Landscape, & reducing outside lighting e.g. car parks.
Q6. DO YOU AGREE WITH EAST HENDRED BEING A LARGER VILLAGE?
A. Disagree. Proposed growth should be sustainable & provided with infrastructure, which means protecting future generations e.g. the Climate Emergency. We support high quality development within the built-up area, protecting the countryside. That means reducing the scale of growth of homes & employment by promoting redevelopment of well-located Brownfield Sites and deleting allocations of large sites in Green Belt & National Landscape.
Q7. DO YOU AGREE WITH NEIGHBOURHOOD PLANS WITHOUT NEW HOMES?
A. Agree. The removal of housing requirements in Neighbourhood Plans is welcomed on the grounds that there is a surplus of allocated sites over the requirement, so no need.
Q8. DO YOU AGREE TO ENCOURAGING WALKING, CYCLING, PUBLIC TRANSPORT?
A. Agree. However, the Climate Emergency requires more radical transport reforms to reduce traffic levels by 25%. This can be partl;y addressed with High Quality frequent Express bus services to Didcot Parkway from Wantage & Harwell Campus, & increased rail services to Culham & Oxford, in place of increasing road capacity between A4130 & Clifton Hampton, which will have short lived benefits.
Q9. WHAT COMMUNITY INFRASTRUCTURE DO YOU REQUIRE?
A. More funding for schools, community halls, sports clubs, health care, green spaces.
Q10. DO YOU AGREE WITH PLANS FOR WATER INFRASTRUCTURE?
A. Disagree. There is insufficient water supply & drainage due to leaks. We seek proper consideration of a National Water Network, in place of an Abingdon Reservoir.
Q11. DO YOU AGREE WITH A 11-25% BIOLOGY NET GAIN INSTEAD OF 10%.
A. Agree. This needs to ensure a 25% net gain in woodland & chalk (calcareous) grassland.
Q12.DO YOU AGREE TO PROTECTING OTHER VALUED LANDSCAPES APART FROM NATIONAL LANDSCAPES (AONB) & TRANQUIL AREAS?
A. Agree. Light pollution has increased and needs to be reduced.
Q13. IS THERE ANY ALLOCATED SITE YOU WANT TO COMMENT ON?
A. We would support reducing the number of new houses at Grove (North West Grove), Didcot (North West Valley Park), & Culham (adj. Culham Science Centre).
These Greenfield & Green Belt sites have significant traffic and environmental impacts, and are no longer needed due to the reduced planned growth.
Respond to the consultation
You can find the consultation on the Preferred Options for the Local Plan 2041 and enter your response to it at https://theconversation.southandvale.gov.uk/jlp/