More than 90 people from Long Wittenham attended an exhibition to examine and comment on plans for the village’s proposed community hub. The project includes a new school, pre-school, village hall, play and sports area, market and affordable homes and parking. The whole project will be self-funding with profits from the market housing going back into funding all the community facilities. Following a series of public meetings during the last 18 months the parish council’s chosen developer Thomas Homes has been working on plans and the proposals were unveiled at a drop-in evening at The Plough pub on Thursday evening 11th May.
Leading the hub development is parish councillor Steve Brown who said: “I was very pleased with the public’s response. We have been encouraged by the support of residents, the vast majority of whom have backed our ideas to take the village forward. The head teacher told me how pleased she is with our plans and the space the new school will have. The council and our developer Thomas Homes will be analysing the public comments to see what can be incorporated into the final plans before we seek outline planning approval from South Oxfordshire District Council this summer. Long Wittenham is in urgent need of better public facilities. The school is at its limit and we need pre-school facilities and a much bigger and better village hall for sport and functions. The Pre-school Committee have worked out what they would like to see in the final layout. There is a need for new homes and improved parking facilities to relieve congestion in the High Street.”
Council chairman Gordon Rogers said the council is encouraged by the continued support of villagers to the proposals. He said: “Most people appreciate that Long Wittenham needs fresh ideas if we are to retain our identity in the face of large scale development on our doorstep at Didcot. We are in danger of being consumed so we need to take control of our own future. A new school, village hall and homes are vital for villagers and newcomers. Long Wittenham is an attractive village but we have no shop and the bus service vanished last year so it’s essential we don’t stagnate. We need to reinvigorate the village and that’s why we believe the hub proposals are so important.”
Behind the hub idea is a cross-funding scheme involving four to five new houses on the site of the present school along with a village green. A new house is proposed on the site of the village hall. On the hub area off Didcot Road up to 40 homes would be built and there would be a parking area for 50 vehicles. This would relieve congestion outside the village hall and school sites in High Street. If the district council approves the eventual plans agreed by the council then it’s hoped the whole project could be completed by 2020.