Historic England, the public body tasked with protecting England’s historic environment, has objected to a scheme which seeks to build a new link road and river crossing linking Didcot to the Culham Science Centre. The road, estimated to cost £125m, is a key part of South Oxfordshire District Council’s Local Plan which proposes a large scale housing development near the science centre.
One of two suggested routes for the road would cut through part of the site for a huge quarry on land between Culham and Clifton Hampden and that could have implications for the quarry. Oxfordshire County Council’s planning committee is expected to discuss the issue next month.
Another route for the proposed link road is on the western side of the railway line but both routes have raised the concerns of Historic England. In a letter to Bachport – the group fighting to stop the quarry – Lesley Godbolt says both routes proposed for the new road cause “significant concerns.”
The organisation says that the western route proposed by SODC includes an ancient settlement site designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument on the north side of the Thames. Similarly the proposed eastern route proposed by SODC includes two scheduled monuments including the recently designated round barrow cemetery at Fullamoor Plantation.
In her letter Ms Godbolt writes: “Both routes would cause us serious concerns and we therefore object to the proposed routes. Any development on a Scheduled Monument requires Scheduled Monument Consent and as a rule we would discourage any development that will disturb the ground on that monument.”
Bachport’s Giles Baxter said there was a need for joined up thinking in planning the development of such an important site as the Culham Science Centre. Both the county and district councils should have been aware of the location of important Scheduled Ancient Monuments and the need to preserve them.