In common with many communities in Oxfordshire and the rest of the country, Long Wittenham is coming under pressure from developers to build homes. Look everywhere in the near vicinity and new homes are being built or are planned. More than 3,000 houses are proposed as part of the Culham Science Village development. It is a key part of South Oxfordshire District Council’s Local Plan which is currently under scrutiny.
The parish council wants to bring residents up to date on several planning issues and needs to enlist support in managing pressures from developers.
Neighbourhood Development Plan
GOOD NEWS: The Long Wittenham Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) was endorsed last Summer by an impressive majority and is now recognised by SODC as part of its formal planning policy. It means that the principles laid down in the NDP should determine development in the village.
BAD NEWS: Unfortunately the NDP did not protect the village from the Kler development for 36 homes on land on the corner of Fieldside and the Didcot Road. This development will provide very little benefit to the village and will not help create the Community Hub (new school, pre-school and village hall) and other amenities that people said were important if the village is to move ahead.
After a four-day public enquiry last November the inspector said that the Kler development should be approved because SODC failed to reach its five-year land supply to meet government targets on house building. This over-ruled the NDP.
Although the early drafts of the NDP set out a preferred site (off Didcot Road) for a ten-per-cent growth figure, the maximum expected, the parish council was advised at the time not to stipulate a site for the Hub so the site was not included in the final draft. This also went against it at the Kler enquiry. The NDP is now being revised to include our preferred site.
A more recent proposal has emerged from West Waddy ADP and Lagan Homes to build 29 homes on land from Lower Farm to Northfield Lane next to Bodkin’s sports and play area.
The council’s view is that this development, like Kler, offers very little community benefit and will not help in the creation of community facilities. The council is also concerned about access to the Lagan Homes site onto the main Long Wittenham to Clifton Hampden road and Northfield Lane.
Until SODC gets a five-year land supply, the village is at risk of further applications in other parts of the village. Developers are circulating everywhere seeking land on which to build new homes and we as a community have to be on our guard.
How Can Residents help?
Once the NDP is revised we will get some added protection because of the site allocation. In the meantime we hope that the parish council’s own development partner will make a planning application to build the Community Hub along with the 37 homes.
Residents can also help by opposing the Lagan Homes proposals and watch out for any public consultation meeting. So far the developers have declined to stage a public meeting to discuss their plans, instead relying on on-line feedback which the council says is not sufficient.
Look out for a village meeting to discuss the revision of the NDP, and when the next referendum happens this Summer please vote YES to support the NDP that villagers helped create.