Cllr Peter Rose, chairman of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee writes …
The referendum held on 28th July passed the revised Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) by an overwhelming majority. 278 people voted for the NDP with 13 against. The turnout was 41% compared with 65% at the previous referendum in 2017, but the holiday period could account for this.
The revision of the original NDP was started in 2018 and has been a prolonged process, partly due to Covid, but mainly due to delays caused by the Roman and Saxon archaeological findings on the site where we hope to build a new school and village hall. It was a great relief when these issues were resolved and the NDP could be completed.
The NDP has to be ratified by South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) but this is a formality. Following this, SODC has to take into account the policies of the NDP when considering a planning application in Long Wittenham during the life of the plan, that is until 2035.
The main points of the revised plan:
- The plan identifies a site along Didcot Road for the construction of a new school, pre-school, village hall and 45 houses.
- Once the new school and village hall are built, their original sites will be used for housing. However, the front half of the school site will become a village green.
- The plan recommends a mix of housing size as suggested by the village survey in 2015. It also makes recommendations about housing design to ensure any new housing is in keeping with the heritage of the village. It recommends adequate off road parking for any new housing development.
- The plan has a countryside policy to maintain the countryside space between Didcot and Long Wittenham.
- The plan recommends that any new developments within the village should protect the views to and from Wittenham Clumps and from Sires Hill.
- There is a list of other desirable community projects including road improvements, footpaths, cycle paths and recreation facilities.
- The plan aims to protect the ecologically sensitive areas in the village, particularly the colony of Roman Snails, a protected species, along Fieldside.
Some people in the village will be disappointed that the Plan includes more housing. Firstly, this is the only way we could fund the new school and village hall. Secondly, an NDP cannot demand zero housing increase and by allocating these three sites we will protect from over-development on other potential sites in the village. In addition, having an NDP means that the Parish Council receives 25% rather than the usual 15% of the Community Infrastructure Levy. This is a levy charged by SODC to the developer of a new housing site to improve the surrounding infrastructure.
Now the NDP is in place, we can proceed to a planning application for the site where the new school and village hall will be built. Hopefully this will proceed in the next few months.
The Parish Council has worked tirelessly to complete the NDP. Hopefully this will be a landmark in the history of the village with the provision of such important new community facilities. However, it is not all the work of the council and a large vote of thanks is due to all those people who have added their time and expertise to this important document.
The NDP and its accompanying documents are available on this website for those who wish to read the original or wish more detail of our plans.