At last Thursday’s meeting of the Parish Council, members had their first opportunity to meet the new district councillor for Sandford and the Wittenhams, Green Party member Sam Casey-Rerhaye.
She outlined her green credentials when she spoke of her opposition to large scale house and road building in South Oxfordshire. She said new roads led to more congestion and pollution.
But parish councillors made it clear that the proposed new road linking Didcot and Culham with a new river crossing would be a virtual bypass for Long Wittenham. Councillors said the new road would take much of the traffic generated by the growth of Didcot out of the village.
The council fears that the expansion of the Ladygrove estate north-east of Didcot with 2,000 homes and facilities over the next twelve years will swamp the village with extra traffic. Road construction for access to the first new homes on part of the site is already underway.
With South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) taking on a new political look there could be a re-think of the district’s Local Plan which charts development in the district for the next 15 years and which is currently being examined by an independent inspector. The proposed Local Plan is a source of concern in villages worried about what they see as the over-intensification of housing development.
Mrs Casey-Rerhaye said: “I will be part of a cross party working group being established to look at the emerging Local Plan for SODC. The group will decide on the best course of action in light of the message given to the council from the voters of South Oxfordshire to reject the Local Plan version currently with the planning inspector.”
She said there was a strong rejection of the plan from the Liberal Democrats and Green and also some Conservatives in the May district council elections. Among the Tories who resigned over the issue of housing development on Green Belt land was the previous councillor for the Wittenhams Sue Lawson.
Speaking at the Parish Council meeting, Councillor Steve Brown said: “The proposed new Didcot-Culham link road west of the railway line is critical for Long Wittenham. It will take traffic out of the village, acting as a bypass. The road is vital, particularly as there will be thousands of homes created as part of the expansion of the Ladygrove estate. Didcot Garden Town is another factor which could have an impact on Long Wittenham.”
Sam Casey-Rerhaye can be contacted at Sam.Casey-Rerhaye@southoxon.gov.uk