’Tis the season to be jolly. So let’s celebrate what we have achieved. When Grainger’s plan was announced in July this year there was a chorus of “it’s inevitable”. Planners, politicians, developers and residents alike said there was nothing we could do. But we did do something.

The communities of Didcot and East Hagbourne have exerted a democratic right. In meetings, consultations, letter writing and the media we have made our voices heard. We’ve said no to ill conceived development and yes to proper process. We’ve said no to shady deals and yes to openness and fair play.

As next year unfolds we’ll continue to exert our rights and have our say.

In early 2016 SODC will rule for or against Grainger’s plans. They will make this judgement in the light of shiny new vision for Didcot as a Garden Town (SODC’s pitch is here). Is this vision a blue print for a fantastic addition to Oxfordshire, or a developer’s charter? Will it bring investment that’s needed or bring forward expansion that’s not proportionate?

The Grainger case will provide the answers. Should SODC wash through Grainger’s plan they’ll be concreting over the Garden. The ‘vision’ will be shown to be no more than a hollow and cynical blag for government money.

In the spirit of Christmas we’ve sent season’s greetings to council members and officers. We took the chance to congratulate them on the Garden Town award – and remind them of the responsibility it brings. They have set up an expectation that Didcot will be greener and ‘Greater’, and we will hold them to account if that is not the case.

We have also written to Brandon Lewis, the Minister in State for Housing and Planning. We have let him know about the Grainger plan and the potential fall out should his much lauded garden become a concrete desert. We’ll let you know what he has to say.

Lets’ make a toast on Christmas day. Let’s raise a glass to the support, input and hard work that the community have given the campaign in 2015. Here’s to a great and successful year ahead.

Happy Christmas everybody.

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