East Hagbourne Neighbourhood Plan smallWe’ve heard a lot of about the hundreds of objections that Grainger’s application has attracted. We’ve not heard much about the 1 or 2 who are in support. Largely, because they are just that – literally one or two.

In the last the couple of days a new statement from a local resident that could be seen to be in support of the proposal has appeared on SODC’s application web site.

However, even this support is caveated with provisos. The purpose of this response is not to fall out with the local resident – everyone is entitled to his or her views – but actually to suggest that we share many of their concerns. We happen to feel, passionately, that Grainger’s scheme does not provide a sustainable and viable solution to them.

The resident writes:

I refer to the Grainger application to build 170 houses on the New Road site. This, despite what appears to be a nimby protest, is an excellent site for much needed houses provided that:‐

1) the site is included on the official Town Plan

The resident is right to point out that the site is not included in any official Plan. It is not in SODC’s local plan that guides development in the district. It is not in the Didcot Garden Town plan announced last December. When the boundaries between Didcot and East Hagbourne were reset this site was identified as being key to providing space between the two communities and not for development that merges them.

2) adequate roads are constructed, especially at any junction with New Road

The plans include two entrances from New Road to the estate. (OCC has objected as there is not enough information about one of the access routes.) There are no planned upgrades to New Road itself. The developer will be obliged to make a contribution to improving the Jubilee Roundabout. On figures we have seen this is likely to be around 7.5% of the total amount required to deliver a solution. The latest information from SODC shows there is no other funding in place for this project.

3) schools are available ‐ especially if the proposed Nurton Development is added ‐which could mean a large number of young children ‐ of year 6 and below

OCC’s pupil planning team has calculated that there is likely to be around 55 primary school age pupils living on Grainger’s scheme. (There is no information about Nurton’s plans but their site is 3.5x Grainger’s.) OCC has confirmed that there aren’t 55 free primary school places in the whole of Didcot (and East Hagbourne). The solution is for any and every primary school student to attend one of the two new primary schools proposed for Didcot North East – if and when that ever happens. Hardly ideal and a by-product will be yet more traffic on New Road.

4) Most importantly ‐ Grainger and Nurton must include a majority of affordable houses as the ridiculously high price of housing in this area is well beyond the ability of those most in need i.e. families with young children

We only know about Grainger’s plans. It is reasonable to assume that Nurton’s scheme would follow Grainger, as both are commercial entities. Grainger is planning to satisfy the bare policy minimum requirement of 35% affordable dwellings; substantially less than a majority. It is also noted that Grainger has provided no commitment to “life time” quality build standards for this affordable dwellings or to “pepper pot” the affordable housing across the estate. Finally, there is no commitment to provide affordable housing for families with special needs.

The resident concludes with this remark.

I am surprised that so many local people are supporting a nimby protest.

We would humbly suggest that this is to misunderstand the nature of the protest. This is not a NIMBY protest. It is not NIMBYism to demand properly planned development. It is not NIMBYism to identify better places for development. Ultimately, the final nail in the NIMBY coffin is the fact that the threat of this development has been instrumental in motivating East Hagbourne Parish Council to start the process of creating a Neighbourhood Plan*. This plan will, precisely, include ideas and plans for development in our own back yard. However, this development plan will be built on the needs and wishes of the local community and not what makes a Newcastle based developer most cash.

In fact, there is a meeting at Hagbourne Village Hall on Friday 6th May at 19:30 for people to put their ideas forward. We hope that as many people with as many ideas and points of view as possible attend.

(* For more information about the Neighbourhood Plan visit easthagbourneplan.net)

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