The plans for Didcot Garden Town are emerging. SODC, The Vale of White Horse and their consultants have launched a website and began a consultation process. This is another opportunity for us to let plan-makers know what the Green Gap means to our Town and Village. And a chance too to build further evidence for our Appeal that the community reject coalescence of Town and Village.
So log onto the Garden Town website and fill its map with comments.
Let the planners know that the Green Gap is valued landscape. Let them know that joining town and village is harmful and can never be undone. Let them know why we should Save the Green Gap.
When you log on you’ll notice the map is not quite familiar. It shows a boundary for the Garden Town that includes the north eastern area of East Hagbourne, including the Green Gap and the area to the east of it promoted by Nurton. The Garden Town team’s literature sets out a rationale of sorts:
“The boundary cuts west across the Parish of East Hagbourne, including the land which is currently subject to a planning appeal. This area has been purposely included within the boundary so that its use can be carefully planned as part of the Garden Town Vision – whether it’s to be developed or maintained as open space. It is important to remember that the Garden Town Boundary does not indicate the developable area of Didcot. It will also include areas to be retained as open space and indicate where new green infrastructure should be introduced”.
Should we find solace in these words? The intent may be benign but the result may not. SODC is spending a lot of taxpayers' money defending an appeal. The basis of the appeal is that Didcot and East Hagbourne are distinct settlement hierarchies separated by the Green Gap. The map incorporates the Green Gap into Didcot and reduces the settlement of East Hagbourne to the conservation area. There is therefore no gap anymore. This is precisely Grainger’s argument.
There are multiple ways that the ‘Town’ plan could protect the ‘Garden’. Creating confusion and conflict at this critical time is perhaps not one of them.
So you may want to tell the Garden Town Team what you think of its boundary too.