Do you have a question about Mind the Green Gap? It may be answered below. If not please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Q1: What are the group’s main objectives?
A1: To prevent development on this greenfield site and any greenfield sites nearby.
Q2: Isn’t your campaign really about a bunch of NIMBYs worried about their property prices falling?
A2: Not at all. This is not about one or two people, this about a broad cross-section of people from East Hagbourne, West Hagbourne, Millbrook and Northbourne. When we announced we were having an Open Meeting people were given just a few days notice. We laid out a couple of rows of chairs and wondered whether anyone would turn up. 148 people did. It was standing room only. It was clear that one of the main issues to everyone was the ‘green gap’ and the potential loss of a priceless public amenity for people in Didcot and East Hagbourne.
Q3: Who are the main members of the Mind The Green Gap action group?
A3: Andy Barmer is an East Hagbourne resident and leads the group supported by other EH residents Nick Wright, Marcus Wood, Crispin Topping and Jake Stockwell from Fleet Meadow. There are several other members – all bringing different skill sets and experience to the group – planning, legal, technical, publicity.
Q4: What role has East Hagbourne Parish Council had in this planning application and what is their view of this group?
A4: That is a question that should largely be answered by the Parish Council but they have provided complete and excellent support.
Q5: Can anyone become a member of Mind the Green Gap?
A5: Yes, all contributions are welcome! People can join the committee, deliver leaflets, put posters up in windows, comment on social media posts and of course write to the local Councilors and their MP.
Q6: Does the group feel the government’s and local council’s housing policies are problematic?
A6: Absolutely not. We support the government’s drive behind the construction of new homes. And we equally support SODCs target of 40% social housing on all new developments. That is not up for debate here. At the same time it needs to acknowledge that both national and local government equally recognize the obligation to protect historic villages such as East Hagbourne, which dates back to Doomsday times. The ancient separation between town and village must be allowed to remain. Therefore the issue with is not with housing but that the site is simply not appropriate.
Q7: What has Ed Vaizey’s office had to say?
A7: We have been in touch with his office and hope to have a meeting with him soon.
Q8: Have you had support from local SODC planning officers?
A8: We certainly appreciate the challenging position SODC is in given the land supply issues in this region. We appreciate their help so far in helping us understand the context to this proposed scheme. We are counting on their continued help as and when this proposal moves forward.
Q9: What help if any have you received from you local councilors
A9: The level of interest, engagement and cooperation our local councilors have shown has delighted us.
Q10: What contact has the group had with Grainger and/or its consultants?
A10: Perhaps this is best put the other way round. What contact has Grainger and their consultants had with our community? To be honest we have been deeply disappointed by the superficial level of engagement Grainger has had with the local community. It was clear from our village meeting that many residents from Northbourne and Millbrook were unaware of the proposals. Despite being contacted by residents and Councilor’s, Grainger refused to re run the exhibition and extend the date for feedback.
Q11: Does your group have any specific objections to the Grainger proposal?
A11: As the detailed Planning Application has not yet been submitted, our objections are based on matters of principle at this stage. However, should Grainger proceed to submit detailed planning it is highly likely we will have more specific and detailed objections.
Q12: Where else would you suggest the housing shortage is made up?
A12: SODC’s housing policy is very clear. The 2012 Core Strategy for housing to 2027 explicitly identifies GWP, Ladygrove East and Didcot NE as the locations for new sizeable housing developments. Equally clear is SODCs policy for additional new housing as stated in their strategic proposals through to 2031. In this case additional housing will be allocated to larger villages and towns in the area and not smaller villages such as East Hagbourne. In the short term we are encouraged by the announcement of large-scale brownfield housing schemes such as the Gateway and Power Station developments as well as non-controversial, low impact schemes such as Hadden Hill.
Q13: What do you want supporters of your action group to do?
A13. Express opinions! If people don’t say know, they’ll take it as a yes. So we are encouraging people to make their opinions known to their councilors and MP now. As and when Grainger submit a Planning Application, we will be asking to people to make their specific points of view known as part of the formal consultation process to SODC, Councilors and Ed Vaizey. The authorities and our elected representatives need to be in no doubt that this development is currently proceeding against the will of and without a mandate from the people. We also invite anyone to join the debate via our social media platforms- website, www.mindthegreengap.org, Facebook page and Twitter feed.
Q14: Why do you think Grainger’s development is not consistent with the South Oxfordshire District Council’s published planning strategy?
A14: SODCs policy is explained in extensive detail on the 2012 Core Strategy Document. There is even a map on their web site showing the location of their adopted policies. For the avoidance of doubt the Grainger’s site is not included on this map.
Q15: Why then is SODC considering this land?
A15: As far as I am aware any developer to propose building on his land at any time. Normally they would not bother if it was outside of the local plan. However, because of the deficit in the 5-year supply of land for housing development (which incidentally the council contests) the developer is able to take a punt.
Q16: Why is there a 5-year land supply issue?
A16: This is a question for SODC.