The consultation on the draft Wheatley Neighbourhood Plan ended on the 30th June and since then we have been busily collating all of your feedback. In addition to the valuable responses from the community – to be published later – we’ve also received a lot of feedback from many of the statutory bodies we’ve engaged with. Not all responses have been received to date – we are still waiting for a key bit of feedback from SODC! – so the list will grow. We consider the letters from the Oxfordshire County Council, Natural England, Historic England and The Environment Agency to be particularly important:
Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group – EB WNP Pub.Con. response Clin. Com. Group. 17 May 2017
Oxfordshire County Council – EB Statutory Responses, OCC, WNP Pub.Con. May-June 2017
Thames Water – EB Statutory Responses, Thames Water, Pub.Con, May-June 2017
Homes and Community Agency – EB Statutory Responses, Homes and Communities, Pub.Con.May-June 2017
Natural England – EB Statutory Responses, Nat Eng WNP Pub.Con. May-June 2017
Historic England – EB Statutory Responses, Hist. Eng. WNP Pub.Con. May-June 2017
The Environment Agency – EB Statutory Response, Environment Agency, WNP Pub.Con.May-June 2017
Tonight the eight week consultation of the Draft Wheatley Neighbourhood Plan draws to a close. The committee has been gathering your feedback throughout this period via our website, emails, letters, face to face conversations and at the Open Day which took place on the 17th June. To give you just a flavour of the views of the community, the following link will take you to a summary of the feedback gathered on that day:
From the whole Neighbourhood Plan committee and on behalf of the community, thank you to everyone who has participated. Now the task of rebuilding the plan begins in light of your valued feedback.
One major feature of the whole process of building the Wheatley Neighbourhood Plan has been the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the future of the Brookes campus site. From the outset it was clear that the inclusion of the campus within the area that the committee had to consider would offer some fairly unique challenges and so it has been. Over the last year we have witnessed something of a roller-coaster in terms of the plans for the site once Brookes University vacate it. So how many houses are likely to be built on the Brookes site? Here is a potted history of that elusive number:
The draft Wheatley Neighbourhood Plan has now been published and the community consultation begins and will run until Friday 30th June. To get to this point has required many meetings, discussions, reports, presentations, research, surveys and responses. All of this is now indexed below as an Evidence Base so you can see what it has taken to get to this point. All the detail within this list will be submitted with the Final Plan after the consultation by SODC to the Independent Examiner.
EB WNP Committee Minutes
1. 19 January 2016 [Election and Volunteering] EB WNP Committee Minutes, 1, 2016. 01. 19
2. 27 January 2016 EB WNPVCommittee Minutes, 2, 27 January 2016 (1) (1)
3. 16 February 2016 EB WNP Committee Minutes, 3, 16.2.16
4. 22 March 2016 EB WNP Committee Minutes, 4, 2016.03.22
5. 14 April 2016 EB WNP Committee Minutes, 5, 14 April 2016
6. 28 April 2016 EB WNP Committee Minutes, 6, 2016.04.28
7. 17 May 2016 EB WNP Committee Minutes, 7, 2016. 05. 17
8. 08 June 2016 EB WNP Committee Minutes, 8, 2016.06.08
Special Meeting / Catch Up Day / 2 July 2016 – New Strategic allocation – OBU Site
9. 20 July 2016 EB WNP Committee Minutes, 9, 2016.07.20
10. 07 September 2016 EB WNP Committee Minutes, 10, 2016 09 07
11. 27 October 2016 EB WNP Committee Minutes, 11, 2016 10 27
12. 13 December 2016 EB WNP Committee Minutes, 12, 2016 12 13
13. 22 February 2017 EB Committee Minutes( 13) 22.2.2017 (1)
14. 19 April 2017 (to move Emerging Draft WNP towards Public Consultation) EB Committee Minutes (14) 19. 4. 2017 – V1
16. 03 May 2017, Annual Wheatley Parish Meeting, WNP Display and Participation in OO Panel
17. 08 May 2017, WPC and WNP initiate 8 weeks of Public Consultation (ending 30 June) at WPC meeting WNP Report to PCs, May-June 2017
18. 25 May 2017, Annual Holton Parish Meeting, WNP Display, Platform time & warm welcome
[Committee and Teams met at least monthly, Jan-July 2016. Teams = Infrastructure, Admin, Leaders, Communications and PR, Housing and Land, Retail and Business.
Streamlining became necessary when WNP brief changed (1 June) from Larger Village Allocation to Brookes Campus Strategic Allocation.
From September 2016, Committee met every 6-8 weeks. Housing and Land Use met fortnightly. A Project Team including ‘ambassadors’ nominated by Holton P.C., held 8 Workshops [28 hours discussion], Nov 2016 – May 2017. A draft Neighbourhood Plan (v.19) was tabled before WNP Committee on 22 Feb., 2017. After SODC published Draft LP2033 (Preferred Sites 2) on 29 March 2017, the Project team held its 8th Workshop (02 May 2017). WPC initiated Public Consultation, May-June, on 08 May 2017]
EB Chairman’s Reports to bi-monthly Parish Council meetingss, WPC / HPC; also written variants to Parish Newsletter(s), bi-Monthly.
1. January – March 2016
2. April – May 2016
3. June – July 2016
4. August – September 2016
5. October – November 2016
6. December – 2016 – January 2017
7. February – March 2017
8. May-June 2017
13 March 2017 Confidential meeting called by WNP to warn both Parish Councils of difficulties with SODC Planning officers over WNP draft.
04 April 2017, Road Map & Update, WPC/HPC, WNP Committee, Volunteers
Published Parish Newsletter Reports (Holton & Wheatley, shared Newsletters)
April 2016 – June 2016 – August 2016 – October 2016 – December 2016 – February 2017
April 2017 – June 2017
EB Meetings / Contacts with SODC
[A district Councillor sits on WNP Committee; another District Councillor represents Holton]
EB SODC 1, 31 May, Planners, PCs and NPs. ‘Secret & Confidential’ Preferred Sites
EB SODC 2, 16 Feb & 08 June NP Adviser attended WNP Committee. Heavy questioning.
EB SODC 3, 24 Jun Follow up 4 WNP reps at SODC with Adviser for clarifications.
[August, SODC NP Adviser stood down]
EB SODC 4, 7 September WNP Committee question Planners x 2, 70 minutes, on Discrepancies EB SODC 4 WNP and Holton PC Chair question Plan Officers, 07 September 2016, summary.
EB SODC 5, 07 October, Brightwell, with other NPs, SODC Chairman & RCOH Consultant.
EB SODC 6, 06 December with SODC Chairman, Planning Officers & new Adviser EB SODC 6, WNP meet with SODC Chairman and new adviser, 06 Dec 2016
EB SODC 7, 20 January, with above plus Henley MP. Nil to report save genteel ‘networking’.
EB SODC 8, 06 March, 2 Planners, NP Adviser & 3 WNPs on draft WNP: surprise discussion.
EB 13 Mar. Parish Councils ‘confidential’ called by WNP , to share SODC arm-twisting dilemma.
EB SODC 9, 28 March, large meeting (Confidential), to launch Preferred Sites 2, LP33, on 29/03
EB Brookes Dialogue, HPC and WPC councillors, WNP Committee, OBU Estates & Agent
[initial Conversation and Correspondence, Chair WNP with OBU Estates, 11 & 18 Aug.]
1 Full meeting 28 September 2016 (Wd0000328)
2. Full meeting November 2016
3. Full Meeting 06 February 2017 [March 2017, OBU invite WNP to meet with Bilfinger, Agents for OBU]
4. Full Meeting 08 May 2017 (Bilfinger / WNP first meeting after Workshop)
EB Workshop (Discussion Slides as evidence of Progress).
8 workshops, 28 hours discussion, were attended by the WNP Project Team (8) and 1-2 out of four (4) ‘ambassadors’ nominated by Holton P.C. They met in Wheatley URC Chapel on 22 November – 29 November – 3 December – 12 December – 19 December – 26 January – 16 February – 2 May (Wd0000354 / 0000358 / 0000366)
The final 8thWorkshop discussed the de-Green Belting of eastern Wheatley as proposed by SODC in LP2033, 29 March). Public Consultation began on 08 May.
EB Open Days
WNP , 7 May 2016, on first Wheatley allocation of 180 homes, proposed in 2015, 100 + attended
WNP with SODC 13 July 2016, on Brookes site new proposal (1 June), 100 + attended
WNP 17 June 2017, part of Public Consultation 08 May – 30 June on Draft WNP
EB Survey 1, WNP Straw Poll, May-June 2016, 453/750. Scouts/Volunteers Team distribute/collect EB Survey 1, WNP Straw Poll analysis, May- June 2016
EB Survey 2, WNP private analysis of 234 (unpublished/unanalysed) SODC Consultation responses to OBU proposal, July 2016. Evidence believed contaminated – see Note to Analysis. EB Survey 2, responses to SODC LP32 (Q 7) July 2016, unpublished, abstracted, analysed by WNP, Jan 2017
EB Survey 3, WNP / CFO Community Survey, Aug-Oct. 2016, a) Housing Needs Survey (HNS) EB Survey 3 Housing Needs
EB Survey 4, WNP / CFO Community Survey, Aug-Oct 2016, b) Community Views EB Survey 4 Village Opinions
EB Survey 5, Wheatley Footpaths Committee and Primary parents, July 2016. EB Survey 5, Primary Academy q’aire results (1)
EB Survey 6, Wheatley and Littleworth W.I., written submission and internal ‘survey’, October 2016 – See EB Conversation 1
EB Survey 7, Small Businesses at Wheatley Business Centre, Nov. 2016 EB Survey 7, Small businesses, Wh’ly Business Centre, Nov 2016
EB Survey 8, Parking Issues as highlighted in Straw Poll May-June 2016 EB Survey 8, Straw Poll and Parking Issues
EB Survey 9, Parking (High St and Church Rd) with WPC Committee for Village Centre. Oct-February 2016-17 (see EB Research 6-10 for other traffic and parking surveys)
EB Survey 10, Local Views on Housing extra to Housing Needs Survey EB Survey 10, Local Views on Housing, extra to Housing Needs Survey, Nov 2016
EB Miscellany 1, WNP Terms of Reference, 3rd & Final Version, 6 February 2016 EB Miscellany, 1, WNP Committee Terms of Reference, 2016.02.08
EB Miscellany 2, WNP Compliance Plan, 27 April, 2016 EB Miscellany, 2,WNP Compliance Plan 2016.04.27
EB Miscellany 3, Negotiations with CFO 13 April 2016: Fruitful EB Miscellany, 3. WNP and CFO meeting, 2016.04.13
EB Miscellany 4, Negotiations with RCOH: Nov/Dec. Terminated.
EB Miscellany 5, WNP calls Two-Parish Crisis Meeting 13 Mar 2017 EB Miscellany 5, Two-Parish Confidential Meeting, 13 March 2017
EB Research 1, Pavements and Footpaths (Housing and Land Use Team) mapped Feb 2017 – See EB Map 2
EB Research 2,
EB Research 3, Air Quality, Wheatley 2006-2017 (WNP with SODC, Oct-November 2016) EB Research 3, Air Quality, Wheatley 2006-2017, WNP with SODC Oct-Nov 2017
EB Research 5, Houses Built in Wheatley after 1980, 24.3% (final total, 17 December 2016) EB Research 5, Wheatley homes 2017 (1773) of which 431 (24.3%) built since c. 1980
EB Research 6, Parking Survey Nov ’16 -April 2017, with Village Centre Improvement group EB Research 6, Village Centre Parking Survey, with HSIG, Nov 2016-May2017
EB Research 7, Parking Survey Jan 2017, Park Hill verges EB Research 7, Park Hill grass verge Parking, January 2017
EB Research 8, Parking Survey Jan 2017, London Rd laybys EB Research, 8, Parking, London Rd, Jan.11, 12, 13 2017
EB Research 9, Vehicles London Rd x 3 days 7.30-8.30, 11-13 Jan 2017 (informal, pen and paper) EB Research 9, Vehicle volume, 7.30-8.30, London Rd, 11-13 Jan, 2017
EB Research 10, Vehicles Hollow Way and Park Hill, 20 & 27 Jan 2017, (as above) EB Research 10, Vehicle volume, Hollow Way and Park Hill, 2 days, 20 and 27 January, 2017
EB Research 11, OBU 3rd Year Town Planning, Degree Project on developing OBU site for WNP, October-February 2016-17: meeting/ Village & OBU site tour/ 2 x degree Presentations.)
EB Research 12, Tree P.O.s, OB Campus, (after OCC work 2000 & OBU work 2012) WNP 2017 (see EB Maps 5) WNP_BrookesTreesJune2017
EB Research 13, All Outdoor Spaces, Paul Willmott, May 2017 WNP and All Outdoor Spaces_RG_v3
EB Donated Research [Traffic and Safety Group, Report, Jan. 2014, WPC archives]
EB Donated Research [Historical Sites, OBU Campus site & Villages, Holton P. C. Response August 2016] See also EB Maps 3, 5 and 6 below.
EB Donated Research [High Street Improvement Group, WPC Archives, May 2017]
EB Map 1, WNP Neighbourhood Map, agreed January 2016.
EB Map 2, WNP Pavements and Footpaths (Audrey Parsons) Feb 2017; Pavement Map
EB Map 3,WNP Sites maps x 9, Feb 2017 (Roger Farrow, H. & Land Use Team)
EB Map 4, WNP Parking survey Map(s)
EB Map 5, OCC Protected Trees, Brookes site, Holton. (TPOs, Species and Sources: Audrey Parsons. See EB Research 12)
EB Map 6, Monuments, Wheatley and Holton, (HPC Aug. 2016 Response to SODC, LP 2032)
EB Conversation 1, Wheatley and Littleworth W.I., Sept. 2016 and WI written submission, Oct. 2016 EB Conversation 1, Wheatley & L’worth WI, Sept 2016, with written submission
EB Conversation 2,Wheatley Park Academy Head and Chair of Governors, 23 May 2016 EB Conversation 2, with Wheatley Park Academy Head and Chair of Govs, 23 May 2016
EB Conversation 3, Sustainable Wheatley group & individuals expertise, July 2016
EB Conversation 4, Formal contact, OCC Infrastructure and Innovation, 28 July & mid-February.
EB Conversation 5, detailed talks Oxf. Diocese / Primary Academy & Land (delayed) 28 Mar 2017
EB Conversation 6, Chairmen WPC and HPC with WNP to discuss collaboration, Aug. 2016
EB Conversation 7,Wheatley Area Churches, 4 October 2016 EB Conversation 7, Wheatley Area Churches, 4 October 2016
EB Conversation 8, Flood and Drainage Committee (Roger Bettes), January and March 2016 EB Conversation 8, Flood and Drainage Committee, Mar. 2016
EB Conversation 9, Age UK (Wheatley), November 2016 EB Conversation 9, Age UK (Wheatley), November 2016
EB Conversation 10, OBU 3rd Year Town Planning Students, see EB Research 11 above
EB Conversation 11, Affordable Housing, Brookes, CPRE & Oxon NP’s Response to White Paper EB Conversation 11, Affordable Hsg and HWP 2017 -FINAL Joint Response docx
EB Conversation 12, Oxford CE diocese – W. Primary Academy re land, buildings refurb, pupil capacity, community use / space links, 28 March 2017 EB Conversation 12, Oxford CE Diocese, wide-ranging, 28 March 2017
EB Conversation 13, Anne Lankester (Locality), Clinical Capacity (Surgery), 10 April 2017 EB Conversation 13, Anne Lankester, Clinical Capacity Group, EB Conversation 13 [Statutory Body re Surgery capacity] Draft WNP Pub.Con. , May 2017
EB Conversation 14, [pre-WNP:JF present], Flood & Drainage C. with Thames Water, 23.10.2015 EB Conversation 14, W. Flood and Drainage with Thames Water, 23 Oct 2015
EB Public Consultation, May-June 2017, Archived Responses /Feedback WNP Open Day 17 June 2017
EB Confidential Issues Register: Chair and vice Chair sign for Inspector/Examiner only.
Dear Wheatley and Holton,
For the past 16 months a dedicated band of volunteer residents of Wheatley and Holton have been beavering away to produce your Neighbourhood Plan. Through an extraordinary amount of hard work by the Committee and lots of fantastic feedback from you, the Community – the scale of which is hinted at by the Evidence Base which is posted elsewhere on this website – we have now arrived at the draft plan which we will now be published for consultation from now, this moment, until Friday 30th June. And here it is:
Please take some time to read this and digest it. It is perhaps not overstating it to say that its contents will help to shape life in Wheatley and Holton for the next twenty years or so. And once you have done this, please let us know what you think.
Comment and feedback:
We’ve done our bit for now. The next stage is down to you.
Many thanks for your continued participation,
The Wheatley Neighbourhood Plan Committee
Statutory Public Consultation
Emerging Wheatley Neighbourhood Plan
The Consultation has been introduced at the new format Wheatley Annual Parish Assembly, (Wheatley Primary, 03 May 2017.) WNP was represented in the general Q. and A. session which followed. Holton Parish is fully involved in drawing up The Emerging Plan and First copies of the Draft WNP will be sent to Councillors of both Parishes before their bi-monthly meetings on 08 May. Wheatley Parish Council, as the Qualifying Body, will then formally initiate Consultation. A dedicated meeting of each PC with WNP Committee reps is suggested for the week beginning 29 May, after Bank Holiday Monday and when people will have had 3 weeks to digest The Draft Plan.
The Public Consultation will receive feedback for ‘at least six weeks’ from the community, from SODC and OCC, and from other required bodies. ‘At least six weeks Consultation’ is required for a response from the community, from SODC and OCC. However it will end formally Friday 30 June, to allow slack for half-term, Bank Holiday and the General Election. SODC hope to hold the Community Referendum in September to validate [‘make’] the WNP.
The new SODC Emerging Local Plan 2033 of 29 March is not holding an Open Day in Wheatley, although it is a strategic site. Please note, Public Consultation responses to LP2033 above are due in to SODC by 17 May. [Google pdf version SODC LP2033 2nd Preferred Options Document]
Electronic copies of the Draft WNP will be sent to:
– SODC, OCC and 13 other statutory bodies
Parish Clerks and Chairs of PCs
all on the WNP contact list in Holton and Wheatley
all groups, societies and organisations consulted by WNP Committee and Volunteers.
It will be available on the WNP and Parish Council websites [www.wheatleyparishcouncil.gov.uk; www.holtonparishcouncil.org.uk; www.wheatleyneighbourhoodplan.co.uk .]
Hard copies will be available in Wheatley Library and Wheatley Parish Office.
Also by appointment with Sonja Barter, Clerk to Holton PC (872334) and
copy held in Holton Village Hall.
Public Computers are available in Wheatley Library for electronic access.
Comment and feedback:
electronically to John Fox, firstname.lastname@example.org , or to Parish Clerks
through Parish and WNP websites ,
written to Wheatley Parish Office or to box in Wheatley Post Office
and in Person on WNP Open Day(s) / mini-Display sessions.
PLEASE WATCH NOTICE BOARDS IN BOTH PARISHES
1. Neighbourhood Plan Drafting Workshops
a) Three Workshops were held in November-December, allowing 12 hours discussion to formulate the Vision and Objectives for the Wheatley Neighbourhood Plan.
b) Community representatives from Holton joined the Workshops: Doris Pridmore, Alan East, Polly Davidson, Clare Wright. Their contribution has been invaluable.
c) Three more Workshops in January will allow up to 9 hours discussion of strategies and policies needed for the Wheatley Neighbourhood Plan.
d) The framing of policies is the sharp end of a Neighbourhood Plan. They can be formulated as principles now, even though the size timing of any Oxford Brookes U. development is undecided. Policies have to be couched in precise language which can stand a legal challenge. SODC advisors will help with the wording, but the content remains ours.
e) Road Map. Once our Draft NP has taken its first shape (end of January), it will be passed to SODC Planning and our new NP Advisers (see 3 c) below) for the professional wording of policies we believe the community wants, and to confirm compliance with national and District policies. This will take up much of February. We hope then to offer the Draft NP to the communities (Holton and Wheatley) in March for the required 6-week Consultation before we submit it to the Examiner.
f) The Oxford Brookes U. site has been the focus of development talk since 31 May 2016. It should be noted that WNP Land Use and Housing Team has also investigated pockets of land potentially available in Wheatley. We have also pressed to keep alive the ‘mixed use’ proposal for the OBU site, alongside housing (Preferred Sites, Draft LP32, June 2016). ‘Mixed use’ was barely heard in SODC pronouncements after the summer Consultation..
2. Three Unknowns
a) The new Bill on Local and Neighbourhood Planning went to The Lords in December after its 3rd Reading in The Commons. The intention is to streamline NPs.
b) White Paper on Land Use due out in January. We will know more soon. (See below 3 d)
c) See 4 a) below, re. Consultations on Preferred Sites 1 and Preferred Sites 2.
3. SODC and WNP
a) Neighbourhood Plan Adviser left early in August.
b) On 7 September, at WNP request, two SODC Planning officials were questioned by WNP full Committee (and Chairman HPC). Details were minuted and sent to both Parish Councils.
c) Again at WNP request, on 6 December, a meeting was held with SODC Chairman John Cotton and six members of WNP committee. Informal minutes were sent by WNP to both Parish Councils. We met the two new NP advisers who made an immediate impression.
d) Local MP, SODC Chair, new NP Advisers and District NP reps (including WNP) are due to meet on 20 January for clarifications and updates. WPC / HPC will be kept informed.
4. Oxford Brookes U. Site News
a) We still await feedback on the June-August SODC Consultation on Preferred Sites LP32. SODC and WNP hosted this for Wheatley/Brookes on 13 July in The Merry Bells. The scale of response has delayed publication until February, along with a revised Preferred Sites (2), LP32 and further Consultation. These SODC-led Consultations are the last major community feedback which remain to be absorbed by WNP into the Plan if and where relevant.
b) OBU student and professorial involvement (Town Planning Degree Course, Final Year Project) in OBU site investigation. This group collaborates with full knowledge of OBU and is welcomed by WNP. The first student exhibition (findings and recommendations) was held in December and WNP members were there to respond.
c) OBU is to convene a meeting on 6 February with reps from the two parish councils and WNP. The subject will be the Environmental Impact Assessment announced in November as part of Brookes’ applying for Outline Planning Permission for the site before selling.
d) Housing figures bandied around about the Oxford Brookes U. site since 31 May, ranged from ‘300+ – 600+’ (June) to ‘750 maximum’ (November). Parish councillors and WNP Committee members owe it to the community not to scaremonger on hypothetical or capacity- testing figures. I explained the ‘750’ on WNP Website in November. Real figures will come soon enough.
5. Community Consultation.
a) results of SODC Consultation Preferred Sites 1 LP32 and of future Consultation Preferred Sites 2 LP32 are still in the pipeline. (See 4 a))
b) All the WNP body of evidence including surveys, consultations, group encounters and sourced information on Wheatley is being collated. It will be made available during our public Consultation (see 1 e) above) in March before Draft WNP submission to Examination.
6. When may a Neighbourhood Plan take effect ?
Increasingly, but unpredictably, NPs are being acknowledged by Planning authorities pre-submission, that is after Examination, but before they are finalised (or ‘made’) by District Council and Local Referendum. After March, WNP will be approaching Examination.
My thanks go to the many people in both communities who have supported us up to now and in so many different ways. I must also name Gareth Morris, retiring Clerk to Wheatley P.C., who has been helpful beyond the call. WNP wish him a happy, fulfilled retirement.
Wheatley Neighbourhood Plan
3 January 2017
By John Fox, Chairman of the Wheatley Neighbourhood Plan Committee
Oxford Brookes University (OBU) has put its Wheatley Campus up for sale. OBU wish to obtain Outline Planning Permission (OPP) to make the sale more attractive. As part of the OPP, OBU has announced a consultation for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). In short, what could be the maximum number of houses accommodated on the site and what would this do to the surrounding ‘environment’ – roads, schools, surgery, air quality and much more?
OBU Estates have kept in touch with Holton and Wheatley Parish Councils, and the Wheatley Neighbourhood Plan Committee which is now eleven months into being ‘made’ (completed). OBU have already met Wheatley and Holton councillors along with WNP representatives (28 September). We meet again in mid-December. We knew that the EIA was due and we are being included in discussions. WNP representatives will also meet with John Cotton, SODC Chairman, on 6 December.
WNP’s task of listening to the Community is drawing to a close after nine months, but we are still listening. Currently Wheatley and Holton residents are conducting (3) workshops to publish what we have heard the community wants (its Vision). We will soon publish it and with it, what is needed in practice (the Objectives) to make the Vision a reality. It is called a Neighbourhood Plan.
Share our confidence. There will probably be housing development at OBU, but we will have a statutory say in it and in shaping its impact.
At the start of the autumn, the Wheatley Neighbourhood Plan Committee engaged Community First Oxford (CFO) to organise a housing needs survey for Wheatley and Holton together with an additional questionnaire prepared directly by the Committee that asked the residents to express their view about the villages. The complete CFO report is available on the link below and everyone is invited to send in any comments on the report to the WNP Committee.
The response to the questionnaire was 35.7% which is well in line with the response that has been seen at local council elections during the last 10 years. So, we can attach a high rate of significance to the views expressed in the replies to the questionnaire.
Perhaps not surprisingly the CFO report highlighted the overwhelming need for affordable and starter homes in the villages. Before trying to satisfy this need it is first necessary to examine what is really meant by a “starter home” or “affordable housing”. Currently the average price for a house in the UK is around £300,000 with the average price for a home with two or fewer bedrooms is around £200,000. It is the latter house that most people would consider to be a starter home. However in the case of Wheatley and Holton the CFO report shows that only 15% of the houses are valued at £300,000 or less. It must be recognised however that the cost of starter homes is a general problem of the South East and not just Wheatley and Holton in particular.
In addition to emphasising the need for starter homes the CFO report also showed that the residents were not prepared to sacrifice the green belt for housing development but instead wanted more use to be made of “brownfield” sites.
The WNP questionnaire revealed that, in general, residents were mostly satisfied with the features, services and general environment provided by the villages. There were many constructive comments as to how the villages could be improved, in particular the High St. and its appearance. There were other areas of concern also highlighted (eg the state of pavements and footpaths) and hopefully many of them can be addressed in the future.
There was one significant source of dissatisfaction however… perhaps unsurprisingly traffic and parking. Congestion at peak times, “park and riders”, parking chaos at the primary school, Church Road blockages etc. Frustration and annoyance about all of these issues were expressed in the questionnaire. We may be reaching a “tipping point” with this issue.
The focus of much of the reported concern is that great unknown: the fate of the Oxford Brookes University (OBU) site that is due to be vacated by 2021-22. OBU intend to sell the site with planning permission for housing development. The exact number of houses that could be accommodated on the site is not yet clear but projections suggest that at least 300 homes could be provided. In general the questionnaire indicates there is very little objection to such a housing development. In fact many respondents welcomed the change of use and loss of the tower block! However, irrespective of the final number of homes there will inevitably be an impact on the villages and the response to the questionnaire highlighted a number of concerns and issues that hopefully will be addressed by the preparation of a Neighbourhood Plan.
The full CFO report and the summary of the Community Questionnaire are available via the following links:
Please take the opportunity to review all the findings. Further comments and views are most welcome.
Thank you to everyone who has already completed their questionnaires and sent them back using the prepaid envelope or dropped them into the Parish Council office in the Merry Bells. So a reminder that the deadline for sending these in is the 31st August and every response matters so please take a minute to let us know your views. Many thanks in advance for your participation!