FURTHER UPDATES from Cllr Andy Crawford & Stuart Walker : Provision of “public toilets” in the Central Park sports pavilion

Further to my previous communications, I have now received information from both Councillor Andy Crawford and Stuart Walker, the planning officer handling the application.

Councillor Andy Crawford

I have had an e-mail from Councillor Andy Crawford that he wanted me to share:

Having attended the Crabhill Forum meeting earlier this week and understood that the new proposal by St Modwen to provide public toilets was likely to cause an issue I wanted to write to you to outline my perspective and suggested course of action.

The original planning outline back in 2015 required only a composting toilet at the original site of the allotments on the A338. This itself is unusual and not something provided at other allotment sites nor something in my opinion that is wholly necessary. Indeed, I have no idea why such a proposal was made as it predates my term as a Councillor.  However, when asked to take on responsibility for the allotments the Town Council agreed and acquiesced to the provision of the compostable toilet as it was not considered to be overly onerous. St Modwen then moved the location of the proposed allotments to the more central area of Kingsgrove, in part to accommodate the cycle route from Crabhill to the A338.  Again the Town Council were comfortable with this as a more central location was felt to be easier for residents.  Neither the Town Council nor myself as local District Councillor were specifically consulted on St Modwen’s decision to substitute the now proposed public toilets instead of the original. At our forum meeting the developers suggested the change was driven by residents views but I remain unconvinced by this. 

We are now faced with a planning application that includes these toilets which nobody seems to obviously want, no-one wants to maintain and which go way over the requirements of the outline planning permission granted all those years ago.  I fully understand the strength of feeling expressed to me in many emails from residents deeply concerned that their already high service charges should have to support even more infrastructure.  

I have registered to speak at Planning Committee on October 18th [*] to express my objections along the lines above. Other residents to contact me on the matter should they wish.

Cllr Andy Crawford – Member for Charlton Ward both at Vale of White Horse District Council and Wantage Town Council.  

Please note: The planning committee that is scheduled for October 18th will not be discussing this application. The agenda for that meeting has already been published and can be found here. The application for the Central Park is scheduled to be discussed at the meeting on Wednesday 8 November.

Although Councillor Crawford provides his District Council e-mail address above, he is also a Councillor on Wantage Town Council. This is the same council that has decided that they do not want to be responsible for the toilets in question.

Stuart Walker

I have received some further clarification from Stuart Walker:

The issue of funding / who manages the toilet is not a material planning consideration to be taken into account on the reserved matters application.

I asked whether the following would be considered as a material planning consideration:

“I don’t think that there should be public toilets as it will attract antisocial behaviour”

Yes, that is a material consideration. The crime prevention officer however raises no objection on this point and I am satisfied there is a wider benefit in providing a toilet for the park. I also understand from comments made at the forum last week that a toilet facility was suggested by residents via the design workshops held to discuss what the central park should contain.

Residents who have objected to the reserved matters application will be invited to the Vale planning committee meeting (likely to be 8 November) where they can attend and speak at the meeting. Communication on the process is sent out near the meeting date once the agenda has been agreed and published.

It was however mentioned at the forum that the town council are considering withdrawing their objection to the central park reserved matters application, as their previous concerns on material planning matters have now been overcome.  Should they do this, the application will be determined under officer delegation and would not go to the Vale planning committee for a decision.

Stuart Walker – Major Applications Team Leader (Planning) for South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils

This post has been edited to remove an incorrect statement about Wantage Town Council being responsible for the upkeep of public toilets in Wantage. In fact, the responsibility lies with the District Council. I apologise for including this incorrect information.