Crab Hill Development Forum – Thursday 25 January


My notes from the meeting can be found here.

Next meeting

The next Crab Hill Development Forum is happening this week and I am planning on attending.

Raising issues

I have a place on the agenda in order to raise some specific points.

Currently, my list includes the following:

General status update on timings

  • WELR 3
  • Retail units
  • Community Hub
  • Central Park
  • Woodland Walk 3

Clarification of which roads will definitely not be adopted by the council

These will be transferred to a management company, most likely the Kingsgrove Estate Management Company but it could be a separate management company. The maintenance of these roads, as well as the cost of street lighting will be paid for by the residents through the corresponding service charge. Clover Close is an example of this type of road and is now part of the Fullers Meadow Management Company.

Bus gate

There are obviously a lot of questions / feedback from residents about this topic. I am certainly not going to be in the position to get anyone to agree to prevent it happening. Instead, I want to try and establish who are the best people to to receive the feedback and answer residents questions. These are likely going to be county councillors or Oxfordshire County Council officers. The points that I want to have answered include

  • What problem is the bus gate trying to solve?
  • What evidence is there that the bus gate will solve this problem?
  • What other solutions were proposed?
  • What were the results of the most recent consultation?
  • Is there going to be any additional signage, both to stop people getting to Appletons before having to turn around and for people on the main A417 to find Kingsgrove?
  • If Appletons is not going to be adopted (see above), is it reasonable that traffic be diverted down it?
  • When will the bollard in Phase 1b be installed to prevent vehicles using the path to Phase 1a?
  • When will enforcement commence?
  • Is the “bus gate” a done deal? How might residents get the decision reversed?
  • What happened to the communication to residents that we were promised?

Central Park & included toilets

The Central Park planning application has been approved. The toilets that were the cause of a lot of discussion after the last Crab Hill Development Forum are still in the plan.

However, I have been told by St. Modwen that residents will not be covering the maintenance.

In the event of the Wantage Town Football Club making a deal to take over the sports pitches, pavilion etc, the toilets will only be operation when the pavilion is open and the football club will manage them.

If there is no deal between the football club and St. Modwen, the pitches, pavilion etc would be transferred to the Kingsgrove Estate Management Company but the plans of the pavilion would be amended and the toilets removed.

I will also be asking for an update of the discussions between St. Modwen and Wantage Town Football Club.

Improvement works to the Crabhill Lane bridleway

This is the bridleway that runs from Charlton towards the Woodland Walk, and then down the hill towards Grove. The part that passes through the Kingsgrove development is no longer a “byway of all traffic”, aka. a BOAT, having been reclassified as a bridleway. This means that motorised vehicles are not permitted to use it. To reflect this change of status, new signage is required to inform those people that are using motorised vehicles, mainly motorcycles.

Separately, as part of the S106 contributions that St. Modwen make to the local community, money has been allocated for improvement works on the stretch between Charlton and Rutherford Road. This stretch is not owned nor maintained by St. Modwen, but rather Oxfordshire County Council. In bad weather it is virtually unusable by pedestrians. I am keen to understand the timeline of the improvement works.

Pub plot

As many of you know, the land allocated for a pub in the neighbourhood centre has not attracted any interest whatsoever after being on the market for at least 18 months. As a result, conversations are taking place about other uses for the land. I am keen to understand the extent of these discussions and try to ensure at least some resident involvement before any final decisions are made.

Primrose Avenue path reinstatement

The footpath that bordered the field alongside Primrose Avenue near the primary school was recently removed with the reason given as “it was only ever meant to be temporary and wasn’t on the original plans”.

Thomas Snell, St. Modwen’s Development Manager of Kingsgrove, has made it known that he is keen for it to be reinstated. I will be asking about the status of this reinstatement but will also be asking a broader set of questions regarding the decision to remove it in the first place. For example, would it have been costly, in terms of money or effort, to request “retrospective planning permission” for the footpath and how sympathetically would any such application have been viewed? The idea behind these questions is to see if similar decisions in the future could be considered more with residents in mind, rather than strict planning rules. Obviously there is a need for planning rules but I would have hoped for a little common sense to have been used in this case, and possibly similar cases in the future.

S106 Open Space funding “oddity”

The agreement that is in place regarding the management company accessing funding to recover costs spent of open space maintenance in Kingsgrove is a complicated one. One such oddity is that only 5% of the funds for each individual “plot” can be reclaimed each year. However, any money not spent within the next 10 years will be transferred to the Council, in lieu of missing social housing on Kingsgrove. As a result, only a fraction of the original £4 million is realistically available. I am going to be asking for clarification regarding this.

Wantage Town Council taking on some of the open space in Kingsgrove

On a related note to the section above, it is apparent that Council is interested in taking on some of the open space in Kingsgrove. I am keen to understand which pieces of land are being discussed and the processes that would need to be followed to enable this to happen. It will also be interesting if there will be any resident involvement in any decision. One other obvious question is whether the restriction mentioned above would also apply to the council should it be agreed that they take it on.

Speed limit and signs

It would be useful to confirm, once and for all, what the speed limits are for the roads in Kingsgrove and whether the signage has been installed correctly.

Additional points to raise

If you have anything that you want raising at this meeting, please get in touch. It is important to note that the meeting discusses planning specific matters. As a result, questions / comments about service charges and value of money etc aren’t relevant.

About the Crab Hill Development Forum

Occurring once every four months or so, the forum serves as a place to discuss the progress of the development and any matters arising, particularly in relation to planning. It is attended by representatives of St. Modwen, Vale of White Horse District Council Officers, Wantage Town Council, Oxfordshire County Council Officers, Councillors from Wantage and Grove, Wantage and Grove Campaign Group, Oxfordshire Community Churches and HarBUG.

Representation from the Residents Working Group

As part of my role on the Residents Working Group, I have had the opportunity to attend a few of these meetings, and have tried to make sure that the views of people actually living on the development are heard.

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