Meeting notes from Crab Hill Development Forum – 25 January 2024


Disclaimer

These are just my notes from the meeting. They don’t claim to be a verbatim account of all that was discussed, but should help to provide some clarity on subjects that residents have an interest in.


Bus gate

I will be creating a separate post about the bus gate with some links that might help answer some of the questions. Trying to shoehorn that information into these notes would make it quite messy and hard to follow.

However, the bottom line is simple: if you don’t want to be liable for any enforcement action, then don’t use the Elder Way entrance.

Development updates

Housebuilder for Phase 6

The housebuilder for the next phase of Kingsgrove (Central) has been chosen. It will be Vistry Homes, using their “Bovis” brand. The phase is actually split into three subplots as shown. The first one likely to be developed is the one between the pavilion car park and Rutherford Road, with the other two being on the western side of the Crabhill Lane footpath, aka the “BOAT”. There will be 115 units built across the three areas.

Neighbourhood Centre – retail units and nursery

Work on the retail units and nursery is likely to start in March 2024 and will last about a year, with a further 2 months required for the units to be fitted out, so early summer 2025 being the anticipated opening. The main retail shop will be a Co-op, who will also operate the nursery.

Neighbourhood Centre – pub

There has been absolutely zero interest in the pub plot after 18 months of marketing. As such discussions are starting to work out what will be provided instead. It needs to be noted that houses couldn’t be built on the site unless the matter goes back for planning approval, at which point residents would be able to comment.

Neighbourhood Centre – care home

The roof of the care home has been completed and work is starting on the internals of the building. It is likely to open during the summer of 2024.

Neighbourhood Centre – community hub

Work on the community hub should be started in June 2024 and will take approximately 18 months, so it could be open in December 2025.

WELR 3 (aka “the bit in the middle”)

It is anticipated that WELR 3 will be completed in June 2024. Once it is complete, both WELR 2 and WELR 3 will open at the same time, thus providing a much easier way for residents to travel to Grove and for general traffic to be able to avoid Wantage town centre.

Primrose Avenue footpath

Unfortunately, the plan to reinstate the temporary footpath that ran along Primrose Avenue has been deemed to be too costly to proceed.

I raised the question of how easy it would be, in a similar scenario, to apply for retrospective planning permission and whether this would be looked on favourably. What I hadn’t realised was that temporary footpaths, such as the one on Primrose Avenue, are likely to have been built to a lower specification in the first place and wouldn’t have been subject to the same safety assessments as permanent footpaths. As a result, it appears that “upgrading” a temporary footpath to a permanent one isn’t as trivial as it might otherwise appear and would likely result in the footpath having to be completely replaced.

Crabhill Lane (aka “BOAT”) improvements south of Rutherford Road

Whilst S106 money has been administratively allocated to Oxfordshire County Council to carry out improvement works to Crabhill Lane, south of Rutherford Road, the occupation trigger has not yet been met. As such the money hasn’t actually been paid to the county council. At the time of writing, I don’t know what the specific occupation trigger is but when I do, this article will be updated.

Update on discussions between St. Modwen and Wantage Town Football Club regarding Central Park facilities

There wasn’t any specific update on these discussions, other than to say that they are progressing.

S106 Open Space Contributions

Whilst the oft-quoted fund of £4M is predominantly promoted as being for, unsurprisingly, contributions towards the cost of maintaining the open spaces in Kingsgrove, it is also there to provide affordable housing. As a result, it is likely that nowhere near £4M will be able to be claimed back by the management company. Currently, only 5% of each pot can be claimed back each year and even that will come to an end when the development has been completed, c. 2031. Anything left in that pot would then be given to the council to fund affordable housing.

Conversations between St. Modwen, the council and the management company have started to re-examine the overall agreement including these restrictions, maybe allowing more of the money to be claimed back by the management company.

Wantage Town Council’s interest in adopting land at Kingsgrove

Councillor Andy Crawford is taking the lead on this matter on behalf of Wantage Town Council. However, he was not present at the Development Forum and Councillor Jenny Hannaby was unable to provide any update in his absence.

What was very interesting, however, was the response to my question as to whether the council would be subject to the same restrictions about claiming back money from the fund.

Apparently, any agreement between the council and St. Modwen would be considered a separate, civil contract and outside the scope of the existing restrictions.

It has to be noted as well that if the council did take over maintenance of land then residents would lose any effective control / oversight of those areas, including any view of the financials involved.

Road adoption

The adoption of any roads in the development is not expected to be until 2025 due to how the council prefers to deal with multiple interlinked roads.

As for which roads are to be offered for adoption, I have been advised to contact each housebuilder to find out as St. Modwen don’t have that level of detail.

Looking at St. Modwen as a housebuilder, all roads in their phases are due to be offered for adoption.

For Cala, Clover Close is part of the Fullers Estate Management Company so won’t be adopted but all other roads will be offered for adoption.

If any residents of Taylor Wimpey and Bellway are willing to ask about this to their relevant sales team, I would be most grateful to learn any new information.

Next meeting

Crab Hill Development Forum - Thursday 20 June 2024

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