Meeting notes from Crab Hill Development Forum – 20 June 2024


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. Some notes from the last meeting may have been left in to help provide some more context to aid understanding.

Notable attendees / apologies

Peter Kirby-Harris (Wantage Town Council) attended the Forum for the first time, though Jenny Hannaby (Town, District & County Councillor) and Andrew Crawford (Town and District Councillor) sent in their apologies.

Eileen White (Chair of the Trustees for “the hub”) also attended for the first time to present the video of the hub to those attending.

Bus gate anomaly?

When writing up the notes from this meeting I may have discovered a small anomaly with what (I think) is approved for the bus gate and what has been installed. Full details at

Planning applications

Neighbourhood Centre – McCarthy Stone Retirement Apartments

The most contentious of the planning applications that are currently open for consultation is P24/V1243/FUL. This contains details of the construction of retirement apartments on Lot 3, which had previously been allocated for the pub.

This provoked a lot of discussion as to what alternatives had been thought of, which were possible & which were likely. Councillor Peter Kirby-Harris (Wantage Town Council) challenged the idea that nothing could be done in terms of attracting investment from a pub chain to build and operate the establishment. He asked whether the lot could be left undeveloped until such time as the economy improved. Peter also queried whether another area of land on Kingsgrove that was due to be developed later could be possibly reallocated for a pub. These suggestions / questions received little in the way of a positive response, as did ideas of using the space for another community purpose, if only extra car parking. Subsequent to the meeting, Councillor Andy Crawford (Wantage Town Council & VoWH District Council) has issued a statement, in which he says that he will “call in” the application, meaning that it will definitely go to the Planning Committee and not be decided by a planning officer.

Western Area Enabling Works

This application is, in fact, a set of miscellaneous aspects brought together in one application.

The deadline for comments is Wednesday 10 July.

Phase 6 boundary road

Nothing particularly interesting to note.

Proposed landscape planting along ditch and filter drain to rear of Phase 6B (Central) and South West Phase

This is about a landscape buffer between the existing buildings in Charlton and the areas of Kingsgrove that will be built directly north of them. This landscape buffer will ultimately become the responsibility of the management company.

Pedestrian / cycle connections and associated landscape works making connections from Major Access East Road to Aldworth Avenue and Major Access West Road to Truelocks Way

This provides some of the details about how Kingsgrove and Charlton will eventually link up for pedestrians and cyclists. There will be three links in total – one is the existing Crabhill Lane (sometime known as Gypsy Lane) and then these further two paths.

Woodland planting to east of Phase 6B (Central)

Woodland to be planted between Crabhill Lane and part of Kingsgrove that Vistry Homes will build.

Re-aligned Grove Loop Road South and associated swales and street tree planting to accommodate Thames Water main in-situ

Moving the road by about one metre to avoid disturbing the Thames Water main.

Council Development Officer for Wantage and Grove

With Anne Richardson moving to another role within the council, the Development Officer role is vacant. The council is keen to find someone to fill the role, which is encouraging. Apparently, the advert is going through the HR team at the council, as well as being advertised internally to the council staff. If / when it is made available for any applicants, I will aim to let everyone know. Given the “speed” of council processes, I am told that there might not be anyone in post much before the end of 2024.

Development updates

Video and aerial photography

The latest views for the aerial photography of Kingsgrove can be found at

A video can also be found here:

Kingsgrove from the air (12 June 2024)

Housebuilder for Phase 6

As reported at the previous Forum, the housebuilder for the next phase of Kingsgrove (Central) is Vistry Homes, using their “Bovis” brand. The plans can be seen here and a planning decision is due at the end of July. Apparently there are still concerns from OCC Highways and Wantage Town Council that need to be addressed but no specific details of those concerns were provided.

Looking at the submission from Oxfordshire County Council, there are some interesting comments, especially relating to parking. One is that the number of parking spaces per house should be a maximum of two, irrespective of how many bedrooms the house has. Apartments will likely be limited to one parking space.

Housebuilder for Phase 7

A preferred bidder for the next parcel of land, which will have 116 homes built on it, is expected to be announced in the next couple of months. A detailed planning application will likely be submitted towards the end of 2024.

Central Park

Civil works (Earthworks and Drainage) for the Central Park will start very soon and will run until the end of August. Landscaping work will follow and is due to be complete by early 2026.

Neighbourhood Centre – retail units and nursery

Work on the retail units is underway, 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. The nursery is likely to be open in time for September 2025. The developer has had some interest in the other retail units, with uses ranging from fast food (typically fish & chips), cafe, pharmacy and a veterinary practice. Nothing has been decided though.

Neighbourhood Centre – care home

Charlton Lodge, the new 72 bed care home on the Kingsgrove development, is approaching build completion. The final decorations and floor finishes are well advanced throughout the home and, externally, soft landscape planting is progressing and hard landscaping features are being installed. A marketing suite has opened on the ground floor but no firm reservations for rooms.

It is likely to open in September 2024.

Neighbourhood Centre – community hub

Work on the community hub should be started in Autumn 2024 and will take approximately 18 months, so it will be open in early 2026.

Although funded in the main through the S106 funding, the hub will also benefit from fundraising by Wantage Community Church. Oxford Community Churches has set up a separate, secular, charity for building and running of the hub. Eileen White, chair of the trustees of “the hub” shared the following video showing a “fly-through” of the new building:

Following concerns regarding the parking provision at the hub, it has been confirmed that there will be a “parking policy” to try and mitigate the effect on local residents. The plan is that the hub’s cafe will be run as a social enterprise.

WELR 3 (aka “the bit in the middle”)

It is anticipated that WELR 3 will be completed in July 2024, though it will only properly open in mid-September. 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. There are also plans for an official naming ceremony in Autumn 2024.

Woodland Walk

The part of the Woodland Walk that runs parallel to WELR 1 is still being worked on. This is due to open in August 2024, once a few snagging items from the RoSPA inspection have been completed.

There is another part of the woodland Walk that will be to the north of the WELR 3. This will be created at the same time as the Central Park.

Public Art

Two workshops held with/by “Make Space for Girls” engaged with local young people to create drawings and models for an artistic seating area in the Central Park area. Kerry Lemon will create a proposal based on the designs to make that a reality.

Kerry is also working with the team behind the hub to make 13 bespoke architectural glass panes for the front of the hub. A workshop will be taking place on Saturday 12 October.

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

S106 money has been administratively allocated to Oxfordshire County Council to carry out improvement works to Crabhill Lane, south of Rutherford Road. However, the occupation trigger is 50 homes on the new Vistry / Bovis phase so is not likely to be met for some time to come. As such the money hasn’t actually been paid to the county council.

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 well with an anticipated handover of the leasehold in September 2025. The football club are in discussions with Wantage Primary Academy about daytime access for the school and parking at the school being made available over the weekend.

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 to re-examine the overall agreement including these restrictions, allowing more of the money to be claimed back by the management company are still ongoing.

Wantage Town Council’s interest in adopting land at Kingsgrove

No further update was provided but it still needs to be noted that any agreement between the council and St. Modwen would be considered a separate, civil contract and outside the scope of the existing restrictions. 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 surfacing

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. However, it was accepted that Cherry Croft and the south end of Elder Way are now virtually free of construction traffic so are likely to be resurfaced soon after Bellway have completed construction of their phase.

As for which roads are to be offered for adoption, I believe that virtually all the roads in Kingsgrove will be offered for adoption, with the one exception of Clover Close in the Cala phase. This is part of the Fullers Estate Management Company so won’t be adopted.

Site responsibility map

One of the things that frustrate a lot of residents, including me, is how hard it is to understand to whom you should report a problem to. I have tried to approach this on but it still remains a problem.

Both St. Modwen and Preim have been working on a solution to this and have created a Site Responsibility Map that aims to make it much clearer who has responsibility for what area of Kingsgrove. I will let people know as soon as I have more information. I have been asking for such a thing for a long time and it is good to hear that it is being worked on.

Active Travel

Wantage Active Travel have written to Oxfordshire County Council seeking an update on the cycle infrastructure. It was confirmed that at least one of the new links through to Charlton will be finished in 2025.

Phase 1b (St. Modwen) Green Area

The area under the trees at the “centre” of Phase 1b should have been seeded with wildflower seeds to create an attractive wild area. Anyone that has seen the area in question knows that it is blatantly unsuitable for such a things. Preim are working with their grounds contractors, Whitings, to come up with a solution that will last. The work to implement that solution will be charged to St. Modwen.

Archaeological Talk – Wednesday 2 October 2024

Martyn Allen from Oxford Archaeology will be giving a talk on excavations at both Grove Airfield and Kingsgrove. All the details, including the location at Wellington Gate’s new primary school, are here.

Next meeting

Crab Hill Development Forum - Thursday 31 October 2024

All the e-mails will be sent from Kingsgrove Residents <> just in case you need to check your “Spam” folder.