Crab Hill Development Forum – Thursday 20 July 2023 – meeting notes


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.


The presentation that I put together is here.

Notable attendees

  • St. Modwen
    • Thomas Snell
    • Anna Hulme
    • Both Dinny Shaw (Head of Planning) and Zalman Fleischer (Main Kingsgrove contact) were made redundant from St. Modwen last month and therefore were not in attendance. Dinny’s equivalent, Laura Bisbey, wasn’t there as she was on vacation, though it wasn’t clear if she would normally attend. Zalman’s replacement, Andrea Clarke, wasn’t there.
  • Preim
    • Tom Tracy (first time attendee)

Road infrastructure timelines

  • WELR
    • Phase 1 (Reading Road roundabout into development)
      • Completion – likely September 2023
      • Lighting issues preventing opening
    • Phase 2 (Mably Way roundabout into development)
      • Completion – likely early August 2023
      • Won’t be open until Phase 3 is complete, to avoid inappropriate traffic being funnelled past school by those vehicles using sat-navs.
    • Phase 3 (connection between Phase 1 and Phase 2)
      • Start – August 2023
      • Completion – likely July / August 2024
    • Bus gate (Elder Way junction with Reading Road)
      • Completion – likely September 2023
    • Main roads
      • Finished surface – likely September / October 2023 (after bus gate is installed)
    • Side roads
      • Finished surface – likely August / September 2023

Despite my (supposedly successful) attempts at a previous meeting to convince people this was a bad idea, it is looking increasingly likely that there will be a simultaneous opening of WELR Phase 1 and the “bus gate”. All the relevant legal signs will be put in place regarding this bus gate change. Residents will have letters explaining the new rules and the school should be able to communicate with parents that live off the estate.

What this means, for all vehicles except buses, is

  • Day 1 – the only entrance to the Kingsgrove development will be the junction of Elder Way and Reading Road. The new road from the roundabout will not be open.
  • Day 2 – the only entrance to the Kingsgrove development will be via the new road from the roundabout. Any non-bus vehicle using the Elder Way entrance will be subject to a fine. I don’t think that there will be any physical barriers but ANPR will be used to identify those that use the entrance.

Adoption of roads by council

Which roads are to be taken over by the council is technically a matter for the individual developers as they are the ones that select the roads for adoption. However, in practice, all of the roads on the development that serve more than 5 houses are likely to be adopted. The council tends not to adopt on a piecemeal basis, rather waiting for the whole development to be completed before taking on all of the roads at the same time. Until the roads have been adopted the roads, and the maintenance thereof, remain the responsibility of the developers of each parcel of land, i.e. Cala, Bellway, Taylor Wimpey, St. Modwen. St. Modwen also has the responsibility of the main roads running through the development. This holds true even when a developer has otherwise finished their development and has left the site. As a result, it is definitely a good idea to keep hold of the customer service details of each of the developers. I have tried to keep a record on the Kingsgrove Residents web site. If you believe the details there are outdated, then please do get in touch and I will ensure that they are updated.

Planning applications

  • Retail units
    • Developer is LSP Developments
    • Consultation ended – 12 July
    • Main retail unit highly likely to be a Co-op
  • Nursery
    • Developer is LSP Developments
    • Consultation ended – 12 July
    • Highly likely that Co-op will be taking on the nursery as well as the main retail unit
  • Pub
    • On the market for about a year
    • Absolutely no interest whatsoever 
    • Extant planning permission for that land is only granted for the development of a pub. Anything else would mean a fresh planning application would have to be submitted.
  • Fuller’s Field
    • Technically not part of the Crab Hill Development Forum, despite Fuller’s Field being part of the Crab Hill site allocation.
    • Requesting the inclusion of this application into the Crab Hill Development Forum.
    • Consultation ended – 17 July
    • Lots of comments received
    • Likely discussed at the planning committee in September 2023
    • Ownership of this land currently lies with the beneficiaries of an estate. As such, although a planning agent, Carter Jonas, has been engaged, no developer has been appointed. It is likely, if permission is granted, that the field will be sold onto a developer. At this point, it may be possible to invite the developer / representatives to the forum. Until then, though, there is little point inviting anyone.
    • Council doesn’t have the mandate to force developers to work with Kingsgrove Estate Management Company but is open to make introductions. 
  • Central Park
    • Consultation ended – 5 July
    • Some interesting comments from Sport England, Thames Valley Police & Wantage Town Council, especially pertaining to the layout of the inside space of the pavilion.
    • Likely to be a reconsultation, focusing on the changes.
    • Wantage Town Football Club, prospective leaseholders of the main sporting facilities in the park, are still progressing to take over, though some concern has recently been raised regarding the limited parking, given that there are going to be 2 full-size pitches and an additional smaller training pitch.
    • The pavilion is due to have two externally accessible toilets (1 disabled & 1 standard) in addition to the toilets within the building. These were included in the design as a replacement for the compost toilet that was originally going to be part of the allotment site when it was down near the A338. Now that the allotments have been relocated to the Central Park area, it was felt that they might as well be “open to all”. However, there was a lot of discussion about who was going to have ownership & management responsibilities for these. The allotments are highly likely to be adopted by Wantage Town Council, as is normal for allotment sites, but whether they would take on the toilets in a building that they didn’t fully manage is something that is going to need further investigation / conversations / agreements. The Community Hub, based behind where the cafe is currently, will also have toilets.

“Crabhill Lane” / “BOAT”

Crabhill Lane is the route that starts at the scrapyard at the edge of Charlton VIllage and heads north, through the Kingsgrove development. Until recently, it was designated as a BOAT (byway open to all traffic), meaning that motorcycles were free to use it. The portion of it that goes through Kingsgrove has now been “downgraded” to a bridleway, meaning that motor vehicles may no longer legally use it. Despite this “downgrade”, it is commonly still referred to as “the BOAT”. St. Modwen have responsibility of the path for the section that crosses Kingsgrove, with Oxfordshire County Council being responsible for the piece between Charlton and Kingsgrove. Once the central park area has been completed, the part owned by St. Modwen route will be transformed and will be easy to navigate for all users, with the route south into Charlton similarly being developed as a cycle route by OCC. However, it has been long requested that something be done in the interim, as it becomes extremely hard to navigate in any sort of inclement weather. St. Modwen have accepted this and are currently investigating how it can be improved before the end of the summer. Whatever solution is delivered it won’t be perfect, as it will only be temporary, but hopefully it should help once the bad weather sets in. Apparently, OCC have set aside money to do likewise but whether improvements are as quick to be realised on their part of the route is not known.

Planning obligations

Obviously, a lot of what is discussed at the Crab Hill Development Forum is about planning applications and permission being granted for the various parts of Kingsgrove, be they infrastructure or housing. However, I was keen to understand what obligations the developer has as part of those permissions being granted and, more importantly, what happens to those obligations should the developer change. The good news is that the permissions and the associated obligations “follow the land”, so it is irrelevant who the specific developer is. 

The reason that I asked about this is related to the ownership of St. Modwen Homes. It is currently one of three business units of St. Modwen Properties. This, in turn, is owned by an American investment firm, Blackstone. Last year, Blackstone put St. Modwen Homes up for sale but didn’t attract any interest. This year, it is obvious they have tried to cut costs and have made a significant reduction in their workforce. All of this means it is likely that St. Modwen Homes will again be put onto the market soon, which would mean that Kingsgrove could have a new master developer. I wanted to ensure that if / when this happens, we wouldn’t suddenly be left with a half-finished development.

S106 Public Open Space fund

At the previous Crab Hill Development Forum meeting, the matter of the S106 Public Open Space fund was mentioned and it was minuted that residents would shortly be receiving an update. Well, we did receive an update, but nothing has changed very much from that point. I did make this point and was told that, from the District Council’s point of view, they are involved in organising the necessary inspections. As for the management company accounts from last year, these are still yet to be signed off as the idea was that the contributions would be included. I was told only “Autumn 2023” when I asked for a realistic date for the whole process to be completed, which is far from ideal. I will be continuing to pressure the relevant people until the matter, at least for the contributions thus far, is resolved.


Parking is, understandably, a very sensitive topic on the Kingsgrove development right now and is likely to be so for some time to come. Although it ultimately was approved, the application for the Community Hub attracted comments complaining that the number of spaces specified was too few.

There are a number of “shared community parking spaces”, as they are referred to, planned into the development already. Typically, these will be just off Rutherford Road as it runs from west to east through the “top” of the development.

Running from West to East:

  • Pavilion car park
    • This has already been built and is the parking adjacent to the school car park. It consists of 22 spaces, including 3 disabled spaces. The intention is for this car park to have a dual use and serve as an area from which the drop-off and pick-up of pupils of the adjacent Primary School can take place during weekday school peak times, and for allotment holders, central park, and community building users at other times of the day and week.
  • Care home
    • The care home, currently under construction, will have 6 shared spaces.
  • Nursery
    • The nursery will have 14 allocated spaces.
  • Retail units
    • The retail units, including the convenience store, will have 35 spaces.
  • Kingsgrove square
    • These are the existing spaces next to where the cafe is. There are 12 spaces.
  • Community Hub
    • The hub will have 22 spaces.
  • Layby-style parking bays, off Rutherford Road, next to the play park
    • There are 3 bays, each capable of holding 2 cars, meaning 6 cars in total. The idea is that vehicles will park parallel to the road. At the moment, contractors are using them and parking perpendicular to the road, meaning that more vehicles are able to use them, but at the cost of the vehicles slightly overhanging the cycle lanes. I would imagine that this approach will be discouraged when the road is complete.

Some of the parking spaces detailed above will be designated as disabled, parent & child, EV charging spaces, thus restricting their use.

I think it likely that people will say that the overall number of shared community parking spaces, 117, is not enough, especially when some of them are further restricted from general use. The reality of the situation is that this number is in line with the guidelines from Oxfordshire County Council (OCC). OCC believes very firmly about encouraging people to use alternative forms of transport and Kingsgrove is no exception. Whether there are enough buses, trains, cycle lanes etc., is a whole different conversation. However, we cannot expect to be provided with more parking.

Relationship with St. Modwen

Given the recent personnel changes within St. Modwen, I wanted to make sure that the forum was aware that we had been left without an obvious contact from St. Modwen to deal with those infrastructure matters that don’t involve the ManCo. Thomas Snell has volunteered to be that contact, and, to be fair to Thomas, had already acted as such recently.

Next meeting

Although an exact date was not agreed, it is likely that the next meeting will take place in early October.

Raising an issue to be discussed

As ever, if you have anything that you want to be raised, then please do get in touch.