Woodstock Town Council

Incorporated by Royal Charter of Henry VI in 1453

            COUNTY AND DISTRICT COUNCILLORS UPDATE

Report of District Councillors for Bladon, Blenheim and Woodstock for Woodstock Town Council meeting on September 13th 2017

UPDATE ON LOCAL PLANS

West Oxfordshire. The formal Examination of the WODC Local Plan by the appointed inspector was completed in July. The inspector has asked WODC for further work, before giving a decision, in effect:  

·    The Council’s final responses to consultation comments on its Site Selection and Sustainability Appraisal papers.

·     Additional Sustainability Appraisal work as indicated in the Sustainability Paper.

·     Additional landscape/heritage appraisal of the housing site allocations in Woodstock and Cotswold AONB.

·    A note on detailed proposals for “staging” the housing requirement figure, in order to assist consideration of whether or not this approach is an appropriate way forward for the plan.

 WODC has responded with a guide to likely changes. We list changes very relevant to Woodstock:

·    The policy H1 'to be amended in relation to the quantum of housing by sub-area with the indicative figure for the Eynsham-Woodstock sub-area presented as one composite figure including Oxford's unmet need (as per W2 Eynsham-Woodstock sub-area strategy)'

·     ‘At least’ 15950 homes inserted to reflect the fact this number is not a ceiling to development, 

·    Potential further revisions to Policy EH7 to take account of comments raised by Historic England and other parties. Potential individual supplementary policies on specific heritage assets (e.g. listed buildings, conservation areas etc). Consequential amendments to supporting text and potential addition of new supporting text.

·    Minor amendment to refer to great weight being given to the conservation of the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site: Blenheim

Your District Cllrs moved amendments to delete the three development areas proposed for Woodstock (Woodstock East, Banbury Road and Old Woodstock) at the October 2016 Council meeting. If these developments were removed from the Plan, using the Liverpool assessment criteria, rejecting the Oxford City unmet need calculations and introducing available sites within the City Council boundaries, could bring housing numbers back up again. Our approach was not supported by both other parties on the District Council.

Cherwell. In their Revised Local Plan Cherwell District Council propose a further 4,400 new homes in the southern part of their district involving an extensive intrusion into the Oxford City greenbelt which extends up to the A4095 at Upper Campsfield. The buildings would be very obvious from the footpath that runs from the Hensington Gate Estate to Bladon

Cherwell DC faces the same major problem that faces WODC: finding space for the homes it has been told it must build. The Revised Plan gives little consideration to the developments proposed by WODC for Woodstock and the recent, completed development at Home Farm, Bladon. The problems for the roads, car parking, the surgery and the educational infrastructure (as seen with the proposed removal from Woodstock Primary school of the Woodstock Under Fives Association building) remain unresolved.

The Cherwell proposals come to WODC Cabinet on 20th September. The deadline for comments on these proposals has been extended to Tuesday 10th October 2017. Please send your views and concerns to both Cllr James Mills, Leader of WODC, West Oxfordshire District Council, Woodgreen, Witney Oxon OX28 1NB (or e-mail him on james.mills@westoxon.gov.uk) and to Cllr Barry Wood, Leader of Cherwell District Council, Bodicote House, Bodicote, Oxon OX15 4AA (or e-mail him on barry.wood@cherwell-dc.gov.uk). 

Oxford City. The City Council is also reviewing its Local Plan requirements and suggesting intrusions into the green belt because it states it has 'lack of landowner interest' in other development possibilities.  The local Liberal Democrat councillors reject this as a valid reason for breaching the long held belief in inviolability of the green belt. They believe more could be done to encourage owners of suitable ‘brown’ land within the city to offer it for development.

BARCLAYS BANK CLOSURE

We learnt with great regret that the Woodstock branch of Barclays Bank closes on 10th November 2017. For many years the town and surrounding areas have had excellent service from the branch. Many will remember fondly the manager Mr Patterson who was committed to this community. Losing the bank does reduce WODC Planning’s justification for calling Woodstock Town ‘a service centre’- something we shall bring to the attention of the WODC Planning Department.

CAR PARKING

During the debate at the Uplands Planning sub-committee about increasing the size of the car park at St Hugh’s Church Hall in Hensington Road, ‘Dr Poskitt suggested that the new facility should also be made available to local residents when not in use by the church. The Development Manager suggested that the applicants could be advised to explore this possibility in consultation with the Town Council’ (Extract from Uplands minutes 7th August 2017). We shall keep you informed of any progress here.  

WOODSTOCK SWIMMING POOL CLOSING DATE

In 2016 the Woodstock pool stayed open for an extra fortnight because of a mechanical problem which delayed its opening. The contractor GLL advertised in the promotional material that the pool would close in mid-September. Many users of the pool were then very upset in August to be informed that the pool would close at the beginning of September (the time when in most past years it has closed). It is now clear that there was an inadvertent mistake by GLL in advertising the later date. As some recompense for this administrative error, season ticket holders are being offered free use of the Witney, Carterton and Chipping Norton pools until the originally advertised Woodstock pool closing date.

HOUSING INITIATIVES

WODC has announced two new housing initiatives. A Community Self Help project takes ‘hard to let’ larger property and turns it into shared accommodation for under 35 single unemployed who are trained in ‘trades’ whilst refurbishing the property. It will include two apprenticeships for at least one year. The unemployed young people will be trained in new skills relevant to renovating the buildings before living in the shared accommodation so generated.

The Community Housing Delivery Project will work with Parish and Town Councils to promote the concept of community housing and would help identify opportunities and support the delivery of schemes which would be of little interest to mainstream housebuilders. The project would include a Capacity Building/Grants Fund to help fund local community groups’ programmes.

These projects are supported by an allocation of £376,966 for the 2016/17 financial year from the government’s Community Housing Fund which provides funds to promote community led housing programmes in areas where the impact of second homes is particularly acute.

There is also the Local Authority Partnership Purchase Scheme (LAPP) whereby individuals can buy a share in a home (costing up to £375000) with the council purchasing the rest. Occupiers then pay rent to the council to cover its stake. The LAPP scheme is for those who can afford mortgage repayments but can’t meet the cost of a deposit on a property. Each applicant will be assessed and awarded points based on a range of criteria focusing on local residents, key workers, those with dependents and applicants in social housing or on the council’s housing waiting list.  Applications for a LAPP mortgage can be made from 21 August. Further details will be online at www.westoxon.gov.uk/lapp

ELECTORAL REGISTRATION

Around 47,000 Electoral Registration forms are being delivered across the District. If changes need to be made to the details sent, then the household is asked to notify the Council either online or by returning the form provided. You are encouraged to return the forms early and preferably electronically as this reduces public sector costs (Details come with the form).  Between May 2016 and June 2017 most of you in West Oxfordshire could have expressed your views via the ballot box on at least four different occasions. If you missed out – don’t let it happen again!

    WODC Cllrs Julian Cooper and Elizabeth Poskitt
 

Oxfordshire County Councillor Ian Hudspeth's September 2017 Report

CONGRATULATIONS AND SUPPORT FOR YOUNGSTERS AFTER EXAMS

Congratulations to all students who achieved their objectives after receiving GCSE, AS and A-Level exam results last month. For those who got their desired grades, and those who would like support, OCC is giving advice for 16 to 19-year-olds about staying in learning, finding a job or starting an apprenticeship. Throughout the results period and beyond, staff will be available via the web chat service on the Oxme website to talk to young people and parents about the wide range of learning and employment opportunities available in Oxfordshire, and to help with applications. Information can be accessed via a dedicated page on the Oxme website www.oxme.info/resultsday

233 BUS WOODSTOCK TO WITNEY AND BURFORD

There is good news for the 233 bus service as from 4 September, the frequency will be increasing to half hourly; this is with the assistance of S106 funding.
Stagecoach have done their best to optimise rail connections at Hanborough Station although it is quite difficult to match a half hourly bus service with a train service which is not quite hourly,  Nevertheless it will be a great improvement on the present arrangement.
This is something I have lobbied Stagecoach MD, Martin Sutton, for some years and it is good to see it becoming a reality.

BUS TURNING CIRCLE

The improved bus services to Oxford Parkway and the City have been appreciated by many residents however for the residents of Vermont Drive the turning of buses has greatly impacted on their quality of life. A turning circle at the Wootton junction was identified as a solution and funding was found to deliver the scheme which should be finished soon. There is still further work to be carried out regarding buses but this will be a major step forward.

KEY PROJECTS AROUND GROWTH AND INFRASTRUCTURE REACH CRITICAL POINTS

Key projects informing how Oxfordshire grows and develops in the coming years will reach critical points in September. They are:

The Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy - led by Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) on behalf of the Oxfordshire Growth Board, the strategy will be considered for board approval on 26 September by Oxfordshire’s six councils, who collectively deliver projects from the government’s City and Growth Deals. Public consultation on the strategy’s prioritisation framework concludes on 3 September.

Housing Infrastructure Fund - bids totalling up to £500m will be made by OCC, with the support of the Growth Board, to the government’s HIF by 28 September.

Oxfordshire Growth Board will decide on the business case for a spatial plan for Oxfordshire.

Place Based Proposal – negotiations are underway with government to agree a package for Oxfordshire that will help unlock housing and increase productivity through a number of freedoms and flexibilities. The initial proposal is due to be with DCLG by 6 September and an MP briefing session will be arranged to provide an overview of the proposal. 

The National Infrastructure Commission establishes governance in the region around major infrastructure projects and connectivity through the `first and last mile` principle.

CHANGES TO DAYTIME SUPPORT

As demand for social care grows, OCC needs to make sure there is a secure core service in place for the future. To achieve this OCC is introducing a new daytime service. This follows a review of adult daytime support and a public consultation. From 1 October OCC's Health and Wellbeing and Learning Disability Daytime Support Services will be replaced by a new Community Support Service. This will be delivered from eight centres: Abingdon, Banbury, Bicester, Didcot, Oxford, Wallingford, Wantage and Witney. Everyone with eligible care needs for daytime support is guaranteed to receive a service and can choose to receive this from OCC. Most day services in Oxfordshire are provided by community groups - three-quarters of these receive no council funding and continue to flourish. The vast majority of the 47 voluntary sector day services that have received funding from OCC have been awarded transitional grants. Further grants will be available in the future. Many people who use daytime services have multiple needs and the Community Support Service buildings will be used by all service user groups with staff providing personalised support to meet individual needs. By introducing these changes OCC is making sure that the services are in place for the people that need them most. Further information is available at https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/news/2017/mar/changes-daytime-support

HOUSEHOLD WASTE RECYCLING CENTRE UPDATE

As detailed in the July Parish Report, OCC has signed a new Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) contract that secures all seven sites in the medium term, with no change to the sites opening hours or days. Banners and leaflets are now on site at all seven HWRCs, informing local residents that there will be a change in non-household waste charges from the 1st October. The existing DIY 1,2,3 for free scheme is being replaced by a small fixed fee per item of £1.50 for non-household waste. Tyres and plasterboard will also be charged for at an affordable rate. OCC is not obliged to provide residents with a disposal site for non-household waste. However, in the HWRC public consultation carried out in summer 2016, 91% of responses indicated that residents would prefer to pay to deposit non-household waste as a way of saving money and protecting other council services. Soil, rubble, hard-core, plasterboard (gypsum) other DIY type items are classified as construction waste, not household waste, and are expensive for OCC to dispose of. OCC recognises that many householders carry out small DIY projects from time to time, and by applying a small charge this allows HWRCs to continue accepting these discretionary types of non-household waste. Non-household or DIY items, as a general rule are materials created from the construction, demolition, alteration or repair of a home or garden. Residents can still dispose of all their household waste free of charge at any of the county’s HWRCs. Also new in October 2017 will be a bin for recycling hard plastics. After a successful trial at Dix and Alkerton HWRCs, items such as plastic garden furniture and children’s toys will be collected and recycled from all sites. PCs may want to remind residents that all HWRCs are open until 8pm on Thursdays until 1 October 2017. More information about the changes is available online at www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/chargeablewaste and

http://news.oxfordshire.gov.uk/new-household-waste-recycling-centre-contract-for-oxfordshire-announced/   

OXFORD TRANSPORT STRATEGY: DEMAND MANAGEMENT OPTIONS CONTINUE

As part of the Oxford Transport Strategy (OTS), work continues around the potential introduction of demand management measures, including consideration of a workplace parking levy, congestion charging and access restrictions in Oxford. The strategy also includes ambitious proposals for rapid transit, mass cycling and a much stronger emphasis on place and better air quality across the city. September sees the next stage of a programme of work including research with businesses in Oxford and residents across the county, using focus groups and individual interviews, to gather attitudes and views on transport, congestion, and demand management options. Sample representatives from major employers, small and medium enterprises and sole traders will be contacted to better understand their expectations, needs and priorities for transport improvements. Workplace parking surveys will also be carried out to understand the availability and occupancy of car parking in the city. Over 1,500 employers will be contacted in writing to request permission to carry out a survey on their land.  Wider consultation on demand management options will be vital to help shape proposals and this is expected to take place between next February and April.

NIC CYCLING ADVISER VISITS OXFORD
The Sunday Times journalist Andrew Gilligan was in Oxford on 7 and 8 August in his newly appointed role of cycling adviser to the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC). Mr Gilligan has been asked to write a report, by 11 September, on cycling across Oxford, Milton Keynes, Cambridge and the Growth Corridor and how to make it “world class”.

The former London Cycling Commissioner was appointed to the role in July by NIC Chairman, Lord Andrew Adonis. During his visit, co-ordinated by OCC and involving Oxford City Council, the University of Oxford, local cycling charity Cyclox, the Oxfordshire Cycling Network and OxLEP, Mr Gilligan was able to gather information and views on current and future provision for cyclists in the city. He had meetings with the me as the Leader; the Cabinet Member for Environment, Councillor Yvonne Constance, and Bev Hindle, Strategic Director for Communities, along with several of his directorate colleagues. Discussions covered the Local Transport Plan, recent infrastructure achievements, plans for the future including provision for cycle commuters (who account for 19% of all commuter journeys in the city), how to get more people into cycling and cycling’s health benefits. 

Ian Hudspeth
07956 270318
Ian.hudspeth@oxfordshire.gov.uk