Woodstock Town Council

Incorporated by Royal Charter of Henry VI in 1453


Report of District Councillors for Bladon, Blenheim and Woodstock
to Woodstock Town Council
9th October 2018

WODC Local Plan 2011-31. After many years of (not entirely welcome) anticipation, the WODC Local Plan 2011 -2031 was agreed by a significant majority at the full Council meeting on September 27th. The non-majority party members in Council made some very strong interventions and all members representing the Eynsham/Woodstock sub-area spoke with considerable force against the heavy burden of housing this part of the District will receive from the Plan. There were very strong feelings that developments planned for Eynsham and Woodstock and those already taking place in Hanborough were being approved without any sign of the desperately needed supporting infrastructure and that there should have been greater questioning about the number of homes which are said to be Oxford City’s unmet needs. There was concern that the Plan had never come before a Scrutiny Committee or received full debate in Council until this occasion when it was too late to affect the Plan other than vote to approve or otherwise.

Approval of the Plan means that Woodstock will have development on the Woodstock East site and there is a commitment to develop the sites along Banbury Road and behind Hill Rise. There has been some earth moving on the Woodstock East site already but development will begin with vigour later this year with 50-75 homes being built each year until 2023/4. Development of the land north of Hill Rise is unlikely until 2022/3 and of the Banbury Road unlikely before 2024/5.

There is one aspect of the Local Plan which will bring some relief. Now the Local Plan is in place and  WODC is recognised as having adequate land to meet five years’ need for development, the arguments which have been so successful at appeal, namely that the Council does not have the land supply and therefore it must take whatever undesirable developments are being appealed at the time, will no longer apply. Much of Hanborough, for example, is rejoicing that the Plan is in place since they are facing yet another planning application for 800 homes. With the Plan in place and a known adequate supply of land, WODC has grounds for turning down developments which are not proposed in the Plan, provided there are other grounds for refusal, with greater hope that appeals will be quashed.

Three Year Land Supply – government decision for Oxfordshire.
There is another helpful decision which has come in the past couple of weeks which, along with the Local Plan being in place, should help protect our countryside – albeit too late to modify the Plan’s implications for Woodstock.

James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, has confirmed by a written statement that, in future, Oxfordshire will only have to demonstrate a three-year land supply for development as opposed to the usual five-year land supply. We were promised this once all the Oxfordshire local authorities had agreed to participate in the Growth Deal and in accordance with the flexibility suggested in paragraph 217 of the revised NPPF:

217. The Government will continue to explore with individual areas the potential for planning freedoms and flexibilities, for example where this would facilitate an increase in the amount of housing that can be delivered.

Having to demonstrate only a three-year land supply should greatly reduce pressure on planning committees. Applications such as the second phase development on land behind the Marlborough School in Woodstock would no longer be approved on the grounds of lack of land for development.  

WODC Water Day. One of us (EP) attended the WODC Water Day on October 4th. It was an interesting event and useful in the contacts that could be made there. However much of the meeting was about the action being taken by Thames Water to monitor leaks and floods and sewage getting into the waterways with much less said about the action being taken. EP raised the problems with the ‘lifting station’ at the junction of Glyme Close and Brook Hill expressing the irritation of local residents that the problem is dealt with only to return a short while later and that this has been going on for years. EP was told that the pumping station guru there would find out more about Woodstock’s problems and someone would get in contact with further information.

Robert Courts MP was present for the early part of the meeting and stated that he had already had discussion with Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the problems of pollution in the Windrush. He would be going back to Michael Gove with further information and views from the meeting.

The meeting closed with the plan that Thames Water and the Environment Agency members would be invited back for a further meeting in a year’s time to report progress. After this year’s meeting these bodies should have got the message loud and clear that WODC expects action not just monitoring.  

If you have not seen the Countryfile Live video about the work of WASP (Windrush Against Sewage Pollution), it is recommended viewing. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HApqmCvtngE

WODC Cllrs Julian Cooper & Elizabeth Poskitt


Oxfordshire County Councillor Ian Hudspeth's October 2018 Report

Shipton Road
The £315,000 carriageway maintenance project on Shipton Road will start on 15th October, taking up to 2 weeks this is subject to bad weather or unforeseen circumstances. The first week will be preparation work with traffic lights with the main work taking place the following week which will involve a road closure which has been programmed to take place during half term. This scheme was originally in the capital programme for the year 2019-2020 but has come forward into this year as part of the additional in year £10 million highways programme following the decision by cabinet in the summer to invest an additional £120 million in infrastructure over the next 10 years.

Oxford to Cambridge Expressway
I have been consistent that the road that causes the most traffic issues for Oxfordshire is the A34 as it’s a mixture of local and national traffic. If the 2 parts could be separated to allow the ring road to function as a local road£ then there would be an improvement for the majority of Oxfordshire’s residents. The A34 impacts on all 5 Districts and all 6 constituencies so there are few residents not affected. We only have to remember the traffic chaos caused on Oxfordshire's roads due to an accident on the A34 on Thursday 6th September, action needs to be taken.

On page 17 of the strategic stage 3 study 

( https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/571353/oxford-to-cambridge-expressway-strategic-study-stage-3-report.pdf )  paragraphs 3.4.5 & 3.4.6, it is clear that this proposal will provide a local solution.

Whatever corridor and, ultimately, route chosen there will be local impact with local opposition however we have to consider the bigger picture to improve the A34, which is why I support the overall road proposal. 

I welcome the decision to exclude Otmoor from the scoping however it’s disappointing that there are still 2 corridor options around Oxford as that will create uncertainly for those communities involved. Highways England have determined that they need to do more work on the environmental impact which should be concluded by the autumn of 2019.

I am not suggesting a preferred corridor as I want to wait to see the evidence that Highways England will provide. Once the final route is chosen by Highways England I will work with affected communities to reduce the impact on them.

Hanborough Platform extension
The good news for Hanborough station is that the platform will be extended to enable more doors to be opened on our ten carriage trains, making it easier for customers to get on and off the new trains and helping to improve reliability.

Full details of the work planned and impact on services during the work are on a dedicated page on GWR website https://www.gwr.com/travel-updates/planned-engineering/cotswolds2018

OCC will get a complete overhaul to ensure it is ‘fit for the future’ and continues to meet rising demand for services. The changes are crucial to enabling the county council to deliver its vision of ‘thriving communities for everyone’. The Cabinet has accepted the business case for a new ‘operating model’ and will consider how it will be implemented at the October Cabinet meeting. 

The transformation plan would protect and improve frontline services for residents, while cutting red tape and reducing the costs of ‘back office’ administration. The proposed redesign of the county council could save between £34m-58m a year and ensure a continued balanced budget, with the possibility of reinvesting in services in the future. The detailed business case for implementing the new operating model currently estimates a potential reduction of approximately 600-890 full time equivalent posts at the council over a two to three-year period. The council’s annual staff turnover is about 650 posts so the number of compulsory redundancies is likely to be much fewer. Customer service, supported by new technology, would be at the heart of the proposed new ‘operating model’ to make the council much more efficient. Residents contacting the council would see improved customer service with use of digital technology freeing up time for specialist staff to provide personalised services where needed.

The latest snapshot of delayed transfer of care figures on September 13 showed there were 79 delayed patients in Oxfordshire – a 31% fall on the same period last year. The previous week there 77 representing a sustained and significant fall from 2017 when the highest local recorded weekly figure was 202. Based on the latest NHS published data, Oxfordshire is the 11th most improved system in the country, with a reduction of 58% in the number of bed days lost – more than twice the national average of 25%. This turnaround is attributed to a revitalised joined-up approach between NHS teams and the County Council ensuring that patients leave hospital as soon as they are medically fit to do so.

Cllr Ian Hudspeth
07956270 318