Local Plan’s 2011 and the public inquiry

2002
1200 people object to the Didcot West proposals in Local Plans to 2011, whilst the developers to the west put in an outline planning application. An archaeological assessment takes place.

2003
In May 2003 Nigel Moor, the recently retired Planning Director and shareholder at RPS (who represented Taylor Wimpey), was elected as a South Oxfordshire District Councillor for Wallingford. He joined the Council’s cabinet as the Didcot West proposals he had championed for well over five years were being discussed.

Later that year, the Standards Board concluded that Councillor Moor had breached the councillor Code of Conduct by failing to disclose a personal interest, failing to withdraw from meetings and improperly seeking to influence decisions on the matter. Mr Moor accepted the error and withdrew from further discussions, so no further action was needed.

In another twist, it was found that the habitat of the protected water vole was in danger from the access road into the proposed development. The planning application’s environmental impact assessment had made no reference to the voles. Before development took place, mitigation measures were taken to protect them. A badger survey, another protected species, was kept out of the public domain.

2004
The Local Plan public inquiry took place over 15 days in November 2004. Paragraphs in blue below are from the Inspector’s report:

The Structure Plan decision
...we consider it necessary to emphasise that it is not the role or purpose of this Local Plan Inquiry to re-assess the strategic decision process already untaken on the direction of growth at Didcot.

…local opposition to the allocation of the Didcot West… is understandable, as it is clear that many objectors feel that they had been unable to have a meaningful input to the Oxfordshire Structure Plan.

… all three options would be capable of providing good accessibility to employment and services and of encouraging more sustainable modes of transport… The District Councils and OCC should urgently consider the detailed options for an A4130 to A417 link, to include a Harwell by-pass.

Archaeology at the public inquiry
...the County Archaeologist is confident that the character, extent, and quality of survival of the main areas of significant archaeology has been satisfactorily evaluated and that an appropriate mitigation strategy can be formulated. Some sites are recommended to be preserved in situ, whilst others will be partly preserved in situ and partly subject to archaeological excavation and will be preserved by record.

Click to view the video from campaigners against Didcot West shown at the public inquiry

2006
Outline planning application for ‘Great Western Park’ is approved.

South Oxfordshire District Council cabinet successfully applies for growth point status for Didcot. Link to Oxford Times story on secret ‘growth point’ decision
 
2012
South Oxfordshire District Council adopts its Core Strategy to 2027 and includes the previously rejected north-east site for housing development to run concurrently with Didcot West. Vale of White Horse Core Strategy adds further housing from the edge of the Great Western Park to the A34. A total of 8,450 homes in the next 15 years.

2014
The Vale of White Horse District Council proposes more houses at Didcot and across the A34 at Milton Heights bringing the number of new houses at Didcot between 2011 and 2031 to over 10,000. Further houses are planned at Harwell village and Chilton/Harwell reseach site. See 10,000+ new homes for Didcot’s countrysidehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRlTCrs8iNohttp://www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/news/yourtown/oxford/787901.Didcot_wants_to_be_one_of_fastest_growing_towns_in_country/DIDCOT%202031.htmlshapeimage_1_link_0shapeimage_1_link_1shapeimage_1_link_2
More about the process:

Overview of the planning at Didcot West

The County Council decision

Campaign groups

Download a copy of the Public Inquiry inspectors report

The future:

10,000+ new homes for Didcot’s countryside

How local council’s justify big estates here

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Hands off Didcot West
In 2003, Didcot resident Sara Davidson won a South Oxfordshire District Council seat in the local elections. Her only policy was to object to the development of Didcot West. Sara, standing as an Independent, received 438 votes (18.36%) in the All Saints ward of Didcot coming second to Conservative candidate John Flood with 552 votes (23.14%). Ms Davidson said:
 
“This is a land-grabbing proposal that wipes out at a stroke the footpaths and open space the people of Didcot have roamed for many years. The development threatens wildlife and archaeological sites. And it’s surely wrong to destroy some of the best farmland in England?”