Didcot, with a population of 25,000, is the largest town in
South Oxfordshire. It lies close to expanding employment areas
in the Vale of the White Horse and benefits from access to strategic
rail and road networks. As a result, it is the focus for major
growth as house building in the south east, driven by government
objectives, gathers pace. South Oxfordshire District Council
(SODC) aims to benefit from this growth by transforming Didcot
into a lively, thriving town.
The first phase of building at Great Western Park (GWP), a development
of 3,500 homes, started in 2010 to the north, close to the A4130.
This development will gradually wrap around the western boundary
of Didcot, eventually coming to Park Road on the southern edge
of town. An application has recently been made to bring forward
building on this most southerly part of GWP, out of the planned
sequence and before the necessary infrastructure is in place.
The West Hagbourne Parish Council has strongly opposed this
since such piecemeal development threatens the coherent delivery
of the whole GWP development and its associated infrastructure.
SODC has recently published its Core Strategy covering the period
2016-2027. A site to the north of Ladygrove has been identified
to take most of the additional housing for Didcot (around 1,500
homes), using the northern perimeter road for access. This decision
is being strongly resisted by parishes to the north which are
trying to persuade SODC that they should be sited to the south
and west of Didcot. Our own Parish Council is committed to retaining
the important gap between the town and the village, thus maintaining
the rural identity of West Hagbourne.
of the Core Strategy, SODC must also find a site for a further
450 homes and is exploring whether these should also go to the
north east or whether there should be a southern extension to
Great Western Park. If this southern option were chosen by SODC,
the Vale District Council has said it might develop that part
of its district which lies south of the B4493.
The issue of increasing traffic on rural routes applies across
the whole county. In the case of West Hagbourne, in addition
to the expansion of Didcot, other factors are likely to have
an impact on the traffic flow through the village. A development
of 275 homes at Chilton Field (in the Vale of the White Horse)
will generate more vehicle movements across Hagbourne Hill towards
an expanded Didcot. Further developments at the nearby Harwell
site, including a new hotel and many new jobs, plus the planned
improvements to the rail interchange will also attract people
to both the Harwell site and Didcot.
To reduce traffic flow through West Hagbourne, a relief road
running south from Great Western Park to the Harwell Business
Park, providing a new convenient access route to both the Harwell
site and the A34 is essential. After many years of lobbying,
the inclusion in the current Core Strategy of a relief road
to carry traffic heading south from Didcot is welcomed by the
Parish Council. Nevertheless, funding for such a significant
new road in difficult financial conditions seems uncertain.
A proposal to upgrade/redevelop the existing Hagbourne Hill
road was opposed by Chilton Parish Council and ultimately rejected
by OCC as unsuitable owing to the steep incline. A viable alternative
for the Hagbournes might be a link road from the roundabout
near the entrance to the Harwell site, joining the A417 near
the Kingswell Hotel where it could cross the A34 bridge and
continue to join the spine road through Great Western Park.
What you can do
The Parish Council will continue to lobby both the District
and County Councils to protect our village and its heritage
as an ancient settlement. It will press hard for a road infrastructure
that solves the traffic issues which could damage the fabric
of the conservation area and disrupt the peaceful enjoyment
of the village by its residents. Parishioners can also play
an important part in this process. By engaging with OCC and
SODC consultations parishioners can help ensure the outcome
will be influenced in our favour. You can also email or write
to your Councillors, Parish, District or County, or your MP,
and ask for your views to be taken into account.
your local District Councillor, Leo Docherty and your County
Councillor, Patrick Greene are aware of your views too. Their
email addresses are: