16 Feb 2021
Summary: Committee voted to defer the application and requested a review of the B4493 roundabout, and other issues.
Here you can find:
- Link to the recording of the meeting
- From our District Councillors
- Introductory video to Valley Park and some of the issues
- Statement to Planning Committee
- Summary of the outcome (first posted on Facebook)
- Sustainable Harwell statement to the committee
Recording of the Planning Committee meeting
You can watch the planning committee meeting on the councils’ live stream on YouTube. (now on catchup)
District Councillors Sarah Medley & Hayleigh Gascoigne
Video about Valley Park – and the roundabout
Available on Google Photos. Click here to view (6 mins)
Statement to Planning Committee
Ward Councillors Statement Planning Committee 16.02.21 – Valley Park – P14-V2873-O (PDF file, 13 pages)
Statement on Facebook after the meeting
“We are over the moon at the outcome of this evening’s Vale of White Horse District Council Planning Committee meeting – the committee agreed unanimously to DEFER the decision on the Valley Park planning application! This is great news, as it means there is now more time available for residents and councillors to really push for our own local vision of what Valley Park should be 🎉🏡🌳
Deferring the application was voted for on the basis that further clarity needs to be sought on the following key issues with the Valley Park proposal before a decision can be made:
🔄 B4493 Roundabout between Harwell and Didcot – committee asked council officers to look at this design again and consider alternative options to make this monstrous 5-arm roundabout safer and more accessible for cyclists. Thank you to the HarBUG – Harwell Bicycle Users Group and Sustainable Harwell for your excellent speeches on this issue, and special shout out to local resident Kate Stevenson Weal for your Facebook comment about an underpass on the roundabout – this sparked an entire debate the possibility of an underpass, bridge or another alternative solution to be explored in the design!
🏥 Healthcare Provision – the committee asked council officers to go back to the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group – OCCG once again to obtain a proper answer regarding the medical provision for Valley Park. This site would bring 10,000 new residents to the area and yet there is no provision in the plans for a GP surgery or any Primary Medical Care, primarily because the OCCG didn’t even respond to the consultation in the first place! Thank you to Patient Participation Group (PPG) chairman Stewart Lilly for speaking on behalf of all 3 Didcot Medical Centres – we’re certain that your eye-opening statistics about the pressure our local services are under was key in influencing this decision.
🐸Biodiversity – massive well done to Sally 4 Hendreds & Harwell for your fantastic speech raising the issues with biodiversity considerations on the site, including the protection of red kites. Thanks to you, the committee asked for the financial contributions from the developer relating to biodiversity off-setting (totalling £200,000) to be brought forward from a staged payment (after 1000th house is occupied) to a full amount paid upfront prior to commencement of the development. A brilliant win for protecting the natural environment before the first house is even built!
Sustainable Harwell statement
Here’s what we wanted to say, if granted 3 minutes. However we have to share the time with all “objectors”, so will have to reduce the statement to 45-60 seconds!!
I speak as a representative of Sustainable Harwell, a group of nearly 100 people who campaign for sustainable policies within Harwell parish. Cycling and zero carbon homes are two of our active projects. And I will focus on those two issues.
Both county and vale officers remind you that the design of the roundabout on the B4493 between Harwell and Didcot was approved in 2016. Yet they also say that the plans are only indicative. If you are persuaded that the roundabout design needs to change, then surely the whole application is before you and you are free to have your own opinions without being bound by approvals granted 4 years ago.
In these last four years there is a greater awareness nationally and locally for the need to encourage safe cycling. OCC have invested in the Science Vale Cycle Network, and this roundabout is a key part of route 5 from the campus to Didcot. Why is there no mention of this in the officers report?
There is no time now to review all the design issues that will make this 5-arm roundabout sub-optimal, unsafe, and potentially dangerous. You will have read the officers summary of the 50 letters of objection received since December [last year].
You will see [page 20] that the design conforms to National Standard for trunk roads **. Why; this is a junction in the middle of an urban development, and really should conform to the appropriate county standards for roundabout design. It is no excuse to say (as does the officers report) that the physical location makes this difficult. If an urban design cannot be achieved then a complete rethink is needed, rather than upgrading the design to trunk road standards.
We request that you ask for an additional pre-commencement condition; that your overall approval is subject to a redesign of the B4493 5-arm roundabout to conform to OCC standards for safe cycling***, rather than National standards for truck roads.
Our second concern is the futility of building an estate based on fossil fuels, full of gas boilers and without any solar panels. However, we accept that you and your colleagues have been working hard to use what influence is available to the Vale under current powers, and we reluctantly accept the conclusions of pare 5.22 [page 47] of the officers report, and ask that you remain vigilant to reject any reserved matter application that comes forward without paying attention to the climate crisis that affects us all.
However, you may well consider enhancing the conditions to be Concurrent with Each Reserved Matters Application to include the need for a plan to recognise and mitigate the impact of the climate emergency
** Page 20 OCC Quote is “Design Manual for Road and Bridges (DMRB) and not Manual for Streets 1 & 2 (MfS) due to its strategic nature.”
Website says: The Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) contains information about current standards relating to the design, assessment and operation of motorway and all-purpose trunk roads in the United Kingdom.
*** Oxfordshire Cycle Design Standards, see section 3.3 page 22 for Junction and Roundabout designs.
3.3.5 Roundabouts can be particularly daunting for some cycle users, especially large multi-lane roundabouts. Approaches, exits and the geometry of roundabouts should aim to cause traffic to slow down to use the roundabout and therefore reduce the risk to cycle users – roundabout entry should be radial, not tangential, in order to slow traffic.