West Way update 2 Feb 2018

(If you have a West Way photo I can use, please contact me?)

This is the latest message from Mace:

2 February 2018

The redevelopment of the West Way area was first awarded a planning consent in June 2016,
and Botley Development Company (BDC) has since worked tirelessly to secure agreements
with all businesses and landowners, helping those who want to stay and supporting those who
have opted to leave.

On 26 January 2018 BDC completed the purchase of the land from Vale of White Horse District

Works will commence in February 2018, starting with the creation of a temporary retail area,
allowing some existing businesses to continue trading at West Way throughout the
construction period, including temporary premises for Tesco, Co-op, Lloyds Pharmacy, North
Hinksey Parish Council and Baptist Church.

BDC is currently finalising the construction timetable for the main redevelopment. Subject to
the recently submitted amendments to the existing planning consent being approved, and
finalising highways agreements with Oxfordshire County Council, commencement of the main
works is anticipated in June 2018. By this time, the temporary retail area will be fully

Work on Phase 1 should then be complete in late 2020, with Phase 2 starting around halfway
through Phase 1.

Hoarding has been placed on and around the vacant premises at West Way for security
reasons. BDC is looking at ways of incorporating artwork to make the hoarding more attractive,
and is in dialogue with a local art group and nearby school.

BDC will be sending regular updates on upcoming works to local residents throughout the
construction period, supported by construction partner SDC and community engagement
consultant SP Broadway.

Commenting today, Huw Griffiths, Development Director at BDC said: “The planning consent and purchase has been a long and complicated process, involving a number of businesses and landowners with differing aspirations and ambitions at West Way. We are delighted to have finally completed the purchase of the site, and to have formed agreements that all parties are happy with. Mace would like to thank all stakeholders who have been involved in the process.”

Notes for Editors:
1. Botley Development Company (BDC) is a joint venture between Mace and Doric Properties.
2. For further information, visit the community consultation website  www.westwayconsultation.co.uk or contact:
David McFarlane, SP Broadway (assisting with consultation) – 0203 405 1400 or

Puffin crossing West Way at Poplar Rd

Oxfordshire County Council’s consultation for the new pedestrian crossing of West Way at Poplar Rd is open until 16 Feb 2018.

You can take part here:  https://consultations.oxfordshire.gov.uk/consult.ti/B4044WestWayPuffin/consultationHome

Here’s the comment I submitted:

I have two main worries, and I feel it’s important for me to highlight these for the county officers who will make this final decision. 
First, this is the main crossing for pupils to get to school and back home again. At the rush hour, the pavement on the north side of West Way isn’t wide enough to hold everyone safely. Crowds of people waiting to cross West Way mean others who are trying to pass by can sometimes be forced off the pavement into the street. There is no slack here; parents waiting on the pavement have been hit by bus mirrors. It’s that close to traffic. Can the pavement be made wider, safer and more capacious here?
Second, with the number of different vehicles using West Way right here, I think a 20mph limit would be helpful and advised. HGVs, service vehicles, cars, cycles, pedestrians, parents pushing push chairs, wheelchair users and blind people are all sharing the road and pavement here. Plus this crosswalk is just as west bound buses reach the bus stop and pull in. We’ve had some serious accidents here. Let’s slow everyone right down, to make it safer. 
4 Feb 2018


West Way sale is complete

Vale of White Horse District Council has completed the £12.4 million sale of land to Botley Development Company who are set to revitalise the shopping centre and adjacent land at West Way.

The district council has been working to secure the redevelopment for some time to enhance and breathe new life into the whole shopping area for Botley residents.

Since the original agreements to sell in 2012, the developer has adapted and changed its plans after extensive consultation with the local community. The updated plans were granted planning permission in 2016.

The district council and other site land owners agreed a new price to help Botley Development Company proceed with the purchase and to make the changes to their plans that were necessary to meet the needs of the community. The council took a reduction of approximately £1.4 million and agreed to sell the land for just over £12.4 million.

Matthew Barber, Leader of the Vale of White Horse District Council, said, “I’m sure residents of Botley are, like me, delighted to have reached this vital stage. It’s been a long road to get to this point, but now we can look forward to a brand new, exciting West Way that will serve Botley and residents in the Vale for years to come.”

Botley Development Company hopes to start preliminary work on the site as soon as possible.


Note to editors 

The council has received a total of £12,436,570.53 capital for the sale of land at West Way.

The agreed reduction to the land sale was £1,413,246.65.

Motion on Air Quality Action Plans

 (Updated on 1st Jan 2018 to include the Oxford Mail article and Cllr Ware’s update about Air Quality Action Plan items in blue italics,.)

(Long post, sorry)

In 2015 Council published their Air Quality Action Plan, which contained 11 actions Vale committed to doing (most of them by 2017).

It looked to us Liberal Democrats like none of the action items had been completed, so we asked a question of the Cabinet member for Environmental Protection at last week’s full council meeting. You can see the question here.

We expected to get status updates for all of the outstanding actions. In anticipation of the Tories demonstrating that they hadn;t done what they said they would, Liberal Democrat Cllrs Catherine Webber and Debby Hallett tabled a motion requesting Cabinet to put funding in place for all our unmet commitments contained in the Air Quality Action Plan of 2015. 

Here’s the motion:

Proposed by Cllr Catherine Webber, seconded by Cllr Debby Hallett

This Council has statutory obligations to measure and monitor Air Quality in the District, to declare Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) where pollution is high, and to produce Air Quality Action Plans (AQAPs).

This Council also has an obligation to facilitate and implement the actions recommended in AQAPs, wherever possible.

This Council recognises the importance of taking action to reduce air pollution. To that end, Council requests Cabinet to do two things:

  • Include in their 2018/19 budget funding for all projects recommended in our 2015 AQAP that are not yet completed, and
  • Ensure this Council has a Low Emissions Strategy similar to that of South Oxfordshire District Council, which will focus Council’s efforts to reduce air pollution, particularly in Vale’s AQMAs.

The quality of the debate was dissappointing, to say the least. Here are some of the notable Tory contributions:

Cllr Eric Batts, Cabinet member, had some thoughts about my mention of Government’s estimate that 50 people die per year in Vale per year due to air pollution (I quoted Government’s report and its statistical modelling, which actually said 52 people die prematurely in Vale from exposure to air pollution). He said, “I used to live in North Hinksey and I never felt any ill effects from pollution. And the 50 people maybe include people who have come here from India or Pakistan.” (I hope he was thinking about their polluted large cities and not blaming high air pollution deaths in Vale on immigrants.)

A few days later, Cllr Batts expanded on his opinion for a reporter from the Oxford Times: http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/yourtown/oxford/15790602.__39_There__39_s_no_pollution_here____victims_must__39_ve_got_sick_elsewhere__39__says_councillor/

Cllr Elaine Ware, Cabinet member, said the failure to progress the action items from the 2015 Air Quality Action Plan was due to having a ‘very very hard time recruiting to fill the vacancies on the team’. (Could that have anything to do with the low staff morale caused by all the outsourcing they’ve done, and the Tories’ risky decisions to let too many of senior managers and officers leave the council?) (See her answers about Air Quailty Action Plan commitments here: http://cllrdebbyhallett.com/2017/12/16/question-on-air-quality-action-plans/)

Cllr Mike Badcock contributed the interesting idea that the cause of the pollution out the Marcham Road was the successful implementation several years back (10 or more?) of the Abits one way street system in central Abingdon, which worked to reduce air pollution from standing vehicles in Abingdon. He said that scheme worked by pushing the pollution out the A415 towards Marcham. That may be, I don’t know. But it was irrelevant to the debate.

Cllr Roger Cox, Cabinet member, added to the irrelevant comments by telling us in a shaking voice that the “previous administration” (which ended when they took control 6 years ago) only had a part time (.25fte) air quality officer, but they (the Tories) have hired a new PhD level officer. (Cllr Webber reminded him that the new officer is also part time and works 18 hrs per week.) He can get rattled when faced with logical arguments.

Cllr Ed Blagrove, Cabinet member, said that we should not spend money until we know what the new officer thinks. (Of course it WAS the officers who suggested Vale should have a Low Emission Zone Strategy, one similar to that which SODC recently adopted for their people. And the Low Emission Zone Strategy was one of the ll action items from the 2-15 Air Quality Action Plan.)

I don’t recall that the Leader Cllr Matthew Barber spoke to this motion.

So the debaters missed the point. (All but Cllr Ware, and I think I’d like to hear more about how failure to recruit staff is causing council to be unable to do the work it commits to do.)

The motion was to call for Cabinet to properly fund the work council committed to doing back in 2015, and has not done.

The motion was voted down: 8 For (all the Liberal Democrats), 20 Against (all were Tory) and 3 Abstentions (all were Tory). The abstainers couldn’t find it in themselves to vote against the motion, but it looks like they were whipped to not vote for it. We called for a named vote, so you’ll be able to see the three abstainers when the minutes are published.

Question in Council on Air Quality Action Plans

(Updated 1 Jan 18 to  include Cabinet member’s reply  – in green italics)

At the full Vale council meeting on 13 Dec 2017, the Liberal Democrat Cllr Emily Smith asked a question of the Cabinet member for Environmental Protection Elaine Ware. Despite the fact that the question was submitted on time, 10 days before the council meeting, the Cabinet member said she was unable to supply an answer on the night, promising a written response in a few days. We had the reply on 21st Dec 2017. 

Here is the question:

Question from Cllr Emily Smith to Cabinet Member for Environmental Protection, Cllr Elaine Ware:

In the 2015 Air Quality Management Plan the 11 district wide actions were:

1. Creation of a ‘low emission strategy’ and ‘low emission zone’ feasibility study (target date 2017) – Named as a focus of work for 2017-18 in the Annual Status Report. This work is dependent on external funding. We are currently compiling a bid for a Defra air quality grant with Ricardo to undertake this work

2. Installation of electric vehicle recharging points – Planning conditions requiring electric charging points are placed on applicable planning applications

3. Parking permit & pricing incentives for green vehicles (target date 2016) – Target delayed due to resources. An air quality officer 0.5 post has been recruited and is currently undergoing training. Once this is completed the action plan target will
be rescheduled.

4. Feasibility study for freight transport consolidation centre (FCC) / freight quality partnership (target date 2016) – Initial discussions with OCC and other Local Authorities have concluded that this is a long-term action and will be raised when the new Oxfordshire infrastructure proposals are discussed.

5. Taxi licensing incentives for green vehicles (target date 2016) – Target delayed due to resources. An air quality officer 0.5 post has been recruited and is currently undergoing training. Once this is completed the action plan target with be rescheduled.

6. Improved use and enforcement of traffic regulation orders (target date 2016) – This action will be included in the proposed Low Emission Strategy study

7. Review of the council and contractors fleet – Named as a focus of work for 2017-18 in the Annual Status Report and is underway. New waste vehicles with improved emission standards are now operated by Biffa the waste contractor.

8. Eco driver training (trial to be complete by 2016) – Target delayed due to resources. An air quality officer 0.5 post has been recruited and is currently undergoing training. Once this is completed the action plan target will be rescheduled.

9. Air quality planning guidance (target date 2015) – This is referenced in the LPP2 proposals and consultation is taking place with various officers in planning to complete the document (target January 2018)

10. Community involvement projects – Named as a focus of work for 2017-18 in the Annual Status Report. The Vale is involved with Sustrans and local Abingdon groups to investigate a simple project connecting cycle routes in Abingdon and produce a dedicated map promoting cycling in the town. Botley schools – potential project supporting air quality as part of curriculum. Plan to apply for Defra funding for a public outreach project as a joint application with other Oxfordshire Councils in 2018. This would connect with schools, GP and local groups.

11. Introduce south facing slip roads to Lodge Hill interchange – This action has been approved nationally and is being executed by Oxfordshire County Council.

Please can the cabinet member confirm which of these actions are complete and provide an update of those which are not? What evidence do we have that each of these measures has been successful or otherwise?



Bin collections this week

Here’s the latest word from officers about our waste collections.

“As you can imagine Biffa are behind this week because of the conditions. They have been out each day and have remarkably managed to make collections from the majority of places. They estimate to be about 2 to 3 hours behind on this week’s work. They are reducing this time each day as conditions improve but it may mean they will have to do some properties from Thursdays collection on Friday. If they haven’t managed to catch up by the close of play on Friday they will complete on Saturday. If you are contacted by any residents please ask them to leave their bins out.”

District Councillors on Tour

District Councillor Surgeries

Cllrs Emily Smith and Debby Hallett are touring Botley and Sunningwell Ward from January to March 2018.

Please come along to one of these drop-in events to raise any district related issues or just to meet your District Councillors in person over coffee:

Friday 12th January, 12pm – 2pm, Wyevale Garden Centre Cafe, Southern-By-Pass OX1 5AR

Saturday 20th January, 11am – 1pm, The Flowing Well, Sunningwell, OX13 6RB

Wednesday 7th Feb, 12pm – 2pm, The Fishes, North Hinksey Village, OX2 0NA

Thursday 15th Feb, 10am -12am, Wyevale Garden Centre Cafe, Southern-By-Pass OX1 5AR

Wednesday 14th March, 10am – 12pm, The Seacourt Bridge, West Way, Botley, OX2 9JU

Saturday 24th March, 2pm – 4pm, The White Hart, Wytham, OX2 8QA

Cllr Debby Hallett debby.hallett@whitehorsedc.gov.uk   07545 241013

Cllr Emily Smith  emily.smith@whitehorsedc.gov.uk   07986 877933


Local Plan Part 2 – Lib Dem Group’s consultation response

The Liberal Democrat Group of Vale of White Horse DC have submitted our response to the inspector’s consultation.

The whole doc can be accessed via this link to Dropbox:  Liberal Democrat Group response

Here’s a summary of our points raised:

In Summary, we request the following modifications to Local Plan Part 2:

  1. a) The housing need targets for Oxfordshire’s unmet need should be reviewed before this plan is adopted considering the Government’s housing white paper ‘Planning for the right homes in the right places’
    b) The Vale plan should be paused until the Oxford City Local Plan is adopted and we are clear what their unmet housing need figure is.
  2. The safeguarded land for bus and cycle routes in Sunningwell should be removed from the plan (Core Policy 12, appendix B, page 32)
  3. References to Dalton Barracks being serviced by a Park and Ride at Lodge Hill should be removed from the plan ((Policy 2, paragraphs 2.81 and 2.82, page 40 of the Plan and page 15 of the appendices)
  4. Green Belt status to be retained for the parts of Dalton Barracks that will be used as a country park and for the existing village of Shippon
  5. The 90 Homes at Marcham will have a negative impact on congestion and the AQMA therefore should be removed from the plan
  6. References to ‘Dalton Barracks’ should be changed to ‘Dalton Barracks and Airfield’ through the plan
  7. An Electric Vehicle Charging Point policy for the Vale should be included
  8. a) The housing sites identified in Part 2 to help meet Oxford unmet need should provide 50% affordable homes (as per the Oxford City policy)
  9. b) A new affordable housing policy should be included, to increase the proportion of affordable homes delivered across the Vale

West Way gets permission 

Tonight the Vale planning committee gave permission for the temporary change of use for the northeast corner of the West Way site. But with a lot of conditions. As soon as the decision notice comes out I’ll post it (or a link to it) so you can see. 

Thanks to Emily Hamerton who helped us iron out all the clarifications and conditions. Thanks to residents who came out tonight: Mary Gill and Simon Banks who spoke, and John Gill, Gordon Stokes and John Blackie, who gave support. 

And thanks to my colleagues on the committee, Catherine Webber, Jenny Hannaby and Anthony Hayward who raised good points and helped make things better.

Take points away for the chairman who spouted a bunch of incorrect information, and then kept my countdown timer running while I corrected that info. 

But there we are. Now on to the real work of development.