Author Archives: admin

Line your food caddy in plastic!

Residents in Vale of White Horse can now use plastic bags to line their food waste bins and caddies.
Food waste is collected every week and taken to Agrivert’s anaerobic digestion plant near Wallingford to be recycled into gas for electricity and fertiliser for local farmland.
The processing plant is now able to accept thin plastic bags, such as carrier bags, bread bags, paper wrappings, or normal pedal bin liners. Residents can also continue to use compostable bags or newspapers to line their caddies and bins, or put food straight in without any liner.

Any bags used as liners will be removed at the processing plant and sent to an Energy Recovery Facility to be turned into energy.

Cllr Tony Harbour, Cabinet Member for Waste at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “We know that compostable bags can be expensive and easily tear, so it’s great news that the processing plant can now take plastic bags.

Cllr Charlotte Dickson, Cabinet Member for Waste, said: “We want to make recycling as easy as possible for our residents, so we very much welcome the extra option of using plastic bags as caddy liners.

“We are one of the top recyclers in the country, but we still throw away a significant amount of food waste, with a recent review showing that around 30 per cent of the waste put out in the grey rubbish bins was food waste that could have been recycled. We would like to encourage everyone to use their food waste bins and thank all those that already do – it makes a real difference.”

All cooked and uncooked food can be put into food waste bins. 

Residents are advised that plastic retail packaging, or anything other than food waste, should not be put in. For example, bacon should be removed from its plastic packet and fruit taken out of punnets.

During 2016/17, 10,024 tonnes of food waste was collected and sent for recycling in South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse.

For further information about food waste recycling and other household waste and recycling collections, see the councils’ websites: or call 03000 610610.

Vale Grants Scheme opens 20 Aug for new applications

Council to offer £175,000 in grants to local community

Vale of White Horse District Council will be offering two grant schemes starting next month with £175,000 available to support the local community. The Capital Grants scheme and New Homes Bonus community grant schemes are open for applications from 20 August to 15 October .

Workshops to give guidance on the grants and help people to apply for them will be offered 4-6pm: (need to write to the for the locations)

  • 8 August in Abingdon
  • 10 August in Faringdon
  • 15 August in Wantage.

The Council was highly successful with both schemes last year, with the Capital grants scheme awarding £94,544 to organisations and the New Homes Bonus scheme awarding £98,066.

You can book a place on an advice session by calling the district council on 01235 422644 or by emailing

Places are limited with two people per organisation allowed to attend a workshop.

For more information on both schemes, please visit

Resolving the reasons for call-in on West Way 1507

I feel that all of the reasons I gave for calling in this application have been satisfactorily addressed by Mace (et al), so I have today 24 July 17, cancelled my call-in. 

Here’s the path taken to resolving my reasons for call-in.

  • ‘Content’ means I am satisfied that all that can be done is being done.
  • ‘Open’ means there are still actions to take to resolve it. (Update 24 Jul  17: nothing remains open.)

As aide memoire, see my reasons here:

The numbers here refer to my reason there. Updated 14 Jul 2017. Updated 24 Jul 2017

  1. Content. Accessibility of temporary shops: there’s no evidence of consultation with Vale’s equalities officer. All the shops and services must be accessible to wheelchairs. People with mobility scooters need to be able to access the shops. Suggest Cheryl needs to assess the plans and offer her opinions. (Update 14 Jul 17, her name has been added to list of consultees. I’ll speak to her about it. Once she is content, I am content. Update 24 Jul 2017: Equalities Officer has been consulted, and the issues she raised addressed. There are three public toilets in the temporary shops: Grant Thorton Building, Lloyd’s and the cafe. At least one of them will be accessible.  Mace will look to include a ‘Space to Change’ facility in the final development. The lift will access the 1st and 2nd floor in the Grant Thornton building.)  
  2. Content. All shops must be accessible by everyone. Wheelchairs, walking aids, double buggies. These are our only shops. Does the ramp into Lloyds Chemist work for all? Where will mobility scooters be parked? (Update. As above. Once the Equalities officer has assessed and is content, I’m content. Update 24 Jul 17. Mobility scooters may be parked under the existing canopy by unit 25. At Co-op there is room inside the store. Equalities officer is content with accessibility, so I am content.)
  3. Content. Shops must be safely accessible to cyclists, with safe, secure parking in the plans. Suggest applicant’s consultants meet with a rep of two from local cycling organisations to ensure access and parking are safe and secure. (Update: Mace has agreed to a meeting with representative from local cycling organisations.  A list of invitees is with them today, and they are oganising the meeting. Update 24 Jul 17: I attended a meeting with representatives of local cycling organisations, and Mace (et al). Our discussions were wide-ranging, including issues related  to where consent has already been given, and where plans for management are still to come. Mace (et al) have agreed to more cycle stands in convenient locations, and a new access to the temporary shops on the north boundary of the site. Cyclists share the roads and access routes with cars, pedestrians, refuse lorries, delivery vehicles and construction vehicles. This discussion led to some changes to improve cyclist safety, without compromising the other road users. The banksman will be placed up near West Way, some convex mirrors will be placed to improve cyclists’ visibility (subject to OCC approval), and more signage to raise everyone’s awareness.)
  4. Content. Since the promise was to maintain services, it seems inarguable that a ground floor or completely accessible café should be required to be within this temporary shopping area. (Update. It’s not Mace’s job to provide a cafe; but they are willing to support the effort if a plan comes to them. They have a space available.) 
  5. Content. Pavements and cross walks. Pavements at the entrance to cross walks must be large enough to accommodate the crush of parents and pupils at morning and afternoon school run time. (Update. I’d like to get opinion from county expert on the school children’s safety at the crossing, and if it is relocated and redesigned, assurances (with evidence) from County that the relocation of the crosswalk is safe. And the pavement widths if they have to accommodate more children and parents waiting to cross at the busy times. Update 24 Jul17: This is related to a previous planning application where consent has been given. County were happy it was safe.)
  6. Content. Bus stops on Westminster Way. How will these be accessed? If there’s no pavement on the west side of the street (and there is already no pavement on the east side) how will people get to the bus stops? Will they be relocated? To where, and what’s the pedestrian route? There is one stop outside the Baptist church, not considered in the plans. When the pavement is closed off, what will people do to get to the bus? (Update: the pavements will remain open. There was an error in one of the drawings in the Design & Access Statement showing them closed off. Only short temporary closures are required for utilities work and that will all be managed by OCC, with temporary pathways around. Bus stops will be open.)
  7. Content. New vehicle access at East end of Elms Parade: the proposed new two way access from West Way is very close to both the main signaled intersection, and the crosswalk leading to and from Botley School. It repeats a design that used to be there and was closed for safety reasons. It should not be reopened until safety of cyclists and pedestrians is assured. It may mean moving the school crosswalk, or temporary traffic lights at the new junction. Safety must be assured. (Update: I’d like to know from County Council why it was closed long ago (we hear it was a safety issue), and how conditions are different now that make this safe. Update 24 Jul 17: this is related to a previous application for which consent has already been given. So it is out of scope for this planning application. I’ll still pursue it, but out of interest rather than out of necessity.)
  8. Content. School access. During morning and afternoon school run times, where will parents park and what route will they take, either from their cars if they drive, or from their homes, to school? Suggest transport consultants visit the area at 8:45am and 3:00 on a school day and offer a realistic and safe solution. (Update. The transport consultants (et al) have visited the site at crush hour on school days and feel confident there is enough parking to handle it all. Realistically, I feel this will sort itself out and people will find a way to do it, even if it means parking further away, as on Poplar Rd or Seacourt Rd or Arthray Rd and walking a different route.) 
  9. Content. Traffic modelling/Transport statement. It relies on trip projections for the final centre, a medium sized supermarket with flats and cafes. These temporary shops will bring different trip rates. The discussion of that is worth having, and an assessment of whether the provided parking and turning space is adequate for a high-trip-rate convenience store based centre. Suggest the planners and applicant’s consultant meet with local transport specialists to iron this out. (Update. Mace agreed to meeting with concerned local residents, but no one from Botley was available to do it.) 
  10. Content. Construction workers and park and ride. It’s been confirmed by Oxford City (via email) that Seacourt Park and Ride can be used by construction workers’ vehicles, and that this is likely to result in the site being full. (City claims it’s often full; County claims its rarely full.) So where will people who currently use it park instead? And the builders, when it is full?  Also any vans over 2m high will not be able to use the P&R. Suggest: developers put together a Plan B for when the P&R is full or builders drive tall vehicles, and address enforceability. (Update: plan B is an open field somewhere, and a hired coach or van to shuttle the workers. We have to monitor against builders parking in local streets. The developers are committed to solving problems as they arise. Large vehicles won’t use P&R; they will be parked on site. ) 
  11. Content. No evidence Cumnor Parish council were included in this consultation. (Update: I checked. Cumnor Parish council responded but only said they support my reasons for call-in. This was a Vale error, not Mace’s.)
  12. Content.  (Update: I have read Neil Rowley’s responses to County and an content with much of it. I await County’s reply; if they are content, I am content. Update 24 Jul 17: a Construction Management Plan will be submitted. I am content to let County’s respondents decide this. I don’t need to hold things up waiting for them.) County Highways object as follows:
    1. GIA data has errors
    2. DAS, Agent’s letter and Transport statement are in contradiction with each other and ‘overall the proposals are not coherent’.
    3. Parking space numbers are inconsistent. Is it 38 spaces, 41, or 42 spaces?
    4. Applicant did not discuss with highways the changes intended to the approved plans.
    5. A robust construction management plan expected but not yet produced. In fact, it’s more than ‘expected’; it’s required by condition 12 of the permission given.
    6. These temporary plans for access contravene the approved plans in significant ways.
  13. Content. County asks Vale to consult their in-house ecologist. I don’t see such inclusion in the list of consultees. (Update: The Countryside Officer IS the ecologist.)
  14. Content. Significant safety issues: construction and delivery vehicles compete with extant traffic plus shoppers’ vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians and school children. See the particulars of this in the comments of Dr Mary Gill. (Update: We’ve identified these main safety issues:
    1. The Barclay Bank access at Church Way is already a place where drivers wait for clear space to move ahead. People park on yellow lines to use the cash point. There isn’t clear room for two cars to pass at the entrance to Elms Parade car park (there’s that odd stick-outy pavement by the ex-car part shop). Pedestrians use both sides of Church Way. Cycles, buses, pedestrians and cars pass the entrance there, and this plan adds construction vehicles as well. Can we improve the access by changing the shop-front pavement at the west end of the parade car park? Also, that entrance needs some control.
    2. The proposed new access has the same problems, plus it has possibly more children and parents on their way to and from school, AND delivery vehicles for the temporary shops.
    3. What is the proposed route for rubbish and recycling vehicles for the temporary shops, and where is the rubbish storage area for the two food shops in particular?
    4. Could it help to allow one way east-bound traffic behind the Elms parade shops? For people who want to exit the temporary shops and go right at the Church Way exit, it would mean they didn’t have to negotiate the parade car park sat the front of Elm’s Parade.)
    5. (Update 24 Jul 17: Banksmen at the Church Way access into and out of Elms Parade will assure traffic flows safely, and will prevent double parking that blocks everyone. Rubbish and Recycling will use the two loading bays as delivery vehicles. There’s not enough space to have traffic travel behind the Elms Parade shops.)
  15. Content. The Botley SPD, adopted by Vale Cabinet in the face of vehement objection by the local community and ward members, MUST be adhered to. The SPD says: ‘Service vehicle traffic should be directed to a dedicated access and servicing facility accessed from Westminster Way, thus avoiding public areas and minimising service vehicle movements on residential streets’. The consented plans didn’t comply with this requirement. Neither does this plan. (Update: see above response on item 14. Also, we’ll cover this at the cyclists meeting. Update 24 Jul 17: There has been much discussion on the left in and left out configuration. The only evidence I’ve seen is that this is the safest way for construction vehicles to access the site. It also to minimise disruption to traffic flow. The extra precautions for cyclists (mentioned elsewhere in this doc) are intended to further safeguard their travel in Botley during construction. Any problems must be reported immediately to the constructors’ site manager, so it can be managed appropriately.)
  16. Content (17/7/17)From Dr Mary Gill: ‘If the Council are minded to accept the amendment to the S106 agreement for P0246/FUL to allow this re-phasing, then the contribution to be made in lieu of affordable housing needs also to be revisited. Under P0246/FUL, the development was deemed to be deliverable and viable, provided that no affordable housing was included. The re-phased development will save cost, and hence a larger contribution should be requested.’ That seems to me to be a fair point. (Update: I’ll speak to Adrian Duffield, Head of Planning, about the expected viability report on Friday 14th July.) (17 July. After speaking with Adrian Duffield, I am content. Any change in the viability report as a result of more information from the constructors doesn’t increase profits. It brings down costs which were forecast before the constructors had the detailed estimates necessary for realistic costing. It’s as likely that the original plan relied on inaccurate costing. Once we see the viabilty report, which will be publicly viewable, we can address the specifics. We will know the figures then.)


Latest on West Way – 9 July 2017

Last week I met with Mace and Savills, and now I’ve also had their written response to the concerns I expressed in my reasons for calling in the current Mace planning application. I’m studying that this weekend. I’ve printed off concerns that residents have emailed me, and am taking another close look at everything I’ve received. 

Many of the concerns I raised have been resolved. The Westminster Way pavements won’t be closing, for example, so bus stops there remain unaffected and the walking routes to Botley Primary school remain available. 

Some issues are yet to be resolved, if they even can be. For example, a left in, left out, anti-clockwise route for construction vehicles is not in accordance with the Botley SPD, but is the safest way to manage access for large lorries. In this case at least, the Botley SPD is wrong (shock, shock). I have a meeting on Monday with the to discuss remaining concerns. 

Here’s some news that may help to ease the anxiety felt at the prospectI would cancel my call-in (which I will do when or if all the issues are satisfactorily addressed): Mace will be submitting amendments soon, which will require further consultation. So I won’t be cancelling call-in just yet. 

There are three ways residents can help in this current planning phase, son if you can bring your expertise to the table, please get in touch:

1. There is a unit for this temporary configuration that is available to be used as a small ground floor cafe; if a cafe comes forward, it would be welcome. Is this something perhaps Assn of Botley Communities could make happen for everyone? Or someone else? It would benefit us all. 

2. Mace have offered to meet with local reps of cycling groups to talk about safe access and parking in this temporary set-up. They’ve tried to make things workable and safe. Who will help with that? (I’m not a cyclist, so my conversations about it are strictly well-meaning and amateurish.)

3. Mace have offered to meet with local people who are particularly concerned about the trip rates data and the projected traffic and parking in the temporary set-up. Who will meet them with me?

So that’s where we are currently. Any questions or comments please do get in touch.

Local roadworks

Notification from Highways England.

A34 Abingdon, Oxfordshire: resurfacing
Work to improve road user’s journeys along the A34 southbound continues this week. The A34 southbound carriageway will be closed from the Hinksey Hill junction to the Milton Interchange overnight, between 10pm and 6am, from Thursday 6 July for 3 nights (Monday to Friday only). A clearly signed diversion will be in place via the Botley Interchange, A420, A338 and A417.

A34 Marcham to Hinksey Hill, Oxfordshire: barrier repairs
Work to improve safety by carrying out repairs to the barrier finishes this week. The northbound carriageway between Marcham interchange and Hinksey Hill will be closed overnight, between 10pm and 6am, until Friday 7 July. A clearly signed diversion route will be in place via Colwell Drive, Dunmore Road and Oxford Road to the A34 Hinksey Hill junction.

A34 Oxford, Oxfordshire: street lighting
Work to improve safety by maintaining the street lighting around the A44 Peartree Interchange takes place this week. Lane closures will be in place on the roundabout, and the north and southbound entry slip roads will be closed overnight, between 10pm and 6am, on Wednesday 5 July. Clearly signed diversions will be in place via the adjacent junctions.

My comments for 54 Hurst Rise Road

I’ve submitted my comments for 54 Hurst Rise Rd.

I called in this application to committee in January 2017. So now I’ve submitted the list of issues that I think need a satisfactory condition or mitigation or change to the plans. You can see the doc in my dropbox folder here:

Speed limits on southern ring road to change

Oxfordshire County Council consulted in spring 2017 on proposed changes to speed limits on the southern ring road and some streets nearby. This public consultation had four responses.

The consultation report is here:  

The meeting is today 29 June 17. (Update 1 Jul 17; this was approved on the 29th June.)

The Cabinet Member for the Environment is RECOMMENDED to approve the proposal for a 50mph speed limit on the A423 Oxford Southern bypass as advertised, but with a further consultation being carried out on revised proposals for the linking roads as set out in paragraph 10 of this report.

This excludes any changes to speed limits in Hinksey Hill and Boars Hill recently under discussion.



Planning applications currently under call-in

Last summer, Vale made some changes to the way planning applications are managed.

The problem being addressed was planning committee had too many meetings, which were too long (continuing WAY too late), and which had too many small and pretty straightforward applications that they were being asked to determine. Officer time to prepare a report for committee is expensive, and councillors looked at ways to trim costs without sacrificing democratic process and opportunity to object.

The changes were, essentially:

  1. Put a 150 minute limit on planning committee meetings. They could be extended by 30 more minutes under some circumstances and via a vote by all members.
  2. Major applications automatically go to committee if the parish or town council opinion differs from the planning officer’s recommendation.
  3. Other applications must be called in to committee by the district councillors. In exceptional circumstances, one of the planning managers can call one in.

There’s a call-in deadline 28 days after an application is registered at Vale.

Here are the applications I have called in, and the call-in date, which have yet to come to Planning Committee.

  • 54 Hurst Rise Rd. 8 Jan 2017
  • land adjacent to 16 Yarnells Rd. 23 Feb 2017
  • 1 Maple Close. 10 Mar 2017
  • Red Copse Boars Hill (V0918). 1 May 2017
  • 8 Elms Road. 15 Jun 2017

If you ever have questions about a planning application, be sure to contact me well before the 28 day deadline. After that, it’s difficult to do anything constructive.



Info about Biffa Today

Councillors had this message from officers today:

We have had a large number of waste collection vehicle breakdowns in both districts today, which means Biffa’s crews are behind on their collections.

Our advice to residents is to leave their bins out tomorrow if we haven’t emptied them today. If any collections are disrupted tomorrow or later in the week due to these breakdowns, our advice will be for residents to leave their bins out the following day. 

Biffa are due to get a brand new fleet of vehicles later in the year, which will mean significantly fewer issues related to vehicle breakdowns.