Extra garden waste collections

Residents in Vale who are signed up for brown bin collections can put out twice as much garden waste during one week this month.

Vale of White Horse district council is giving those who are part of the paid-for service the opportunity to put out the equivalent of one extra bin’s worth of garden waste (around three large bin bags) during the week commencing 16 October 

Residents should leave their extra garden waste out in bin liners or sacks beside their brown bins on their usual collection day during these weeks. Trade waste bags cannot be accepted.

Cllr Charlotte Dickson, cabinet member for waste at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “With the autumn leaves falling, it’s a good time to give residents this extra service and we hope they find it helpful. It’s a perfect opportunity to get their gardens ready for winter.”

Mace / West Way meeting 24 Aug 17

On the 24th of Aug I had a meeting with Mace and their representatives, the Vale of White Horse DC planning officer Stuart Walker, and our County Councillor Judy Roberts.

Here’s my update (numbered for ease of reference; no particular order):

  1. There is a holding objection on the planning application P17/1507/FUL (this is the temporary change of use application). County do not want to see a full access created (by the former Andrews Dry Cleaners); they claim it would impede traffic on West Way. This is the issue now holding up progress.
  2. Amendments to the application are expected by 4th Sept, which will satisfy the County’s holding objection, and also some of the safety concerns expressed by cyclists.
  3. Once the amendments are received by Vale planners, a two week consultation will begin, anticipated to be from the 4th of Sept. There will be no extension to this consultation, so please put it in your diaries and plan for it now.
  4. It’s anticipated the application will come to Planning Committee in October.
  5. During the demolition of the southern end of the Grant Thorton building and Seacourt Hall, Chapel Way will remain open. Mace are committed to keeping the Co-op trading. That means we’ll be able to access the Co-op parking and Elms Parade in the usual way.
  6. Here’s an overview of the order of demolition and re-fit of the buildings for temporary change of use:
    1. Demolition will begin with ensuring the two building are separate. Seacourt Hall and Grant Thornton (GT).
    2. The southern end of GT will be knocked down. At the same time, re-fit of Elms Court building will commence.
    3. The remaining GT building will be re-purposed for the temporary occupiers.
    4. Community users will be relocated to new premises in GT.
    5. Seacourt Hall will be knocked down.
  7. It will take 2-3 months to get the temporary shops ready for occupancy, so it’s expected this will be just after the Christmas holidays.

That’s all to report really. If you have a specific question, please do feel free to get in touch with me.

In the meantime, we can all help ease the pain by shopping as often as possible in the Elms Parade shops. We want them all to flourish.






North Of Abingdon: a Planning Committee Event

Last night (26 July 2017) at Vale planning committee meeting, those of us speaking up for residents came away mostly empty handed. Note please that it was the Lib Dem councillors and the Lib Dem MP who spoke up for residents’ concerns.

I think it was a bad decision not to insist on mitigation for the harm caused by this development.

– 950 homes plus 80 bed care home, when the Local Plan thought 800 would be appropriate.

– No requirement that the Lodge Hill slip roads be completed before houses are built or occupied (we wanted the former but would have settled for the latter)

– No 2 form school to save the money when inevitably the school must be expanded from 1.5 form.

– No CIL on this development, so parishes won’t get their 15% of CIL charges.

– Officers had nothing to say at all about the effect of a few more thousand cars on the already over-capacity A34. OCC basically said, ‘That’s not our job, and Highways England has not objected.’ If they haven’t objected, then WHO is responsible for fixing the appalling over-capacity problem in Vale on A34? We’ve heard for years that this is the main obstacle to employment challenges (companies won’t come here and recruiting is difficult with gridlock on the A34).

The mics didn’t work so we couldn’t hear a lot of what was being said. One resident went into a shouty meltdown and had to be evicted from the meeting. That’s always upsetting for everyone. One committee member was confused about the rules and stood down from the committee even though he didn’t speak for or against the application. One Tory councillor took his speaking opportunity to praise the previous MP. It would have been funny if it hadn’t affected a serious planning decision.

Small gains: a requirement for a well designed cycle link to Radley station; Radley Lakes may get a contribution – there was agreement to go back to the negotiating table for this; there’s a condition to monitor air quality at the most congested junctions (presumably those not already inside the AQMA).

Everyone, EVERYONE who spoke and voted FOR, had drunk the kool-ade and believed that this time, this THIRD time, the promise of funding for the south slips is true. OCC even committed to forward funding it. (I thought County had no money, so not so sure how that works.)

I’m disappointed that the officers promoted something against advice of our Env Protection team, and also contrary to our Local Plan.

So, we lost. Now on to the next thing: tonight’s Scrutiny meeting will look at Vale’s Corporate Plan, a Joint Housing Strategy, and a Temporary Accommodation Strategy (it’s the accommodation that’s temporary, not the strategy.)

I have a holiday coming in 31 days (according to the handy countdown timer on my iphone).

Wishing everyone well. Debby

Poor service from Biffa

Here is my letter today to the officer managing the waste and recycling, and to the Cabinet Member responsible for the service, Cllr Charlotte Dickson. 

Dear (officer),

Sadly this waste and recycling service from Biffa has become reliable. Reliably bad. 
Many roads were missed today in Elms Rise Botley. My road is Sycamore Road OX2 9EJ. Residents from Cedar Road OX2 9E have contacted me to complain as well 

Consider this another complaint. 
Something like 4 of the last 5 weeks we’ve had a missed service. There has never, in my experience, been a textiles pick up at all.
Please can you tell me the financial penalties to the contractor for such poor service week after week? 

We are annoyed. It’s an expensive contract. 



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: www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/waste 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 grants@southandvale.gov.uk.

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

For more information on both schemes, please visit www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/grants.

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: http://cllrdebbyhallett.com/2017/06/27/west-way-call-in/

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: https://www.dropbox.com/s/mtahf7n5499g7ie/54%20Hurst%20Rise%20Road%201%20July%202017%20Comments%20and%20ccancel%20call-in.pdf?dl=0