ONE new council for the whole of Oxfordshire?
Have your say
Oxfordshire County Council wants to know what you think about its draft proposal to abolish all six councils in Oxfordshire and replace them with one new council for the whole county, called a 'unitary' council.
Central government is changing the way councils are funded, and councils will soon have to pay for services mainly from council tax and business rates. Unless local government is reorganised, Oxfordshire councils will not be able to pay for vital public services for local communities and vulnerable people as the population increases and gets older.
Oxfordshire currently has a two-tier local government – a county council plus five district and city councils. Oxfordshire County Council thinks that all of Oxfordshire's six councils should be abolished and replaced with one new unitary council which would save £20m each year – money that would pay for better services and keep council tax low. That money would be enough to fill over 300,000 potholes or provide 1 million hours of home care.
The new council would be simpler for residents and businesses, with one website and one point of contact.
One councillor would represent your community and be accountable for all services. As members of an 'area board' serving the existing district or city areas, each councillor would take decisions affecting their community and also the county as a whole.
Environmental services such as street cleaning, countryside services and grounds maintenance would be properly joined up and managed locally to respond to community needs.
Bringing together social services, housing, leisure and welfare benefits would mean joined-up support for people who need extra help, improving health and wellbeing. And joining-up planning, housing, jobs and transport would mean Oxfordshire's housing shortage can be addressed, along with investment in vital infrastructure such as roads.
Without changing local government in Oxfordshire, further service cuts may be needed. The government is reducing funding and a unitary council is more financially sustainable in the long term.
Oxfordshire County Council believes a new council for the whole county makes most sense. Simpler – Better services – More local – Lower cost That's what 'One Oxfordshire' means.
Oxfordshire County Council wants to hear from residents, before finalising the proposal and sending it to the government for a decision. Deadline 28 February 2017.
To find out more and have your say, go to www.oneoxfordshire.org.
Proposed new housing development
An outline planning application has been submitted to SODC by Gladmans in the parish of Eye and Dunsden. The site borders Kidmore End Parish and Reading, at Emmer Green. The application is looking to put 245 houses on the site and it is not popular with Eye and Dunsden Parish Council and other local SODC councils, or the residents of Emmer Green.
Representatives from the local parish councils and Emmer Green and Caversham residents' associations have met and formed CAGE - Campaign Against Gladman in Eye and Dunsden. You may have seen a report about CAGE in the Henley Standard. More information can be found at www.cagedunsden.org, www.cagedunsden.org/blog and www.facebook.com/cagedunsden.
The Parish Council has recommended that the District Council refuse the application, because:
- the development is believed to be contrary to the present South Oxfordshire Local Plan, which does not contemplate development in the area in question;
- there are no significant employment opportunities in southern South Oxfordshire warranting such housing development;
- this will represent an incursion of suburbia into ancient open countryside, in an area adjacent to the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty;
- the development will take out of production a number of fields actively used for raising grain and other food crops;
- the demands of c250 additional households will swamp the already stretched public sector infrastructure, eg access to education and health services, in southern South Oxfordshire, as the application makes no provision for such services on site;
- the roads serving the proposed development site are inadequate for the likely number of private car journeys arising from the homes;
- the proposed access onto the B481 is on to a length of that road notorious for traffic accidents.
- Reading Borough Council has considered the application and, like the Parish Council, has recommended South Oxfordshire to refuse it.
If this development on ancient countryside is a concern to you, register your views via the CAGE website.
Household waste recycling centres
The Parish Council recently responded to a consultation by Oxfordshire County Council on household waste recycling centres. One question related to closing sites.
Now that the Reading centre, in Island Road, may no longer be used by Oxfordshire residents, it would seem essential that the Oakley Wood centre, at Crowmarsh/Nuffield, remains open. The next available site is situated at Redbridge, Oxford, over 20 miles away.
A local county councillor has suggested that the more residents who write stating that the site should remain open, the more likely it is that this will happen.
If you have concerns about the possible closure of Oakley Wood, please write to the County Council's Cabinet Member for the Environment, at:
Proposed siting of the Heights Free School, Caversham
The Parish Council is aware, albeit only from reports in the print and broadcast media, that the Education Funding Agency (EFA), an arm of central government, has identified a fifth site as a possible permanent location for the Heights Free School, Caversham. This will shortly be the subject of a public consultation, arranged for the EFA by Reading Borough Council. The Parish Council believes the fifth site to be land forming part of Dysons Wood Farm, adjacent to the junction of Tokers Green Lane and Gravel Hill; this land falls within the Parish of Kidmore End.
The matter was discussed by the Council at its meeting on 18 February 2015. The Council decided to ask Reading Borough Council to add it to the list of stakeholders, and extend the consultation to residents of the Parish (it was to have been limited to residents of the Borough), at the very least to include Tokers Green.
Local residents are mounting a campaign to save Farthingsworth Green (an old name for the area). Launched only in the last few weeks, this campaign has received considerable coverage in local media and on the web. The group concerned, whose website is www.savefarthingworthgreen.org, is seeking to protect the site, as are other groups in respect of other potential sites for the school in the Borough.
Should the result of the public consultation lead to the EFA deciding to proceed with the Tokers Green site, it would need to obtain planning permission from South Oxfordshire District Council, and the application would be subject to the usual planning consultation.
The Free School already exists – it opened in September 2014 – in temporary accommodation in lower Caversham.
Update (12 March 2015)
- The location of the fifth site has been officially confirmed.
- Last week, Reading Borough Council agreed to include the whole of the Parish of Kidmore End in the distribution of the consultation letter.
- The Borough Council has opened its Heights Free School consultation website at http://beta.reading.gov.uk/schoolsite.
- A public meeting is planned for 25 March.
Update (21 March 2015)
At its March meeting, Kidmore End Parish Council decided that it will oppose the permanent siting of the School at Farthingworth Green. It will settle the exact terms of its objection at its meeting in April. In the meantime, the letters about the consultation are being delivered in the parish. Unfortunately, they merely refer to Reading and Mapledurham. This is thought to be because they were printed before it was decided to include Kidmore End in the circulation.
Update (24 March 2015)
Reading Borough Council has published an information pack on the site options. You can read and/or download it here.
Update (28 March 2015)
The Parish Council has sent a letter to the Education Funding Agency (EFA), which refers to a motion adopted by the Council relating to the possible site for The Free School at Farthingworth Green. You can read and/or download a copy here.
Please don't forget that the consultation opens on Reading Borough Council's website on Monday 30 March.
Update (30 May 2015)
Reading Borough Council has now completed the collation of all consultation feedback and sent all of that information to the Education Funding Agency (EFA). The consultation results can be viewed at http://beta.reading.gov.uk/schoolsite
Further, the EFA has authorised the following statement:
"The Education Funding Agency will now review the consultation responses as part of its further work to decide which site it will pursue as the permanent site for the Heights Free School. It aims to announce how it will move forward in July."
Update (17 August 2015)
The EFA has reached a decision and will be pursuing Mapledurham Playing Fields for the permanent home of The Heights Primary School.
See the latest news from Reading East MP, Rob Wilson.
Update (January 2016)
These two articles appeared in the Henley Standard:
More information will appear on this website as it becomes available.
South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) – Local Plan 2031 Refined Options
The Parish Council has submitted its response to this development of the SODC's Local Plan. You can see the consultation document itself here, and the Council's response here.
Local Plan 2031
South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) have been consulting on their new Local Plan.
"A new study of housing need in Oxfordshire has indicated that more housing is needed than we've planned for in our current local plan (core strategy). A Local Plan contains policies that are used when determining planning applications, and identify key locations for where major new planned housing developments will take place. We need your involvement to make sure we develop the best Local Plan for our district. We are at the first stage of the plan making process looking at what issues we should address in our plan, which is why your comments are important. The consultation has closed but you can still view the consultation document.
"In 2012 we adopted the South Oxfordshire Core Strategy (our existing local plan), which secured the land needed for 11,487 homes to 2027. In April 2014 a document called the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (or SHMA) was published providing updated housing need figures across Oxfordshire to 2031. The document identified that South Oxfordshire could need up to additional 5,900 homes on top of the number already allocated. This has meant that we have needed to review our existing plan so that it looks ahead to 2031. We will be rolling forward all of the strategic allocations we have made in our adopted core strategy, so please do not send in comments relating to this."
If you would like to look at the Local Plan, you can find the relevant documents on the SODC website.
The Parish Council has completed the consultation form, which you can find here.
Local Transport Plan LTP4
As part of the consultation process, the Parish Council has completed a questionnaire from Oxfordshire County Council on its proposed Local Transport Plan.
You can see the proposals themselves on the OCC website and the Parish Council's completed questionnaire here.
Affordable Housing – report and recommendations of the sub-committee
Click here to read the Report and recommendations of the Affordable Housing Sub-Committee made following the public consultation meeting referred to below.
Affordable Housing – public meeting
A public meeting was held in the new pavilion at Gallowstree Common
at 7.00 for 7.30 pm on Friday 8 July 2011.
Representatives from the Parish Council and the Oxfordshire Rural Community Council (ORCC) explained the proposal to classify a small part of the land adjacent to the present housing in Horsepond Road, Gallowstree Common, as a 'Rural Exception Site' and to build six affordable dwellings on that land.
The Council had already decided that it was in favour of some form of affordable housing in the Parish of Kidmore End and had accepted the findings of the ORCC that there was a need for six dwellings to be occupied by those who qualify because of a connection with the parish.
The purposes of the meeting were:
- to enable parishioners to understand the scope of the proposal
- to examine draft plans for various options on the configuration (see the documents below)
- to ask questions and to put forward views.
|7.00||Opportunity to look at plans and meet councillors|
|7.30||Welcome and introductions|
Chairman of Parish Council
|7.35||Parish Council Affordable Housing Committee member|
|7.40||Anna Kennedy, Rural Housing Enabler, Oxfordshire Rural Community Council|
Parish Council Affordable Housing Committee member
|8.40||Close of meeting and thanks|
Chairman of Parish Council
Affordable Housing – three illustrations
The three possible options
Affordable Housing/Rural Exception Sites
The Housing Needs Survey commissioned by the Oxfordshire Rural Housing Partnership (ORHP) in Summer 2010 confirmed a modest need from those eligible to apply for affordable housing on rural exception sites in the Parish. The Parish Council agrees with and supports this conclusion but did not approve of the use of any part of the glebe land, currently used in part as a market garden, as a rural exception site.
The District Council and the Highways Department of the County Council have also rejected the site at Butlers Orchard. The land owned by the Phillimore estate at Horsepond Road, Gallowstree Common remains available for use as a rural exception site.
The Parish Council is in discussion with the ORHP as to how best to take matters forward so that all interests are fully and properly taken into account, both in respect of the location and type of new housing (no more than a total of six houses is under consideration) and the future interests, opportunities and concerns of the Parish and all its residents.
The Council will secure that everything is managed in an open and transparent manner so that any decision taken by the Council is based on proper consultation. This process includes obtaining from the ORHP in early Spring an outline sketch of the composition of the buildings on the site and access from the highway. The Council would then anticipate a period for public consultation before it takes a decision whether or not to approve the use of that land as a rural exception site.
19/11/2010 (as amended on 16/12/2010)
Affordable Housing – the 'Housing Needs Survey'
In June 2010, the Oxfordshire Rural Community Council (ORCC) distributed to all households in the Parish of Kidmore End a Register of Interest Survey. Only those in need of affordable housing were invited to complete the survey but every resident was given the opportunity to say whether or not they supported the idea of development on the 'Glebe Land'. Replies were requested by 16 July 2010. A report on the results of the survey, prepared by Anna Kennedy, Rural Housing Enabler, Oxfordshire Rural Community Council, was delivered to the Parish Council in September 2010.
Read the ORCC report here.
(Note: this is a large document – nearly 6Mb in size. If you are on a dial-up or slow broadband connection, it may take several minutes to appear.)
The Parish Council's Affordable Housing Sub-Committee then prepared a 'covering report' detailing its views on the ORCC report, which was considered at the Council's meeting on 29 September 2010.
Read the Affordable Housing Sub-Committee's covering report here.
The work of the Parish Council Housing Needs Questionnaire Sub-Committee
At its meeting on 24 March 2010, the Parish Council asked Councillors Biggs, Knapp and Swift to review an earlier provisional Parish Council decision to send out a questionnaire – the Housing Needs Questionnaire (HNQ) – with a covering letter to parishioners. They were asked to report back with recommendations on the next steps to be taken by the Council.
Their interim report, in which they made these recommendations, was considered at the Council's meeting on 21 April 2010.
You can read the KEPC HNQ Sub-Committee (Interim) Report here.
The report refers to, and the councillors reviewed, a number of documents related to the Housing Needs Survey. You can see these KEPC HNS Sub-Committee Report Annexes here. (Note: this is a large document – more than 3Mb in size. If you are on a dial-up or slow broadband connection, please be patient.)
The final report of the sub-committee was submitted on 11 June 2010 for consideration by the Council at its meeting on 23 June 2010.
You can read the KEPC HNQ Sub-Committee (Final) Report here.
All these documents are in PDF (Adobe Acrobat) format.
If you don't already have an Adobe Reader, you can download one here.