Neighbourhood Plan is a success says annual report

Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan has been described as having “real clout” after its first annual report shows a successful record in 2019/20.

Steeple Aston Parish Councillor Martin Lipson, who is Chair of the MCNP Forum, writes in the report that some Neighbourhood Plans in Oxfordshire are having trouble getting their policies recognised. He says we are fortunate that in Cherwell we appear – so far – to have planning officers who, although hard-pressed, have been largely diligent and amenable to the role of Neighbourhood Plans.

This observation is born out by the MCNP’s ‘success rate’. Outcomes that aligned with their policies in those that were analysed above was 89 per cent The Forum members have been kept busy though, as every member parish had at least one planning application to which the MCNP Forum submitted comments.

The report will be considered by the 11 local parish councils covered by the plan. Duns Tew Parish Council has already examined it and they liked what they saw. They said “The MCNP Annual Report was on our Agenda at the PC meeting last night and the feedback was: ‘A commendably brief annual review that shows that the MCNP has real clout’. The parish councillors also asked to pass on their thanks and appreciation for all the hard work you do.”

More information can be found in the full report.

Red Lion closed, but others offer takeaway

Steeple Aston’s Red Lion pub has stopped doing takeaways and will be closed until March. When they re-open they are promising will have some new takeaways dishes to add to existing menu.

There are some other pubs in nearby villages offering a takeaway service. They include:

The Horse and Groom, Caulcott – Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday lunch

The Cinnamon Stick, Middle Barton – every evening 5.00 – 8.00pm

The Red Lion, Deddington    – Thursday to Saturday 5.00 – 8.00pm

The White Horse, Duns Tew – Wednesday to Saturday 6.00- 8.30pm

And on Wednesdays. Howe & Co 66 Frankly Fish and Chips go through Duns Tew, North Aston and Middle Aston, arriving in Steeple Aston around 6.20pm. Their van is called Van99, and you can track their route from their Facebook page live on the night. You can pre-order by phone or email, or just order at the van. Menus and other details are on their Facebook page.

Appeal lodged against refusal of Beeches plan

Adrian Shooter, the owner of the The Beeches in Heyford Road, Steeple Aston, has lodged an appeal against the refusal of planning permission to build houses on the site.

The appeal is for the building of up to eight dwellings on the site, down from the 10 which were refused most recently. Three previous applications, which were refused or withdrawn had been for eight homes.

It is thought that the number was increased to 10 to ensure that the application was considered by committee rather than being delegated to an officer. However, in November last year, Cherwell District Council’s Planning Committee voted to accept their planning officer’s recommendation to reject the application.

The officer’s report stated that: “The proposed development would not make effective and efficient use of land and would significantly encroach into the countryside beyond the built-up limits of Steeple Aston; contrary to the housing strategy of the Development Plan for the area, for which it has not been demonstrated that there is a justified need. In its proposed location the development would therefore be an unjustified and unsustainable form of development.”

Steeple Aston Parish Council had decided by a majority not to object to the application. However, the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum had several objections. 

In their appeal, Framptons Town Planning, on behalf of Mr Shooter asked for the application to go to a public inquiry. They wrote: “It is considered that there is a material difference in planning judgement between ourselves and the planning officer. This material difference, in our view, relates to a proper interpretation of policy. It is an error of law to not interpret policy properly.

“In consideration of this view, it is considered that the best way to test the interpretation of policy is through a Public Inquiry and cross examination of the relevant criteria attached to policy.”

The Planning Inspectorate have refused this request, so the appeal will be conducted through a written procedure, though an Inspector will visit the site. There will be an opportunity for those who were consulted on the original application to make further comments. The deadline is 11th February.

Framptons argue that “the proposal is one that clearly should be permitted. It comprises in a modest and appropriate scale of development, on previously developed land.”

They say that the planning authority” has failed to have proper regard not only to the terms of the application but a proper interpretation and application of policy and which has led to the refusal of a sustainable development which would make efficient use of brownfield land.”

A decision on the appeal is expected in March. Details of the original application and the appeal can be found on Cherwell District Council’s website


COVID -19 vaccination programme starts at Chippie

From Deddington Health Centre:

The North Oxfordshire Rural Alliance (NORA), which includes Deddington Health Centre, will begin their COVID-19 vaccination programme the week commencing the 14th December 2020.

Due to the size of the building and the space it can offer, Chipping Norton Health Centre is the NHS designated site for the COVID-19 vaccination clinic and all patients registered with one of the NORA practices, including Deddington Health Centre, will be required to attend Chipping Norton Health Centre to receive their vaccination.

Your practice will contact you when it is time for you to receive your COVID-19 vaccination.

For more information go to the health centre’s website.

Graham Porcas resigns, so new councillor needed

Notice from the Parish Council

Graham Porcas has announced his resignation from the Parish Council. The Parish Council would like to thank Graham for the hard work he has put in as a councillor. He has liaised tirelessly with the Highways Department, effecting significant improvements along The Beeches and Northside. He has kept a watchful eye on the playground, maintaining the equipment in good working order and sorting out many minor repairs. The great improvement in the speed of pothole repairs in the village is entirely due to Graham’s efforts as a FixMyStreet Super User; and we are hopeful that he will continue in that role even though he is stepping down from the council. We are extremely appreciative of his contribution to the work of the Parish Council, and wish him well as he leaves to devote time to his other activities.

As a result of Graham’s departure, the Parish Council is seeking to fill the vacancy. If you are interested, please contact the Parish Clerk, Cathy Fleet, on 01869 347000 or 07989 398838, or at

Heyford Park expansion approved, but bus gate on hold

The Heyford Park Masterplan which will bring over 1,000 homes and 1,500 jobs to the area has been approved by Cherwell District Council’s Planning Committee.
But the approval is subject to a number of conditions and a legal agreement with the developer, which means the proposed bus gate on the road between Steeple Aston and Middleton Stoney will be put on hold for at least two years.
The plan for the bus gate faced strong opposition from county and district councillors. Nearly all the parish councils and meetings around Heyford Park submitted strong views to the committee about the undesirable impact of the proposed bus gate on surrounding villages and country lanes, co-ordinated to an extent by the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum.
Now it has been agreed that a working group will be set up to monitor traffic flows in the neighbourhood and to investigate options to the bus gate. It is thought that one of the effects of the coronavirus epidemic will be to reduce traffic flow as fewer people will commute daily to work. The working group will consist of representatives of Oxfordshire County Council, Cherwell District Council and local parishes including the MCNP Forum. It is expected to take at least two years to reach its conclusions.
The bus gate proposal is part of a Travel Plan for the area aimed at encouraging the use of public transport and cycling from Heyford Park agreed by the developers with Oxfordshire County Council’s Highways Department.
The gate was to be placed across the road about half a mile before the Middleton Stoney crossroads at the sharp bend where the road to Heyford Park joins the B4030.Buses, bikes and local residents would be allowed through. But car drivers would either have to find a different route to Bicester and the M40 or be diverted onto to a round about route that will add two and a half miles to their journey with two additional new sets of traffic lights.

As the diagram above shows, drivers coming from Steeple Aston will have to turn left at the bus gate diverting towards Heyford Park. There will be new traffic lights at the junction with Camp Road, where they will turn right. Then they will turn right again at another new set of traffic lights on to the B430 towards Middleton Stoney.

The red line on the diagram shows a relief road which would have solved the problem, but that has been rejected.

The developers believe that the bus gate will improve the travel time and reliability for buses between Heyford Park and Bicester and will encourage cycling..

Steeple Aston Parish Council wasn’t consulted about the bus gate as traffic would not diverted through the village. No consideration seems to have been given to the impact on drivers from Steeple and Middle Aston who need to travel to Bicester and beyond along the route.

Other villages that expect to see an increase in traffic as a result of the bus gate have been offered some payments in mitigation.

You can see the details of the application and the comments on it on Cherwell District Council’s website ref number 18/00825/HYBRID. You can also watch Planning Committee meetings during and after they happen on the council’s website.


Middle Aston House opens its doors to local residents 

Angela Smith reports:

Up until now, Middle Aston House has been somewhat of an enigma, with few locals really knowing what goes on beyond the driveway gate. But that’s all about to change thanks to new General Manager Mick Earle, who hopes to open up Middle Aston House and make it more welcoming to local residents.

Following a 1000-year history as a manor house, as well as being owned by a number of businesses, Middle Aston House is now a privately owned meeting, functions, and wedding venue. Over the past few years it has started to open its doors to more leisure guests, who can make use of its 55 rooms. As Mick says, this has certainly brought more children and dogs to the lakeside, especially during the weekends.

Mick’s hopes for the future of the house can be split into four “pillars,” as he calls them, each distinct yet interwoven: corporate guests, who come here from all over the UK and Europe for conferences and training; leisure guests, who mainly use the house as a base to visit Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds; guests who come for the health and wellbeing classes held in the Tudor barn (which includes Thursday yoga sessions); and last but not least, the house’s relationship with the local community.

Mick says “It may not always seem so, but we do have an open door policy and we’re very happy to support the local villages. We have recently launched a bar menu which is open to non-residents on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening and this will be followed shortly by ‘Coffee and Cake’.”

Mick, a huge fan of the great outdoors, also hopes to take advantage of the lovely grounds and offer local residents the chance to walk their dogs here, or perhaps come for a picnic – and he’s open to further suggestions.

Inside the house are a number of meeting rooms, which are all spacious and bright, and offer fabulous views of the lake and the grounds. Mick welcomes any local groups, clubs and associations who wish to use them, although you’ll need to book in advance.

Mick and the Middle Aston House team greatly look forward to seeing more of Steeple and Middle Aston’s residents enjoying the house and gardens for years to come.

Contact details and more information about the facilities on offer are on the Middle Aston House website.

A longer article by Angela describing the history of the house as well as current activities can be found in November’s edition of Steeple Aston Life.

Dr Radcliffe’s School Foundation consults on a new constitution

Kate Tomlinson, Chair of the Dr Radcliffe’s School Foundation writes:

Dr Radcliffe’s School Foundation promotes the education (including social and physical training) of children and young persons under the age of 25 years who are either resident in the Parish of Steeple Aston or Middle Aston, and have attended the Dr Radcliffe’s Church of England Primary School for at least two years and who are in need of financial assistance, as well as subsidiary objects.

The Foundation is currently governed by three Charity Commission Schemes and Minister’s Orders dated:  3 May 19562 August 1982; and 1 June 2017, (together the “Scheme”).  These documents are available, with the proposed new constitution from this web page.

The trustees of the Foundation wish to replace the Scheme with a new constitution. Prior to making an application to the Charity Commission the Trustees wish to undertake a consultation process with its stakeholders in relation to the adoption of the New Constitution.  The Trustees are contacting stakeholders directly but we also wanted to provide information to the Village community.

The proposed changes are summarised below.  If you would like to provide feedback to the Trustees please download the feedback form provided and then either return electronically to or by post to Nigel Roots, Freeths LLP, 5000 Oxford Business Park South, Oxford OX4 2BH.  Please return the form by 31 January 2021.

Your feedback is important as it will enable the Trustees to demonstrate to the Charity Commission that a consultation exercise was undertaken, and that the Trustees considered the views of the a range of stakeholders. 

Changes proposed

By adopting a New Constitution, the trustees can reflect current working practices (for example, email as an acceptable form of communication and acknowledging the possibility of virtual Trustee meetings) and ensure we are following best practice.  The key changes that are proposed relate to the Objects and the appointment of trustees. 

Proposed Objects of the Foundation

When reviewing the Objects of the Foundation, the trustees were mindful of the original aims of the Foundation as articulated in the 1956 and 1982 schemes.

Historically the beneficiaries of the Foundation have been young people resident in the parishes of Steeple and Middle Aston, or young people who attended Dr Radcliffe’s School for two years.  The Trustees do not propose any change to the definition of the beneficiaries. 

In considering the support of children and young people, the Trustees considered different stages of education.  The proposed Objects of the Foundation support:

  • Dr Radcliffe’s School
  • providing funds to assist the secondary, further, higher, technical or professional education, training or apprenticeship
  • Steeple Aston Pre-school

In addition the proposed Objects allow the Trustees to support charitable purposes in Steeple and Middle Aston, and to support Dr Radcliffe’s Almshouses.

Proposed changes to appointment of Trustees

The original Scheme required the appointment of 12 Trustees as follows: 

ONE Ex-officio Trustee, being the Rector for the time being of Steeple Aston;

ELEVEN Representative Trustees, to be appointed

  • Two by the Principal and Fellows of Brasenose College, Oxford;
  • Two by the Rector and Churchwardens of Steeple Aston ;
  • Two by the Steeple Aston Parochial Church Council;
  • Two by the Steeple Aston Parish Council;
  • Two by the Oxfordshire County Council as Local Education Authority;
  • One by the Oxford Diocesan Council of Education.

Having reviewed the work of the Foundation, the Trustees believe that a body of 10 Trustees is a more appropriate size.

The Trustees propose that a proportion (four of ten) of the Trustees are appointed by the Foundation on the basis of skills and experience.  The skills and experience that the Trustees consider important are:

  • the skills required for the effective management of the Foundation;
  • local knowledge and connections to the Parishes of Steeple and Middle Aston; and
  • connections with the School and education

The Trustees propose that in addition to the Rector of Steeple Aston, the chair of Governors of Dr Radcliffe’s School, Steeple Aston is appointed ex-officio.

A further 4 Trustees are to be appointed by appointing bodies.  To reduce the number of trustees, it was necessary to reduce the number of appointing bodies.

The status of Dr Radcliffe’s School is that of an academy and it is part of the Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust.  The Trustees therefore do not consider the Local Education Authority an appropriate appointing body and propose that the Trustee nominated by Oxfordshire County Council as LEA no longer exists. 

The Trustees recognise the historic link between Dr Radcliffe and Brasenose College, Oxford, however Brasenose College has no involvement in Steeple Aston or the running of the Foundation and so the Trustees propose removing Brasenose College as an appointing body. 

The proposed appointing bodies are therefore Steeple Aston PCC, the Rector and Churchwardens, Steeple Aston PC and the Oxford Diocesan Board of Education.


The Parish Council is looking ahead

Much of the future is still uncertain. The second wave of Covid is now here; the rules will undoubtedly change again; and further restrictions are possible.

However, please be certain that your Parish Council is still here to help over the coming months. If there is another lockdown or you have to self-isolate, if you need someone to do some shopping or collect a prescription, the Parish Council can help. If you need assistance, call Cathy Fleet (01869 347000 or 0798 939 8838) or Richard MacAndrew (01869 347209).

Also, S and J are still providing tasty affordable meals delivered to your door. If you want to sign up again, or maybe try them for the first time, call Charlotte Bartlett (01869 347347) for more details.

Steeple Aston Parish Council



Prescriptions from Deddington Health Centre

Changes to contact details from Monday, 20th July

  • If you used to collect your prescription from the shop, but for the last two months it has been delivered to your door by Anna Thatcher, the system remains exactly the same. However, your medication will now be delivered to you by Penny Cummins. If you need to contact Penny, you can reach her on 01869 349155 or 0770 325 8009 or at
  • If you used to collect your prescription from Deddington Health Centre, but for the last two months have been contacting Katie Crawshay and asking her to collect it for you, you now need to contact Linda Watkins. You can reach Linda on 0779 881 4171 or at
  • If you have a new or urgent prescription that you need collecting, the system remains exactly the same as before. Call Richard MacAndrew on 01869 347209 or email

Steeple Aston Parish Council