Revised Southside housing plan submitted for approval

Marti Lipson is a Steeple Aston parish councillor and Chair of the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum. He reports on the latest stage in the long-running saga of  the the attempts by a property developer to build houses on Southside. 
He writes: “Rectory Homes has now resubmitted its application to build ten houses on the site opposite the Red Lion car park (19/02948/F). The parish council will be considering its views initially at its January meeting, and will decide whether another meeting to discuss the scheme in public is needed before the deadline for comments on February 13th.
“The scheme has been revised in a number of respects, the most important of which perhaps is the detail of the proposed footpath and traffic-calming arrangement. The documents on the CDC website now include an independent Safety Audit which has been conducted on these proposals, which resulted in numerous recommendations for improvements. The document shows that the details of the footpath and traffic scheme have been amended in line with most of the recommendations. The applicants clearly hope that this thorough and transparent process will convince doubters that the scheme will be as safe as it can be made. It will certainly be safer than it is at present, they claim.
“The design of the houses themselves has also gone through something of a rethink, particularly in the choice and use of more appropriate materials, and responding to many of the criticisms made by the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum in its comments on the previous version of the scheme. The new application also shows the extent to which the new houses will be seen from a distance.

“Whatever is the outcome of the application, Rectory Homes should be given credit for listening and responding to local views – something that not all developers are prepared to do.”

The planners are expected to make a decision on this application by 9th April. The revised application along with associated documents and comments by members of the public and others can be seen on Cherwell District Council’s website. 

Carl’s poem is a market winner

Steeple Aston’s Carl Tomlinson has won a competition with his poem about the Covered Market in Oxford. He performed his poetry live in the market along with the other winners. And he will soon be recording it to become part of an audio installation in the market.

The Shout Out for the Covered Market competition was run by Oxford City Council. The brief was to write a piece of spoken-word, poetry or music that tells a story of Oxford Covered Market. It could be your experiences visiting the market over your lifetime, a fictional story set within the market, or a description of the sights and smells of the market today

To enter, competitors were asked to record their piece – either on a mobile phone or on a computer – and send the audio to Oxford City Council using Facebook Messenger or Instagram Direct.

There were four age categories. Carl came top of the adult category for over 25s, winning a prize of £150 in the form of vouchers to spend in a participating Covered Market shop of his choice.

Competition entries were judged by a panel including Barney Norris, the award-winning playwright, poet and essayist, He is an Associate Artist at Oxford Playhouse and the Martin Esslin Playwright in Residence at Keble College.

In total, 34 people entered the competition, sharing personal memories, vivid poetry and songs about the 18th century market.

The winners performed their work, alongside Barney Norris, at a recital in the Covered Market. Their work will also be installed in a new listening post in the market.

See the video of Carl reading his winning poem here.

 Special kind of Advent Calendar on show in the church

boxes in churchThis year members of the congregation at Steeple Aston and their friends have been busy making a rather special new kind of village Advent Calendar.

The individuals and groups who volunteered to take part were each given a packing box donated by a local removal company and a bible reading from the Christmas story. They were asked to fill their box with appropriate decorations to illustrate the reading.

The boxes were covered and each given a number so they could be opened on the appropriate day in the run up to Christmas..

Among those taking part were children at Dr Radcliffe’s school, the Churchwardens, the Children’s Church, the WI, the PCC, the Cricket Club, Bev Davies, Shirley Palmer, the Toddler Group, Sustainable Steeple, the Brownies, Katerina Vernicos, the Shaylers, the Birds, Christopher Compston and the Steeple Aston Choral Society. The village Bellringers even made a box with its own sound effects.

You can see the boxes at the back of the church, which is open every day, or you can view them on the church website.

Council wants your input on mobile phone reception

The Parish Council have been in touch with mobile phone companies recently in an effort to get an improved service in the village. The companies insist that reception in the village is fine.

We feel that one way of assessing whether this is true or not would be to gather information from people living in different parts of the village to see what the situation really is. If you would like to add to our data collection, please email the Parish Clerk, Cathy Fleet,  ( or call her on 01869 347000 with the following information:


Mobile phone company: 


An example response would be:

Address: My House, Northside

Mobile phone company: EE

Reception: weak intermittent reception in my garden; weak reception upstairs; no reception downstairs.

Thank you.

The Parish Council

A new editor required for SAL – again!

The search is on for a new editor for the village magazine, Steeple Aston Life, after Heather Sherkunov announced she is leaving the village before the end of the year.

Heather and her husband Yury came to Steeple Aston from Blackpool in September 2018. She took over the editorship of SAL from Cathy Lawday in May of this year. The couple were hoping to settle in the village and buy a house here, but this hasn’t proved possible.

Heather says in her forthcoming SAL editorial: “I’m leaving the village for pastures new. It is with a heavy heart that we’re leaving and we hope to return one day because we love it here. I also love editing this magazine and would highly recommend it as a fantastic way to meet people in the village.”

It’s clearly not possible for Heather to continue editing the magazine if she doesn’t live here, so the SAL committee are searching urgently for a replacement. If you’re interested in having a go, please contact Heather for more information about the role, or any member of the SAL committee.

The advertisement below describes the role.

Become the Editor of Steeple Aston Life Magazine

Are you looking for a new interest? Would you like to be more involved with village life?

SAL is looking for a person, or a team of people, to edit the award winning magazine.

The voluntary job involves:

  • Writing/compiling articles
  • Working with the designers on content
  • Managing articles and photos which are sent in
  • Liaising with the advertising manager
  • Page planning
  • Taking photos, if you wish, to go with the copy
  • Proofreading

The job does not involve preparing layouts, dealing with advertisers, issuing invoices, distribution and delivery as members of the committee handle these areas.

If you would like more information, please contact Heather Sherkunov, on

Local lad takes over our local pub!

Aidan behind the barLocal boy Aidan Madden has just started work as the new landlord of the Red Lion. He has taken on the tenancy following the departure of Mel and Sarah Phipps after 14 years at the helm.

It will be a family affair with Aidan’s brother Kegan helping out when he’s home from duties in the Royal Navy. The boys’ parents Kathy and Colum are also assisting with lots of practical help and business support.

The family come from Middle Aston and have been visiting the pub for many years. In fact Kegan worked behind the bar for a while. They know lots of local people, not least because Aidan and his brother went to Dr Radcliffe’s School and then The Warriner.

Aidan studied jewellery design at university, and hopes to continue with this when time allows. But he has always worked in kitchens, including in the coffee shop at Blenheim Palace and most recently as a chef at the Three Pigeons in Banbury.

He says that when they saw the tenancy was becoming available from the owners Hook Norton Brewery he and his brother both thought “Let’s go for it!”

They plan to brighten the pub up with a lick of paint, possibly updating the toilets and making more use of the small room on the right of the entrance. They will continue to offer pizza to eat in and take away. There will be main courses on offer during the day, and small plates available later in to the evening in the bar. The aim is to have a reasonably limited menu with seasonal changes and using local produce.

Aidan will have help with the cooking from Josh Tollet from Banbury, and members of staff who worked with Mel and Sarah are staying on.

One of the first investments made by the new team is an up to date coffee machine. The hope is to attract more customers during the day for tea and coffee as there is no café in the village.

There will be an open evening on Saturday, 9th November when free snacks will be on offer from 6.00pm until late. Then food service proper will start with Sunday lunch the following day. More details about menus and opening hours will be available soon


The Beeches planning application refused

Cherwell District Council has refused planning permission for the building of up to eight houses at The Beeches on Heyford Road, Steeple Aston.

The council’s case officer who recommended the refusal judged that “the proposals represent an inappropriate form of development beyond the built-up limits of the village, for which no essential or identified need has been demonstrated.”

This was the second time that the owner of The Beeches, Adrian Shooter, had applied to develop the plot where he currently lives. The first time the application was withdrawn following objections from Steeple Aston Parish Council and several others.

This time, the parish council decided by a majority not to object to the revised plans. However, Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Forum still had several objections and said the plan should be refused.

The district council give two reasons for the refusal, both on the basis that the proposals are contrary to the Cherwell Local Plan and government guidance contained in the National Planning Policy Framework.

The first is that: “The proposed development represents new housing that 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. “

The second reason is that: “The proposed development represents inappropriate ‘back-land’ development that would fail to relate well to the pattern of development in the area and would appear as an intrusion of built form into the countryside, detracting from the rural character and quality of the area the setting of the village.”

Mr Shooter has six months to decide whether to appeal the decision.

The detailed report, which explains the reasons for the refusal, and all other associated documents can be found here on Cherwell District Council’s website