News Archive 2018

OCTOBER

Amanda is co-opted on to the Parish Council

Amanda Rodgers was invited to be the seventh member of Steeple Aston Parish Council at its September meeting. The vacancy arose because only six candidates stood for the seven vacancies in the May elections.

Amanda moved to the village two years ago with her husband-to-be Paul. They planned a very special wedding a few months later. It started with the ceremony and dinner in Middle Aston House, followed the next day by their very own “fête” in the Sport and Rec Centre then supper and a ceilidh in the Village Hall. Quite a celebration!

Born and brought up in Derbyshire, Amanda studied law at Durham University before moving to London for work. Her varied work background includes a long period working in recruitment and HR, running a business improvement district in London and leading an anti-radicalisation project.

For the last ten years she and Paul have worked together building a business community in the consumer payments industry. They have moved their office to the village, but spend much time travelling at home and abroad to the 70 events a year they organise as well as other meetings.

Amanda explains that they decided to move to the area and rented for a year in Lower Heyford while looking at a total of 52 properties trying to find their perfect home. They fell in love with Windy Ridge on Paines Hill and see it as their “forever house”. They are about to embark on an extensive refurbishment of the old house and the building of an extension.

Outside work Amanda is keen on F1, but is often found knee-deep in mud at the bottom of a canal. She and Paul are currently working on the restoration of a lock on the Thames and Severn Canal. After a very nasty accident breaking bones in her leg and foot, Amanda is planning her own road to recovery with a sponsored walk next summer along the length of the Oxford Canal to raise money for canal restoration.

A naturally busy person, she finds the more she does, the more energy she has. So taking on the role of parish councillor holds no fears for Amanda. She is passionate about community and wants to ensure that Steeple Aston thrives both now and in the future.

She has plenty of experience to bring to the role, with her community building background, having been a school governor and involved in planning issues before. Her legal experience will be useful with one of her first tasks which is to help review the council’s leases.

But right now, she’s concentrating on the contentious issue of dog poo. She has some experience of this too and hopes to persuade more villagers to do the right thing – bag it and bin it!


Neighbourhood Plan goes for examination

The Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan is currently being scrutinised by the official Examiner He was appointed on October 15th  and has already started work on the plan. His examination is expected to last well into November.

The Neighbourhood Plan Forum has issued the following update: ”Our Examiner has been appointed. MCNP was advised today by Cherwell DC that Mr Richard High has accepted our joint nomination to carry out the Examination of our plan, which will shortly commence. It is expected to take 4- 6 weeks to complete. After a period for checking, the report will be published. We are expecting this to be before December.

“Mr High was the examiner for Cherwell’s first neighbourhood plan at Hook Norton back in 2015, and has conducted 30 examinations of neighbourhood plans across the country, including one comprising of five parishes. He was chosen from a shortlist of suitable and available examiners provided by NPIERS, the national body tasked with the role

“This important stage has been a long time coming. Following submission of our draft Plan documents in April, we were asked to make some adjustments to the supporting documents. The formal submission was made in early May…In mid-June CDC’s formal consultation on the Plan closed, and the representations received were published on their website. These included CDC’s own comments, of which we had been previously advised through a series of meetings over many months. MCNP then produced, as advised by CDC, a “schedule of proposed minor modifications” so that the examiner, once appointed, would be able to seehow we planned to respond to the various comments. This took a few weeks to finalise. Then came the long hot summer, in which not much happened. But finally, we are moving forward again.

The examiner will be looking at a suite of documents which can be found on CDC’s website here.


SEPTEMBER

Richard is elected to chair Parish Council 

Parish Councillor Richard MacAndrew was elected as the new Chair of Steeple Aston Parish Council at its September meeting. Martin Lipson will be his deputy.

Richard replaces Stuart Ferguson who has resigned due to pressure of work. He took over the role at short notice last year when John Coley stood down from the chairmanship on the advice of his doctors. The council thanked Stuart for taking on the job at a difficult time and were grateful for his experience and expertise in sorting things out.

Richard who was elected to the Council last December says: “I see the Parish Council very much as a joint endeavour. During my limited time as a Councillor, I have been greatly impressed by the many and diverse talents of my colleagues. I look forward to working with them over the coming months with a view to enhancing life in the village.”

Richard came to Steeple Aston in 2011 with his wife Cathy Lawday, who is the Editor of Steeple Aston Life.  In the 1970s he trained as a teacher of English as a foreign language and has worked in Finland, Sweden and Malaysia.  After eight years abroad, he returned to the UK, and worked in language schools in London and Oxford, ending up as a member of the Senior Management Team at St Clare’s, Oxford.

Since 1996 he has been a freelance writer, teacher and examiner. He has written a number of books for OUP, CUP and Macmillan. He is now semi-retired,


Proposed Oxbridge link comes close to village

Proposals for the new Oxford to Cambridge Expressway just announced by the Government show the planned route options appearing to come very close to Steeple Aston. Villagers are already expressing concern that plans for extensive development along the route may impact the village.

Announcing the scheme, the Government said, “This expressway will enhance both transport connectivity and growth across the region for the benefit of the UK as a whole….

“…Building the new link close to the east/west rail link will also offer more options for the commercial development of up to 1 million new homes, in line with proposals by the National Infrastructure Commission, and encourage more people to travel by train rather than by cars.”

The plan is for 300.000 of these new homes to be in Oxfordshire.

A full public consultation will be held next year, in which residents and businesses in and around the corridor will have their say on more detailed designs for the route.

The full government announcement can be found here.

Highways England’s booklet about the expressway can be found here.


Villagers must comment soon on Tree Preservation Orders

Residents have the opportunity to comment on two Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) issued by Cherwell District Council. The first is for the land attached to Old Quarry House in Fenway, already the source of some controversy in the village. The second TPO applies to The Planes in Water Lane and has been made as a result of the homeowner’s application to remove and lop several trees.

The District Council says people affected by the orders have the right to make “objections or other representations”. This should be done in writing by 11th October. For details of where to write to etc, please see the links to the orders below.

The first order is a further revision of the TPO issued last year for the Old Quarry site with more detail about exactly which trees are protected. This is as a result of the Parish Council insisting that CDC’s arboriculturalist re-visit the site to ensure that the earlier draft TPO was accurate.

Parish Councillor Martin Lipson comments: “Given that a number of the trees now protected are fairly young and have a long life ahead of them, this represents a clear positive statement from CDC officers regarding the amenity value of the site to the village.”

The Old Quarry House site has continued to be the subject of controversy since the owner John Bowerman died last year. Solicitors for his niece Penny Ferreiro Cives wrote to Steeple Aston Life objecting to an obituary describing the area behind the house as a nature reserve.

Since then the site has been proposed as a designated Local Green Space in the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan, which is currently with Cherwell District Council and waiting to be inspected by an external Examiner.

And in May a developer called Spitfire Homes, which has an option to purchase the land for development, made a presentation to the Parish Council. They suggested that the TPO then proposed would prevent them from developing more than 50 per cent of the site. To councillors’ surprise it was reported that the landowner has agreed that the land covered by the TPOs which is not developable would be gifted to the Parish Council.

The new TPO covers five individual trees and six groups of trees in the area nearer to the house, and the complete area of woodland further away from the building.

The second TPO results from a householder application to remove certain trees and to lop others in Water Lane, which is in the village Conservation Area. The TPO states that it has been made because the work proposed was considered excessive, and to ensure that the amenity value of the trees is maintained. A more moderate amount of work could be carried out. Three trees (a Sycamore, a Holm Oak and a Horse Chestnut) beside Water Lane are specified in the order along with a group of two Beech trees further away from the road.

In both cases, because these Orders deal with trees that have significant amenity value to the village anyone can write to CDC before 11th October, giving their views in support or otherwise. The orders are temporary at the moment but will be made permanent within in six months.

To see the TPO for the Old Quarry site in Fenway, please click here.

To see the TPO for The Planes, Water Lane, please click here.


AUGUST

Rector answers questions about proposed church re-vamp

Following the public meeting where many villagers expressed concern at aspects of the plans for the ‘re-ordering’ of Steeple Aston church, and at the lack of public consultation, the Rector has tried to answer many of the questions and concerns in his blog on the church website. He has also promised more public consultation in future.

At the meeting on July 18th attended by over 40 villagers, there was disappointment that neither the Rector nor members of the Parochial Church council were there to explain their proposals and answer questions. At the Parish Council meeting the following week, some members felt the whole process was rather undemocratic and that there had been a certain lack of communication.

In his blog, Revd Marcus Green writes: “We have been asked all sorts of questions about the proposals for the Building Project in recent weeks. Thank You for all your interest! Please keep it coming!

To try and answer some of these questions, we’ve compiled a list of ‘FAQs’ – Frequently Asked Questions. Do write in if you’d like to ask about anything else!”

The questions (here with abbreviated answers) are:

  1. Why spend so much money on paths and ramps? The PCC has six guiding principles, six values in this Building Project: Access; Better Heating; Room for Children; Providing Loos; Hospitality & Service; Flexible Space. Really, there isn’t much of a hierarchy or order to these six – except that access comes first…….
  2. Why are you turning the Church into a Community Centre? We aren’t!…….. The PCC are simply trying to make the very most of what we have in order to ensure we don’t leave this fantastic place empty most of the week. Hospitality & Service are essential parts of church life.
  3. But why not just use the Village Hall or the Sport & Rec if you want to do something other than Sunday worship? Well… because we have a great building, and it seems such a waste not to use our own place for our own activities…………………..
  4. Why does the Church need loos and heating? It’s always been OK in the past!………. If the young and the elderly are to use a public building, we have to help:………
  5. Why does the Church need space for Children’s Church? Haven’t the children always used the Pre-School? ……….. We haven’t been able to use Pre-School for quite a while because of an insurance issue, but we have used the Samuel Radcliffe room in the school. However – that’s quite a walk when it’s raining or snowing or cold…………..
  6. Why are you putting a kitchen in the Lady Chapel? We aren’t! No-one would let us, and we would never want to. We do want to open this space out so it can be used for different things………..
  7. Why are you taking the famous wooden screen down? We are planning to move the screen to the arch between the lady chapel & the chancel, in such a way that if a future PCC want to move it back – they can………………
  8. Why are you ripping all the beautiful and historic pews out? ….there has been a huge desire to remove all the pews. Not just within the PCC – lots of people in the village have asked for this ….. Early on, however, independent heritage experts told us that both the bench ends and the pews themselves were important, and we needed to work with them. So we listened, and with the independent experts, the Diocesan committee that oversees historic buildings, and with other outside agencies, worked out a compromise…..
  9. Why haven’t the PCC consulted the village? We have! At the start we had a campaign with people filling in cards about what they wanted us to do, we had large open public meeting, and every Easter since then our annual congregation meeting has been advertised as an open meeting so anyone in the village could attend and hear and ask questions and vote about the project. For three years, people have voted with a deafening ‘yes’ to the PCC taking the project forward……
  10. Will there be further consultation? Yes. … When we have worked through the next stage of developing detailed plans with the Diocesan authorities and the consultative bodies that are part of the legal framework we have to work with, and are ready to place these plans before the Diocesan Chancellor to ask for Faculty (the Church equivalent of planning permission) we plan to hold an exhibition weekend where everything will be made really clear for everyone in the village to see, with full opportunity for everyone to respond and express their views. All of this will be passed on as we apply for the Faculty. We are rather tied to other people’s timetables here, but we very much hope this will be early in 2019.

To read the full set of answers on the church website, please click here.

To read the full minutes of the public meeting on July 18th, please click here.


JULY

Council hears of plan for houses on Paines Hill field

Plans for the development of the proposed “Local Green Space” at the heart of the village on Paines Hill have been presented to Steeple Aston Parish Council.  The owner of the Paines Hill field, Lynda Sanders, came with her designer to present their outline scheme for the housing development on the field to the council’s July meeting.

Many local people think of this open space as an essential feature of the village, part of its special character. Indeed, this was the main reason why Lynda purchased the field back in 1985 to stop it from being developed. She has kept chickens and the distinctive brown Soay sheep there for many years.

So it was with a sense of some irony that councillors listened to an explanation of the options now being considered for development on the upper part of the field, promoted by its owner. The options at present are for one single dwelling, a group of five, or a crescent of nine small houses (occupying most of the field). In each case there would be a new access road on to the site from Paines Hill. There would be some left over green space at the foot of the hill, by the stream, which the designer suggested could be available for public use.

Councillors, asked if they had any comments, did not have much to say other than to remind those present that in 2017 the Parish Council had nominated the field, along with three other green spaces in the village, as “Local Green Space” in the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan. If approved at examination (which is expected in October) this status would protect the spaces concerned from development. The others are Robinsons Close recreation field, the Allotments also off Fir Lane, and the Old Sandworks site off Fenway.

The presentation ended with the designer promising that an application for planning permission would be forthcoming in due course. Cherwell District Council had so far not been approached.

A set of the sketch drawings was left for the Parish Council’s records. Anyone wishing to see the drawings can do so by contacting the Parish Clerk Cathy Fleet on 01869 347000 or parishclerk.steepleaston@gmail.com


Mid-Cherwell plan on its way to the Examiner

The Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan, which  was  published for public consultation in May received a favourable response from many. Now there are a few changes to make, but it should be on its way to the next stage, inspection by an external Examiner, within weeks.

John Coley, a Steeple Aston representative on the MCNP Forum, reports:

“There have been 46 representations in response to CDC’s formal consultation. The main points of interest are:

  • The vast majority of responses are supportive and many of those favour our nomination of the” Old Quarry” in Steeple Aston as a Local Green Space.
  • There is criticism that there could be more emphasis on biodiversity and landscape, which we acknowledge, but we have been clear that we were restricted by lack of resources. It is not a requirement that neighbourhood plans should address everything – especially where other competent bodies have already done so.
  • We are retaining the use of ‘brownfield’ before ‘greenfield’ land as a stated objective, even though it was not possible to make this one of our policies.
  • CDC say that some settlement boundaries are drawn too loosely (not in Steeple Aston). We will query these with CDC when a proposed meeting takes place.
  • They also say that some Local Green Spaces may not meet official criteria (again not in Steeple Aston). The Examiner may in due course request further information.
  • CDC supports a new cemetery at Heyford Park provided there is evidence for need and that it does not affect the Heyford Park main policies. Dorchester Living have tried to identify sites but so far without success because of shallow ground rock.

“We had a meeting with Cherwell District Council on 16th July.  Essentially, CDC see no reason why we shouldn’t proceed to examination. We have to make some slight changes to our schedule of minor modifications for submission to the Examiner, which will take a week or two. We also have to make a few changes to the wording of policies, but we hope these can be agreed without too much delay. Then CDC will get a shortlist of potential Examiners, one of whom we will jointly select and appoint. The examination should take place in September/ October.” 


Straw polls at public meeting on church revamp

Forty villagers came to the Village Hall on Wednesday, July 18th for the public meeting on the proposed ‘re-ordering’ of the church. Neither the Rector, nor the members of the Parochial Church Council came to join them. There was frustration that they weren’t there to make the case for their proposals and answer questions, but it was decided to go ahead without them.

Not only had the four organisers of the meeting failed to persuade the PCC to attend, despite trying “time and time again”, they had also found it impossible to find a neutral chairman. In the end Ian Jackson, one of the four, took the chair promising to behave in a neutral manner.

The meeting started with a statement from Paul Beadman, another of the four, calling for “consultation, compromise and compassion”. He asked the PCC “to provide important missing information such as a capital funding plan, financial projections for operating income and expenditure, a business model for the church as a community centre, and an assessment of the impact on other village facilities.”

Others too voiced their concern about these issues. Some were in favour of measures to upgrade the church and ‘bring it in to the 21st century’, others were more sceptical of change. Another of the organisers, Malcolm Hensher said he was filled with dismay by the current proposals.

The fourth organiser David Armitage had prepared speeches on a number of the practical issues such as the proposed changes to the pews which he said would deprive future generations of their heritage. He also argued that underfloor heating, which he described as potentially the most damaging part of the proposals, could lead to increases in moisture in the church which could cause its long term destruction.

After some initial discussion, it was decided to hold straw polls on some of the main issues to give an indication of the feelings of the villagers at the meeting, albeit that voting was in some cases on the basis of incomplete information – as someone said, perhaps appropriately, “the Devil is in the detail!”

Three of the PCC’s proposals received overwhelming support: the provision of one or more toilets (27 for, 2 against); improvements to access and lighting outside the church (none against); a glass screen for the ringing chamber (none against).

However, several of the proposals were rejected by substantial majorities. These were: changes to the pews (24 against, 5 for in principle, one for the current proposals); moving of the screen (25 against, 3 for); moving the font (24 against, none for) and the provision of underfloor heating (24 against, none for). 18 people also voted against having a transparent door in the South Porch. Though as no one was clear on the details of this, many didn’t feel able to vote.

At the end of the meeting local district councillor Mike Kerford-Byrnes congratulated the organisers. However, he echoed the concerns of others that there seems to be a polarisation between two different groups in the village. He thought perhaps this was based on a lack of communication, and offered his services to bring people together.

In fact the Parish Council will discuss this issue at its next meeting and will consider whether to hold another public meeting, when perhaps all sides can attend. The PCC has also invited the four organisers to a private meeting in the near future. So watch this space!

This has only been a brief summary of a very long meeting with contributions from many villagers. To read the full minutes of the meeting, please click here.


JUNE

Church ‘re-ordering’ debate moves forward

The debate over the future ‘re-ordering’ of Steeple Aston church continues with a public meeting called for Wednesday, 18th July and a promise from the Parochial Church Council of an exhibition weekend before the end of the year.

The PCC has now published a long response to the open letter from a group of senior church members unhappy about the proposals asking for “a proper consultation process” to include at least one public meeting so that the views of all villagers can be heard.

It says: “PCC minutes show we have been looking at things like heating and access and kitchen space and loos for at least quarter of a century, never without controversy, always with lots of passion on all sides. This project is the nearest we have come to actually doing something and inevitably nobody is getting everything they want.”

The letter describes the opportunities there have already been for public consultation, including a public meeting and three open church annual meetings as well as correspondence in Steeple Aston Life.

The PCC members invite concerned villagers to email or talk to them with their questions and suggestions. The letter continues “We’re working with the Diocese of Oxford (the DAC is their committee that cares for church buildings) which is supporting us as we move toward applying for a faculty (the church equivalent of planning permission), we’ve met with some of the national amenity societies that have particular regard for heritage and we are trying to ensure the others are coming to see us soon. We very much hope that before year’s end we will be able to put on an exhibition weekend so everyone can come and see exactly what we hope to do – and why. And we’ll make sure there’s plenty of opportunity for questions too.”

Meanwhile the writers of the original letter calling for a public meeting say they have had a positive response from villagers, so they have booked the Village Hall for an open meeting on Wednesday, 18th July at 7.30pm. David Armitage, Paul Beadman, Malcolm Hensher and Ian Jackson urge villagers to “Come and have your democratic say”. They have also put a file in the Red Lion where views in writing can be put and read.

To read the full text of the PCC’s letter, please click here.


MAY

Revised plans for Southside development presented

In its second meeting of the week Steeple Aston Parish Council’s Planning Committee met on 31st May to hear about the revised proposals for the development on Southside opposite the entrance to Hill House. They included a new footpath plan and a revision to the size and number of houses to be built.

Rectory Homes (www.rectory.co.uk) withdrew an application for planning permission to build six four-bedroomed houses on the site in February following a number of objections from local residents, the Parish Council, the Mid Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum and the OCC Highways Department.

At a previous meeting, it was clear that neither the Parish Council nor other commentators were hostile to some development on this site. But there were major objections to the original scheme proposed. The Parish Council summarised the three main objections as:

  1. Housing mix: the proposal is for six houses of four bedrooms. There is however a clear need locally for a mix of house sizes, including some with smaller number of bedrooms…..
  2. Safe pedestrian access: walking into the village with no footpath – especially in darkness – is dangerous, and difficult to solve where the road narrows at the Red Lion.
  3. Safe vehicular access: the new road junction for the development will exacerbate an already dangerous stretch of road unless measures are taken to improve safety. Both speeding and limited visibility on the bend here have caused several near misses for traffic using the Hill House lane used by about 20 cars serving various dwellings.

Amy Atkins for Rectory Homes said their new proposal for pedestrian access would involve a “shared surface” for cars and pedestrians from the development to the junction with Water Lane. This would be indicated by rumble strips on the road, and different colour paint on the road marking the ‘virtual’ footpath. She said that the Highways Department had accepted a similar proposal in Harwell village near Didcot. However subsequent investigation shows that the road there is not comparable with South Side, as it excludes buses and HGVs.

Parish Councillors and members of the public were unconvinced that this would provide a safe space for pedestrians, especially those with pushchairs and small children. The general view was that visibility on this stretch of road makes it unsafe. It was suggested that if the Red Lion’s hedge were removed visibility would be improved, but Hook Norton Brewery had not been willing to take down the hedge when asked on a previous occasion.

It was also suggested that a footpath which went around the back of Kiftsgate and emerged further along South Side might be safer, but this would involve the purchase of additional land. Other suggestions were a 20mph speed limit or a chicane. The developers took these points on board and said they would investigate further.

On the objections to the mix of houses, they said they had listened to the Parish Council’s objections and had also been informed that Cherwell District Council would prefer greater density and more of a mix. So they were now proposing to build 10 houses on the site – two two-bedroomed houses, three four-bedroomed houses and five three-bedroomed houses. This would increase the number of houses, but the greater mix was generally welcomed by villagers as more in line with local demand. Because there will be only 10 houses, there won’t be a requirement for the developer to include affordable housing in the mix. There was some concern however that this would lead to an increase in the number of cars on the road.

Finally an issue discussed at the previous meeting was raised again by the Chairman Stuart Ferguson. He asked the developers to look at the question of drainage, and whether the existing provision could cope with 10 more houses. In the past there have been overflows of sewage from the drains in Bradshaw Close after heavy rain, which indicated that the existing system, thought to be Victorian, was operating at its limits. The developers said this would be the responsibility of Thames Water.

See below for the draft sketch plans and the potential footpath solution which were presented to the village. Rectory Homes have asked us to emphasise that these are drafts, and they are far from being ready to submit a planning application to the district council.

To see the suggested footpath solution, please click here.

To see the proposed site plan, please click here.

To see the proposed street scene, please click here.


Old Quarry meeting produces several surprises

There were quite a few surprises to emerge from the Parish Council Planning Committee’s open meeting about the future of The Old Quarry, Fenway, which was attended by around 30 villagers on 29th May.

The meeting had been requested by the developers Spitfire Bespoke Homes (https://spitfirepg.co.uk/) as a presentation of initial proposals for the land, an old sandworks behind Old Quarry House, an 18 acre site which some have described as a nature conservation area. It was recently a subject of controversy when it was proposed for development, and was subsequently nominated as a Local Green Space in the Mid-Cherwell Development Plan and made the subject of a new area Tree Preservation Order (TPO) by Cherwell District Council.

Representing the company were Connor Chamberlain from Spitfire and Guy Wakefield, their planning consultant on the project. They said that Spitfire has an option to purchase the land, but there is no specification about the number of houses to be built.

The first surprise of the evening came at the start when the developers reported that the area Tree Preservation Order on the site imposed by Cherwell District Council had been modified. The TPO which originally applied to the whole site now covered a large area furthest away from the road, and a number of separate areas closer to the road. This left less than 50 per cent of the site available for development.

This change was news to the Parish Council and most villagers. Chairman Stuart Ferguson said they hadn’t been informed and would investigate. One neighbour had received a letter from the council, but others had heard nothing.

The second surprise came as a consequence of this. It was reported that the landowner has agreed that the land covered by the TPOs which is not developable would be gifted to the Parish Council. There was a mixed reaction to this both from parish councillors and the public, particularly as it could impose more costs and responsibility on the council which might not be welcome.

The third surprise was perhaps the most controversial. Though the developers have had no preliminary contacts with the planning authority, Cherwell District Council, as yet, they have been in contact with Oxfordshire County Council’s Highways Department about access to the site. To the surprise of local residents, it was reported that the Highways Department had agreed in principle that road access beside the existing Old Quarry House could be provided for up to 60 homes.

Villagers were very concerned about the impact that would have on traffic in Fenway, a single track road where there has already been recent development. There was also much concern when the developers said that an ecologist had walked the site and reported that any damage from development could be mitigated. There was a demand from some villagers for a proper independent ecological report on the site, and concern that work already undertaken may have damaged the site’s biodiversity.

The developers said that there would have to be reports on ecology, traffic and other matters before planning permission could be granted. They were here on a fact-finding mission to find out what the Parish Council’s attitude was, and they were aware that the draft Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan designated the whole area as a Local Green Space.

Steeple Aston Parish Councillor Martin Lipson is also the Chair of the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum and he explained in detail why the Parish Council had backed the move to include the quarry as a Local Green Space, responding to a request from residents convinced that the site was of ecological importance.

He also explained why the Plan proposed only a five per cent increase in housing in the village (ie 20 houses) over the next15 years. The draft Neighbourhood Plan is open for public consultation until 19th June, then it will go to an independent examiner before being the subject of a referendum later this year or early 2019. The developers say they will want to see what the examiner says before deciding whether to go for planning permission.

In order to facilitate future discussions, the developers invited the Parish Council along with a small number of local residents to visit the Old Quarry site. This invitation was accepted, but has not yet been confirmed.


Local district councillor re-elected

Conservative district councillor Mike Kerford-Byrnes was re-elected in the local elections on Thursday, May 3rd. There were no parish council elections as there were only six nominations for the seven vacancies.

The election result for the Deddington ward of Cherwell District Council was as follows:

 

Candidate Party Votes Elected
BLISS, Aaron James Green 317
DAVIS, Nigel Geoffrey Liberal Democrat 350
KERFORD-BYRNES, Mike Conservative 1637 Elected
MURPHY, Annette Labour 597

Out of an electorate of 6,340 potential voters, there were 2,910 ballot papers issued, giving a turnout of 39.78 per cent.

The six candidates for the Parish Council were all councillors already, and have now been re-elected unopposed. They are Charlotte Bartlett, Charlotte Clarke, Stuart Ferguson, Martin Lipson, Richard Macandrew and Graham Porcas. They will be able to co-opt a seventh councillor if they so wish.

The new Parish Council will be meeting on Monday, 14th May at 7.30pm, unusually in the Sports and Rec Building. They will also be holding the Annual Meeting and the Annual Parish Meeting at the same time. All villagers are welcome to attend for all or part of the evening.


Parish Council explains this year’s Council Tax increase 

As you will have seen from your recent Council Tax demand, Steeple Aston Parish Council asked for an increase of more than eight per cent in their share of the bill. This was by far the biggest percentage increase in local council charges with Cherwell District Council receiving no increase at all.

Parish Councillor Richard MacAndrew explains how the Parish Council spends our money, and the reasons for this year’s increase. He writes:

“On behalf of the Parish Council here is a brief resumé of how we spend your money, how we budget, and an explanation of why this year it has been necessary to ask for an increase in funds. The precept we received last year from Cherwell District Council was £26,698. This year we requested an increase of £2,221.

“Council expenditure falls into two main categories: the practical and the administrative. The practical is what we do to keep village facilities up and running, tidy and safe. We aim to keep the administration costs to the minimum necessary to achieve this.

“On the administrative side, we have a qualified Parish Clerk, a vital member of the team who provides support and advice to the Council. She also implements many of the decisions that the council takes. Her salary, expenses and training cost £4,600 and comprise the major part of the Council’s administrative expenses. The councillors receive no payment, and do not generally claim expenses.

“Other administrative requirements which the Council has to fulfil are: insurance (£2,000); external and internal financial audits (£350, a small increase of £50 over last year); and payroll services (£189). Training for councillors is also included here. The budget for this is £500.

“The single major increase in administrative costs is the election of councillors. 2017/2018 has seen four new councillors: two were co-opted at no cost to the Council; one was elected unopposed (cost to the Council £39); one was elected (cost to the Council £1,199). No allowance had been made for elections last year so the Council decided it was necessary to make provision in case there was a contested election in May.

“On the practical side of things, the Council has annual commitments such as the grass cutting around the village (£4,000); hedge trimming and weed spraying (£800); and repayment of the loan that was taken out to create the football pitch at Robinson’s Close (£2,300). We are also responsible for the maintenance of various buildings, structures and places around the village: the village hall, the sports and recreation centre, the play area, pocket park, several hedges and verges, the toilets, bus shelters, the war memorial and street furniture.

“The budgets have remained the same as last year, except for two items. Our excellent play area, which draws in many parents and children from outside the village, is now over 10 years old. Some of the equipment is well-worn and in need of repair or replacement (for example, the netting on the mound). Since we do not receive any external funding for the play area, we have increased the budget for it by £600 to take this into account.

“The other item which has increased is Buildings Maintenance. As many of you are aware, there have been a number of incidents of vandalism in the village. Repairs over and above normal running costs have been needed especially in the Millennium Park toilet where a basin and some tiling were ripped off the wall. At the time of writing, someone has driven into the wall at the entrance to the Sports and Rec car park and left a dangerous crack in it. That will need repair; though, if possible, it will be claimed on insurance. It is also salutary to reflect that the roof on the Village Hall is now approximately 20 years into its anticipated 80 year life span. At current prices the next renewal is likely to cost £100,000. The Council therefore has a contingency budget for major capital expenditure.

“In listing the Council’s duties and responsibilities, and explaining where and why we have made increases this year, we hope to assure parishioners that we are managing their affairs in a thoughtful and thrifty fashion, anticipating future necessary expenditure, whilst at the same time trying to extract best value for money for what we do.”

A full copy of the Precept financial document is available from Cathy Fleet, the Parish Clerk.


District Council publishes MCNP plan for public consultation

The Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan (MCNP) has now been published for public consultation by Cherwell District Council. Following the consultation the Plan will be independently examined by an external Examiner.

The Plan proposal comprises the following documents:

  1. The proposed neighbourhood development plan: Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan and MCNP Appendices (Submission Version) March 2018)
  2. A map identifying the area to which the proposed neighbourhood development plan relates
  3. A consultation statement: MCNP Consultation Statement (Submission Version) March 2018
  4. A basic conditions statement – MCNP Basic Conditions Statement (Submission Version) March 2018

Below is a Public Notice providing details of where the documents are available for viewing and how to make representations. The consultation closes on Tuesday, 19th June.


Cherwell District Council

Public Notice

Publication of Plan Proposal

Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan 2018 – 2031

 

Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012 (as amended)

Regulation 16

Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum has prepared the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Development Plan for the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Area on behalf of eleven parishes including Heyford Park. The Plan proposes planning policies to be used in the determination of planning applications within the Neighbourhood Plan Area.

Cherwell District Council is undertaking public consultation on the draft (Submission) Plan. The draft Plan and supporting documents are available for public comment from Friday 4 May to Tuesday 19 June 2018 and are available on-line at https://www.cherwell.gov.uk/planningpolicyconsultation

Hard copies are available to view at the locations below and during the following opening hours: 

Cherwell District Council Offices, Bodicote House, Bodicote, Banbury OX15 4AA. Monday to Friday 8.45am-5.15pm

Deddington Library, Horse Fair, Deddington, OX15 0SH. Monday 2pm-5pm and 5.30pm-7pm, Wednesday 9.30am-1pm, Thursday 2pm-5pm and 5.30pm -7pm, Saturday 9.30am-1pm

Bicester LinkPoint, Franklins House, Wesley Lane, Bicester, OX26 6JU Monday to Friday 8.45am (10am Wednesday) to 5.15pm

Bicester Library, Franklins House, Wesley Lane, Bicester, OX26 6JU

Monday 9.30am – 7pm, Tuesday 9.30am-5pm, Wednesday and Thursday 9.30am – 7pm, Friday 9.30am – 5pm, Saturday 9am – 4.30pm

Kidlington Library, Ron Groves House, 23 Oxford Road, Kidlington, OX5 2BP. Monday 9.30am-5pm, Tuesday 9.30am-7pm, Wednesday 9.30am-1pm, Thursday 9.30am-5pm, Friday 9.30am-7pm, Saturday 9am-4.30pm

Kidlington Link Point, Exeter Hall, Oxford Road, Kidlington, Oxon, OX5 1ABMonday to Friday 8.45am (10am Wednesday) to 5.15pm

The Community Centre and Cafe, Heyford Park, 52 Camp Road, Upper Heyford, OX25 5HDMonday to Friday 7am – 7pm, Saturday 8am – 2pm, and Sunday 9am – 1pm

The Fox and Hounds, Main Road, Ardley OX27 7PE Tuesday 12pm-3pm and 5.30pm-11pm, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 12pm -11pm, Sundays 12pm -10pm 
The Bell Inn, Market Square, Lower Heyford, OX25 5NY Mondays to Thursday 12pm-3pm and 5pm-10pm, Friday and Saturday 12pm – 11pm, Sundays.12pm -10.30pm

St Olave’s Church, North Street, Fritwell, OX27 7QW Mondays to Sundays 9am to 7pm

The White Lion, Fritwell Road, Fewcott, Bicester OX27 7NZ Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 4pm – 10pm, Friday 11am – 2pm and 4pm-12pm, Saturday 12pm-11pm and Sunday 12pm-8pm.

St James Church, Church Street, Somerton, OX25 6LN Monday to Sunday 9am to 7pm

The Barley Mow, Somerton Road, Upper Heyford, Bicester, Oxfordshire, OX25 5LB Wednesday to Sunday 12pm – 2pm, and Monday to Sunday 6pm – 11pm

The Yurt at Nicholsons, The Park, North Aston OX25 6HL 8.30am – 4.30pm Monday to Saturday

Kirtlington Stores, Post Office and Cafe1 Troy Lane, Kirtlington OX5 3HA Monday to Saturday 6.30am to 7pm and Sunday 9am to 1pm

Village History Centre, the Village Hall, Fir Lane, Steeple Aston, OX25 4SF Saturday 10.00am to 12pm

Middleton Stoney All Saints, Middleton Park, Middleton Stoney, Bicester, OX25 4AW Monday to Sunday 10am – 4pm

Red Lion, South Side, Steeple Aston, OX25 4RY Monday to Friday 12pm to 3pm and 5.30 to 11pm, Saturday 12pm – 11pm and Sunday 12pm – 5pm 

Additional copies of the Plan are also available from the Parish Councils at:

Ardley with Fewcott Parish Council; Duns Tew Parish Council; Fritwell Parish Council; Kirtlington Parish Council; Lower Heyford Parish Council; Middle Aston Parish Meeting; Middleton Stoney Parish Council; North Aston Parish Meeting; Somerton Parish Council; Steeple Aston Parish Council; Upper Heyford Parish Council 

The contact details for Parish Councils are available at the link below: http://modgov.cherwell.gov.uk/mgParishCouncilDetails.aspx 

How to make representations

Any person or organisation may comment on the Plan or supporting documents. Response forms are available at the locations above and can be downloaded from Cherwell District Council’s website (via the link above) and sent by email to PlanningPolicyConsultation@cherwell-dc.gov.uk or post to Planning Policy and Growth Strategy Team, Cherwell District Council Offices, Bodicote House, Bodicote, Banbury OX15 4AA 

Representations received after 5pm on Tuesday 19 June 2018 may not be considered.

Please note that all representations will be publicly available and will be forwarded for consideration to the person appointed to carry out an examination of the Plan.

If you would like to be notified of the Council’s decision to make (adopt) the neighbourhood development plan, please state this in your representation. Further information is available on line at https://www.cherwell.gov.uk/planningpolicyconsultation

YVONNE REES, CHIEF EXECUTIVE


Call for public consultation on church building plans

Just as revised plans for the Steeple Aston church’s “re-ordering” looked about to go ahead, a group of  senior church members unhappy about the proposals have written an open letter asking for “ a proper consultation process” to include at least one public meeting so that the views of all villagers can be heard.

In his monthly report to Steeple Aston Life, the Rector, Revd Marcus Green reported that following the intervention of the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) revised proposals had been agreed. He was just awaiting final approval from the DAC before the formal process of applying for ‘faculty’ (the Church’s version of planning permission) could begin.

Revd Green described the revised proposals as follows: “We are no longer aiming to raise the nave floor, but will grade levels or provide ramps in order to have step-free access around the whole church. The wooden platforms the pews are built on will go, and new stone floors will be introduced, flush with the old stone floors around them. Heating will be provided by a mix of underfloor heating and radiators. The tower floor will be lowered, and two loos will be added in there, along with some chair storage. The vestry will be adapted, with space for children in a new Sunday school room, as well as upstairs storage and downstairs kitchen facilities and vestry space. Pews will be kept in the centre of the nave, but shortened and made moveable, and the north and south aisle will become more open. The font will be moved to the south aisle for better liturgical access and ease of use. The wooden screen at the nave arch will be kept and moved to the arch between the chancel and lady chapel. A moveable serving counter will be put in the lady chapel, and tables and chairs for hospitality will be available for use in the church. New doors will be placed on the South Porch, and the ringing chamber will be glazed in.”

Pictures and explanations of the new proposals are available in the Church.

However an open letter from four senior church members, David Armitage, Paul Beadman, Malcolm Hensher and Ian Jackson makes it clear that by no means all the members of congregation are supportive of the proposals.

They write: “The process has caused unhappiness in the congregation, with people who have supported the church for decades no longer comfortable worshipping there. Sensible suggestions like providing a kitchen unit and toilet have been rolled together with structural plans of unproven advantage, expensive to run and maintain, and with risks for the building as a whole.”

They say the building project has been in the hands of a small group and there has been little consultation with the wider population.

The letter says “It is not too late to apply common sense, in case decisions are taken that we one day regret. There must be a proper consultation process in which everyone in our villages can have sufficient say. Diversity of opinion, Christian and secular, should be respected. Due attention should be given to the importance of our mediaeval church, with its irreplaceable artefacts, as a part of our beautiful Oxfordshire landscape.”

They believe that as a minimum a public meeting with an independent chair should be held “to allow the issues to be debated comprehensively, openly, democratically” and ask villagers to support them.

To read the full text of their letter, please click here.


Villagers invited to meetings on Old Quarry and South Side proposals

Villagers are invited to two open meetings of the Parish Council’s Planning Committee to hear about proposals for development in the village.

On Tuesday, 29th May at 7.30pm in the Committee Room of the Village Hall, the subject will be the Old Quarry on Fenway. There is to be a presentation of initial proposals for the land, an old sandworks behind Old Quarry House which some have described as a nature conservation area. It was recently a subject of controversy when it was proposed for development, and was subsequently nominated as a Local Green Space in the Mid-Cherwell Development Plan and made the subject of a new area Tree Preservation Order (TPO) by Cherwell District Council.

Then on Thursday, 31st May at the same time in the same place, the developers Rectory Homes are to give a second presentation in advance of  re-submitting their planning application for the site on South Side opposite the entrance to Hill House.

The company withdrew an application for planning permission to build six houses on the site in February following a number of objections from local residents, the Parish Council, the Mid Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum and the Highway Authority.

At a previous meeting, it was clear that neither the Parish Council nor other commentators were hostile to some development on this site. But there were major objections to the original scheme proposed.

Cherwell District Council’s recent Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA) concluded that neither of these sites was suitable for development to provide housing for Oxford City Council.

These two meetings are open to members of the public. To see the formal notices for the meetings, please click here.


APRIL

Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan submitted at last

Martin Lipson, Steeple Aston Parish Councillor and Chairman of the MCNP Forum, writes: “After over three years of preparation, the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan has finally been completed and formally submitted to Cherwell District Council. Before the end of March, CDC will launch the statutory consultation – during which anyone can submit comments on the proposed Plan. They will advertise this on their website and in various public locations, where copies of our documents will be available.

“The Plan will then go to Examination before a local Referendum is held in all eleven parishes involved in the Plan, of which Steeple and Middle Aston are just two. MCNP is believed to be by far the largest grouping of parishes that have prepared a neighbourhood plan in the country (and there are 2,200 of them in preparation, with 410 already approved).

“As many local people know, it is the development of Heyford Park that is the main reason why the parishes got together in the first place, keen to ensure that houses did not proliferate in the fields and villages around it, and keen also to ensure that adequate supporting facilities are provided for the new population, and that the effects of increased traffic are minimised.

“The Neighbourhood Plan therefore contains policies that, for example, support provision of a new cemetery for Heyford Park, require developers to submit proposals for reducing the impact of motorised traffic, and to take steps to replace any loss of biodoversity as a result of development.  The Plan also has a non-statutory section called the Community Action Plan, in which the parishes will continue to work together over the years ahead to bring to fruition a number of ambitious aims that are not just about land-use planning.

“At this stage we don’t know in which month of 2018 the Referendum will be held, but we do know on past experience that there are bound to be more delays. In May and June, we have been told, CDC planners will be occupied with the Public Enquiry into the somewhat unpopular proposals for thousands of new houses in the south of the District, to assist Oxford’s “unmet housing need”.  So we know that our Examination will not take place before that one is finished.

“Close discussions with CDC planners in the lead-up to our submission resulted in a few more changes to the version of the Plan on which MCNP consulted last summer. Steeple Aston’s settlement area – the built-up zone of the village in which development is preferred – has now had omitted the two areas at each end of the village that were previously shown on the village policy map. This is because CDC took the view that these potential sites would only be suitable as rural exception sites for low-cost housing, and as they were exceptions they should not be in the preferred zone.

“This does not diminish the Parish Council’s wish to see one or both of these sites eventually developed in a way that will benefit the village, but it does reduce the encouragement that might have otherwise been given to purely commercial developers. It is somewhat ironic that Rectory Homes recently put forward their scheme for one of the sites (opposite Hill House on South Side), only to have to withdraw it – as also reported on this website. If it is resubmitted without elements of affordable housing it will now have less support under the MCNP than it would have done. The other site – the former allotments on Heyford Road – remains perhaps a distant possibility.”


Election for district councillor only, after parish nominees unopposed

Six out of the seven people currently serving as parish councillors have been elected unopposed to continue in office after May 3rd.  To see the official election notice, please click here.

The Councillors continuing in office are Charlotte Bartlett, Charlotte Clarke, Stuart Ferguson, Martin Lipson, Richard Macandrew and Graham Porcas. The seventh current councillor Helen Wright decided not to stand for re-election this year. Once they have taken office these six new councillors will be able to co-opt a seventh if they so wish.

There will however be an election on  May 3rd for a Cherwell District Councillor as there have been four nominations for this single vacancy. Conservative councillor Mike Kerford-Byrnes is opposed by candidates from the Green Party, the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party.

To see the official nomination document, please click here.

The election will take place in the Committee Room of the Village Hall on Thursday, 3rd May from 7.00am until 10.00pm.


Six candidates nominated to stand for Parish Council

Six out of the seven people currently serving as parish councillors have been nominated to continue in office after May 3rd. As there are seven vacancies there won’t need to be an election for the Parish Council this time around.

The six nominees are Charlotte Bartlett, Charlotte Clarke, Stuart Ferguson, Martin Lipson, Richard Macandrew and Graham Porcas. The seventh current councillor Helen Wright decided not to stand for re-election this year.

Once they have taken office these six new councillors will be able to co-opt a seventh if they so wish.

To see the official nomination document, please click here.

There will however be an election on  May 3rd for a Cherwell District Councillor as there have been four nominations for the single vacancy. Conservative councillor Mike Kerford-Byrnes is opposed by candidates from the Green Party, the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party.

To see the official nomination document, please click here.


MARCH

It’s a special first for John in the Spring Show

Steeple Aston Spring Show was quite an occasion for John Coley. Not only did he receive the Mead Vase for winning most points in the show, he also came top in the Horticultural Classes, winning the Duncan Cup. But the real surprise came when he shared first place in Cookery Classes, the first man ever to win in this competitive section. He is pictured here receiving congratulations from Hanny Nicholson. In the background holding the WI Cookery Cup is the other winning cook, Victoria Clifton.

The Annual Spring Show took place on Sunday, 25th March in the Village Hall. Richard Preston, Chairman of Steeple and Middle Aston Horticultural Society, reports:

“It was the first Sunday of Spring and on one of the few occasions this year, the sun came out and encouraged visitors to view the superb array of entries in the show. Overall the entries were down slightly on last year which is not surprising taking into consideration the lateness of the season.  However, 295 exhibits were entered by over 50 entrants providing a wonderful display of flowers, cookery, photography and crafts.

“The children’s entries were plentiful and of an extremely high standard with Ruby Keates winning the Bedding Trophy for the best exhibit as judged by our visiting expert on the day. Ruby also won the under-fives section gaining most points in her age group.  The under-eight winner was Hector Wheeler-Nunneley and the under twelve section was won by Fearne Ward.  The under sixteen category was shared by Abbey Keates, James Martin and Jenny Marsden.

“Onto the flower section where competition was keen for The Duncan Cup, the winner being Mr John Coley who also won the WI Cookery Cup or at least shared it with Victoria Clifton. If my memory serves me correctly, this is the first time a male entrant has won this section where an array of jams, cakes, savouries and other delectable offerings makes up this highly competitive division.  Janet Coley won the Handicraft Cup and Sheila Ballard gained most points in the floral art division.  The winner of The Mead Vase, presented to the person winning the most points and entering a minimum of three divisions was Mr John Coley.

“To all winners, competitors and all those who came along in the afternoon to view this splendid display, thank you so much for supporting what is probably the oldest society in the village having started life back in the 1860’s. Without your support this grand village tradition would not survive.

“Looking forward to the summer, and I think we are all doing that, the Annual Show will take place as usual on Robinson’s Close and the Village Hall on August Bank Holiday Monday. The schedule is now available from me or you can view it online.”

To see the full results of the Spring Show, please click here.

For photos of the Show taken by the multi-talented John Coley, please click here.

And to see more photos of the show taken by Catherine Crook and set to music on Smilebox, please click here.


Neighbourhood Watch revived following anti-social behaviour

A new Neighbourhood Watch scheme has been set up in response to the recent spate of crime and anti-social behaviour in the village. The new coordinator Martin Brimacombe recently met with Thames Valley Police and they agreed that reviving the scheme would be of benefit the community

There was an attempt to relaunch the old Neighbourhood Watch scheme three years ago, but there weren’t enough volunteers so it was decided to rely on the Thames Valley Alert scheme instead. Recent events though have meant that there has been an enthusiastic response to Martin’s call for street representatives.

Martin moved to the village in July 2014 after a short spell in Upper Heyford. He had spent the previous 24 years in the British Army, much of time stationed at Bicester.

He said: “Moving into the village has been a great experience and an introduction to a quiet rural community for my family. We have been made to feel very welcome by the members of the community out and about and at the Red Lion.

“However over the last six months it has been a little unsettling after becoming one of the victims of a number of the increased criminal activities and anti-social behaviour issues.

“Having expressed my concerns to Thames Valley Police about the increased activity and the thought that someone or property will be injured or damaged, I was asked take on the role and responsibility of becoming the new Neighbourhood Watch Coordinator for the village.”

The purpose of Steeple Aston Neighbourhood Watch is to promote good citizenship and greater public participation in the prevention and solution of crime so that effective liaison with the police and other partners can be achieved in order to promote reduced crime levels.

Martin says: “It’s a little shameful that our village is now the highest in the surrounding area for criminal activity. Let’s get as many people behind this and help make this a better place for us all to live in. Initially crime numbers will rise if everything’s reported, but this will reduce once the activities cease.

“Criminal activity in the village will continue to cause problems with the villagers with anti social behaviour, theft, crime, criminal activity. It will continue to hurt all of our pockets financially with house insurance and motor insurance growing under the criminal postcode lottery.”

The new Neighbourhood Watch scheme already has representatives in the following areas of the village: the Lower Heyford end of Heyford Road; The Crescent; Nizewell Head; Paines Hill; The Dickeridge (still to be confirmed); South Side/Jubilee Close; Water Lane; Shepherd’s Hill; Fenway; Grange Park; Cow Lane and Northside. Parish Clerk Cathy Fleet will liaise with the Parish Council.

Martin says that if your street or area has not already been covered and you would like to come forward to nominate yourself as a street coordinator then, please email your details to him at the address below.

He says becoming a street coordinator doesn’t involve too much, just informing your neighbours of events and developments in criminal-related activities and keeping an eye on one another and people who are vulnerable.

You can contact Martin at steepleastonneighbourhoodwatch@gmail.com

To find out more about Neighbourhood Watch in the village, how you can receive alerts and report crime, please click here.


NOTICE OF ELECTION

Election of Parish Councillors

for the Parishes listed below

  

Parish                                               Number of Parish Councillors to be elected

Banbury Town Council – Calthorpe South Ward                                       One

Barford St John and St Michael Parish Council                                       Seven

Bletchingdon Parish Council                                                                  Seven

Bloxham Parish Council                                                                         Twelve

Broughton Parish Council                                                                      Five

Charlton-on-Otmoor Parish Council                                                         Seven

Deddington Parish Council                                                                    Fourteen

Duns Tew Parish Council                                                                       Seven

Epwell Parish Council                                                                            Five

Fencott and Murcott Parish Council                                                        Five

Finmere Parish Council                                                                          Seven

Fringford Parish Council                                                                        Seven

Hethe Parish Council                                                                             Seven

Horley Parish Council                                                                            Seven

Hornton Parish Council                                                                          Seven

Horton-Cum-Studley Parish Council                                                        Five

Islip Parish Council                                                                                Seven

Kirtlington Parish Council                                                                       Seven

Merton Parish Council                                                                            Seven

Milcombe Parish Council                                                                       Seven

North Newington Parish Council                                                             Five

Shenington with Alkerton Parish Council                                                 Seven

Shipton-on-Cherwell and Thrupp Parish Council                                       Six

Shutford Parish Council                                                                           Seven

Sibford Ferris Parish Council                                                                 Five

Sibford Gower Parish Council                                                                Five

Steeple Aston Parish Council                                                                 Seven

Stratton Audley Parish Council                                                               Seven

Swalcliffe Parish Council                                                                       Seven

Tadmarton Parish Council                                                                      Six

Weston-on-the-Green Parish Council                                                       Eight

Wroxton Parish Council                                                                         Seven

 

  1. Nomination papers for Parish Elections may be obtained from Clerks to Parish Councils or the Returning Officer, Bodicote House, Bodicote, Banbury, Oxon, OX15 4AA.
  2. Nomination papers must be delivered to the Returning Officer, Bodicote House, Bodicote, Banbury, Oxon, OX15 4AA on any day after the date of this notice, Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm (excluding weekends and Bank Holidays) but no later than 4 pm on Friday, 6 April 2018.
  3. If any election is contested the poll will take place on Thursday, 3 May 2018.
  4. Applications, amendments or cancellations of postal votes must reach the Electoral Registration Officer at Bodicote House, Bodicote, Banbury, Oxon, OX15 4AA by 5 pm on Wednesday, 18 April 2018.
  5. New applications to vote by proxy at this election must reach the Electoral Registration Officer at Bodicote House, Bodicote, Banbury, Oxon, OX15 4AA by 5 pm on Wednesday, 25 April 2018.
  6. Applications to vote by proxy at this election applied for on grounds of either physical incapacity or in relation to occupation, employment or service occurring after 5 pm on Wednesday, 25 April 2018, must reach the Electoral Registration Officer at Bodicote House, Bodicote, Banbury, Oxon, OX15 4AA by 5 pm on Thursday, 3 May 2018.

Dated Tuesday 27 March 2018

Yvonne Rees

Returning Officer

Printed and published by the Returning Officer, Bodicote House, Bodicote, Banbury, Oxon, OX15 4AA


Congratulations to Steeple Aston WI as it celebrates its centenary

To read an account of the celebrations on 13th March and see lots of wonderful pictures, please click here

Steeple Aston Women’s Institute, the oldest extant WI in Oxfordshire, is celebrating its centenary in style in March with a special programme of activities and speakers, including a surprise outing for members in June. Its centenary dinner took place on 13th March at the Village Hall.

The current WI President, Merrill Bayley looks back over the achievements of the last 100 years. She writes: “The earliest document we hold states that, towards the end of the great war in 1917, Mrs Vincent of Cedar Lodge Steeple Aston, called a meeting of the women in the village and told them of a new society called The Women’s’ Institute, which had just started in Anglesey North Wales 1915.

“Miss L G Worrell took the minutes of the first documented meeting held on March 21st1918 and she subsequently became the first President. As a result this event has become our official birthday date. The records of the Oxfordshire Federation of Women’s Institutes (OFWI) confirm this with a simple entry stating, “Steeple Aston WI – Formed in March 1918”, whilst OFWI themselves were not formed until 1919.

The Minutes & Memory Books
“The minutes have been diligently kept with just a few gaps during WWII, which is pretty good going! We have a large collection of Minutes and Memory Books. The latter are beautifully covered with embroidered work created by various members over many years. These Memory Books hold souvenirs and photographs taken at events and meetings with various snippets of descriptive notes beside them.  We are continuing to compile these books, one per year, and now have an Archive Sub-Committee who have combed through all the old Memory Books, re-hinging and re-binding as necessary using acid free paper to ensure preservation, for perhaps the next 100 years?

What has Steeple Aston WI done for our Village?
“Never mind what the Romans did for Britain, what did Steeple Aston WI do for our village? During WWII our WI organised the ladies of the village to make-do and mend and collect vegetables and fruit for pickling and preserving. In order to carry out this incentive the Ministry of Food allocated the WI the extra sugar required. Our WI also knitted scarves and socks for members of the armed forces overseas.

“Since the war our WI has continued to undertake various projects within the village. For example, presenting embroidered hassocks to the Church, arranging to have a map of the village erected beside the bus stop on South Side and donating funds towards the replacement of the ancient Sycamore in the churchyard. We support many events in the village such as, running a stall at the Village Show selling jams, pickles, cakes and bric-a-brac. We present our Silver Jubilee Cup and our Coronation Bowl for both the Spring and Autumn shows.  We have also arranged for the planting of a tree on South Side with an accompanying plaque to commemorate the millennium as well as lobbying for and part funding better lighting outside the Village Hall.

“Each year we join with other village organisations to lay a wreath on the War Memorial.

Currently
“We are 36 members strong, with four new members joining recently. Our members ages range from 40 – 90.   Our WI is run by a committee (pictured here) currently led by office holders, President: Merrill Bayley, Treasurer: Linda Needle, Secretary: Janice Kinory and Vice President: Mary Rushworth, ably assisted by Pauline Brock, Catherine Crook, Julie Hillier, Angie Allen and Priscilla Lange.

“Members have been contributing to our Centenary Fund for several years and for the past two years a sub-committee has steered the preparation and planning for 2018. A special programme of activities and speakers has been arranged for this milestone year, including a surprise outing for June. Invitations have been sent to our members and special guests for our centenary dinner celebration on 13th March 2018 at the Village Hall.

The Future
“The WI motto is ‘Inspiring Women’. To this end we strive to enlighten, educate and usually entertain our members, to make new friends and connections through the wider WI community.  In keeping with new technologies we are embracing new methods of communication including Facebook and our own page on the Steeple Aston website. We continue to encourage all of our members to reach their own potential through the Steeple Aston Women’s Institute.”

To read an account of the celebrations on 13th March and see lots of wonderful pictures, please click here


 

FEBRUARY

Southside planning application withdrawn

The application for planning permission to build six homes on South Side opposite the entrance to Hill House has been withdrawn, at least for the time being.

The developer, Rectory Homes, withdrew its application on 15th February. This followed a number of objections from local residents, the Parish Council, the Mid Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum and the Highway Authority

In general, neither the Parish Council nor other commentators are hostile to some development on this site. But there are major objections to the scheme proposed. The Parish Council listed the three main ones:

  1. Housing mix: the proposal is for six houses of four bedrooms. There is however a clear need locally for a mix of house sizes, including some with smaller number of bedrooms…..
  2. Safe pedestrian access: walking into the village with no footpath – especially in darkness – is dangerous, and difficult to solve where the road narrows at the Red Lion.
  3. Safe vehicular access: the new road junction for the development will exacerbate an already dangerous stretch of road unless measures are taken to improve safety. Both speeding and limited visibility on the bend here have caused several near misses for traffic using the Hill House lane used by about 20 cars serving various dwellings.

It is possible that a revised plan may be submitted at a later stage. A message from Amy Atkins of Rectory Homes is published on the Cherwell District Council planning website. In it, she confirms the withdrawal of the current application and writes to the planning department “I look forward to working with you in the near future to overcome the concerns of the site.”


Police to examine CCTV footage after more anti-social behaviour

Further anti-social behaviour by teenagers in the village during February has led to numerous reports to the police – and they should be able to look at some more CCTV footage which may help to identify the culprits.

Several incidents involving up to five teenagers have taken place on Paines Hill, South Side and in The Dickredge. There have been damage to cars and break-ins to sheds and a conservatory. Villagers are urged to take photographs or videos if they witness any incidents and make them available to the police. You can report non-urgent incidents online or by phoning 101

Paris Clerk Cathy Fleet reports that on Monday, 30th January a group of youths were seen openly taking drugs in the presence of school children in the playground. Later in the afternoon, the basin was pulled off the toilet wall taking tiles off with it, and the brand new soap dispenser was also pulled off the wall.

The following day some youths targeted the village shop, stealing some items of little value. The police have been informed of both incidents and it is hoped they will be able to examine CCTV footage from the shop and be able to identify the culprits.

Cathy Fleet said that the damage to the toilet will cost money to fix, not to mention the time involved. She added, “I think it’s time these idiots and their parents were held to account.”

In discussions on the village Facebook page many villagers echoed her frustration, calling for the parents to take responsibility for their children’s behaviour. There were also calls for CCTV to be installed in the area around the Village Hall. There are cameras already at the school and the shop, but the Parish Council has been reluctant to install cameras around the play area in the past. Now villagers are being encourage to raised the issue at the next Parish council meeting on February 19th.

These latest incidents follow on from a spate of vandalism in the village before Christmas. There were a number of photos taken of the culprits and the police were said to have spoken to them. After a few quiet weeks the problems have started up again.

Villagers are encouraged to report anything suspicious they see to the police, and to get photographic evidence if possible. The more people who contact the police the better. If the non-emergency number 101 isn’t answered, then dial 999.


Charlotte co-opted to fill last council vacancy 

Charlotte Bartlett has agreed to be co-opted on to the Parish Council. So for the next three months the council will have its full complement of members at last. Then they will all have to resign and stand again (if they want to) in the election to be held on Thursday, May 3rd.

Charlotte, of Seven Springs House, stood for election to the council last December. She was beaten by Richard MacAndrew by 72 votes to 57. But at their January meeting councillors decided to ask her if she was willing to be co-opted to fill the remaining vacancy. 

Before the election Charlotte was interviewed by Julia Whybrew for Steeple Aston Life. She said: “I realise that much of what I love about this village is directly because of the time and effort that others put into keeping it the way it is, strangely, both just the way it has always been and yet also vibrant and moving forward.”

Charlotte lived here when she was a child and all her early memories are of this village.  She had close friends in Middle Aston and kept her contacts with the village by visiting them for many years. Her family moved away because of her father’s job; then when she married she lived in Holland, New Zealand and Syria.

She eventually returned to London with her husband Andy and their two sons Oliver and Hugh. Quite by chance she discovered that her childhood home was for sale.  “It seemed to be too good to be true!”  They bought the house in 2004 and moved in. Charlotte says “My big regret is that our two sons were too old for Dr Radcliffe’s School, as I know that has always been like a bedrock for the village.”

Andy commutes to London weekly, where he works in finance, but both boys are still based nearby in Oxford. Oliver is just completing his PhD after eight years at the university, and Hugh works for a church charity having studied for a Master’s at Oxford Brookes.

Julia said that Charlotte has a lot to contribute to the Parish Council. She has both the time and the inclination to help other people.  She has worked in a PR company and has plenty of experience working with others.  She has been involved with community projects, particularly in Syria where she worked with women’s groups in villages around Damascus, teaching sewing skills and supplying equipment enabling them to earn their own living.  She started and ran her own project to distribute basic food supplies to the most vulnerable families in the winter months. She has experience of fundraising and is very keen to take an active part in the community.


JANUARY

Villagers protest against proposed Enstone development

A group of villagers in West Oxfordshire have joined together to object to a proposed development next to nearby Enstone airfield. They are appealing for other local people and parish councils to oppose the application for planning permission by 10th January.

The “Move the Mullin” campaign has been formed to fight a proposal by the Great Tew Estate and American businessman and philanthropist Peter Mullin to build an automotive museum, corporate pavilion, Bentley showroom and 28 luxury residential homes on land adjacent to Enstone Airfield.

They argue that the location for a proposed development of this scale and form in a rural area is inappropriate and contrary to national planning policy.  It has numerous costs for local residents – not least significantly increasing the traffic on small country roads that are already in a poor state of repair.

They suggest that this museum could be built in a location with much better connectivity to the road network and public transport, such as Bicester Heritage or Silverstone.

The Move the Mullin campaign, which is supported by the Campaign to Protect Rural England, is an informal group of residents who live in Enstone, Church Enstone, Gagingwell, Sandford St Martin, Ledwell, Westcote Barton, Middle Barton, Little Tew, and The Wortons. They are appealing for others to join them in objecting to this development.

They write: “The most effective way to oppose this development is to make a public objection to planning application 17/03745/OUT on WODC’s planning portal.  Please forward this email to your friends and neighbours to encourage them to make an objection too. The timeline for making objections is 10th January 2018 (although objections may be heard after that date) – so please do not delay! The more substantive objections that are made, the better chance we have to stop this development

“We believe that if national planning policy is properly applied to this application, and West Oxfordshire District Council hears the communities’ voice, we can stop this type of inappropriate development.

“To contact us please email movethemullin@gmail.com.”


Follow Steeple’s Rose as she sails round the world

Steeple Aston resident Rose Todd has now reached Australia as a crew member on Qingdao, one of the boats competing in the Clipper Round the World Race 2017-18.

She started her adventure in Liverpool on 20th August 2017, and will be sailing a total of 40,000 nautical miles to circumnavigate the globe in eleven months.

Rose took up sailing after the death of her son Harry at the age of 18. He spent his last few months supported by Helen and Douglas House, the Oxford Hospice for children and young people, and Rose is raising money for them.

She sailed two legs of the 2013 – 14 Clipper Race from San Francisco to London. But this time she has signed up for the whole race around the world. She has been given one of the most important roles on the boat – she is the victualler, which as she explained before she set off is a major responsibility.

She wrote, “Being the victualler on a boat is right up there at the top of the ‘you-cannot-get-this wrong’ list when it comes to crew roles! Being the victualler means that I am responsible for organising everything to do with food; deciding what we need (ie writing the menu), buying the stuff, packing the stuff into bags to survive the journey, deciding where to store the stuff in hiding places on the boat, retrieving the stuff when it is needed for cooking and eating, making sure we have enough stuff, and buying more stuff and repeating the process before the start of each race.”

Since last August, Rose has had some exciting times reaching Capetown in October, then seeing many seabirds as well as whales and dolphins on her way through the Southern Ocean to Australia. Now she faces the next few months travelling to China, then across the Pacific Ocean and through the Panama Canal to New York. Finally she will sail home across the Atlantic Ocean to Liverpool.

You can follow Rose’s adventures on her blog at https://wavingnotdrowningwithclipper.wordpress.com/

And you can help her raise money for Helen and Douglas House at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Rose-Todd9


Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan to be submitted in February

The Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan will be submitted to Cherwell District Council in February, three-and-a-half years after the idea was first conceived.

Following the Pre-Submission consultation which closed in October 2017, all the Plan documents have been amended to take account of the many comments that were submitted by local residents, various organisations and landowners and statutory consultees.

But there has been a delay while an environment report has been prepared. In his monthly report, John Coley explains:

“Just when we thought we were set to formally submit our Plan, there has been a delay. We had hoped that Cherwell District Council would help us to with a “Strategic Environment Assessment” (SEA), but it’s turned out to that we were too optimistic.  We have had to produce the required document ourselves.  Not only that, but the SEA “screening”, as it’s called, must be studied by several Agencies first, including the Environment Agency.  This will inevitably delay us by about a further month.

“The SEA is a EU Directive, which applies now and may, or may not, apply after 2019. The Objective is “to provide for a high level of protection of the environment and to contribute to the integration of environmental considerations into the preparation and adoption of plans and programmes with a view to promoting sustainable development”.

“In essence, we had to show in our “screening” that the policies of the Neighbourhood Plan will not adversely impact on the environment. Since much of the Plan is aimed to protecting our rural environment of Mid-Cherwell, we’re hoping that this will be accepted without more delay.

“We are seeking to create “non-coalescence zones” between communities so that housing creep cannot join up villages. This is critical where development at Heyford Park could, if not checked, approach Upper Heyford and Caulcott. We had a very close Forum vote on this topic, which delivered a larger zone than some wanted, but less than the separation which others had asked for. This is now one of the Plan’s key policies.

“Hopefully by next month I will be able to report that we have now entered the formal process leading to the examination of the MCNP and its referendum.”

Following the submission of the report to CDC there will be a further six-week consultation period. The district council will then appoint an external Examiner to consider all the documents. After the Examiner’s report is published any final amendments will have to be agreed before a referendum is called.


Highways Authority says South Side plans are unsafe for pedestrians

The Local Highways Authority, Oxfordshire County Council, has added its objection to those of the Parish Council and others to the plans for six houses to be built on South Side.

In comments on the scheme the Highways Authority states it objects to the granting of planning permission “due to the lack of existing provision for pedestrians on the route between the site and the village” and they “do not consider that a safe and suitable access to the site can be achieved for all people….”

Steeple Aston Parish Council has already objected to the planning application by Rectory Homes to build six four-bedroomed houses on South Side opposite the entrance to Hill House. There have also been objections from the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum and from a number of villagers.

In general, neither the Parish Council nor other commentators are hostile to some development on this site. But there are major objections to the scheme proposed. The Parish Council comments: “While we consider that appropriate housing development on this site could be acceptable in principle, the application scheme is not suitable for the following reasons:

  1. Housing mix: the proposal is for six houses of four bedrooms. There is however a clear need locally for a mix of house sizes, including some with smaller number of bedrooms….. of the six dwellings only 2 should be 4-bedroom, 3 should be 3-bedroom, and 1 should be 2-bedroom. Such a mix would offer more affordable homes to local people, which we regard as an essential component of an acceptable scheme on this site.
  2. Safe pedestrian access: walking into the village with no footpath – especially in darkness – is dangerous, and difficult to solve where the road narrows at the Red Lion. There is no recognition of this difficult problem in the application (despite discussion at the local meeting at which the applicants presented their proposals in November 2017) …
  3. Safe vehicular access: the new road junction for the development will exacerbate an already dangerous stretch of road unless measures are taken to improve safety. Both speeding and limited visibility on the bend here have caused several near misses for traffic using the Hill House lane used by about 20 cars serving various dwellings opposite the site. The “Access Appraisal” report presented by the applicant relies on data collected in a week of heavy snowfall which must have produced untypical speed and volume data. We request that the survey be repeated in order to present data that can be taken seriously…..

Mid Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum objects to the lack of smaller more affordable houses, and is concerned about pedestrians, as are many of the individual commentators. Their submission says simply, “The application scheme will require pedestrians to walk in the road to access the rest of the village, which is unacceptable.”

Another concern from former vice-chairman of the Parish Council Richard Preston is the lack of car parking space. He writes, “There is insufficient on-site parking for the six sizeable properties if one considers the probability that at certain times during the year, many of these properties will have visitors arriving by motor car. The outcome of this scenario would be vehicles parked on the main highway creating significant danger to the users of the highway for access to and from the village.

To see the plans and make a comment go to Cherwell District Council’s planning portal https://www.publicaccess.cherwell.gov.uk/online-applications/ and entering the reference number 17/02414/F.  The expiry date for neighbours’ comments is 24th January, although no date for consideration of the application has yet been set. To see the Parish Council’s comments in full, as well as comments by others, including the Highways Authority, click on the Documents tab.

Rectory Homes is a privately-owned company founded in 1991 and based in Haddenham, Buckinghamshire. It specialises in building high quality homes, often in quite small numbers, in London and the South East. They have built 100 houses in the last year, and are responsible for developments in nearby Witney, Thame and Oxford. The company has an agreement with the South Side landowner that they will purchase the site if their planning application is approved.

To find out more about the company and see examples of its work go to its website, www.rectory.co.uk


Parish Council and others object to South Side plan

Steeple Aston Parish Council is objecting to the planning application by Rectory Homes to build six four-bedroomed houses on South Side opposite the entrance to Hill House. There have also been objections from the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum and from a number of villagers.

In general, neither the Parish Council nor other commentators are hostile to some development on this site. But there are major objections to the scheme proposed. The Parish Council comments: “While we consider that appropriate housing development on this site could be acceptable in principle, the application scheme is not suitable for the following reasons:

  1. Housing mix: the proposal is for six houses of four bedrooms. There is however a clear need locally for a mix of house sizes, including some with smaller number of bedrooms….. of the six dwellings only 2 should be 4-bedroom, 3 should be 3-bedroom, and 1 should be 2-bedroom. Such a mix would offer more affordable homes to local people, which we regard as an essential component of an acceptable scheme on this site.
  2. Safe pedestrian access: walking into the village with no footpath – especially in darkness – is dangerous, and difficult to solve where the road narrows at the Red Lion. There is no recognition of this difficult problem in the application (despite discussion at the local meeting at which the applicants presented their proposals in November 2017) …
  3. Safe vehicular access: the new road junction for the development will exacerbate an already dangerous stretch of road unless measures are taken to improve safety. Both speeding and limited visibility on the bend here have caused several near misses for traffic using the Hill House lane used by about 20 cars serving various dwellings opposite the site. The “Access Appraisal” report presented by the applicant relies on data collected in a week of heavy snowfall which must have produced untypical speed and volume data. We request that the survey be repeated in order to present data that can be taken seriously…..

Mid Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum objects to the lack of smaller more affordable houses, and is concerned about pedestrians, as are many of the individual commentators. Their submission says simply, “The application scheme will require pedestrians to walk in the road to access the rest of the village, which is unacceptable.”

Another concern from former vice-chairman of the Parish Council Richard Preston is the lack of car parking space. He writes, “There is insufficient on-site parking for the six sizeable properties if one considers the probability that at certain times during the year, many of these properties will have visitors arriving by motor car. The outcome of this scenario would be vehicles parked on the main highway creating significant danger to the users of the highway for access to and from the village.

To see the plans and make a comment go to Cherwell District Council’s planning portal https://www.publicaccess.cherwell.gov.uk/online-applications/ and entering the reference number 17/02414/F.  The expiry date for neighbours’ comments is 24th January, although no date for consideration of the application has yet been set. To see the Parish Council’s comments in full, as well as comments by others, click on the Documents tab.

Rectory Homes is a privately-owned company founded in 1991 and based in Haddenham, Buckinghamshire. It specialises in building high quality homes, often in quite small numbers, in London and the South East. They have built 100 houses in the last year, and are responsible for developments in nearby Witney, Thame and Oxford. The company has an agreement with the South Side landowner that they will purchase the site if their planning application is approved.

To find out more about the company and see examples of its work go to its website, www.rectory.co.uk


Police request help to fight anti-social behaviour outbreak

Thames Valley Police have asked villagers to report any further examples of criminal damage and anti-social behaviour following several incidents over the last few weeks. The police are aware of recent problems and are patrolling the village, but evidence of time and place will help them catch those responsible.

PCSO Louise Beaumont contacted the Parish Clerk Cathy Fleet after the most recent incident on 29th December when there was evidence of drinking and drug use in the area around the Village Hall and Play Area in Fir Lane.

PCSO Beaumont wrote “I have been asked by PC Shaun Sullivan to make contact about the reports of ASB/Damage in Steeple Aston mainly in and around the Recreation ground. I’m one of the Rural PCSO’s and patrol the area during the evenings as much as possible.

“If there are offences of criminal damage and ASB please can they be reported via 101 so we can patrol more effectively as this will help with times/days etc. I’m aware that the incidents are being discussed on the village Facebook page which unfortunately we do not monitor. It would be great if residents could be encouraged to report any offences/incidents via 101.”

This recent trouble follows on from a number of incidents of vandalism and anti-social behaviour in the village over the Christmas period. There was damage to an elderly pensioner’s car in Northside on 13th December. More damage to cars were reported on Southside, and a van was broken into and a satnav and camera stolen.

Later in the month two teenagers in hoodies were photographed jumping on the roof of the bus shelter near Bradshaw Close. Another villager shared photographs of three youths shining torches into cars on Heyford Road, and then two trying car doors in the early hours of the morning a few days later.

Other villagers have reported seeing three teenagers in hoodies around the village late in the evening, and there have been reports of youths knocking on doors and running away, which some residents living on their own have found quite threatening.

These incidents over Christmas follow on from two robberies in the village earlier in the month. and concerns about trespassing at Dr Radcliffe’s School. Chair of the Governors, Lise Boote, wrote on the Steeple Aston Facebook page “The governors at Dr Radcliffe’s have been liaising with the police regarding trespassing on the school site . The police are aware of a group in Steeple Aston and have stated that they need the community to report any incidents. If anyone has any evidence they need to call it in on 101. These people may be part of the same group.”

To see more discussion on this go to the website’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/steepleastonvillage/. You will need to become a member of the closed group to see all the posts.


Planning application made for six South Side houses

There has been a planning application to build six four-bedroomed houses on South Side opposite the entrance to Hill House. The application comes from Rectory Homes, the developer who gave a presentation about their plans to parish councillors and members of the public back in November.

The Parish Council will consider the application at the next meeting, and individuals can see the plans and make their comments by going to Cherwell District Council’s planning portal https://www.publicaccess.cherwell.gov.uk/online-applications/ and entering the reference number 17/02414/F.  The expiry date for neighbours’ comments is 24th January, although no date for consideration of the application has yet been set.

The plans show six two storey houses with access off South Side including parking and garaging. At the November meeting, George Bethall, land manager at Rectory Homes, said the houses had been designed to be in keeping with the rest of the village using local materials such as Cotswold stone, red bricks and timber cladding. Each house would be different. Nearly all the trees on the site would be retained, and he hoped that the development would improve the look of the entrance to the village.

Parish councillors and members of the public at the meeting expressed concerns about traffic and road safety particularly for pedestrians. They were also worried about the number of parking spaces to be provided and about drainage capacity.

Rectory Homes commissioned Glanville Consultants to carry out an Access Appraisal, including a speed survey along South Side. Unfortunately the week they chose for the survey was 8th to 14th December when there was heavy snow in the village. So it may not have shown a typical traffic pattern in normal weather. The consultants’ report concluded that safe vehicular access can be provided, but didn’t consider the safety of pedestrians.

Individuals are already starting to make comments on the application on the district council’s website. The former vice-chairman of the parish council, Richard Preston says he supports a sensitive development on this site but has three concerns.

He writes:

  1. There is insufficient on-site parking for the six sizeable properties if one considers the probability that at certain times during the year, many of these properties will have visitors arriving by motor car. The outcome of this scenario would be vehicles parked on the main highway creating significant danger to the users of the highway for access to and from the village.
  2. The pedestrian access / egress point as shown on the proposed plan will place residents from this development onto a relatively busy highway with no protection from oncoming traffic. If the council care to look at a previous consideration for development of this site they will see that their concern was lack of a public footpath linking the village. It would be hoped that residents of the proposed development would like to communicate with the rest of the village by walking into the centre and all its facilities but it would be improper and dangerous to expect them to risk their lives and that of their children by walking on a busy and narrow part of the main access road into the village.
  3. With such a comparatively large site would it not be more appropriate to encourage some “affordable” housing in addition to that proposed? This might in turn provide some much needed housing for the young people of our community and possibly a chance for the more senior members of our community to ‘down-size’.

Rectory Homes is a privately-owned company founded in 1991 and based in Haddenham, Buckinghamshire. It specialises in building high quality homes, often in quite small numbers, in London and the South East. They have built 100 houses in the last year, and are responsible for developments in nearby Witney, Thame and Oxford. The company has an agreement with the South Side landowner that they will purchase the site if their planning application is approved.

To find out more about the company and see examples of its work go to its website, www.rectory.co.uk