News Archive 2020


Plans for Old Poultry Farm raise traffic concerns

Steeple Aston Parish Council and Middle Aston villagers are considering how to respond to a planning application for a new business park to replace the chicken sheds on the road between Steeple and Middle Aston.

The 29 units proposed at Hatch End Old Poultry Farm could be used for offices, research and development or industrial activities. The application includes provision for parking for nearly 100 cars and 50 bicycles.

Steeple Aston councillors had seen some outline plans at their meeting last September and were initially supportive. They can still see advantages to the proposals as can villagers in Middle Aston. The site is an eyesore. The current chicken sheds are collapsing and can’t be let. Only 15 people work on the site.  A new development could bring jobs as well as greater use of the shop, the pub and the bus.

The site is in Middle Aston, which doesn’t have a parish council. Edward Dowler is the Chair of Middle Aston Parish Meeting. Because of the lockdown, he’s had to canvass the views of villagers by email.

He said that that the increase in traffic is the number one concern for villagers. The same is true in Steeple Aston.  Initially there will be heavy construction traffic needing to travel to the site either via Southside and Paines Hill in Steeple Aston or via Middle Aston.  Then the daily arrival of at least 100 employees’ cars and 50 bicycles in addition to clients visiting the site and deliveries would lead to an enormous increase in traffic. The proximity of Dr Radcliffe’s School, where there have already been worries about road safety for children, is of particular concern.

The parish council discussed ways in which the traffic impact could be reduced. Edward Dowler believes the traffic information included in the planning application is incorrect, and has spoken directly to the developer Charles Sandy of Middle Aston Limited about traffic mitigation measures, not just during construction but also for the long term. He wondered for example whether traffic could be limited during school pick up and drop off times, or whether perhaps employees could travel to the site by minibus. The Parish Council also want to speak to the owners and get more detail about what’s intended.

In addition, there is also concern in both villages about the appearance of the site, and whether it will be in keeping with its rural environment.  The plans show buildings that are 50 per cent higher than the current ones and look quite urban.  Some thought that judicious tree planting could help.

Both Steeple and Middle Aston have asked for an extension to the time allowed for comments. This has been granted and their comments now have to be in on 20th June. SAPC will discuss it again at its next meeting on Monday, 15th June. Members of the public are welcome to join the council meeting which starts at 7.30pm. Contact the Parish Clerk, Cathy Fleet on 01869 347000/07989 398838 or email for  a Zoom invitation.

Originally the application was to be considered only by officials, but now it has been decided to bring it before the CDC Planning Committee.  A decision is scheduled for 6th August. You can view the application, and comment on it if you want to, on the Cherwell District Council website ref: 20/01127/F.


Parish Council supports Beeches development again

Steeple Aston Parish Council has once again decided by a majority to support the application by owner Adrian Shooter to build up to eight houses at The Beeches in Steeple Aston, despite a conflict with the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan.

The Plan states that there are houses, mostly on the edge of the village where it would be inappropriate for large gardens to be developed because such sites are characterised as ‘backland’ never intended to be covered with houses. The developers at The Beeches are arguing that the MCNP view is not relevant to their planning approval.

The majority of the Councillors are not against the Beeches development seeing it as an acceptable way to help meet our limit of new homes by 2030. But they recognise the importance of not undermining the MCNP as it is a vital element in our arsenal to prevent unsuitable developments

This is the third time that Mr Shooter has applied to Cherwell District Council to develop the site. His first application was withdrawn following objections from Steeple Aston Parish Council and several others. A modified plan was submitted which took into account some of these objections. This time, the parish council decided by a majority not to object to the revised plans. However, the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum still had several objections and said the plan should be refused.

The plan was rejected by Cherwell District Council. The district council give two reasons for the refusal, both on the basis that the proposals are contrary to the Cherwell Local Plan and government guidance contained in the National Planning Policy Framework. The council’s case officer who recommended the refusal judged that “the proposals represent an inappropriate form of development beyond the built-up limits of the village, for which no essential or identified need has been demonstrated.”

This latest third application is exactly the same as the second one, but with the addition of a lengthy legal counsel’s opinion. The lawyer Peter Goatley looks in detail at the case and makes the point that the refusal of permission last time was delegated to a planning officer and never considered by the council’s Planning Committee.

He argues that the officer made an incorrect decision and that the relevant development plan policies, Council guidance and strategies have been misinterpreted and misapplied.

He concludes that “there would be a sound prospect for members of the planning committee,  properly informed, to reach a different view to that expressed in the officer’s delegated report … Clearly, if that approach is not successful then Mr Shooter will have little option but to appeal.”

The target decision date for the application is 1st June, and you can see the plan and supporting documents and comments on the Cherwell District website planning register.

Temporary closure of Village Shop and Post Office

Sadly the Village Shop and Post Office have closed temporarily. The Parish Council has put measures in place to support those who will be affected by the closure. See below. 


First we would like to thank Raj and Pari for keeping the shop open for as long as they have done in very difficult circumstances. They are well aware of how important the shop is to the village and have been doing their very best for us. To close it was an extremely difficult decision and not taken lightly.

The main and overriding reason for this temporary closure is that the shop is not a ‘safe’ place for anyone in terms of social distancing. Raj and Pari have tried all sorts of measures to make it work: having the till at the back of the shop, having a screen by the main till, card-only payments. But, the shop is very small and it is virtually impossible to keep 2 metres away from anyone else. They felt that this was compromising not only their health and that of the members of their families who work there, but also the health of their customers.

We appreciate that this move might cause stress to the vulnerable and the elderly. However, under current guidelines the vulnerable and the elderly should not be going out at all, let alone to the village shop. The Parish Council were aware from the outset that this particular group of people would need a lot of support during this crisis. That’s why three weeks ago we put out a village-wide appeal for volunteers, and a request for those who needed help to let us know.

There has been an amazing response to the appeal. Over 50 people have already volunteered to help, and many of them are already running errands, shopping, and picking up medication for those people who are unable to leave their homes. The closure of the shop will obviously increase the workload on these people. We are hoping that 50 plus will be enough. But, if there are any more people who would like to volunteer, please get in touch. Similarly, if you are having difficulty, or you know of anyone who is, do let us know. We are here to help.

We are also aware that many people used the shop as a pick-up point for their prescriptions. We have been in touch with Deddington Health Centre about this. While the shop is closed, the Parish Council will arrange for your prescription to be delivered to your door. If you have any concerns or questions about this, please contact Anna Thatcher on 01869 340672 or 0797 156 1493 or This service will commence from this week: Thursday 9th April.

While we appreciate that the closure of the shop is of great concern, we are also mindful of the position that Raj and Pari find themselves in. It has been a difficult decision for them to make, but the Parish Council are supportive of that decision as being the right one, and the most responsible one in the circumstances. We trust that you will understand, and support them too; and we hope to see them back in Harris’ Stores as soon as they feel able.

Steeple Aston Parish Council



We all know that we have Emergency Services who deal with most types of emergency, but a major incident may occur in our village when they could not reach us quickly (such as deep snow or a major incident elsewhere). 

This means the Community needs an up to date plan to provide effective, immediate support to those involved in an emergency, including any who have been injured or displaced, as well as to support the Emergency Services when they do arrive.

As part of the Parish Council’s Emergency Plan we need to keep an up to date list of expertise and resources within the village. 

Please let the Parish Council know if you have any of the following skills:-

Paramedic / Doctor
Nurse, Retired Nurse / Midwife
Trained First Aider
Pharmacist/ Chemist
Radio Amateur
Computer technician

Or if you have any of the following resources:-

Radios, walkie talkies
4 x 4 vehicle
Tractor and trailer
Lifting Equipment
Gas stoves/catering equipment
Surface water pump
Wet Vac
Old-fashioned plug in telephone

PLEASE CONTACT:  Cathy Fleet on or 01869 347000 if you have any of these skills, resources or anything else you think would be useful in an emergency.

SAL has not just one, but TWO new editors!

Angela Smith with James & Becca Coker with Imogen.From this month there are two new editors of Steeple Aston Life, Angela Smith and Becca Coker. Both of them are on maternity leave and are pictured here with their babies. Angela on the left is holding  seven-month-old James, and five-month-old Imogen is with her mother Becca.

Angela and Becca both came forward individually as a result of the desperate appeal in SAL for someone to take on the editorship after Heather Sherkunov had to resign when she  moved away from the village. They are going to share editorial responsibilities, with one taking the lead on alternate months. Angela is going first and will edit the April edition.

Angela may be known to SAL readers for her ‘Ramblings’ articles, seasonal reports on walks and wildlife in the area. Brought up in Beaconsfield, she moved to Steeple Aston four years ago from Bracknell in Berkshire with her husband David, an accountant. The couple met at Birmingham University where they both studied biochemistry.

After graduation Angela backpacked across Asia and Africa, taught English as a Foreign Language, wrote travel guidebooks and sold safari holidays. She still loves travelling, and is currently on maternity leave from a job in marketing at Flight Centre in Oxford.

Becca moved to the village just under two years ago with her husband Tom, who is a cavalry officer based at the Defence Academy in Shrivenham. She knows the area well as she grew up in Barford St Michael, where her mother still lives, and, as a child, had some close friends in the village.

After studying philosophy and psychology at university in Durham and Cambridge, she went on to work in the City as a lobbyist for the financial services industry. Becca is on maternity leave from Keble College, Oxford where she is a major gifts fundraiser.

She says that everybody was so friendly to her when she moved here, she would like to contribute to village life by helping to keep SAL alive. Angela too loves the village and hopes to meet more people through her work on SAL. She has already made some local contacts at the Baby and Toddler group.

They both hope that by sharing the editorship it will take the pressure off just one individual. They don’t have any major changes in mind for the magazine to begin with, but over time we may see some additions as they get in to their stride. Becca would like to include more about activities at Dr Radcliffe’s School. Angela says she has found SAL really useful for suggestions of things to do and places to visit, and she might want to expand this to include recommendations for places to eat as well.

If you want to contact Angela or Becca with ideas, comments or even complaints about SAL, please use the new email address

NB There is an error in this address on page 1 of the March edition of SAL, the address above is the correct one.

Planning decision on Great Wolf Resorts imminent

Urgent Message from Chesterton Parish Council

The Great Wolf planning application 19/02550/F is to be decided at the planning committee meeting this Thursday 12 March at 4pm.  This does not give much time so may I ask you to do two things:.

    1. Please email your strong objection to ALL the councillors on the planning committee by this Wednesday 11 March (this can of course be your original objection).  Although Cherwell District Council has recommended refusal we cannot afford to be complacent or assume that more distant councillors are as well informed.  No doubt Great Wolf will have done their utmost to reach these councillors so we must adopt the same approach.

To make it quick and easy, here is the list of councillors’ email addresses on the Planning Committee. These can be copied and pasted into a Bcc address box to make it more personal.;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

  1.  A planning QC has advised Chesterton PC that attendance at the meeting would show the strength of opposition and could make a real difference to waverers.  In anticipation of a large turnout of objecting residents and PC reps, Cherwell District Council have booked additional car parking at Banbury Cricket Club whose entrance is almost opposite the entrance to the Bodicote offices on White Post Road.  There will be someone directing cars at the entrance to the Cricket Club from 3.15pm on Thursday.  

You can find out more about what’s planned by Great Wolf Resorts on their website, and the objections to it on petition website



Award for Martin

Congratulations to Martin Lipson for winning a High Sheriff of Oxfordshire Award 2020. This award is given to people who have done great service to their community and has been awarded to Martin for his work on the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan. 

Pre-Schoolers appeal to dog owners

For years the Parish Council has been appealing to owners to pick up their dog’s mess. But there are always a few in the village who still take no notice.

Now the children at Steeple Aston Pre-School have joined in. Let’s hope they will have more success than the adults.

The three- and four-year-olds have been making posters asking villagers to “please pick up your dog poo”. You can see some more examples of their work below.

At Pre-School they also have a poem on the subject which pulls no punches! It goes:

Poo Poo on the street
Ends up on our tiny feet
We don’t know the consequence
But you do know it’s an offence
We tread it home and into school
Do you think that’s really cool?
You wanted a dog, you get the muck
So be the adult and pick it up.

Find out more about Steeple Aston Pre-School

child's drawing

Child's drawing

child's drawing

child's drawing


Parish Council acts on mobile phone reception

Following its recent survey on mobile phone reception,  Steeple Aston Parish Council has called on the providers to “effect a significant improvement to the poor mobile phone reception in our village”. Its strongly worded letter to the heads of the companies asking for immediate action has also been copied to the local MP Victoria Prentis and the Communications Ombudsman.

The Council is also urging individual villagers to write to their mobile phone provider to add power to the council’s request.

In a message to villagers the council says:

“Thank you very much for completing our short survey on mobile phone reception. We had an excellent response from the village with over 50 replies. We have combined and anonymised the results, and sent them to the CEOs of the eight mobile phone companies currently in use in the village, with copies to Victoria Prentis MP, and the Ombudsman for Communication Services.

Our letter, and the data we collected up to 15th January, are available on this village website.

“The data speaks for itself.

“While we wait to see what the reaction is, please can we urge you to write individually to your mobile phone provider. It may be that companies are more inclined to respond to complaints from individual customers to their own provider, rather than a collective complaint to many different providers. If so, an individual letter from you can only add power to our request.

“Before you write, please first check the coverage for your post code here:


  • explain why you are writing: to ask for an improvement to the mobile phone service in the village.
  • comment on how accurate the coverage checker is: say what the service is actually like in your home and garden.
  • say how poor service affects you:

            – do banks send codes to your mobile phone?
            – do any of your shopping sites use pass codes?
            – if you use the HMRC website, how does coverage affect you?
            – if you run a business from home, how does coverage affect you?
            – have you been refused a smart meter because of poor coverage?
            – do you have any other difficulties?

  • politely request again that something is done to improve the service.

We attach a list of addresses for you to choose from.

Once again, thank you very much for responding to our request for information.

Philip Jansen
Chief Executive Officer
81 Newgate St
Marc Allera
Chief Executive Officer
Trident Place
Mosquito Way
Hatfield AL10 9BW 
Tom Denyard
Chief Executive Officer
Tesco Mobile
Shire Park
Welwyn Garden City
AL7 1GA 
Nick Read
Chief Executive Officer
Vodafone House
The Connection
Newbury RG14 2FN
Lutz Schüler
Chief Executive Officer
Virgin Media
Bartley Way
Bartley Wood Business Park
Hook RG27 9UP
Mike Fairman
Chief Executive Officer
Giff Gaff
11 Vine St
Uxbridge UB8 1QE
Mark Evans
Chief Executive Officer
260 Bath Road
Slough SL1 4DX
Dave Dyson
Chief Executive Officer
Three, Hutchinson 3G Ltd
Star House
20 Grenfell Road
Maidenhead SL6 1EH

Village defibrillator is now active

Defibrillator on the wallThe defibrillator on the wall of the Sports and Recreation Centre is now active. It is registered with South Central Ambulance Service, who will issue the code for the cabinet if the circumstances of an emergency call indicate the use of a defibrillator

Villagers might also want to download the Save A Life App onto their phone. In the event of an emergency, this shows the nearest defibrillators to your location.

Parish Council Chairman, Richard MacAndrew explains how the installation of the new defibrillator came about, and most importantly how to use it!

He writes: “Last spring the village inherited a defibrillator from the first responders/South Central Ambulance Service. As there is now only one first responder in the village, the Parish Council volunteered to take responsibility for the defibrillator and mount a cabinet for it in a prominent place. However, further investigation, and discussions with the manufacturer, revealed that the machine was in fact 15 years old. Whilst the life span of a defibrillator is considered to be around 20 years, the warranty only is 10, so the Parish Council felt that it would be sensible to purchase a new one. The money to pay for this came out of the Parish Council reserves. The annual maintenance charge and funds for new batteries and pads, when needed, will come out of the precept.

“The new defibrillator is now mounted in its cabinet beside the entrance to the Sports and Recreation building, a site chosen for visibility, ease of access and the easy availability of an electricity supply. Since defibrillators have to be kept above a certain temperature, the cabinet is thermostatically controlled and therefore needs an electricity supply. ”

“The cabinet is locked to prevent theft. If a 999 call indicates that the use of a defibrillator might save a life, the Ambulance Service will give the key code to the caller. Using the defibrillator is very simple. You take it out of the cabinet, open it up and follow the spoken instructions. You cannot do someone harm using a defibrillator because it only works when it needs to. Or, as someone once said, the only way you can hurt someone with a defibrillator is to hit them with it!

“In order to reassure and inform villagers, we will be holding an `Awareness Session’, open to all, later in the year when a qualified practitioner will give practical advice on how to deal with an emergency, and demonstrate how a defibrillator should be used.

“To ensure that the machine is functioning correctly, the Parish Council will appoint two ‘guardians’ to inspect the cabinet and the machine on a regular basis and enter the results of their checks on an internet-based record system. The Ambulance Service can then be sure that they are directing callers to a working defibrillator.

“In the next few weeks a Village Emergency Telephone System (VETS) will be set up. This will enable someone who rings 999 to stay with the patient. If the Ambulance Service receives a 999 call and thinks a defibrillator is necessary, they will activate the VETS system, which will ring round a telephone chain of volunteers until it finds one who is able to collect the defibrillator and take it to where it is needed.

“The Parish Council is looking for volunteers who have a landline and who would be willing to add their names to the VETS list. If you are interested, please get in touch with the Chairman, Richard MacAndrew on 01869 347209 or”

Parish Council supports revised Southside housing plan

Steeple Aston Parish Council has agreed to support an application to build ten homes on Southside opposite the entrance to Hill House. A revised proposal from the developer  was considered by the council at its January meeting. The council was pleased to see that Rectory Homes had addressed the issues they had previously raised and now unanimously supported the application.

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

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

However, not all villagers are happy with the proposals despite the recent changes. There are objections by three residents living close by who continue to be concerned about the proposed development. They are mainly worried about safety of pedestrians such as schoolchildren leaving the site, particularly in the morning and evening when drivers often have difficulty seeing because of low sun.

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