OCTOBER

Views urgently sought on parish response to revised ‘chicken sheds’ plans

Following a meeting on Wednesday, 6th October Steeple Aston Parish Council has revised its response to the planning application for the development of the ‘chicken sheds’ – Hatch End Old Poultry Farm between Steeple and Middle Aston. Despite welcoming some of the changes, councillors have agreed to oppose the development once again.

The council is now asking for comments from the public before it submits its objections. Time is short, so please send your comments on the parish council’s draft by next Monday morning (11th October) to parish councillor Martin Lipson (martin.lipson@btinternet.com) and/or the parish clerk Cathy Fleet (parishclerk.steepleaston@gmail.com)

You can also make your own individual comments, which have to be in by 13th October, on the Cherwell District Council website. The Planning Committee are due to consider the application on 4th November.

You can see a description of the proposed changes in the News Archive.

Ten members of the public attended the special meeting in the Village Hall and most of them contributed to the discussion. The main issues discussed at the meeting were:

  1. Even with the revised proposals, the increased traffic volume and concern for the safety of children and pedestrians
  2. The proposed footpath through the site to join up with the Beeches public footpath was not acceptable to the meeting. It was thought this would not be used. A footpath along the verge should be insisted upon.
  3. There was approval of the moving of the car parking spaces from the front to the back of the site, though concerns about whether the number of spaces is adequate.
  4. There was still concern about traffic through the village during the construction period.

The Parish Council’s draft comments  with changes to the original objection highlighted in yellow


SEPTEMBER

Special meeting to discuss changes to ‘chicken sheds’ plans

The developer Middle Aston Limited has made some changes to its plans for the ‘chicken sheds’ – Hatch End Old Poultry Farm between Steeple and Middle Aston. The changes are mainly to the appearance of the development (see plan above) and the type of businesses to be sited there. There will be a special meeting of the Parish Council to discuss these changes in the Village Hall on Wednesday, 6th October at 7.30pm.  All are welcome to attend.

The application is due to be considered by Cherwell District Council’s Planning Committee on 4th November. The public has until 13th October to comment on the changes.

The application to create 25 business units has attracted much opposition from villagers, local councils and the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum. The main concern of most objectors was the impact on road safety with the Fir Lane development situated close to Dr Radcliffe’s Primary School, the Pre-School and children’s play area.

The developers say they have proposed these changes to address issues raised by the council’s planning officer and consultees. The changes to the appearance of the site are expected to be welcome but don’t address the main concerns about road safety. The changes to the use of the buildings may help to reduce traffic flow.

Edward Dowler, the Chair of Middle Aston Parish Meeting, explained the changes in use in an email to villagers. He wrote: “The permitted uses of the buildings have changed with the latest revision of the proposal. The last submission was for the whole of Use Class E, which allowed a very wide range of activities (including retail, sale of food and drink, recreation and fitness, and a creche or day nursery), and which could have generated high volumes of customer and supplier traffic to the site.

“The revised application restricts the use to four classes:

B8 Storage or distribution – This class includes open air storage

E(g)(i) Offices to carry out any operational or administrative functions,

E(g)(ii) Research and development of products or processes

E(g)(iii) Industrial processes

These are broadly the permitted uses of the existing buildings on the site.

“Consequently, whilst the density of the planned development (25 buildings instead of 7) does mean more traffic of employees arriving and departing from the site, and probably some increase in numbers of deliveries, at least the feared volumes generated by the wide range of uses previously requested will not happen.”

The changes to the appearance of the site include:

  • the car parking spaces at the front of the site have been moved to the back and the number of car parking spaces has been reduced from 79 to 74, with 12 spaces fitted with Electric Vehicle charging points.
  • the bin store has also been moved to the back of the site
  • a footpath is provided across the site to link to the existing public footpath running beside the site
  • the disabled parking spaces have been relocated to ensure that sufficient space is available
  • the openings in the east elevations of Units 5 and 6 have been removed to ensure that the units have a simpler appearance.

Details of the original planning application, these new amendments and the many comments on them are on the Cherwell District Council website. Go to Supporting Documents for the details.


Decision on ‘chicken sheds’ development now postponed to November

Consideration of the planning application for the redevelopment of the ‘chicken sheds’ has been postponed for a third time. It was due to be considered at the Cherwell District Council Planning Committee in August but was moved to the committee’s September meeting. Then it was postponed until October, and now there’s been a further delay until the meeting on 4th November.

But the news that Oxfordshire County Council Highways experts do not object to the scheme makes its approval more likely.

The application by developers Middle Aston Limited to redevelop Hatch End Old Poultry Farm between Steeple and Middle Aston to create 24 business units has attracted much opposition from villagers, local councils and the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum.

The main concern of most objectors was the impact on road safety with the Fir Lane development situated close to Dr Radcliffe’s Primary School, the Pre-School and children’s play area.

The plans show 79 parking spaces, and the units could contain a variety of businesses including light industry, offices, shops, cafes, restaurants, leisure facilities, fitness centres and day nurseries. The concern is that these could generate a lot of traffic during the day, but especially at times when parents are dropping off or picking up children from the school when there is already considerable traffic congestion.

Martin Lipson, Chair of the MCNP Forum and Steeple Aston parish councillor commented: “OCC Highways, once again, are not prepared to object to the revised scheme. Despite concerns expressed to them by our County Councillor Arash Fatemian, the officers insist that “additional traffic generated by the development does not give rise to a safety concern that the County needs to address”. They do however require a new footpath to be constructed for the 300m from the school entrance to the Hatch End entrance, and for a financial contribution to be made to help keep running the S4 bus service through the village.

“Arash told us at the Parish Council meeting recently that he understood that Cherwell might give approval to the scheme with a restriction on the breadth of the Class E uses that the developers are asking for. This may or may not prove helpful in reducing the impact of traffic. It is also not necessarily a permanent requirement, as the developers can come back later with a request to waive the restriction (as other developers have successfully done recently in Bicester).

“It is the intention of the parish council, Middle Aston parish meeting, and Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum to jointly make a submission to the Planning Committee when it meets to decide on the application. With 52 adverse public comments as well as the statutory objections, it can only be hoped that the Committee will understand the strength of local feeling, but at the moment it looks as if the recommendation will be to approve the scheme.”

More information

The full OCC response.

Details of the planning application, comments etc on Cherwell District Council website.


JULY

Have your say on Wincote plan

From the Parish Council:

The owner of Wincote has now submitted his application for replacing Wincote, off Cow Lane, with a new dwelling. Back in 2013, Henry Squire proposed a very large and ultra-modern house adjacent to the existing cottage, which precipitated a vociferous local campaign against it. He subsequently withdrew the application.

Now, eight years later, he proposes to demolish the existing cottage and its extensions, and replace them, more or less on the same site, with a scheme of more traditional appearance and materials. According to the documents submitted, the new scheme has been strongly influenced by the comments made the campaigners, and by more recent advice from Cherwell District Council officers. Approval seems quite likely.

The Parish Council want to judge whether there are still strong feelings in the village about the proposals before submitting views to Cherwell. Please have a look at 21/02366/F on the Cherwell planning website and let the Parish Clerk (parishclerk.steepleaston@gmail.com) know if you have any comments, whether positive or negative.

View the full Wincote Planning Brochure.


Developers’ contribution will improve village facilities 

A contribution to village funds of nearly £88,000 will be paid by the developers Rectory Homes, councillors heard at their July meeting.

As a condition of receiving planning permission to build 10 houses on South Side opposite the Red Lion, the developers are required to make a financial contribution to local facilities – known as a Section 106 contribution.

Permission to build the homes, which will include two ‘affordable’ shared ownership houses, was granted in March 2020 by Cherwell District Council. The Section 106 contributions were agreed this June.

This funding has to be made available before the first house can be occupied, which is expected to be around Spring next year. 

The funds are expected to be allocated as follows:

– £13,775 for improving facilities at the Village Hall and/or Sports & Rec Centre

– £24,300 for improvements to the football pitches and resurfacing of the basketball court

– £10,060 for replacements and improvements to the SRC building, and

– £39,820 for improvements to play equipment.

Parish Councillor Martin Lipson said, “It’s a very welcome contribution to improving parish facilities in line with the increase in the village population that will result from the development.”

The developers have to make other payments too, for example to the Education Authority to help with school places and towards improving the bus service.


Beeches development rejected on appeal

The plan to build eight houses at The Beeches on Heyford Road, Steeple Aston has been dismissed on appeal. Planning permission was previously refused by the planning authority, Cherwell District Council,  last November. The owner of The Beeches, Adrian Shooter, decided to appeal against the decision.

The appeal was dismissed on 16th July and Mr Shooter has now applied for permission to build just one new house on the property.

In his report on the appeal the Inspector says the main issues to be considered were:

  • Whether the proposed development would provide a suitable location for housing, having regard to its location, in the context of national and local policy; and
  • The effect of the proposal upon the character and appearance of the area.

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

In the event the Inspector decided to agree with the MCNP. He said that the proposed development was contrary to the Plan’s policy that any site proposed for development should be immediately adjacent to the settlement area.

After a site visit the Inspector found that “whilst the north-eastern corner of the appeal site would lie immediately adjacent to the built-up area, when viewed both in plan form and on the ground, the vast majority of the appeal site would not be.”

He also wrote that: “This development, due to its height, scale and mass would encroach into the open countryside and, in my view, would be visually intrusive and, as a consequence, would harm the rural character of the surrounding area.”

In the end he concluded that “whilst the proposal would deliver benefits, principally in the form of new homes, given the modest scale of the contribution, I find that the adverse impact of the proposed development upon the countryside and the character and appearance of the area, significantly and demonstrably outweighs these benefits.”

The Inspector’s reliance on MCNP policy in his rejection of the appeal was welcomed by the  Chairman of the MCNP Forum, Steeple Aston’s Martin Lipson. He said, “This is good news for those that support our neighbourhood plan policies, for example all those local people who voted for the MCNP in the 2019 referendum.” In the referendum on March 2019, 90.2 per cent of voters approve the plan.

Details of the original application and the appeal decision can be found on Cherwell District Council’s website.


Nicholsons ‘goes back to roots’

Nicholsons Nursery in North Aston is to take a change in direction from Monday, 2nd August. They say that their company ambition is clear “to plant trees at scale to mitigate Climate Change and work towards Net Zero, and to offer Plants, Forestry and Landscapes with a core focus on sustainability.” The business is being restructured accordingly.

This means there will no longer be any dropping in for coffee and cake. The Yurt will become a restaurant, taking bookings only for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. They will no longer sell gifts and interiors, and their Rosara garden furniture will be available online. Also they will no longer sell Christmas trees or host their popular Christmas fair.

Read more about the changes on their website.


JUNE

Valentines meet at last for ‘scrumptious’ tea

Members of The Valentine Club (over 60s) are usually kept busy with monthly meetings in the Village Hall and lots of outings all around the country. But the pandemic put a stop to all that. They had been no meetings February 2020.

So, it’s no wonder there was an enthusiastic turnout for their first get together for afternoon tea at Middle Aston House. And the weather was wonderful, as the Club Organiser, Richard Preston reports:

“It was a hot and sunny day on the 20th June and as I have always been told, “the sun always shines on the righteous”, so here were 78 members of The Valentine Club, enjoying what can only be described as a scrumptious tea, either taking in the shade of the large trees on the lawn or using both conference rooms where the white linen table clothes glistened along with the best table service you could wish for.  Where did we have to travel for this you ask? Only a few hundred yards to Middle Aston House where we were looked after like royalty. This was all made possible by the support of Home Instead (care providers) and Finders Keepers of Bicester.

“For the club members and some prospective new members, this would have been the first time they have enjoyed “freedom” in over 18 months and the first time the club has met since February 2020. Hopefully, this is the start of a new beginning where life returns to some sort of normal.

“Next month, on the 17th August, the club meets again at Rousham House where we will again be treated to tea and on this occasion, the opportunity to stroll around the world famous gardens of Rousham House. No charge for members on this occasion.

“On Tuesday the 21st September, the club reconvenes in Steeple Aston Village Hall at 2.30pm for a musical extravaganza and hopefully, monthly meetings in the village hall on a “monthly basis from thereon.

For further information please contact Richard on 01869 340512 or email Richard.preston5@btopenworld.com


Huge freight interchange planned for Ardley

Martin Lipson, Chair of the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum and Vice-Chair of Steeple Aston Parish Council reports on an enormous new development proposed near the M40 junction at Ardley.

He writes:

Our delightful and leafy corner of Oxfordshire seems to have come under siege from developers. While we are still reeling from the Government’s recent approval of the Great Wolf Water Park at Chesterton, another huge project has emerged. It is for a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (known as an SRFI) at Ardley, close to what we all know as “the dump”.

First word of it came from County Councillor Ian Corkin, who wrote to parish councils in the area at the end of May, as follows:

“Yesterday I received a telephone call from a consultant working for a company called Oxfordshire Railfreight Interchange Ltd.  They intend to bring forward plans for a rail freight interchange and associated commercial development, on land adjacent to the current railway line at Ardley. These are the bullet points I captured during the conversation: 

  • The proposed site consists of circa 135 acres on land bounded by B430 in the east to the edge of Heyford Park development in the west and the railway to the north.
  • There would be a very sizeable rail yard/sidings and associated sheds to process goods, distribution depots
  • Part of the application is likely to be a new junction(s) on the M40, with an associated bypass for Ardley and for Middleton Stoney
  • It is at a very early stage, although survey work to inform any application has begun this week and they will be contacting affected PC’s in the next few days.
  • As and when an application comes forward, it will be dealt with under the 2008 planning act as a national infrastructure project.  That means it will not be heard by CDC, but it goes directly to the planning inspectorate.  OCC and CDC will be consultees.  It also frees up councillors from the usual restrictions on commenting publicly on an extant application. 

They tell me the timeline looks like:

  • Notification to affected parishes and field survey work.  Starting this week
  • Sept/Oct 21 formal consultation with public/parishes
  • Further technical work and submission to planning inspectorate circa mid 2022.”

Since receiving Ian’s email, the following further facts have emerged:

  • This is the first Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) to have hit Oxfordshire. The planning process is therefore very unfamiliar, and it is already clear that consultation is much more limited than we are used to with locally-determined planning applications.
  • The “sheds” to which Ian refers are in fact the very largest kind of warehouses that have been springing up (for example, near Milton Keynes). They are simply enormous, and there will be at least seven of them, as can be seen in the drawing extracted from the applicants’ Scoping Report.
  • Government launched the idea of SRFIs back in 2014, so there is a presumption in favour of approval. So far, it seems that 6 of these Interchanges have been constructed or approved in various parts of England. The nearest is at Daventry, where the initial development has already received two further approvals to be expanded.
  • The idea behind them is to enable more efficient distribution of goods to regional and local populations, by bringing freight containers in on trains from ports, offloading the contents to warehouses, and then sending the goods in containers by road to their destinations. Typically, it is the big stores such as John Lewis and Marks and Spencer who lease these warehouses for distributing goods to their stores and, we are told, the market is hungry for more of these types of facility.
  • It is claimed that SRFIs maximise rail freight journeys and thereby reduce carbon emissions. However, there are critics who say that many of these huge warehouses are fed mostly by road deliveries- one container at a time.  

Ian Corkin subsequently asked the applicants to set up a website for the project, which you can see here: www.oxsrfi.co.uk

The first stage is well under way – a consultation on the Scoping Report (a 214 page document which must have taken at least a year to produce) ends on July 5th. Under the strict Regulations for NSIPs only those invited to respond at this stage may do so. Neither Steeple Aston PC nor the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum have been invited – despite the Interchange’s proposed location being entirely within the neighbourhood plan area. Only parishes immediately adjacent have the opportunity to respond to the Report.

In later stages, the public will have their chance. But, sadly, it is clear from large-scale local campaigns lasting years, against several of the SRFIs already approved elsewhere, that the strong and well-argued opinions of Parish Councils, District Councils and County Councils, local organisations and groups, and the general public, may all eventually get set aside “in the national interest”.


Red Lion and Middle Aston House open up

The Red Lion is now serving food  from Tuesday to Saturday 12 noon – 3.00pm and 5.30pm – 8.00pm, Sunday 12 noon – 3.00pm.  Please book a table by phoning 01869 340225. The pub is open for drinks every day from 12 noon. 

Middle Aston House is now open to non-residents on Thursday to Saturday from 4.00 to 8.00pm, Sundays 12 noon to 6.00pm. Have a walk in the grounds and then relax on the terrace with a drink from the bar.


How your parish council spends your money 

Parish councillors explain the Steeple Aston element of the 2021/22 Council Tax bill: 

For each of the past few years the Parish Council has published a commentary on the Parish ‘precept’ which is the local element of the overall council tax bill. Unlike last year, when the Parish Council managed to avoid any increase over the previous year, this year we have asked for an additional 2.2% (£558) bringing the total to £29,994. This article explains why we need the increase. You might have noticed that Cherwell’s Council Tax demand refers to Steeple Aston having a 3.8% increase, which may have caused some confusion. Apparently, each year Cherwell assess the numbers of households paying full Council Tax and this year it has gone down, therefore increasing the amount to be paid by each household which pays full Council Tax. So we will only receive the 2.2% that we asked for, but Cherwell needed to increase individual payments by 3.8% to generate the required precept.

The increase in Steeple Aston’s precept this year reflects the fact that we have had to maintain some of the important village facilities, of which we have more than many villages. This is in addition to the PC’s “normal” spending on grass-cutting, hedges, and weedkilling. Prominent amongst the responsibilities are the Playground, the Village Hall and the Sports and Recreation Centre. The costs of playground repairs, general maintenance, tidying, ROSPA reports etc are borne by the Parish Council. This year substantial repairs, replacement of fencing and equipment has been needed at the playground – one of the most heavily used in the area. A competitive tender was conducted, and a contract for over £15,000 was entered into, with the excellent results that you can now see. The multi-use games area was also professionally cleaned, for the first time in many years.

We pay for daily cleaning, consumables and repairs to the toilet, some of which are necessary as a result of anti-social behavior. We’ve just installed a new high-specification door and locking system in the hope of reducing vandalism and misuse of the toilet. The door cost nearly £4,000.  We are aware that some have suggested that CCTV monitoring may have been cheaper but we are not convinced that this would be an effective deterrent (and identifying vandals still leaves the cost of repairs to be met). Bob Bickley has looked after the facilities for some years now, but in March he gave notice that he was retiring. While we recruit a replacement, we’ve contracted with a cleaning firm to keep up the standards that users have come to expect. In addition to the toilet we also pay for daily cleaning of the whole playground area. Then there are the Village Hall and Sport and Recreation buildings to maintain. The respective management committees do a great job in acquiring funds for some improvements, most recently to the kitchen in the Village Hall, but other things, for example exterior decoration, roof and drainage repairs, and insurance, come out of PC funds. Repairs are often more expensive as the buildings are in the Conservation area. When the VH roof covering was replaced in 2000, it cost over £65k, so the Parish Council has a prudent policy to maintain reserves of funding, which this year amounts to £65,576, with a view to the inevitable future repairs and replacements. This year we have also incurred solicitor’s fees to update lease documents associated with these buildings.

Each year, the PC makes grants available to eligible local organisations, to help with their running costs in providing services to the community. This process is carefully managed to ensure that money is both needed and used effectively, and grant-making decisions, like all PC decisions about spending, are taken in our meetings and open to public scrutiny. Grants this year have totalled just over £3,600. 

In 2019 the PC responded to many requests from parishioners to try to reduce speeding in the village. We purchased the Speed Indicator Device that we’re sure you’ve seen in one of the five locations that it can be moved to, and we’re regularly monitoring the data produced. The machine cost over £3,000 but it seems to have been a sound investment as a speeding deterrent.

Once the detailed accounts of the parish council have been audited each year, we publish them on the village website, so you can see in detail where your money goes. We believe that the PC is providing the facilities that parishioners want, and we hope we have the balance about right in terms of the expenditure needed to support them, and a reasonable level of affordability. We hope you agree but, as always, we welcome feedback, to parishclerk.steepleaston@gmail.com or by attendance at our monthly meetings.


MAY

 

Parish Council and many more object to ‘chicken sheds’ plan

Steeple Aston Parish Council has now sent in its detailed objections to the plans for the redevelopment of the ‘chicken sheds’ – Hatch End Old Poultry Farm between Steeple and Middle Aston. The objections were accompanied by a series of photos showing traffic problems around the village.

There have also been strong objections by Middle Aston Parish, the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum, the Governors of Dr Radcliffe’s School and the Rector, Revd Marcus Green. In addition nearly 50 villagers from Steeple, Middle and North Aston have objected to the plans.

Last year the developer Middle Aston Ltd withdrew a previous application which also met strong opposition. Their amended proposals, they said, took into account some of the concerns raised last time. The footprint of the development was reduced in size and the number of units reduced from 29 to 24. The appearance of the units was also altered to make them fit in better with the rural environment.

However, there was one significant change which could not be blamed on the developer, but  was the result of a change government policy. The proposed use of the units now includes light industry, offices, shops, cafes, restaurants, leisure facilities, fitness centres, day nurseries, etc.

This was seen by many objectors as leading to an even greater increase in the volume of traffic travelling to and from the building. Traffic problems and particularly the danger to children at the school, which is next door to the ‘chicken sheds’, were the main reasons for concern by most objectors.

The Paris Council objections fell under the following headings:

  1. Intensification of use
  2. Pedestrian safety and Dr Radcliffe’s School
  3. Parking provision
  4. Travel plan and vehicle movements
  5. Construction period
  6. Need for extended footpath to the site
  7. Loss of greenfield land
  1. National Planning Policy Framework

 It concludes that “It is clear to Steeple Aston Parish Council that this application is exactly what the NPPF guidance seeks to avoid – a development that has an unacceptable impact on local roads, and fails to facilitate safe access on foot.”

Read the full submission here.

The application will be considered at the Planning Committee meeting on Thursday, 12th August. You can see the detailed plans and the comments on them on the Cherwell District Council website.  Go to Supporting Docs to see the detailed plans and all the comments.


Great Wolf Resort approved on appeal 

Approval has been given on appeal to the proposed redevelopment of part of Bicester Golf Course at Chesterton to provide a new leisure resort incorporating a waterpark, a family entertainment centre, a hotel, conferencing facilities and restaurants.

The resort will be the first of its kind to be built in the UK by the American water theme park company, Great Wolf Resorts. It will be called Great Wolf Lodge. 

This appeal has been granted in the face of vocal opposition from residents in much of the local area, including 35 parishes, and the unanimous objection of the Cherwell District Council’s Planning Committee. Volunteers raised £90,000 for the campaign against the development.

Diane Bohm, of Parishes Against Wolf, wrote of her disappointment in a letter to the chairs and clerks of the parish councils involved. She wrote: “Notwithstanding the objection of a significant section of the Cherwell area including 35 villages it has been deemed that the development will be good for us in the long run.

“Can we thank you for your support, encouragement and financial support during the campaign against Great Wolf. The volunteers who raised over £90,000 for our campaign worked tirelessly and did absolutely everything they could to raise money.”

Concern in many parishes like Steeple Aston centred on the impact of the development on the local road network of an expected 500,000 visitors a year. Objectors said this would mean 1,800 additional car trips a day on local roads, which are already stretched to capacity. This includes local country lanes, the accident hot-spot A34, plus the A41, A4095, B430 and A4030.

In his report the Planning Inspector recognised this as one of the main issues and made particular reference to the effect on the Middleton Stoney junction. He recognised that resort visitors from the North, Midlands and East Midlands would approach the site from Junction 10 of the M40 via the B430 and through the Middleton Stoney traffic light-controlled junction. But he said that improvements were already planned to the junction in connection with the development at Upper Heyford, and he didn’t think more needed to be done.

He saw nothing to suggest that the impact of resort traffic would unacceptably affect the safety and free flow of traffic on the A4095. And said that “a comprehensive signage strategy” would direct traffic going to the resort away from the single track road through Little Chesterton.

Other issues considered by the Inspector were:

  • the landscape and visual impact of the proposal;
  • the implications for sport and recreational facilities in the area, with particular reference to the provision of golf facilities;
  • whether, having regard to the nature of the development, the appeal site represents a locationally sustainable choice;
  • whether the proposal conflicts with the provisions of the development plan, and if so whether there are any material considerations that would outweigh that conflict.

All these are dealt with in detail in the Inspector’s Appeal Decision report.


Cathy takes over as WI President

Steeple Aston WI has a new President. Cathy Lawday (who may be known to you as a previous editor of Steeple Aston Life, and the writer of cheerful poems for the magazine) has taken over from Linda Needle.

She says that Linda will be a hard act to follow. “Linda has been a WI stalwart for many years and knows all the ins and outs of the local branch, and the Oxfordshire and the National WI too. I’m a relatively new member and don’t yet feel very familiar with the traditions of the WI. It’s going to be a steep learning curve. Luckily I have the support of a very experienced committee, and of two vice-presidents, one of whom has been president herself, and so knows the ropes!”

Cathy thinks that there is some advantage in being a ‘newbie’ to the WI as it helps her view the group not as members see it, but as it is seen by outside world. “The WI is viewed by some people as being just a club for old women, out of fashion, and out of touch. People overlook the fact that it is one of the largest pressure groups in the UK and has used its influence to campaign on many issues. At a national level, the WI has helped to bring about important changes in society, such as equal pay for equal work, fair milk prices for dairy farmers, organ donation, and the provision of more midwives. It is currently working on the promotion of cervical screening, ending plastic pollution, and expanding the stem-cell transplant donor network.”

At a local level, the WI provides an opportunity to socialise, and a chance to make new friends.

Cathy says: “We would like to encourage those who have moved into the village recently to come along to the WI meetings, to meet people and start new friendships. We are celebrating the end of lockdown with a garden party for members on July 13th, to which prospective members are also invited.

“Then from September we will meet in the Village Hall at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of every month. Do come along to a meeting and listen to our speaker or join in a social evening. Find out about the book group, the walking group, our plans for craft demonstrations and outings. Our programme for the coming year will be ready soon so you can see what interests you.”

Contact Cathy for more information. And if you feel nervous about going along to a meeting on your own, she will arrange for a member to go with you and introduce you.

WI President: Cathy Lawday     01869 347209       cathy@lawdaymacandrew.co.uk


Landlord Chris offers a warm welcome to the Red Lion

Chris Gates is the new landlord welcoming customers to Steeple Aston’s Red Lion pub. He took over in the first week of May at very short notice, and has already been attracting lots of custom from locals despite the unreliable weather.

Chris and his wife Naomi live in Adderbury with their 17-year-old son Will and daughter Lottie, aged 13. Many years ago, he ran the Dog and Partridge pub there, now sadly turned in to flats, but more recently he has been running a trucking company and has spent long hours driving across Europe and as far afield as North Africa.

The pub is currently open from 5.00pm on weekday evenings and all day on Saturday and Sunday. Chris is advertising for a chef and hoping to start serving food at lunchtimes and in the evening soon. A menu offering good quality fresh local food and pub favourites is in development. There will also be a smaller takeaway menu. Meanwhile he hopes to get the pizza oven up and running even sooner.

Bar manager India Dennison, who has been there for six years, is staying on but Chris will be looking to recruit more staff to help with catering, cleaning and waiting at table.

And there’s a lot of effort going in to sprucing up the pub both inside and out. The owners, Hook Norton Brewery, are refurbishing the upstairs as staff accommodation, and putting in a new bathroom. The kitchen will be cleaned and painted, and the outside paintwork will be refreshed.

Chris has ordered new planters for the front of the building and more tables and chairs. He hopes to be able to accommodate around 50 people outside, and to make the pub look more attractive and inviting to passers by.

Chris says he sees ‘huge potential’ for the pub and has lots of plans for the future. Ideas include themed nights – a steak night, maybe a seafood night and a quiz night for example. Chris’s wife Naomi is the cook at Adderbury Primary School. She finishes work at lunchtime and is a keen cake-maker, so there might even be a chance of afternoon tea!

They are also looking for ideas to make use of the small room on the right of the door, which used to house second-hand books. All suggestions will be gratefully received.

And our new landlord is a man of many talents with plenty of stories to tell. Born into a farming family in Gatwick, he spent much of his early life in Shropshire. He spent eight years in southern Spain running yacht charters, sometimes entertaining famous showbiz clients such as Warren Mitchell and Cilla Black.

He and Naomi married in Gibraltar but returned to her home in Adderbury for the birth of their son Will. There they ran the Dog and Partridge pub until it was sold for development. Then driving trucks long distance, gave Chris plenty of time to think up stories to tell his children when he got home. Now he has published a children’s story book based on some of  his experiences and the people he met on his travels.

Dragon Mouse tells of the adventures of a strange creature part dragon, part mouse, who journeys from the chilly Welsh mountains to the sunny seas of Spain. And Chris has just finished working on a sequel – so watch this space for news of its publication!


Newcomer Peter joins the Parish Council

Peter with his two grandsonsPeter Dammermann has become our newest parish councillor. He has been co-opted on to the council to fill one of the two vacancies left by the recent resignations of Graham Porcas and Charlotte Bartlett. There is still one vacancy to be filled, if you’re interested pleased contact the Parish Clerk, Cathy Fleet on parishclerk.steepleaston@gmail.com.

Peter is quite new to the village, moving here just over a year ago, but he brings with him a wealth of local council experience and a lot of financial skills.

Born in Toronto, Peter grew up in South Africa and moved to the UK as a teenager. As he says, “in time to witness the swinging 60s.” He qualified as a chartered accountant in 1973, and had a variety of jobs, starting as an articled clerk and progressing up the ladder to become a finance director before his retirement.

Peter lived in Honiley near Kenilworth for 33 years. During this time he married and raised two sons and a daughter. It is his daughter Melanie who persuaded him to come to Oxfordshire to see more of her and her children. She lives with her family in Somerton where Peter moved into a rented house in 2019. He bought his new home in Fenway, Steeple Aston in February 2020. His two grandsons,  Angus and Isaac, pictured above, are aged nine and four,  go to Dr Radcliffe’s and the Pre-School. So Peter is very handy for pick up duties!

From 1978 to 2003 Peter was the Honiley Parish Councillor representative on the Joint Parish Council of four villages. He served as Chairman for 10 years during which time he initiated the purchase of the local redundant village school and schoolhouse as the new community Village Hall. He was also Chairman of the Village Hall committee which successfully transferred in 1995 from their old Nissen hut to their new premises.

In 2005 he moved to Jackfield near Ironbridge in Shropshire where he spent 11 years managing the development of a property into six apartments and lived in one of them.

Peter is a keen sportsman, playing rugby for Harbury RFC vets until he was 60. These days he likes to keep fit by going to the gym, but during lockdown has spent his time remodelling his new garden.

Moving to the village in early 2020 has meant that his opportunities to meet local people have been rather limited. But his new role as a parish councillor should ensure that he gets to know plenty of villagers in future. 

Peter says, “Lockdown walks have shown me what a beautiful village we have and as a Councillor I hope to use my experience to help where I can as part of the PC team.”


Chance to comment on the council’s ‘chicken sheds’ objection letter

At the public meeting held by Zoom on Monday, 10th May it was agreed that the Parish Council would publish its draft objection letter to the proposed redevelopment of the ‘chicken sheds’ – Hatch End Old Poultry Farm between Steeple and Middle Aston.

This draft is now published for comments by members of the public before the council’s formal meeting next Monday 17th May at 7.30pm, when a final version will be approved.

You can read the objection letter here, and see the photographs illustrating the traffic issues here.  Any comments should be sent to the Parish Clerk, Cathy Fleet, by email (parishclerk.steepleaston@gmail.com) before the meeting.

Members of the public are also welcome to attend the meeting, the first one to be held in person for over a year. It will be in the Sport & Rec Building, but spaces will be limited because of social distancing, so please email Cathy Fleet if you want to attend.

It will still be possible for individuals to submit their own comments to Cherwell District Council up to 21st May.

A reminder from the Parish Council reads:

If you wrote to Cherwell  District Council and objected to the previous application, your objection will not be taken into consideration when the CDC planning committee look at this new application.

If you still have objections, you should therefore write again to CDC, stating your concerns about the  new application.  There are significant differences between the previous application and the new one. Any objections you raise should address the new application, not just be a reiteration of what you previously wrote.                        

Steeple Aston Parish Council has been granted an extension to this time limit until Friday 21st May. The officer’s report to the Planning Committee will refer to comments submitted up to 21st May, but the earlier you submit them the more effective they will be because the officers will have more time to study them, and to see them as independent of the Parish Council’s views; this is important.

More than 20 villagers have already lodged their objections, to see some of them, please click here.

You can see the application, more recent objections and make a comment if you wish on the Cherwell District Council website. The application number is 21/01123/F. Go to Supporting Docs for detailed plans and comments.


Public meeting called to discuss new chicken sheds’ plan

Steeple Aston Parish Council has called a special public meeting to discuss the new application for planning permission to build business units at the chicken sheds – Hatch End Old Poultry Farm between Steeple and Middle Aston.

The meeting will take place on Zoom on Monday, 10th May at 7.30pm. All members of the public are invited to attend. The Zoom link to join the meeting is here. Or, if you prefer to have an invitation contact the Parish Clerk, Cathy Fleet at parishclerk.steepleaston@gmail.com.

Meanwhile the Parish Council has published a notice of clarification explaining that villagers who object to the proposals should contact the planning authority, Cherwell District Council, as soon as possible. Previous objections won’t be considered. You can see the detailed plans and make a comment if you wish on the Cherwell District Council website. 

The site is in Middle Aston, and the Chair of Middle Aston Meeting, Edward Dowler has prepared a summary of the issues which explains his main concerns. Middle Aston residents will hold their own meeting  following the Steeple Aston one.

The developers, Middle Aston Ltd, say they have amended their proposals to take into account matters that were raised during the course of their previous application, which was eventually withdrawn. However, parish councillors are very concerned that a proposed change of use for the units would lead to an even greater increase in traffic through the village.

Last year’s proposal year to build 29 units on the site met with strong opposition from residents in Steeple and Middle Aston. At a Zoom Parish Council meeting on Monday, 15th June attended by more than 15 villagers, all opposed to the scheme, Steeple Aston councillors voted unanimously to object to the plans. Middle Aston Parish also objected to the scale and design of the original plan and voiced concern about road safety, as did many others. Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum also put in detailed objections along with a large number of villagers, the governors of Dr Radcliffe’s School and Revd Marcus Green, The Rector of Steeple Aston.

The developers say that their research confirms that, despite the pandemic, there is a demand for commercial accommodation of this type in North Oxfordshire. They have reconsidered their original plans in the light of the comments and objections received.

In this new proposal:

  • the existing 2,246m2 of commercial floorspace is replaced with 2,215m2 of commercial floorspace. So the scheme is of a similar scale to the existing buildings and much reduced from the previous scheme.
  • The number of units has been reduced from 29 to 24, and the number of car parking spaces from 97 to 79.
  • The design and scale of the buildings has been revised to address comments that were made about the height of the buildings and their impact on the character and appearance of the area. The proposed buildings will be single storey with heights ranging between 4.1m and 5.5m compared with 6.5m for the previous scheme.
  • Oxfordshire County Council as highways authority raised no objection to the previous scheme and the current scheme will have reduced highways impacts.

The developers conclude that the revised plan “has been sensitively designed to fit with the rural surroundings and is considered to have a positive impact on the character and appearance of the adjacent conservation area when compared with the existing buildings and overall site appearance.

“The proposed scheme overcomes previous objections through a design which is more akin to the existing development and of appropriate materials thus resulting in little or no harm to the character and appearance of the area. Notably, the proposed scheme results in a reduced floor area when compared to the existing development and significantly less than the previously submitted scheme.”

However, Martin Lipson, Vice-Chairman of the council and Chair of the  MCNP Forum has discovered that although the overall floor area has been reduced, the proposed use of the units now includes light industry, offices, shops, cafes, restaurants, leisure facilities, fitness centres, day nurseries, etc.

He says: “The previous application was only for offices and light industry, so it was possible to be able to calculate approximately how many people would be working there, and as a result how many parking spaces would be needed, and how much traffic would be generated. There were a lot of objectors who didn’t believe these calculations, but at least there was a reasonably clear basis for working them out.

“Now, with such a wide spread of types of use that would be permitted if approved, the 24 units proposed could generate unknown numbers of visitors, members, customers and incoming and outgoing deliveries, and on a daily basis. So, despite the scheme being an improvement visually and in other ways over the previous application, for which credit should be given, the situation (in my opinion) is actually much worse as regards traffic generation and parking.

“The calculations have been done on the same basis as before, despite the fact that some of the units could, over time, be significant and regular generators of traffic volumes quite unsuitable for the rural location. It is also notable that much of the parking is now proposed to be in a long row at the front of the site, highly visible and intrusive, whereas previously it was mostly out of sight at the rear of the buildings.”

The application will be considered by Cherwell District Council’s Planning Committee, probably in June. You can see the detailed plans and make a comment if you wish on the Cherwell District Council website. The application number is 21/01123/F and the deadline for comments has been extended to 21st May.


APRIL

Red Lion reopens for drinks in April, new tenants arrive in May

The Red LionSteeple Aston’s Red Lion pub reopened in April for outside drinking only in accordance with government guidelines.

The pub opened Tuesday, 13th April for drinks only outside. Opening hours for the time being are Tuesday to Saturday 5.30-11.00pm, Sunday 12-6.00pm. They are no longer serving food.

However, the current tenants Aidan and Kegan Madden are to leave the pub on 4th May. The brothers, who took over from Mel and Sarah Phipps in late 2019, have had a difficult year like most people in the hospitality industry.

The pub’s owners Hook Norton Brewery have been advertising for new tenants and hope to have them in place by the time pubs are allowed to fully open on 17th May.

Edwin Pope, the Operations Manager at Hook Norton Brewery, said: “The Maddens are leaving in early May and I have been actively recruiting for their replacement. There has been a lot of interest and I am in the final stages of selecting a tenant.

“I fully expect the site to be open in time for lifting of internal restrictions on May 17th.”


Prince Philip

A further message from the Rector, Revd Marcus Green:

On Thursday evening 15th April at 9.00pm there will be a short service of prayer to remember Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, in Steeple Aston Church. The service will offer a time to gather and to reflect during these national days of mourning, and is open to anyone who would like to come – no need to book. 

Please do wear a face covering, and (if possible) arrive at the same time as others with whom you would like to be seated.
 
The church is also open every day for those who wish to take their own time to pause and pray. Many of us have been personally affected by grief over the last year, and the emotions of these days can take us by surprise. Our church is here to offer both peace and hope to all of us, as we are reminded of God’s eternal love in this Easter season.

 

There is more, including a link to the Church of England’s online condolences book on the church website.


Winners at Not the Spring Show announced

There were 21 entries in the “My best Spring photo” competition, and the winner was Claire Hall for the Snowdrops photo above. Second was John Coley’s Apple Blossom picture, and Cathy Lawday was third with her Easter Bonnets.

The winner of the children’s photo competition was Ben Wade-Martins, age 11, for his duckling photo. Jenny Marsden, also 11, came second and her nine-year-old brother James came third.

The limerick competition was most popular, with 31 entries in all. Julia Whybrew, who organised the competition, said: “The limericks were great fun and the judges said they found it difficult to decide on the winners.  I asked them to decide on how much they were amused and they said their primary criterion was how much they were amused but they said they also took account of the wit, style and originality shown.

“The first prize went to Rebecca Lewin for:

There once was a shepherd called Bill
Whose voice was perplexingly shrill
Whenever he’d squeal
His dog wouldn’t heel
and his sheep b*ggered off down the hill.

The second prize went to Penny Cummins for:

There once was a shepherd called Bill
Who feared Jack the ram was so ill
So off to the vet
With his favourite pet
Says he ‘not a Jack, it’s a Jill’

Third prize was won by John Coley for:

There once was a shepherd called Bill
Who had sheep with a saleable skill
They often would star
When called to the Baa
And fleece all their clients with skill.

Children under 12 were invited to enter a poem about Summer The first prize was won by Tamsin Thatcher, aged 10 for:

Summer is joyful and fun
It’s a time of year
When spring is done
The long days are here.

You’re on the beach
Walking along the shore
Groups having a picnic each
Building sandcastles galore.

Swimming is fun
Outdoors is the best
With games in the sun
Not letting mummy rest.

The second prize was won by Amelia Bailey, aged 9, for the coloured picture of a poem below.

The third prize was won by Gracie Preston, aged 9 for

Roses are red,
violets are blue.
You look so sweet
I love you

Summer is cool,
Summer is fun,
I wish I could stay out,
And enjoy the sun

Swim in the sea,
Play in the sand.
I wish I had enough money,
To buy my summer land.

Birds in the sky,
Butterflies fly.
When I walk outside,
I see a beautiful sky.

The Under 8 painting prize was won by Ralphie Bailey for his picture above, and the Under 5 winner was Lottie Baggallay, age 4 for her painting of A Dog in the Garden below. Isobel Coysh, also 4, was second and three-year old Clemmie Baggalley was third.

To see all the entries, just click this link for the Not the Spring Show galleries.  Then click on the link for each class to see the entries. To enlarge, click on any picture then use the arrows to move forward and backward through the gallery.


Revised plans for chicken sheds go to council

Developers have put in a new application for planning permission to build business units at the chicken sheds – Hatch End Old Poultry Farm between Steeple and Middle Aston.

The developers, Middle Aston Ltd, say they have amended their proposals to take into account matters that were raised during the course of their previous application, which was eventually withdrawn. Last year’s proposal year to build 29 units on the site met with strong opposition from residents in Steeple and Middle Aston.

At a Zoom Parish Council meeting on Monday, 15th June attended by more than 15 villagers, all opposed to the scheme, Steeple Aston councillors voted unanimously to object to the plans. Middle Aston Parish also objected to the scale and design of the original plan and voiced concern about road safety, as did many others. Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum also put in detailed objections along with a large number of villagers, the governors of Dr Radcliffe’s School and Revd Marcus Green, The Rector of Steeple Aston.

The developers say that their research confirms that, despite the pandemic, there is a demand for commercial accommodation of this type in North Oxfordshire. They have reconsidered their original plans in the light of the comments and objections received.

In this new proposal:

  • the existing 2,246m2 of commercial floorspace is replaced with 2,215m2 of commercial floorspace. So the scheme is of a similar scale to the existing buildings and much reduced from the previous scheme.
  • The number of units has been reduced from 29 to 24, and the number of car parking spaces from 97 to 79.
  • The design and scale of the buildings has been revised to address comments that were made about the height of the buildings and their impact on the character and appearance of the area. The proposed buildings will be single storey with heights ranging between 4.1m and 5.5m compared with 6.5m for the previous scheme.
  • Oxfordshire County Council as highways authority raised no objection to the previous scheme and the current scheme will have reduced highways impacts.

The developers conclude that the revised plan “has been sensitively designed to fit with the rural surroundings and is considered to have a positive impact on the character and appearance of the adjacent conservation area when compared with the existing buildings and overall site appearance.

“The proposed scheme overcomes previous objections through a design which is more akin to the existing development and of appropriate materials thus resulting in little or no harm to the character and appearance of the area. Notably, the proposed scheme results in a reduced floor area when compared to the existing development and significantly less than the previously submitted scheme.”

The application will be considered by Cherwell District Council’s Planning Committee, probably in June. Before that Steeple Aston Parish Council, Middle Aston Parish and others will want to look carefully at the new plans.

You can see the detailed plans and make a comment if you wish on the Cherwell District Council website. The application number is 21/01123/F and the deadline for comments is 7th May.


MARCH

Council consulted on new plans for Wincote

Parish councillors were shown new plans for the redevelopment of Wincote in Cow Lane at their March meeting.

The house, pictured here, is the last one on the left of the lane as you head out of the village. It has belonged to the Squire family since 1973. Its proposed redevelopment was the source of  a major protest in the village in 2011 when nearly 100 villagers attended an angry  meeting in the Village Hall. Eventually, the application for planning permission was withdrawn.

Part of the concern back then was that there had been no consultation with the Parish Council and immediate neighbours before the planning application was made. This time the Squire family has approached the council and neighbours before making their application. Mindful of the opposition 10 years ago, Mr Squire started his presentation by explaining that his current proposals were ‘significantly different, were more sensitive and more in keeping with the surroundings’ than the previous plans.

The new plans would involve retaining the old house on the left side as you approach and pulling down the rest.  The footprint of the new building on the rest of the site would be about double the existing footprint but would be much more in keeping with the old house. The new build is intended to be similar in feel to the old house, for example with similar sized windows. 

The new parts would be built in a mixture of ironstone and limestone ‘to brighten its appearance’.  The plans include a large and tall barn like room at the far end from the entrance which would be a kitchen, dining room and sitting room.  This would be connected to the house by a largely glass and modern looking walkway.

The house would be as sustainable as possible with solar panels and air source heat pumps.  The old orchard, which was below the house will be replanted where necessary and a swimming pool and changing rooms incorporated. 

Mr Squire was asked whether he would use the house or whether it was a commercial venture or some sort of property development.  He said this was not the case, and he and his family would be the users. 

He said he had talked to the immediate neighbours and no one had objected to the plans but there were worries about parking and traffic while the building works were happening.  He explained there would be a temporary new drive so large lorries would not have to make the sharp turning involved with the existing drive.

Following his presentation, one of the councillors said he hoped the owner ‘would have better luck with Cherwell’s planners than others who have tried to get modern bits in the conservation area’.

The full Pre-Application brochure can be viewed here.


FEBRUARY

Football club appeal after goalpost vandalism 

Vandals have damaged the goalposts belonging to Steeple Aston Football Club on the recreational field at Robinsons Close. It is thought that the damage took place in the last few days of January.

The police have been informed and the Football Club is appealing for anyone who can provide any information to help catch the vandals to come forward.

On their website, the Club Chairman, Alan Peckham and Secretary Peter Wild write:

We are sad to have to report that the Steeple Aston Football Club goalposts have been subjected to an act of criminal damage.

One of the posts is so damaged that it is beyond any kind of repair. Whoever did this had to have put in a great deal of effort as they are very solid. Judging by the recently used beer cans and bottles that we found nearby, some socialising must of been taking place on the recreational field around the dates of 27th January -1st February 2021.

This act isn’t mindless it appears to be deliberate and pre- meditated. People always have a reason for their actions, even if the reason isn’t a particularly good one. However, we have no idea why the football club has been singled out in this way.

We have fully dismantled the damaged post and will shortly arrange for its disposal. The total cost of replacing the post will be £1525.44. As you can see, a substantial amount.

The police have been informed, and they, like us, would be grateful for any information that will help us to find the perpetrators. If you can help, contact either our club secretary or club chairman.

Kind regards

Peter Wild, Secretary SAFC
wild.peter54@gmail.com

Alan Peckham, Chairman SAFC
alanpeckham@btinternet.com


Two councillors required as Charlotte resigns

There are now two vacancies on Steeple Aston Parish Council following the resignation this month of Charlotte Bartlett. Graham Porcas resigned from the council last November, and his vacancy has still not been filled.

Charlotte joined the council three years ago. She has been busy since lockdown last March coordinating the S&J Cuisine meal deliveries in the village. She has kindly agreed to continue in this role. S&J have delivered more than 3,000 meals to villagers in Steeple and Middle Aston since last March. Charlotte has said that anyone can still contact her on charlottebartlett.steepleaston@gmail.com if they have any enquiries about meal deliveries.

Charlotte will also continue to be active in the village as Advertising Manager for Steeple Aston Life and supporting Sustainable Steeple.

The Parish Council is now seeking to fill both these vacancies. If you are interested, please contact the Parish Clerk, Cathy Fleet, on 01869 347000 or 07989 398838, or email her at parishclerk.steepleaston@gmail.com.


Covid vaccination message for over-70s from surgery

Message from Deddington Health Centre  sent on 8th February:

If you are in one of the 4 groups below and have not booked your 1st covid vaccine and would like to do so please call us urgently on 01869 338611.

  1. Residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults
  2. All those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers
  3. All those 75 years of age and over
  4. All those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals (not including pregnant women and those under 16 years of age)

There’s more information on the health centre’s website 


Robert steps up as new SAL co-editor

The March edition of Steeple Aston Life will have a new editor. Robert Scott has stepped in to fill the vacancy created by the departure of Becca Coker, and will edit the next few copies of the magazine while Angela Smith is on maternity leave.

Robert has lived in the village for just over 30 years and has spent most of his working life running his own publishing company, so is very well equipped to take on this editorial role.

Born near Lincoln, Robert spent much of his early life in Nottingham where he studied graphic design and photography. His first job was working on photography magazines for Robert Maxwell’s Pergamon Press at Headington Hill Hall, now part of Oxford Brookes University.

When Practical Photography magazine was bought from Maxwell by its Peterborough printer, Robert moved there. He eventually became editor of the magazine, but in 1982 decided to strike out on his own and set up Robert Scott Publishing Ltd.

Working for himself, he realised he could live anywhere he liked, so decided to return to Oxfordshire. He found a home in North Side, Steeple Aston and offices for the company in Tackley, where it remains to this day.

The company’s main publication is EOS magazine, a quarterly subscription magazine for Canon camera users. But over the years the business has expanded and now has a website with a busy forum and a digital edition of the magazine. It also runs training courses and publishes books.

Four years ago, Robert sold the company as a management buyout. He has continued to work on the magazine as a freelance Consultant Editor. Now working from home and having given up his management responsibilities, he looks forwards to getting more involved in village life by taking on the SAL editorship.

In fact, his links with SAL go back a long way as he was a member of the committee back in the early 90s. He was also involved in Steeple Aston Village Archive Trust (SAVA) helping with the publication of their early books.

In 2018 and 2019, Robert opened his garden as part of the NGS Open Gardens scheme. He’s hoping to do so again if the event is able to go ahead on June 20th. If it does, there will be lots to keep him busy in the garden over the next few months. But meanwhile he wants to concentrate on ensuring a smooth transition at SAL. He will welcome all contributions from villagers – written pieces and photos – just email Robert on editorsalife@gmail.


OurBus Bartons provides vaccine transport

 


JANUARY

Neighbourhood Plan is a success says annual report

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

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

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

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

More information can be found in the full report.


Appeal lodged against refusal of Beeches plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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