Community Land Trust about to be set up

A Community Land Trust is going to be set up in the village following a public meeting on 10th April.

Julia Whybrew reports:

The meeting was organised to see if there is support for starting a Community Land Trust (CLT) here.  It started with a brief description of what a CLT would involve:

  • It would be a community led and not for profit organisation
  • It would further housing, social and economic activities in the village
  • The activities would be focussed around the provision of affordable, energy efficient housing for locals in need.
  • But its activities will not be confined to housing. There will be wider objectives such as protecting green spaces and developing shared, renewable energy projects
  • The CLT will be a legal entity which can draw on Government funding for local housing and raise money in its own right.

A CLT needs the money to become incorporated as a legal entity before it can start operating.  The Parish Council and Dr Radcliffe’s Trust have agreed to put up £350 each if the meeting decided to go ahead with a CLT.  There will be a nominal fee, either a £1 or £5 per household to become a member.  It will be for the CLT board to decide the charge and the sooner we get incorporated the sooner the CLT can start work.

Someone reminded us about what happened when Cherwell District Council was left to allocate any new housing.  CDC claim they took local connections into account when allocating houses in Coneygar Fields and Shepherd’s Hill.  But they regard local connections as much wider than we do, so an important part of CLT activities will be to negotiate with Cherwell to tighten the definition of local.

One of the most successful CLTs in this area is at Hook Norton.  Cathy Ryan, the chair of Hook Norton Community Land Trust, told us about what they have achieved at Hook Norton and which elements of their activities she saw as the most effective.  Hook Norton CLT was set up in 2019.  It has taken them till now to get their first house built.  In the same period developers have built 250 houses there with the aim of maximising their profits; without any consultation with locals.  The new homes have not helped the many locals who have been priced out of living where they were brought up.

Hook Norton CLT found some derelict and oddly shaped parcels of land owned by Cherwell District Council and negotiated with them to buy the sites. The CLT asked residents directly, and held workshops to find out what locals wanted.  The main answer was that the heart would be lost from their village if there was no genuinely affordable and sustainable housing for locals.  They also wanted things such as zero carbon construction, shared renewable energy generation, electric bikes for hire, electrical charging points and shared bookable facilities for visitors.

Hook Norton held a CLT open day to get comments before putting in for planning permission and Cathy told us she thought this had been very successful in obtaining local buy-in to the project.  The Hook Norton CLT has built eight houses costing £3.7 million of which they raised all but £500,000 commercially.  The difference was made up from local investors who are expecting a return on their investment which will vary according to how long the investors are prepared to tie up their money for.  A huge thank you to Cathy for talking to us.

After Cathy’s talk we split into groups and discussed the advantages and possible pitfalls of setting up a CLT.  The questions that came back from the groups included such issues as what does being a member of a CLT involve?  The answer was that shareholders have no liability, but they would get a newsletter and be invited to the AGM where they can question policy and vote for their preferred board members and on policy issues. 

At the end of the meeting there was a convincing show of hands in favour of setting up a CLT.  So the CLT Steering Group will get our CLT incorporated, be in touch with those who came to the meeting and hold a membership drive.

Current members of the steering group are Martin Lipson, Paul Rogers, Alan Stubbersfield, Charlotte Powell and Julia. New members would be very welcome. If you would like to know more, but could not get to the meeting, please contact steepleastonclt@gmail.com 

Heyford Park request slows progress on revised Neighbourhood Plan

The Mid Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum has published an update after the recent consultation with villagers across the neighbourhood. They are working on revising the plan taking in to account the views expressed.

However, progress may be stalled by the desire of Heyford Park Parish Council to leave the forum and create their own separate neighbourhood plan. An initial decision on this will be taken by Cherwell District Council on June 10th.

The message from the MCNP Forum says :

First, many thanks once again to all those who engaged with our recent Consultation on the review of the Neighbourhood Plan. We had a great response:

– 176 people submitted comments
– 662 comments in total were received
– 245 people attended one or more of our ten local engagement meetings

The Forum parish councils are now completing the process of reading all the comments and taking on board the many constructive suggestions for changes to our draft policies, as well as objections to some of them. We also have the preliminary views of various statutory bodies and Cherwell District planners to take into account. 

The next step is to produce a further iteration of the Plan, together with a detailed record of all the representations received (anonymised) and our response to them. Following submission to Cherwell DC, they will conduct a further public consultation on the basis of those documents. This will probably be in the Summer of 2024.

Heyford Park Parish Council

In November 2023, Heyford Park PC told the MCNP Forum that it wished to resign membership of the Forum. It was planning to create its own separate neighbourhood plan for Heyford Park, and subsequently applied to Cherwell DC to have the parish designated as a “neighbourhood area”. This is the first step of many that are needed to create a new neighbourhood plan. It took the MCNP over four years to do so.

No decision has yet been taken by Cherwell following their consultation on the application. In response, the Forum submitted a 19-point objection to Heyford Park’s proposal. We do not think it will serve the best interests of the local communities. We understand that the initial decision will be taken by Cherwell’s Executive at its meeting on June 10th.

In the meantime, Cherwell planners have told us that they will not progress any submission of our Revised Plan, due to the uncertainty of the outcome of the Heyford Park designation. Our work on the Plan is proceeding, but submission is therefore delayed until after the June meeting.

Dorchester’s ambitious plans for Heyford Park


Dorchester Living, owners of Heyford Park, delivered a presentation in February to Forum members and others of their long-term vision for Heyford Park. The aim is to pre-empt planning policy for this important strategic site by forcing Cherwell DC to determine Dorchester’s proposed submission of their new “masterplan” for planning permission this summer (a presentation plan is shown above). A refusal will likely trigger an appeal.

It is a very ambitious proposal, taking in large areas of the historic Flying Field as well as 250 acres of greenfield land to the south of the current development. The original permission at Heyford Park was for 1,075 new dwellings. The latest version is for 6,000 more homes – virtually a six-fold increase. While Dorchester suggest that much of the development would not start until 2040, it is nevertheless the aim to secure the long-term plan now, so that infrastructure improvements (such as the idea of re-opening a railway station at Ardley) can be promoted.

A central objective of the MCNP has always been to avoid the loss of countryside and damage to the rural setting of our villages. The Forum has already expressed its opposition to building on greenfield land adjacent to Heyford Park, and has serious concerns about the scale of Dorchester’s greatly increased ambitions for the town, not least because of the impact of traffic on our country lanes. We hope to be able to maintain constructive discussions with Dorchester Living, and will keep you informed on this important issue. 

Oxford Airport owners consult on modernisation

The owners of ‘London Oxford Airport’ in Kidlington have begun an Airspace Change Proposal to ‘modernise its air navigation procedures and associated infrastructure.’ 

They are at Stage 1 of a seven-stage process which involves consulting stakeholders, including parish councils and members of the public. This stage is about informing the public of their current operations, explaining the reasons for the proposed changes and suggesting draft design principles to be considered.

They have produced a very comprehensive consultation document explaining how the airport works at the moment and the potential dangers and choke points of the current system. They outline their nine draft design principles which include ensuring safety, reducing the workload on air traffic control and improving profiles for noise and CO2 emissions.

However, another of the principles is to meet future demand. The concern will be that a new system will result in more frequent flights by larger aircraft. The document says that the airport “currently serves commercial pilot training, helicopter maintenance and Business Aviation jet traffic; Business Aviation jet traffic has been steadily increasing, supported by our operational expansion in new hangars and Business Aviation jet terminal improvements. These Business Aviation jets range in size from relatively small Cessna Citation Mustang to Falcon 7X, GLEX, G7000, and 737 BBJ size aircraft and customers are requesting modern Instrument Flight Procedures.”

In addition, there have been approaches from aircraft operators about starting small scale commercial air transport operations at the airport,

Reponses to the draft Design Principles must be received by 24th April. The document explains how you can respond.

There’s more information and background on airport’s website

If you have any questions, please contact acp@londonoxfordairport.com


Parish Council tax increase explained 

On behalf of the Parish Council, Mat Watson writes:

Steeple Aston Parish Council has increased its council tax bill by 8.7 per cent compared to last year. The total cost, which is known as the Precept, has risen from £33,934 in 23/24 to £36,893 for 24/25. That means of a total £2,327.84 annual council tax bill for a property in Band D, the amount relating to the Parish Council will be £84.50. This works out to just £7.04 a month which is an increase of 56p per compared to last year. So less than a pint of milk. 

By comparison, some other large villages in the region have seen more significant rises. Adderbury’s Parish Precept has gone up 25 per cent while Launton has had an increase of almost 30 per cent. However, some places, like Hook Norton and Heyford Park, have had no rise at all. 

So what has caused the £2,959 increase in Steeple Aston’s Parish Precept? There have been three key elements. The first is an increase in the insurance premium for public liability. This has gone up from a budgeted £3,500 last year to £4,000 for 24/25. Another relates to new costs for 24/25 associated with the Mid Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan for £869. However, the most significant single increase is £2,000 which is for a grant the Parish Council has decided to make to Steeple Aston Preschool to fund part of its plans to renovate its ageing outdoor play area. It was deemed worthy due to the importance of the Preschool as a village asset and the benefit it brings to the community.

But while some costs have had a budgeted increase, some have actually decreased. For example, grass cutting has been reduced from £3,000 to £2,500 due to hotter weather last year resulting in less grass growth.  Most maintenance costs have remained the same, though, including the largest single cost – cleaning the village toilet and tidying the playground. This remains at £9,500, which is pretty much a quarter of the entire budget. The playground was built using grant money won thanks to a fundraising campaign led by Richard Preston. However, there are no grants available to pay for tidying the playground nor cleaning of the toilet, so the Parish Council funds this through the Precept. 

Anyone with small children, such as myself, will agree the toilet is a really useful facility. But it’s a disproportionately expensive one, especially for village residents who never use it. As a result, it has been the subject of several debates at various Parish Council meetings with some suggestions to introduce a pay-to-use system for the toilet or to ask people to make donations with their mobile phones via a QR code system whenever they visit the playground, especially as it is regularly used by people who don’t actually live in Steeple Aston. So far, the Parish Council has preferred to stick with the current method of funding cleaning the facilities through council tax. But this regular revaluation does show how the council is committed to ensuring residents get the best value for their money. 

And it does everything it can to keep costs down. 

For instance, a lot of work – such as tidying in the village, simple maintenance or organising events – is done on a volunteer basis and of course the Parish Councillors themselves don’t get paid. The only person who is paid for their time is the Parish Council Clerk, who is employed to manage and run the Council’s affairs. Their salary is linked to inflation and the cost has been budgeted at £4,500. 

For further information and a breakdown of the costs please view www.steepleaston.org.uk/finance and email any feedback to parishclerk.steepleaston@gmail.com

Surprise presentation at Spring Show – plus results & photos

Richard & Daphne Preston & benchThere was an extra special presentation at this year’s Spring Show, held by Steeple Aston and Middle Aston Horticultural Society on Sunday, 24th March in the Village Hall.

Richard and Daphne Preston have won innumerable cups at these shows over the years, but this was the first time they’ve been presented with a bench!

Graham Clifton, the new Chairman, who took over from Richard recently made the presentation. He said, “Most of you will know the Horticultural Society has been going over 125 years and some of you might think Richard was a founder member. I can assure he was not, but he has been involved with the flower shows for nearly 50 years and Daphne is not that far behind him.

“Over the years they have both been great supporters of the shows. Both have served on the committee, helped organise and run the shows. They have exhibited and won one or two prizes over the years!

“At the AGM last year, they both decided it was time to stand down from the committee and let some younger people take over. The show committee decided they wanted to mark their retirement and present them with a gift to show their gratitude.

I would now like to ask Megan Walker (Richard and Daphne’s granddaughter) to open the curtains and reveal a garden seat. I hope they find time to enjoy it in their garden.”

Richard and Daphne lost no time in trying out the seat to have their photograph taken by Nigel Francis.

Graham added that he was very pleased to say that there are now lots of new faces on the committee and he’s sure the show will keep going for a long time.

The rest of the show proceeded as normal with Richard and Daphne still having many successful entries. But this year Daphne had to share the Floral Art Trophy with Sheila Ballard. Other winners were Mary White: the Duncan Cup for Horticulture and the Mead Vase, Victoria Clifton: the WI Cup for Cookery, Janet Coley: the Handicraft Cup.

In the children’s classes Henry Munroe won the Bedding Family Trophy. Winners by age were: under fives Jacob Lewin, 5 to 7 years Isobel Coysh, 8 to 11 years Henry Monroe and 12 to 15 years Sam Martin.

Unfortunately, there was a bit of an Oscar style mix up in the presentation to the eldest age group. Show Secretary Victoria Clifton explains “We’d like to thank everyone who took part and attended our Spring Show. Sadly we have fallen foul of a technical glitch and incorrectly announced that Seren Wheeler Nunnely had won the 12-15 year category. This year she has been pipped to the post by Sam Martin. Sam is a worthy winner and has now been awarded his own chocolate egg. Apologies for the mistake, well done Sam.”

See the full results.

See photos from Nigel Francis in the Photo Gallery. Click on a photo to enlarge and navigate through using the side arrows.


Harry and Hannah get a warm welcome to the Red Lion 

NB New phone number 01869 389174 and new website open for bookings 

New tenants, Harry and Hannah Dickson, have taken over at The Red Lion and the pub re-opened on Friday, 23rd February.  

It’s just as well that they’re very experienced at running pubs, as they took over with no notice on a Tuesday and opened on the Friday to a very warm welcome from villagers. “We’ve had a very good response from customers so far,” says Hannah, “the place was packed on our first night.”

In the few days they had, they managed to do a lot of painting and refurbishing to give the pub a new but traditional look. They have opened up the old snug which will be available for private dining and meetings. Further work, including re-carpeting will be done on the main dining room in the next few weeks.

The Red Lion is the fifth pub in Harry and Hannah’s portfolio which includes The White Horse at King’s Sutton, The Roebuck Inn at Drayton (another Hookie pub) and two more at Henley and Stratford upon Avon.

After many years working for other people in London and elsewhere, the couple set up their own pub company in 2019. Hannah looks after the finances and marketing and Harry is in charge of operations. In the short term, they have been able to call on staff from their other pubs to help out at the Red. Family members are also involved, especially Harry’s parents Rob and Ann.

Their long-term plan is that their very experienced manager at the White Horse, John Thirlway, will be in overall charge of both pubs, but a new deputy manager and a chef will be recruited and offered the chance to live in the large flat above the pub. They also expect to recruit some staff locally, especially kitchen porters, and welcome applications from anyone in the village. They’d also like to hear from local suppliers of food and flowers.

Harry and Hannah have recently put down their own roots locally, buying a new build house in Banbury where they live with their four-year-old daughter Raeya.

They say that the  pub is offering a limited menu for the time being, but they did manage to produce a proper Sunday lunch on their first weekend. When the refurbishment is completed, they will also open at lunchtimes in the week  offering an affordable two-course set menu. Their food is described as modern British with an emphasis on the local.

As for the future, they hope to provide what villagers want. The local poker group have already been made welcome. There’s no takeaway yet, but it will be considered. Hannah says,” I see this pub as being quite summer led. We would like to provide barbecues, outside dining and maybe a summer party.” They’re also thinking of pizza!

They have a new website  with online booking. You can contact them by phone on 01869 389174 or email info@theredlionsteepleaston.co.uk. You can also message them on Facebook and Instagram 

These are the current opening hours:

Monday – closed

Tuesday – 4pm – 11pm, drinks only

Wednesday – bar 4pm – 11pm, dining 5pm – 9pm

Thursday – bar 4pm – 11pm, dining 5pm – 9pm

Friday – bar 12pm – 11pm, dining 12-3/5-9pm

Saturday – bar 12pm – 11pm, dining 12pm – 9pm

Sunday – bar 12pm – 8pm, dining 12pm – 5pm

Hannah says, “Whilst we continue to refurbish the main dining room, we will have restricted hours for the next few weeks. Once works are complete, we will open at lunchtimes during the week. Thanks so much for your patience! “

Council considers control programme for Blandford Fly

Steeple Aston Parish Council is investigating whether a control programme involving spraying the larvae of the Blandford Fly could be used to reduce dramatically the numbers of flies locally – and therefore the number of villagers suffering from their nasty, painful bites.

The Blandford Fly (sometimes called the blackfly) is a small 2-3mm insect usually found in East Anglia, Oxfordshire and Dorset. It’s most common during May and June. It flies low to the ground and normally bites ankles and legs. The painful bites can lead to swelling, blistering, joint pain and sometimes a high temperature.

The Blandford Fly is mostly seen in populated areas alongside rivers. It is thought that the River Cherwell is its local breeding ground. Its name derives from a major outbreak of people being bitten around the town of Blandford Forum in Dorset, in the 1960s and 70s.

Parish councillor Mat Watson has been in touch with researchers at Bournemouth University who say they have found a solution which has reduced the population of Blandford Fly by 98 per cent in affected areas from the Stour River. A posting he made about this on Facebook received a very warm welcome from villagers with over 70 ‘likes’.

Mat told February’s parish council meeting that it would cost about £4,000 for a local survey of where the fly develops and £6,000 for a wider survey of the whole of the Cherwell Valley. The survey could be done in April this year, but the spraying would have to wait for the following year.

Councillors agreed to contact other villages along the Cherwell Valley to see if they are interested in joining forces on this. They already know that two parish council are concerned. In addition, they are writing to local GPs to find out the extent of the problem. The local Health Centre at Deddington has the poster below on their website.

Oxfordshire County Councillor Arash Fatemian has confirmed that Deddington is particularly badly affected by the flies. He has offered to make enquiries and see if any funding may be available from the county council. The spraying programme in Dorset was county-wide and funded by the county council there.

With no prospect of spraying this year, the most important advice to gardeners and walkers during May and June remains to wear long trousers and tuck your trousers in to your socks!

But if you’re unlucky and get bitten, there’s more medical advice on www.oxfordhealth.nhs.uk/news/miu-update-patients-with-blandford-fly-bites/ or look at this poster from Deddington Health Centre.

Blandford Fly Advice Poster

Villagers consulted on 20mph speed limit plan

Oxfordshire County Council is consulting villagers on its plan to make roads within Steeple Aston subject to a 20mph speed limit. All the roads currently within the 30mph speed limit will be affected.

You can find out more and make your views known by completing a survey on the council website.  The consultation closes on Friday, 15th March.

In its announcement the council says:  

“Oxfordshire County Council wants to make our built environments safer and more attractive places to walk and cycle. To enable this, 20mph speed restrictions are being used to help promote alternative modes of transport for local travel. Further details on how the council is considering making 20mph the new 30mph for Oxfordshire communities can be foundhere.

“We’re therefore asking for your views on the proposal to introduce a 20mph speedlimit within Steeple Aston, replacing the existing 30mph speed limit in its entirety. The proposals are being put forward following road safety concerns raised by the parish, and form part of a countywide programme of works that seeks to deliver ‘a safer place with a safer pace’ for the residents of Oxfordshire.”

The following consultation documents give more details:

The proposed Traffic Regulation Order is scheduled to be advertised in the Bicester Advertiser newspaper on Thursday 22nd February 2024, and details are also available to view on the Councils consultation portal at the address below: https://letstalk.oxfordshire.gov.uk/steepleaston_20mph2024

Former owner’s ashes scattered in Community Orchard

priests officiatingSarah Lucas, who donated the land on Water Lane which has become the Community Orchard, sadly died last October. On Saturday, 10th February there was a ceremony in the orchard to scatter her ashes and plant a tree in her memory. Pictured here are the Steeple Aston Rector, Revd Harriet Orridge and Father Benji who officiated.

Annie Bayley writes:

Visitors to the Community Orchard on Water Lane might be surprised to discover that it has another name, Randolph’s Piece, carved on a stone near the entrance gate. This is a memorial for Sarah Lucas, who generously gifted the land to the Parish Council some time ago, and died last October. Her mother’s family were Randolphs, and her Great Uncle Bos Randolph lived in the house at the top of the hill for many years, where she spent many summer holidays.


Visitors to the churchyard opposite the village hall will find that Sarah is also commemorated next to the two headstones that mark her parents’ graves, side by side.

Her family have kindly donated a new seat to the orchard and a young quince tree. This was planted at a ceremony in the orchard on Saturday, when Sarah’s ashes were scattered and poems were read. One was written by Morar Lucas, Sarah’s sister-in-law for 63 years, who said it was hard to describe such a wonderfully complex personality in just a few lines:

For whatever you say about Sarah
The opposite’s equally true:
she was blunt –
She was sharp –
She was generous and kind
But wilfully blind
To the impact on others of speaking her mind.

She had powerful opinions
And no inhibitions.
She would fiercely defend
Her right to offend
Those in charge, if they dared to cause friction.
Then, into reverse,
And she’d feel no remorse
At espousing complete contradiction!

But Sarah had charm and perception
which endeared her to friends and to family,
for we all of us knew
that her love filtered through,
lighting up her robust personality.

Poem by Morar Lucas, February 2024

The new quince tree was blessed with holy water, along with the pear tree planted last year in memory of Roderick Nicholson and the plum tree for Harold and Olive, the couple who worked as Bos Randolph’s gardener and cook for thirty years.

Thanks to Ben Wade-Martins for the photos.



Works by two village artists chosen for prize exhibition

Works by two village artists have been selected to appear in Banbury Museum’s Ironstone Art Prize Exhibition. A charcoal drawing called “Eyecatcher Raging” by Abigail Boisot and “Stifle”, an oil painting by Rebekah Tuluie both appear in this biennial exhibition which aims to showcase the best recent work by artists living within a 25-mile radius of Banbury.

Abigail with “Eyecatcher Raging”
Rebekah with “Stifle”

Abigail lives in Cow Lane and walks her dogs around the Eyecatcher field daily. Her quote on the wall at the museum reads, “The Eyecatcher folly at Rousham stands in the field just below my house, I can see it from my bedroom window. It has been my muse, my source of comfort, and a constant in my life during my father’s death, the birth of my second child and the pandemic.”

That second child (pictured below) is now aged eight and a pupil at Dr Radcliffe’s School. Ted proudly accompanied his mother to the exhibition’s private view.

Ted & Eyecatcher

Many villagers will have seen Abigail’s paintings and notecards of the Eyecatcher in many different lights on sale at village events. She also specialises in painting portraits, especially of dogs and horses.

She says she was very excited to be selected for the exhibition as the judges are people she particularly admires in the art world. They included the well-known broadcaster and art dealer Philip Mould, Paul Hobson, the Director of Modern Art Oxford, Deborah Smith, the Director of the Arts Council Collection and Finlay Taylor, Senior Tutor at the Royal College of Arts.

The text on the wall beside Rebekah’s painting says: “I can’t breathe… Probing at human fragility through tension between internal vaporous space and solid congealed matter. Shapes dissolve or patterns harden. Fragments of memories conceal themselves, while rhythmic spiky episodes blast or collapse. At last, a lightness of being emerges, relief…”


Rebekah, who has lived in part of the The Grange for nearly ten years, trained as a painter but then worked in the film industry for many years. She is still involved in a few film projects, but spends the majority of her time painting in the little studio she built in her garden.

She says, “It was a raw need to dive deeply into my own vulnerability that gave me the courage to start to paint again. The poet Ted Hughes said, “Every work of art stems from a wound in the soul of the artists… Art is a psychological component of the auto-immune system that gives expression to the healing process.” My paintings hover between abstraction and a recognisable presence. I see each as an intimate portrait. They embrace and probe at my sense of femininity and the complex cluster of feelings that entails. There are centres of tension and depth within an orchestration of sparseness and calm. There is imbalance next to poise, floating and sinking, vulnerability but with teeth.”

Rebekah shares with Abigail a love of dogs, and often walks around the Eyecatcher field with her two. She says she finds walking a very good way of thinking through the next steps when she is stuck on a painting. She also values the friends she has made in this “warm, welcoming and supportive village.” They include neighbour Hilary Magee who took the photo of her at the exhibition.

The exhibition has plenty of interest for lovers of all kinds of art including paintings, photography, sculpture, ceramics, digital art, glass, textiles and metalwork. The winners of the Art Prize and the under-21 prize have already been chosen by the experts, but if you go along to the exhibition and you can vote for a “People’s Prize” of £100 to go to your favourite artist.

The exhibition runs until 10th March.  

You can see more of Abigail’s Eyecatcher pictures and more on her website and Instagram feed.

You can learn more about Rebekah and see more of her paintings on the Zuleika Gallery website 

First MCNP Engagement Meeting held in Steeple Aston

Cover of MCNP report

Steeple Aston was the first of the villages in the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan (MCNP) area to have a Community Engagement meeting on the recently published revised Plan. The revisions include proposals for housing development in Steeple Aston as recently agreed by the Parish Council. 

The revised Plan is open for consultation until Friday, 23rd February. You can read or download the full version here.  And you can submit your comments by visiting the MCNP website .

At the meeting on Wednesday, 24th January, the Chair of the MCNP Forum, Martin Lipson, who is also a Steeple Aston Parish Councillor, explained that after the consultation period, the plan will be adapted in the light of the comments received. After Cherwell District Council’s further consultation on the plan, it will be sent to an examiner appointed by the Government.   The examiner’s recommendations will then be subject to the local referendum.

The proposals already agreed in Steeple Aston are for 10 to 15 houses each on  the field opposite Townend on South Side and the field bordered by Fenway and Coneygar Fields to be allocated for possible future development. A third site behind the east and south sides of Grange Park is to be held in reserve.

Julia Whybrew reports on more of the proposals outlined at the meeting:

The Plan has designated some areas as ‘local green spaces’ and in this village there are now three; the recreational area, the allotments, the field beside Paines Hill. The Community Orchard is now proposed as a fourth.  The designation gives the same protection from future development as being in a Green Belt.

The current version of the Plan has far more details than before about elements that need protection.  This covers both natural features and manmade issues such as soil erosion, light pollution and noise. The proposals cover preventing the loss of existing things and the re-instatement of others. The priorities here could be reflected in planning decisions.

The latest Plan has also identified ‘Local Gaps’. The idea is that communities can be protected from encroaching development if there are designated ‘Gaps’ between them, for example between Heyford Park and the Horse and Groom on the edge of Caulcott.

The new Plan has identified attractive viewpoints, mainly around the Cherwell valley which it would like to see protected.  This has to be a local issue and hence is not reflected in national planning policies.  In Steeple Aston the four views selected are two on Cow Lane towards the Eyecatcher and towards Rousham, one north from the shop corner towards the church and the fourth southwards from near Brasenose Farm.

The Plan has other proposals including the following issues.

  • Existing homes should not be allowed to have extensions if it means losing existing off-road parking.
  • Traffic calming measures may be needed to encourage safe active travel opportunities, with the connectivity between different parts of the neighbourhood being protected and where possible improved.
  • The MCNP would like to see a GP practice at Heyford Park as soon as there are enough residents to make it viable and there is a need for a new cemetery for Heyford Park.

After the presentation, villagers were able to raise comments and queries. They included the following:

  • The protected/existing trees would not have to be removed to build or get access to the site opposite Town End.
  • Perhaps, subject to agreement, part of the Cottrell Dormer old allotment site might be considered as a new cemetery.
  • Could the requirement for planning permission be waived for solar panels in conservation areas.
  • A community land trust might be the best way to make sure appropriate house sizes were built and continued to meet local needs, but this had to be subject to the financial viability of the development.
  • There was no accepted measure of light pollution making it difficult to control.
  • The proposed Local Gap at the Upper Heyford allotments might be made to join the Local Gap north of Caulcott.

Martin said the MCNP team would consider all the comments and ideas. His team are keen to hear from as many people as possible. So, if you couldn’t get to the Steeple Aston meeting, you are welcome to attend any of the other meetings listed below:

  • Kirtlington – 31st January 6:30pm – Kirtlington Church
  • Ardley w/Fewcott – 6th February – 7:30pm – Ardley w/Fewcott Village Hall
  • Somerton & North Aston – 7th February 7:30pm – Somerton Village Hall
  • Upper Heyford – 13th February 7pm – Upper Heyford Village Hall
  • Lower Heyford – 15th February 6:30pm – King George’s Community and Sports Centre
  • Middleton Stoney – 20th February 7pm – Middleton Stoney Village Hall
  • Duns Tew – 17th February 2pm – Duns Tew Village Hall
  • Heyford Park – 12th February 7pm – The Heyford

You can read or download the full version of the revised plan here. 

January 24th meeting on revised Neighbourhood Plan

MCNP logoThe Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan (MCNP) Forum has published its revised plan, which includes proposals for housing development in Steeple Aston as recently agreed by the parish council. The plan is now out for consultation and there will be a public meeting in Steeple Aston Village Hall on Wednesday, 24th January at 8.00pm to discuss it.

The MCNP says there will be a presentation of the draft Plan  and an opportunity to ask questions about any aspect of the proposals. Although Steeple Aston has been the focus of potential housing allocations in the past months, there are also plenty of other new policies in the Plan that may be of interest. These afford extra protection to the countryside and biodiversity in the wider MCNP area, designation of more Local Green Spaces here and elsewhere, and Local Gaps around some villages to fend off possible future commercial development. 

Their earlier announcement about the publication of the draft Plan and the consultation on it read as follows:

The Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan (MCNP) Forum wishes you a very Happy New Year.

We’re pleased to inform you that we have now published the Review of the Neighbourhood Plan, and would welcome your comments and feedback on it. The Consultation remains open until Friday, 23rd February 2024.

The updated Plan includes several important new planning policies, including the allocation of housing sites in two of the villages, aimed at meeting the needs of local people. There are also new policies protecting the Mid-Cherwell environment, its landscape and biodiversity, and we’ve added more Local Green Spaces and more Local Gaps for protection from possible future development.

We want to know what you think about the new Plan: we have tried to make it as easy as possible for you to respond with our online questionnaire – please click here.

If you wish, you can save your comments and return to the consultation later.

We have also printed a short booklet with a Summary of the Plan policies – your Parish Clerk has copies of these if you would like one. Copies will be available at local engagement meetings in January and February, which will be advertised on the village website.

Thank you

MCNP Forum

You can read or download the full version of the revised plan here. 

Road blocked by fallen tree

Heyford Road was closed after a large tree fell during Storm Henk on Tuesday, 2nd January. The county council’s Highways surveyor attended the next morning and said they would do the clearing. Then nothing happened!

It finally re-opened on the afternoon of Friday, 5th January. Barbara Shooter, the owner of the tree, arranged for it to be cleared on the advice of the police when the council failed to turn up. She said: “There is still some clearing to do, but the contractors are being brilliant. Thank you all for your patience.”

Photo from near neighbour Matthew Austin.

tree acrossHeyford Road