We enjoy a peaceful and unusual semi-rural environment on the northern edge of the Harwell United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority campus. The estate looks out over Horn Down and Aldfield Common to the west and falls within the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Our neighbour, UKAEA, have announced their intention to seek planning permission for an estate of 400 houses to be built on the open fields we currently use for recreation. The proposed estate would dwarf our own and change the special character of our locality forever.
I joined a delegation from the Residents Association to meet with Goodman, UKAEA’s developer, on 23rd August 2010, to discuss their proposal. Feeling that we were being presented with a fait accomplis and only being “consulted” in the nominal sense, we have rejected the offer of further talks at this time, on the grounds that we object outright to the proposed development.
With the boundary of the nuclear-licenced site contracting and an abundance of true brownfield land being made available within an already-industrialised area, Goodman’s proposal to site an as-yet unspecified Big Science Project on ex-housing land to the south of the campus adjoining the Chilton Field development of 270 new houses then expand the built-on area to the north to accommodate an additional 400 houses, for which evidence of actual demand has yet to be established, seems unnecessarily antagonistic towards the existing settled community here.
The idea of allowing a large housing estate to be built here arose because Vale of White Horse District Council, then Lib-Dem controlled, wanted to exceed their centrally-imposed housebuilding target in order to qualify for government incentives under Labour’s Growth Points scheme. But, with the Regional Development Agencies scrapped by the new coalition government, Conservatives now controlling the Vale and with the Tories’ flagship Big Idea of “localism” said to be at the heart of national and regional policy, we should have confidence in the delivery of Reason No.2 of “3 Positive Reasons to Vote for Ed Vaizey”, as listed on the back of Ed Vaizey’s 2010 campaign leaflet, wherein:
“Conservatives will get rid of top-down plans from Whitehall leading to houses being dumped on local areas. We will give people a say in how many, and where, local homes are needed.”
(Edit; 01.07.15. That went well, didn’t it?)
In response to the council’s Additional Consultation of 2010 concerning the dumping of these 400 houses on us, the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty office said:
“The site has not been based upon an assessment of local need, alternative sites available or landscape capacity. AONB should only be used for strategic growth in exceptional circumstances and this has not been justified.”
In time, we will feature further articles and information relating to North Drive and updates on our campaign.
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