Welcome to the blog for residents of North Drive, Harwell.

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.

Please feel free to post comments and let me know if there’s something you think should feature on the blog. All comments are pre-moderated, so if you’d like to contact me without your comment appearing here, mark your comment “not for publication” and leave an e-mail address for me to get back to you.

The blog is edited by me, Adrian Brown. Unless credited otherwise, all posts and photos can be assumed mine and are licensed according to the Creative Commons conditions found at the foot of the page.


6 responses to “About

  1. Hallo. I’m originally from Chilton and trying to find out some architectural details on the firm responsible for the design of the housing stock in AERE Harwell. Do you know? Any pointers would be great. My email address is [edit].

    Many thanks,


  2. Thanks for commenting Huw.

    The 1930s housing was constructed as part of RAF Harwell, the builder being John Laing who subsequently won many more government contracts. The houses would most likely have been in-house designs, with no external firm of architects involved.

  3. We lived at 10 Downside from 1948 until 1958 when we moved to an authority house, 11 Welford Gardens in Abingdon. I attended Downside school just down the road. I am still in touch regularly with Margaret Hanks
    (nee Loveday). We both attended the nursery school on “site” before primary school.

    • Cheers, Roger. That reminds me … I have some pics of the nursery school somewhere. If/when I find them, I’ll add them to this post under a ‘Curie Avenue’ heading.

  4. Hello. Do you happen to have a site map of AERE Harwell from the 1960s/1970s? (The one in the back of the phone book!) I’m specifically looking for one with the old B buildings numbers on to try and identify what’s left amongst all the developments there. Thank you.

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