Friends of Old Woodstock

Latest Newsletter

You can read the minutes of the steering group meeting here

Following the June meetings with Community First Oxfordshire and their consultants Terence O'Rourke and Partners, Stan Scott sent the following letter to the Consultants drawing to their attention the urgent need for our concerns to be addressed and for them to engage with us directly.

A Message from Stan Scott 7th June 2019

Dear Everyone - a new table has been installed at the play area, on the day it was delivered.  I'm afraid I made a bit of a fuss when the old one was removed without notice, apparently after a health and safety inspection, as I feared that we would all see it as running down the play area ready for doing away with the play area.  Anyway, the table is very smart and made to last.

And we are to have new notice boards (next council meeting) so we shan't know ourselves! Perhaps Woodstock knows we are here now?

At the Town Council meeting on the 11th, Andrew has asked a question about the lease of the play area, Colin has asked to speak about things we need in Old Woodstock, and there is a motion for the council to support our concerns about the A44 when they are consulted about outline planning permission.

I believe also that we are approaching a crucial stage, when the planners work out the detail of the site, access to it and the problems of the A44.  CFO have promised us access to the planners at a later stage, but we do not know when or how that will happen. We must make sure that we have full access to the planners.

Stan

At a public meeting on 27th March 2019, open to all Old Woodstock residents, 71 households were represented.

At the meeting, the residents of Old Woodstock expressed strong opposition to housing development on the site adjacent to Hill Rise, because of the potentially increased concentration of pedestrians and motorists on the A44, which is the only link between the site and the town of Woodstock, and the real dangers present there.

The A44 Manor Road carriageway and pavements cannot be widened at already dangerous points between Farm End and the Black Prince public house.  Safer off-road routes for pedestrians and cyclists have not been explored by either the developer or the Authorities, and may present additional time consuming difficulties of funding, land ownership, aquisition and design, well beyond the start of building. Even if alternative routes are provided, this specific section of the  A44 Manor Road will remain a danger, and a risk to health due to increased air pollution.

In addition, promises to engage residents in discussions regarding layout and impact upon existing communities have not yet been met.

To be specific, the public meeting identified the following issues that must be addressed:

Earlier Newsletter

Background to Expected Future Development
Woodstock is growing, and Old Woodstock is going to become much busier than it ever has been, an increase in population of about half again. Approval has been given in the District Council's
Local Plan for 120 houses to be built on the field bounded by Hill Rise and Vanbrugh Close, to the east of the A44. A planning application is expected in about a year's time, and building could soon follow if that is approved.

Friends of Old Woodstock
A group of residents are seeking to re-activate Friends of Old Woodstock, a loose association of residents in two way communication in this part of the town, by email, social media and a possible meeting. The time for opposition is passed. This will be about community planning. We would then like to take up the offer of the developers, Blenheim Estates (who also own
Pye builders) to consult us about how the development is carried out. Looking to the future, how will the increased traffic be managed and pedestrians and cyclists get to the town and schools safely? Good design and open spaces on the site will also be important, and the type of housing introduced. Integration of the new community with the existing seems crucial, and considering how the increased population will move about comfortably. We are interested in your views.

Immediate Concerns
Three issues seem immediately obvious:
(a) the narrow and dangerous pavements leading to the town;
(b) the problems of vehicle access to the site, from the A44 or through the existing estate, not only by construction traffic but also for the future; and
(c) the impact of the new housing on existing (the layout of the new housing).
Increased pedestrian use of the narrow pavements towards the town on the A44 are likely to raise extreme concerns about safety, and yet the pavements and the road itself, narrow at particular 'pinch' points starting at Farm End, can hardly be widened much or made substantially safer. Air quality might also be an issue. The possibility of a new footpath and or cycleway, to give greater connectivity to those in Hill Rise, Barn Piece and the new development to the town, could be considered. A sensible route might be around the field edge and across the fields and the river. However, careful consultation will be needed with residents of Hill Rise, Vanbrugh Close and Mavor Close whose homes and gardens back on to this suggested route, and a substantial 'buffer' zone of several metres between those gardens and the new path if it is built, might be desirable for basic security and privacy reasons. The path may need adequate, possibly low level lighting. And it will cost money, which may not be readily available. But the dangers to pedestrians on the A44 in Old Woodstock can surely not be ignored any longer?

Play Area and Traffic Concerns

The play area and small football field at the end of Rosamund Drive are seen as focal points for the existing communities in Hill Rise and the Barn Piece estate, and potentially for the new settlement. One of our priorities should surely be that this is preserved. If developers drive through the play area, even if it is re-located, traffic generated from the new housing estate and traffic serving it will soon cause chaos at the junctions of Rosamund Drive and Vanbrugh Close. We are suggesting that the developers are urged to seek vehicular access to the new development site from the A44 only, perhaps by means of a roundabout built on the site north of Hill Rise, so slowing and managing through traffic on the main road as well as coping more easily with the increased local traffic. Talks between the developers and Oxfordshire County Council and West Oxfordshire District Council seem likely to be necessary at an early stage.

Preferable Outcomes
Ideally, the new development will have an open plan design, preserving open spaces, footpaths and grassy areas wherever possible, and existing houses will not want to feel crowded by the new ones. The public footpath to Wootton must be preserved and incorporated into the design. The well used informal paths behind Hill Rise and Vanbrugh Close are important links to the Barn Piece estate and onwards to the town, and also link with other footpaths.

Planning Process and Community Engagement
As well as our discussions locally, Blenheim, jointly with Woodstock Town Council, is launching a review of the whole of Woodstock, conducted by a specialist company, in which they will ask us all how we see the town in future years. Using the results of this, they say they will develop an Infrastructure Development Plan before formulating and submitting a planning application to the District Council. Of course, all funding for infrastructure, including school and doctor provision as well as any new roads and pathways, can only be met by a finite amount which the development attracts, and all requests or needs, however important, may not be possible. We must make our case clearly. Everyone is welcome at a meeting to be held at the Town Hall on Wednesday 27th March at 7.30pm.

Information and Communications
Friends of Old Woodstock has an email address:- friendsofoldwoodstockl@gmail.com to which you are invited to subscribe and send your views, and you can be kept updated. Your data will be kept carefully secured, not shared with anyone and password protected.
There is also a Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/FriendsofOIdWoodstock 
and a Website:
www.friendsofoldwoodstock.co.uk on which we plan to provide as much data and background information as we can.
 
Contact can also be made with individuals via the Contacts page here

Best regards to all residents of Old Woodstock.
We should talk together about the best way forward. Email us please.

Newsletter Update:-

Roger File, Property Director and COO, Blenheim Estates 31.2.2019 - came to Old Woodstock, initially to view site but explained process and time scale, team of 'facilitators' to commence consultation soon.

Ian Hudspeth, Woodstock County Councillor and Leader, Oxfordshire County Council - invited to Old Woodstock to view A44 Manor Road footpaths, request from us for complete review of dangerous section of A44 and possible solutions.  Instead, meeting arranged for two of us to go to County Hall to meet Council officials 13.3.2019

27.3.2019 Councillor Mathew Parkinson, Woodstock Town Council viewing A44 dangerous section with Colin Carritt and Stan Scott, with a view to asking Woodstock Town Council to support request to Oxfordshire County Council for complete review of A44 Manor Road.

Tom McCulloch and Hilary Lombard, Joint Chief Executives of 'Community First' have agreed to visit Old Woodstock to inspect problem areas, date to be arranged.  Initial meeting with Ms Lombard on 28.2.2019 . Their publicity leaflet with dates for consultation sites attached.

Dates for your diary:
19th March 2019, 7.30pm at the Community Centre - annual Town Meeting, for residents to voice their concerns on any subject.

9th,12th,15th,19,22nd March - Community First presentations and consultation meetings at the Community Centre, Marlborough School and the Museum - see attached leaflet for details.

27th March 2019, 7.30pm at the Mayor's Parlour, Town Hall, Woodstock - meeting for all residents of Old Woodstock.  Those mentioned in the meetings listed above would also like to attend.

Notes:It might help to put the address friendsofoldwoodstock1@gmail.com in your Contacts list, this could be useful for further updates but can divert to spam folders.

Keep an eye on the website for comments from residents, and please let us know if there is more we should be doing, or opinions we should be considering.  Thanks.  Stan

WANT TO READ EARLIER NEWSLETTERS?

The January 2019 Newsletter can be read here