Impact on East Challow
New development will have a big impact on East Challow
Work has already begun on constructing the Wantage Eastern Link Road (WELR) but even with this, new developments being built in and around Grove and Wantage will still have a big impact on East Challow and areas of western Wantage, if the WWLR is not built.
|Ref||Strategic Site Allocation||AM Vehicle Trips||PM Vehicle Trips|
|7||Park Farm||50||50||8||King Alfred Academy East||70||70|
Existing congestion will only get worse when the above sites are developed. The table of departures and arrivals at the seven sites reveals that the AM peak period will see another 2,415 vehicles using local roads and at the PM peak period the additional number of vehicles will be ever higher at 2,700
As per the map above, at least seven sites are either allocated for development before 2031 or have already gained planning permission and some, including the two largest sites of Grove Airfield and Crab Hill where the total number of homes together is 4,000, are under construction.
With 2,500 new homes to be built on Grove Airfield this will be the largest single generator of additional traffic, creating almost 1,000 vehicle movements each weekday at AM and PM periods. These developments will cumulatively add over 8,000 additional cars onto the highway network with no improvements currently proposed within East Challow, a key route between Science Vale and the west.
The number of new homes on all seven sites total 5,903. At an average of 1.44 cars per household* that equates to 8,500 cars.
* 2011 National Census specifically relating toEast Challow, Grove and Wantage.
The Downsview Road/Mably Way roundabout
Whilst the WELR will be effective in routing traffic away from the central and eastern parts of Wantage, without the WWLR, it effectively acts as half a by-pass, doing nothing to ease vehicle numbers and congestion through East Challow and western Wantage en-route to the WELR.
The WWLR would reduce traffic travelling through East Challow
Two years ago, Oxfordshire County Council confirmed* that the A417 is at or over capacity, contributing to the safeguarding of the route of the WWLR within the VoWH Local Plan Part 1.
This reality was reflected in the Neighbourhood Plan Community Survey Report, published in August 2017, which listed traffic on the A417 top of the list of major issues.
Under the heading ‘East Challow: The Issues and Opportunities’, the survey, delivered to all households in East Challow, asked the question: “What do you think are the major issues in East Challow?”
* Freedom of Information request made by East Challow Parish Council to Oxfordshire County Council in 2016.
HGVs travelling through East Challow
Why a WWLR is needed just as much as the WELR
East Challow will benefit from the WWLR, so much so that even with the new circa 6,000 homes committed between now and 2031 in Grove, Wantage and East Challow alongside background traffic growth and traffic associated with this proposal development, there will be fewer vehicles travelling through the village centre than there are today.
Those living in Grove and Wantage and residents of East Challow who use roads in these adjoining urban areas will also be beneficiaries as congestion is eased at major road junctions.
Many residents of East Challow are regularly held up in traffic jams at the Challow Road/Denchworth Road/Mill Lane roundabouts.
The reduction in traffic on Challow Road following the introduction of the WWLR would have a significant positive benefit in this location with delays on the A417 approach from East Challow reducing by 40% in the AM peak hour and on the Denchworth Road approach by 50% in the PM peak hour.
The reassignment of traffic onto the WWLR also has the significant benefit of reducing traffic on the southern section of Denchworth Road through the existing residential area and past Fitzwaryn School by 27% in the AM peak period.
Following the introduction of mitigation measures at Downsview Road and Mably Way it is anticipated that traffic levels in this location will reduce further, particularly movement from the town centre turning north onto Denchworth Road.
“Purely focussing on an Eastern Link Road lacks vision and ambition, and only solves part of the problem; it only moves and exacerbates problems onto another part of the town”
Wantage resident writing to The Herald in October 2017.
As can be seen by the map below, the WWLR, safeguarded through the Local Plan Part 1, together with the WELR, will significantly improve linkages east-west across the Vale by delivering an effective northern by-pass for Wantage.
The WELR, now under construction at the eastern end of the A417
The WELR, now under construction, will not provide any relief for the A417
Aerial = © Getmapping plc. OS= © Crown copyright and database rights 2018 Ordnance Survey 0100031673
Keeping the village’s identity as a separate settlement
It is quite clear that the residents of East Challow have strong views on retaining the village’s identity as a separate settlement.
The Neighbourhood Plan (NP) Vision states that “in 2031 the community of East Challow will still sit in a rural setting but separate from the urban developments of Wantage and Grove, as a smaller, rural village …..” The NP objectives include ….. “focus development in locations that preserve the heart of the village.”
The Dandara development site is not within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and it creates no direct harm to the AONB. It is also not contained within the Oxford Green Belt.
Under Local Plan Policy NE10, an area currently designated aims to prevent coalescence of Grove, Wantage, the industrial areas of Grove Technology Park, the site occupied by Crown Cork and Seal and the village of East Challow.
The site itself comprises a low-lying landscape with well defined field boundaries which visually contain the site from the north, west and east. From the more elevated immediate locations to the south, most of the site remains concealed as a result of the strong vegetated southern edge.
In a landscape appraisal by landscape architects Define, it is concluded that the development approach is sensitive to the local landscape character and visual impact through the retention of the field margins and woodland belts, the incorporation of new tree planting around the site, the creation of informal and formal open space areas along the sensitive edges and by restricting building heights.
A meaningful green gap has been introduced as a key masterplanning principle which physically and visually retains and reinforces a countryside edge to the village. This is a meaningful space which could be offered to the Parish Council to ensure its protection in perpetuity. This space would be bordered by new community facilities, providing a strong edge to the development and accessible services.
It is a proposal which delivers the land safeguarded for the WWLR, whilst generating long-term landscape and visual benefits and creating substantial new public parkland and amenity open space for the benefit of the existing and new communities as well as enhancing access to the Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal.
AREA 1: Informal and formal public open space creating physical and visual separation between the new community of East Challow to maintain the perception of openness and countryside gap. A new public park would include sports pitches and play area with improved footpath/cycleway links to East Challow and on to the canal towpath. The Masterplan would include a naturalised planting edge alongside the Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal corridor and the development edge of East Challow with trees and meadow grassland.
AREA 2: SUDS (Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems)/ naturalised open space, which manages SUDS naturally using existing corridors and acts to break up the development area.
AREA 3: Natural tree belts creating visual mitigation to development land on the higher eastern slopes to reduce the effects of views to the south/east as well as the effect on the perception of openness and protection of the countryside.
The land to the west of Wantage is able to viably deliver the entirety of the WWLR if associated with circa 800 new homes and some commercial development.
The Masterplan above illustrates how there can be a meaningful green gap between the existing village and the new development to ensure there is no perception of an amalgamation of settlements.
There will be nearly 30 acres of public open space in three specific areas:
- A linear green space focused on the route of Woodhill Brook which establishes an important and enhanced wildlife corridor including riparian planting, enhanced aquatic and terrestrial habitats and the creation of strong east-west pedestrian routes linking west Wantage with Woodhill Lane through the development.
- A community village green located towards East Challow providing opportunities for play, leisure, recreation and relaxation. This substantial area of public open space would create a green gap between Wantage and East Challow.
- A linear green space running adjacent to the Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal which would be retained, protected and enhanced from a biodiversity perspective. There would be pedestrian and cycle links through from East Challow village in the west into Wantage in the east.
This high quality public open space would be gifted to East Challow Parish Council to ensure its protection in perpetuity.
Nearly 7 acres of land for community use in the heart of the development. The Neighbourhood Plan Group survey showed that 89% wanted a shop and 61% would like to see a children’s nursery and land could be set aside for a new primary school. These items would be considered during ongoing discussions with East Challow Parish Council and the Neighbourhood Plan Group.
As the earlier boards reveal, traffic flows in East Challow will significantly grow between now and 2031, particularly if the WWLR is not built.
The WWLR, with the WELR, will dramatically improve linkages east-west across the Vale.
• By 2031 the WWLR will be used by 750 vehicles in the AM Peak and 781 vehicles in the PM peak.
Some of those responding to the Neighbourhood Plan Group questionnaire last year said that earlier developments had not brought any real benefits to the village.
Dandara’s proposals are comprehensive, and they offer a long-term solution to many of the issues currently facing East Challow. Only by providing the WWLR can Dandara address problems surrounding increased traffic on the A417, air quality and well-being.
East Challow Neighbourhood Plan Group have a vision and Dandara would like to work in partnership with the community to fulfil its goals.