Projects and sounding boards move forward for Didcot Garden Town
Members of the Didcot Garden Town Advisory Board heard the latest progress on projects and developments in and around the garden town during their recent meeting.
At the start of the meeting, Cllr Duncan Enright was welcomed as temporary Chair, on behalf of Cllr Liz Leffman, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council. Cllr Leffman is set to attend the next meeting in October and will formally be appointed as the new permanent Chair of the advisory board, having taken over from Cllr Hudspeth following county elections earlier this year.
The advisory board also welcomed Cllr Denise MacDonald, who has recently been appointed Leader of Didcot Town Council having taken over from Cllr Mocky Khan, who has now become the Town Mayor.
During the meeting, members were updated on housing developments in the garden town area, including a presentation from Taylor Wimpey on facilities and homes being built on Great Western Park. A representative from Barton Willmore, an organisation working for Homes England, gave a brief overview on Didcot Gateway, the site opposite the railway station. The development will have homes and offices built on the site and will create new open spaces. The Didcot Garden Town team provided an update on the phases of Didcot North East development, the site north of Ladygrove known as Willowbrook.
Members also heard the feedback from the Residents’ and Business Sounding Boards. Both sounding boards meet every six months to help gather views and ideas on important topics from people living and working in the Didcot Garden Town and wider area.
At the last Residents’ Sounding Board attendees were asked to provide their views on the local cycling and walking infrastructure plan, which will help to connect villages and the town to local business parks. Residents were also asked about environmental projects and in their feedback they said they’d like to see more community allotments and planting wildflower areas in the garden town area.
The Business Sounding Board has now met, and some members have created a Business Leadership team to look at ways they can help with Didcot Garden Town projects to improve the local economy. They are also exploring ways in which they can help to provide apprenticeship opportunities and recruit for these more locally.
Cllr Duncan Enright, chairing the Didcot Garden Town Advisory Board, said: “Didcot is an important transport hub and town with great potential to become a model garden community for the whole country and as Cabinet Member for Travel and Development Strategy at the County Council, it was extremely useful to hear the updates that are helping to bring improvements to the town and surrounding villages. Receiving residents’ views on local cycle paths and pathways was very much in line with the new County administration’s priorities and will help us to form our future plans.”
Cllr Sue Cooper, Leader and Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Nature Recovery at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Cllr Enright as temporary Chair of the advisory board to help us continue the work to improve Didcot Garden Town. We look forward to welcoming Cllr Leffman at our next meeting as we reach a crucial time in our plans to help bring more sustainable and environmentally friendly projects to residents living in and around the garden town.”
Cllr Emily Smith, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “Having the county council involved in the Didcot Garden Town helps us to bring a more coordinated approach to plans, particularly for supporting local businesses in the town centre, the surrounding villages and our business parks. As we look ahead, post-covid, changing work patterns and a greater focus on active travel and public transport are informing plans for the Didcot and the wider area.”
A recording of the Didcot Garden Town Advisory Boards and information on the sounding boards are available by via southoxon.gov.uk/didcot-garden-town-latest-news.
The members of the Didcot Garden Town Advisory Board are made up of representatives from the Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Councils, Oxfordshire County Council, Didcot Town Council, a representative for the 18 parish councils surrounding the garden town, Homes England and the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.