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‘Village is at risk of losing its identity’
MORE details have been unveiled for a long-awaited 2,550-home development on the edge of Didcot.
Developers behind Valley Park, near Harwell, will hold an exhibtion on its masterplan at Didcot Civic Hall next Tuesday.
The plan – mooted since 2009 – also includes three schools, a neighbourhood centre, shops, a community centre and sports pitches.
Yet there are concerns Harwell will lose its identity as work is underway on 3,300 homes at nearby Great Western Park, to be finished by 2026.
Harwell Parish Council chairman David Marsh said work on Valley Park should not start until work is completed at Great Western Park.
He said: “The parish is roughly about 1,000 homes, with 900 in the village itself, but if all the housing proposals are allowed to go ahead there will be 6,000 additional houses in and around the parish.
“We will lose our village status and become a quaint little suburb of Didcot. That will put more pressure on Didcot because people will then use its services.
“With 3,300 homes at Great Western Park, 2,500 at Valley Park, and another 2,000 north of Didcot (at North East Didcot estate) there is bound to be additional traffic coming through the village.
“I don’t think it makes sense to start building Valley Park until Great Western Park is finished.”
He added that he was hopeful that a Harwell link road, from the A4130 east of the Milton interchange to the A417, would eventually be built despite funding concerns.
Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon Homes aim to submit a planning application later this year for Valley Park after a public consultation. It is part of Conservative-run Vale of White Horse District Council’s local plan on where future estates will go.
A study ordered by the county council – the Strategic Housing Market Assessment – reported in March the Vale needs 20,500 new homes by 2031 rather than the 13,000 planned.
Planning agent RPS spokesman Nick Mannering said it is an “urban extension”, adding: “We are also looking to prepare a planning application over the coming weeks and months to submit to the council.
“The scheme we are consulting on includes two primary schools, a special needs school, a neighbourhood centre including shops, a community centre and multi-functional green spaces, artificial pitches, tennis courts and green corridors. We would like as many people as possible from Harwell parish, and the Didcot area, to attend the exhibition.”
Liberal Democrat group leader Richard Webber said he had “an awful lot of sympathy” with Harwell residents.
He said: “There is a big danger that Harwell will lose its village identity and that Harwell and Didcot become joined.
“New homes do need to be built to keep the lid on house price inflation but there still needs to be a grown-up conversation about how this should be done.”
Tuesday’s public exhibition will take place at the Britwell Road hall from 2pm to 8pm.
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