The thick blue line

The 5 kilometre “health route” for walkers, joggers and runners, marked by a prominent blue line through Langford, is an NHS England initiative and part of the Bicester Healthy New Town program. The Langford Village Community Association supports the aim of encouraging a healthier lifestyle and had initially discussed the 5k route through Langford with CDC officials involved in the planning, but was not informed of the route marking plan.

Like many Langford residents, the LVCA is very disappointed with the implementation of this scheme. The “NHS blue” choice of colour relates to NHS involvement in this scheme, but the blue line looks completely out of place running through open grassland, tree-lined paths and close to houses.

LVCA has since had further discussion with CDC officials, who were sympathetic to these concerns. LVCA committee members Richard Kingshott and Richard Ponsford have produced separate, informative reports covering the problems caused by poorly conceived implementation of the Langford 5k route, with suggestions for improvements. These can be downloaded below:

Report 1: Langford Village footways and shared-use links
Report 2: The thin/thick/thin blue line

The lessons learned from the Langford response will hopefully prevent any recurrence of these problems in other areas. Additional 5k health routes are planned for east Bicester, including Skimmingdish Lane and west Bicester, including Bure Park.

London Road level crossing

Langford residents suffering ongoing delays and problems at the London Road level crossing may wonder what is being planned to address this, especially in view of the increased number of passenger and freight trains that will eventually run when the East West Rail link to Bedford and beyond becomes operational.

A road bridge is planned to replace the level crossing on the ring road at Charbridge Lane, but the London Road crossing is more challenging. A report published in January 2017 by Network Rail for Oxfordshire County Council, titled “Development of Identified Options for London Road Level Crossing, Bicester – Key Findings”, outlines the problems involved and the options available. Two potential underpass options are being considered, with cost estimates varying between £61 million and £65million, and a bridge option is also under consideration at a cost of up to £44 million. A copy of this 3-page report can be downloaded from the OCC website.

Bicester Heritage Sunday Scramble

bicester-heritage-scramble-2016Bicester Heritage is holding its first event of 2017 on 8th January from 9.00am to 2.00pm. This “Sunday Scramble” at Bicester Airfield is aimed at classic car enthusiasts and offers the opportunity to view the classic cars and motorcycles visiting the event and also to see inside the specialist workshops, showrooms and buildings used at Bicester Heritage for restoration and storage of vintage and classic vehicles. Depending on the weather, Bicester Gliding Club can be seen in operation. Further details can be found on the Bicester Heritage website.

Car parking is free, and there will be a variety of catering outlets on site serving food and drink. Tickets for the event are normally £8.00, but Bicester Heritage is offering discounted tickets to local residents of OX26 and OX27 for only £4.00 (plus a booking service charge); children under 16 are free when accompanied by an adult ticket holder. The link for discounted tickets can be found here; note that you will be asked to enter your address to confirm eligibility as part of the purchase process.

Local Wildlife Sites petition

Further to the previous post on 19th October concerning Gavray Meadows, Pat Clissold has sent the following message:

“Dear friends,
I just signed the petition “Protect Local Wildlife Sites in law”  and wanted to ask if you could add your name too.
This campaign means a lot to me and the more support we can get behind it, the better chance we have of succeeding. You can read more and sign the petition here:
http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/protect-local-wildlife-sites-in-law
Thank you!
Pat
P.S. Can you also take a moment to share the petition with others? It’s really easy – all you need to do is forward this message or share the above link on Facebook or Twitter.”

Further information about local wildlife sites can be found in the Wildlife Trusts’ “A short guide to Local Wildlife Sites” and also “Secret Spaces“. A list of Cherwell Local Wildlife Sites can be seen here. Problems facing Langford’s own Local Wildlife Space, Gavray Meadows, were also featured in the Guardian newspaper earlier this year.

Gavray Meadows, Langford Brook and Langford Fields

gavray-meadowsGavray Meadows is situated next to Langford Village on its north side. It is an area of about 12 hectares and is the only natural green space on the east side of Bicester. It connects to Langford Fields through Langford Brook. All three form part of the environment of Langford Village as much as does the civic centre. As part of our environment, we should be aware of the Meadows and care for it and its future. If it is built on, Langford Fields will have less variety of wildlife and will be a less pleasant place to walk in. I think that we all know that green space enhances the desirability of our houses and their market value. WHY are we not caring for this green space and WHY are we allowing the building of many houses with tiny “back yards” on Gavray Meadows without raising any protests?

I have just managed to get the Environment Agency to stop dumping of waste by factories on the Chaucer Industrial Park (north of Gavray Meadows) into Langford Brook as it flows past their old drains. Langford Village is named after Langford Brook and not vice versa. It is a very old water course arising near Stratton Audley and is used by sheep for drinking water. Its health is essential for our enjoyment of Langford Fields. Langford Fields and Gavray Meadows form a continuum, and animals and plant seeds travel freely between the two sites. Many of you walk your dogs over Langford Fields and worry about them going into Langford Brook to drink or cool off. I want a clean Brook so that people do not have to be afraid of getting a huge vet’s bill for curing their dog’s infections. All animals including ourselves need clean water. It is a requisite of life. Residents of Langford should be concerned and take an interest in the fate of our Brook and all of the ponds. I see the kingfisher and the heron regularly fishing in the balancing ponds. If you drop dog poo and fast food rubbish in these ponds, fish will die and you will no longer see these beautiful birds. Reed warblers arrive every spring to nest in the reeds of the middle pond which unfortunately looks like it is becoming very dirty due to non-caring humans dumping rubbish in it.

I know from my Community Facebook page that many people are concerned about wildlife. They want its conservation and they enjoy seeing it. Animals in the wild are far more interesting than caged examples. Children, especially, need to learn about animals in our environment because it teaches them to care for those weaker than themselves. Kindness to animals equates to kindness to other humans and such an attitude will last a lifetime. Gavray Meadows is where any one can learn to appreciate how certain species have co-evolved over centuries to adapt to old farming methods. They have adapted so well that their very existence is now under threat unless we save them by making some small sacrifices.

Since I have been photographing birds and butterflies living on the Gavray Meadows I have learnt an enormous amount about habitats, biodiversity and digital photography. Whereas before, all small birds looked like sparrows, now I see the differences and have photographed rarities in the most unexpected places within walking distance. The old trees alone, and the history of the farming land and hedges make Gavray Meadows worthy of preservation, let alone all the animals that depend on unimproved lowland farmland. Ecology is a science and will be a future employment opportunity as we struggle to maintain our planet in a healthy state. Ecologists use huge databases and complex mapping layers to record myriads of changes in animal and plant populations. Their work is necessary to our survival. If we want some green space left we have to make sacrifices and work for the survival of species. The easiest way to start is to take an interest in and care for what is on your own doorstep: Langford Fields, the Brook and Gavray Meadows.

Pat Clissold (DPhil)

https://www.facebook.com/WildLifeNewsGavrayMeadows/

Wretchwick Green planning application

Wretchwick Green Masterplan (small)Outline plans for up to 1,500 homes, together with 18 hectares of employment land, have been submitted to Cherwell District Council by developers Redrow and Wates. These plans also include a primary school, shops and substantial areas of greenspace. The southern corner of the development (adjacent to the controversial Symmetry Park warehouse site – see previous website posting), is allocated for B1 (offices, R&D, light industry) and B8 use (storage & distribution).

The site is located on farmland opposite Langford Village, on the other side of Wretchwick Way, bounded by the A41 and the mainline railway to London. A through road will run from the A41 (by Pioneer Road at Graven Hill) to Wretchwick Way at the Gavray Drive roundabout, and this will also link to a secondary access road running from the Wretchwick Way roundabout at the SW end of Peregrine Way.

Redrow and Wates held a public exhibition of initial proposals in October 2015 and have since met with the LVCA and listened to the concerns of councillors and local residents. Their response includes redistribution of some of the housing to maintain a 50 acre wildlife corridor adjacent to the railway and also accommodation of the LVCA’s traffic management proposals for Wretchwick Way.

An illustrative masterplan of the development can be seen here. Further details can be found on the CDC planning webpage by entering “16/01268/OUT” in the Search box. The deadline for comments to Cherwell District Council is 28th July.

Symmetry Park Warehousing

Symmetry-Site-Masterplan-(small)UPDATE: 16th June 2016

On the Langford Village Community Group Facebook page, Pamela Roberts has stated that the deadline for comments on this application is 23rd June, which is 21 days following publication in the Bicester Advertiser. Please take advantage of this extra week to send in your objections.

Original article: 14th June 2016

Calling all residents of Langford Village, we only have until this Wednesday midnight, 15 June to object to the monstrous warehouses being proposed along the A41. Permission has already been granted on Skimmingdish Lane for 520,000 sq ft of warehousing and an application is in for 570,000 sq ft on Howes Lane; now this latest application is for a further 685,000 sq ft. If you don’t want Bicester to be known as Warehouse Town then please either download the draft letter (DOCX file or PDF) and post. Alternatively, go to the CDC website and planning applications and enter reference number 16/00861/HYBRID to view the details and to file your objection on line. The more objections the stronger the chance of this application being turned down. The Symmetry Park Masterplan can also be downloaded here. (Symmetry Park is the new title for the former Akeman Park warehousing development, which was featured here in January.)

Thanks for your help – Langford Village Community Association

 

METER electricity use study

METER studyFollowing a recent meeting with LVCA committee members Carole Hetherington & Richard Kingshott, Gillian Munday of CDC’s Bicester Delivery Team has sent details of a new electricity use study which may be of interest to Langford residents.

The METER project is a five year programme launched by researchers at the University of Oxford to provide a better understanding of what we use electricity for, especially at peak times. The aim is ultimately to encourage people to be flexible with use of electricity and, where possible, to shift use away from times of peak demand.

Residents are invited to take part in an online survey at www.energy-use.org. Participants will receive a special “eMeter”, which can be easily fitted in their home, and need to record activities for one day only, using a diary or smartphone app. There is also the chance to win a year’s free electricity.

Further details can be found here.

Neighbourhood Policing

Thames Valley PoliceBicester police sergeant Steve Willis has sent the following message to the LVCA with a request to pass this on to Langford residents:

As the Sergeant of the Bicester Town Neighbourhood Policing Team, I am committed to providing team members who the community can recognise and work with to resolve the policing issues that matter most to them.

Neighbourhood Policing is a collective effort and involves a range of partner agencies and local residents working together to direct the police response. Its success relies on the public telling the police what its concerns are. Through public engagement, we are seeking to identify the top three priorities that the community of Bicester would like the Neighbourhood Policing team and partners to tackle over the next twelve months.

Over the next year we will as a team be focusing on the newly set priorities and will be providing regular community feedback on the progress being made by the police and our partners. However, a new strand of our problem solving approach will be to encourage community resilience and we will be looking at setting up initiatives such as Community Speed Watch and involving community volunteers on a greater scale.

Any feedback on what you feel the three policing priorities should be for Bicester will be gratefully received and will help shape our service provision over the year to come. Residents comments can be sent to BicesterTownNHPT@thamesvalley.pnn.police.uk

PS 4981 Steve Willis, Bicester Town Neighbourhood Policing Team.
Address: Thames Valley Police, Bicester Police Station, Queen’s Avenue, Bicester, Oxon OX26 2NR.
Email: stephen.willis@thamesvalley.pnn.police.uk
Twitter: @TVP_Bicester
Sign up for Bicester Neighbourhood Updates via Thames Valley Alert at www.thamesvalleyalert.co.uk