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.

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

 

Questionnaire seeks feedback from Bicester locals

CDC logoResidents and businesses are each being asked to take part in a short questionnaire regarding the future growth of Bicester to help identify what is important to locals.

Cherwell District Council has composed two similar questionnaires to consider what issues residents and businesses consider important to Bicester and how they currently receive updates about the town.

The survey – which consists of less than ten questions – also gives participants the opportunity to sign up for regular updates on key projects within the town.

Cllr Barry Wood, leader of Cherwell District Council, said: “These two surveys effectively contain the same questions except one has been tailored to residents and the other toward businesses. Over the next 15 years Bicester is set to undergo some major changes and this questionnaire will help us to consider what is important to residents.

“This survey will help us to get a better understanding of what changes people might like to see and which channels of communication are the most effective so we can ensure they are properly utilised. It will also give people the chance to subscribe to updates so any information will be sent directly to their email inbox.”

Each of the surveys contains multiple choice questions with an opportunity for participants to expand on any of the key issues.

Both surveys are running simultaneously the results will then be used by members of Cherwell’s Bicester team to communicate future project updates.

To take part in the residents’ survey visit http://tiny.cc/bicesterquestionnaire

To complete the business users’ survey visit http://tiny.cc/businessquestionnaire

Akeman Park development

019 strategic constraints plan for DASFurther to the earlier post on proposals for the development of South East Bicester, a planning application covering part of this area (referred to as Akeman Park) has now been submitted to CDC. This application is for the erection of giant warehouses on farmland bordering the A41 at the southern end of the Bicester 12 development area (see here for location plan). Outline details of this development, shown at an exhibition held in November, can be viewed here (13Mb file – may be slow to download).

Details of the major development at Bicester 12, a separate proposal for 1500 homes opposite the A41 by Langford Village and referred to as Wretchwick Green, were shown at an exhibition held in October and can be viewed here. The planning application for this development is still awaited, and further details will be posted on the LVCA website when available. Representatives of the Wretchwick Green developers attended an LVCA meeting in November and were receptive to concerns raised by the LVCA committee, together with District and Town councillors, about some details of the proposals.

Full details of the Akeman Park application can now be viewed on the CDC website. Go to the CDC Planning Applications webpage  and enter “15/02316/OUT” in the Search box; further details of the application can accessed via the “Documents” tab. The last date for submitting comments and objections to CDC is Monday 25th January.

Among opponents to this Warehouse development are LVCA committee members and Bicester Town councillors, who regard it as inappropriate for this site. These huge warehouses range in size from 100,000 sq ft of floor space to over 300,000 sq ft and because warehousing is increasingly automated employment potential is limited. More than 200 parking and docking spaces for HGV’s provide an indication of the additional traffic that could be using Bicester’s road network 24 hours each day.

South East Bicester development – public exhibition

Bicester 12 map (small)The farmland area adjacent to Langford Village, at the other side of Wretchwick Way, is shown in the Cherwell Local Plan as Bicester 12 – South East Bicester. This site of approximately 155 hectares is allocated for mixed-use development, with proposals for 1500 houses together with business and industrial buildings, primarily storage and distribution.

A map showing  the Bicester 12 area, together with further details from the Cherwell Local Plan (July 2015) can be seen here.

Wates Developments and Redrow Homes are consulting on these developments and a Public Exhibition will be held on Tuesday 20th October 2.00-pm-7.00pm and Wednesday 21st October 2.00pm-8.00pm at Unit 7, Crown Walk, Bicester. See also http://www.wretchwickgreen.co.uk/

Bicester ward boundary changes

Cherwell Ward changesThe Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) is currently carrying out an electoral review of Cherwell with the aim of revising ward boundaries to ensure that each councillor represents a similar number of voters.

Under proposals put forward by the LGBCE, by 2020 each ward in Cherwell would incorporate an electorate of around 7000 to 8000 and be represented by 3 councillors (see Draft recommendations for full figures & further details).

In Bicester this equates to around 30,000 voters, and the total number of councillors would increase from 11 to 12, while the number of wards would reduce from 5 to 4. In comparison, across rural areas in Cherwell the 15 existing wards would be cut to just 5 to achieve similar electorate levels. See here for maps showing the current and proposed Bicester ward boundaries.

Under the new proposals, Bicester South ward – currently consisting mainly of Langford – would expand to include Bicester Village and surrounding area, plus Kingsmere, Graven Hill and Ambrosden, while the current Bicester Town ward would disappear, absorbed by Bicester West, East and South wards.

The LGBCE is due to publish final recommendations in May 2015, and subject to parliamentary approval these would come into effect at local elections in 2016.

Gavray Meadows & SE Bicester

Gavray footpathFollowing the proposal to designate the Bicester 13 (Gavray Meadows) area east of Langford Brook as a Local Green Space, Cherwell District Council has published amended details for this area in the Local Plan “Further Proposed Modifications October 2014”, and the Gavray Meadows section can be viewed here.

On 16th December the reconvened Inspector’s Examination of the Cherwell Local Plan included discussion of the Gavray Drive proposals, and Pat Clissold, John Broad, Pam Roberts and Dominic Woodfield attended the meeting to present a local viewpoint on the plans to develop this site. While congratulating CDC for supporting the Local Green Space designation, concerns were expressed that this did not include the area between Gavray Drive and the public footpath, leaving a strip of ancient hedgerow land unprotected from future housing incursions.

The four representatives also spoke out against the plan to almost quadruple the size of Bicester 12 (farmland to the SE of Langford) from the original 400 homes to 1500, and the loss of the existing wildlife corridor in the Ray Conservation Target Area adjacent to the mainline railway. John and Pat protested against warehouses being built on Bicester 12, while John was also concerned about the proposed link road that would run past Bicester 12 from the A41 near Wendlebury to the Gavray Drive roundabout.

The provisional date for publication of the Inspector’s Report is March 2015.

A Gavray Meadows News page prepared by Pat Clissold showcases some of the wildlife on this site and can be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/WildLifeNewsGavrayMeadows.