Lift-off for airfield’s 2,500 homes project

New homes are to be built on the site of the former airfield at Grove

New homes are to be built on the site of the former airfield at Grove

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Abingdon and Wantage, South Oxford and Kennington. Call me on 01865 425431

WORK will be able to start at Grove Airfield following a decade of discussions when the final agreement is signed later this month.

Planning permission for the 2,500-home estate was granted on December 4 by Vale of White Horse District Council’s planning committee.

Now, after six months of negotiations, developers Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon and the Vale will sign an agreement on how it will spend the agreed £49.5m on new schools, roads and other facilities.

The document, covering section 106 developer contributions, will detail the different stages of the development, with the money split across each stage.

Planning committee chairman Robert Sharp said: “This is one of the biggest planning applications we have dealt with in the Vale, and these things always take time. I think we are doing pretty well at the moment.”

Once the document is signed, construction can begin with the developers planning to starting building the first houses in February.

They are currently hoping the first homes will be occupied as soon as August next year.

Social housing campaigner Dr Les Clyne, of Abingdon, said the agreement had taken too long.

He said: “I have been lobbying for social housing for years and Grove has been the longest delayed development.

“If it were brought forward it would achieve about 700 affordable homes, but the Vale has been dragging its heels.

“These are people who really need housing.”

At the beginning of 2014, 2,730 people were on the Vale housing waiting list. When Grove Airfield was granted permission, the council included a condition that an “unacceptable delay” in reaching an agreement would see it brought back before the council.

Dr Clyne wrote to the Vale: “It is now more than six months since the go ahead was given but as far as I am aware no agreement has been signed. I prefer a conservative date that is met rather than an optimistic one which will never be met and therefore lacks credibility.”

But Mr Sharp said the agreement had been delayed by discussions over how many homes would be built before developers released each tranche of contribution money.

And he said he would not consider a delay “unreasonable” before five years. He said: “I’m not going to say two years is an unreasonable delay. I suspect five years might be.”

The Vale has not yet given an exact date for the agreement to be signed.

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