Plans to extend the life of a storage compound at a former council office HQ hit in an arson attack have been submitted. 

The arson attack closed the headquarters of South Oxfordshire District Council in Benson Lane, Crowmarsh Gifford in 2015 and staff then moved to Milton Park on a temporary basis.

SODC and Vale of White Horse District Council had been planning to build new offices at Crowmarsh, but they adapted successfully to a mix of home and office working during the pandemic. 

They aim to build a smaller headquarters on land owned by SODC at Didcot Gateway near Didcot Parkway station. 

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In 2022, residents in Crowmarsh said they were unhappy with the council car park being used for shipping containers storing maintenance equipment and fuel tanks needed for council vehicles.

Oxford Mail: The entrance to the Benson Lane siteNow a planning application has been submitted by SODC to continue to use the car park for a further three years, for storing machines, tools and equipment that provides council services for both councils. 

SODC is now consulting on the plans to extend the life of the storage compound by three years. More than a dozen people have submitted comments to the council on the planning application. 

Crowmarsh parish council has not objected, but a spokesperson said: "Given the length of time this has site has been vacant we hope plans for permanent development will be progressed through the Local Plan, and that the current use can move on to a permanent home before the three years has elapsed."

There were no objections from Oxfordshire County Council on highways grounds.

Philip Shuttleworth, who lives in Benson Lane, said in 2022: “It would be less intrusive on the existing neighbours if the shipping containers, the welfare unit, the fuel storage and skip area were to be moved to the back of the aisle of the existing car park, further away from Benson Lane."

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Philip Tremayne said at the time: “I really don’t like the proposed fuel storage - we need to know exactly what the fuel is, the volumes and how it will be sorted.”

Oxford Mail: Pete Sudbury.Wallingford county councillor Pete Sudbury said one idea for the future use of the council site would be to transform it into a transport hub.

He added: "The former council offices could make a very good location for a transport hub.

"People could cycle or drive to it and then get the bus into Oxford - the idea is that you have a short car journey and then a longer bus journey - they could be in Oxford in about 25 minutes."

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The former council offices in Benson Lane were demolished in 2018 after the arson attack which saw three buildings engulfed in flames: South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils' headquarters, a funeral parlour next door and a nearby thatched cottage.

The fires were all started by Andrew Main of nearby Rokemarsh, who was mentally ill.

Help support trusted local news Sign up for a digital subscription now: As a digital subscriber you will get: • Unlimited access to the Oxford Mail website • Advert-light access • Reader rewards • Full access to our app About the author Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire. His Trade and Tourism newsletter is released every Saturday morning. You can also read his weekly Traffic and Transport newsletter.