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Parish Council update for July

Parish Council vacancies

There are two vacancies on the parish council following the resignation of Elaine Walton and Jenny Buzzard earlier this year. We will be seeking to fill these vacancies by co-option. Information on when and how co-option will take place will be placed on the village website as soon as these matters are decided.

In the meantime, anyone who is interested in serving the community as a member of the parish council should please contact the Clerk at the address below so that she can alert you when the arrangements are decided. The Clerk or any of the existing members of the parish council would be happy to have a chat with you to explain what is involved.

Primary school hall expansion agreed

In an important step forward in mid-June, Oxfordshire County Council agreed to double the size of the school hall as part of their primary school expansion project. This will be in return for a grant of £270k from the Radley community, which will be met in equal shares by the parish council and Radley College. We are very grateful to the College for their generous support for this important project.

Predictably, there is a wrinkle still to be resolved. Oxfordshire County Council are insisting that the grant money must be with them by April 2021 or they will abort the hall extension project. At the same time, following Covid-19 building delays, the district council have agreed to a temporary postponement of developer funding due from Redrow, which leaves the parish council uncertain as to when a payment of £114k due to us in October will actually be with us. In theory, this could lead to a cash-flow gap which might kill the hall extension project. In practice, we are confident that common sense will prevail and a solution be found.

Building delays

Work is proceeding on the Church Farm site and, at a relatively slow pace, at The Lawns south of Kennington.

In respect of the NW Radley site, Pye Homes have advised:

“We had intended to commence development late summer with a view to first completions December 2020/Jan 2021. We’re still trying to fully understand the impact of both the lockdown and the future on-site working environment on the development programme and the early completions. It is likely that there will be a delay in the region of 4-6 months to first completions as a result of the Covid-19 delays.”

Building delays will have a knock-on effect in putting back payments due to the parish council under the Community Infrastructure Levy, which could in turn delay progress with our own development programme. Despite that, we are hoping to get the new carpark entrance constructed in the current financial year and, as stated above, to pay for the school hall extension early next year.

Local Plan 2041

Less than a year after the Local Plan 2031 was finally adopted, it is depressing to hear that work towards the Local Plan 2041 has already begun, and that Radley may again be a target for more new housing.

A proposal from Arnold White Estates to develop housing to the south of Gooseacre was successfully resisted last time round. They have now returned to the charge with a vengeance. An ambitious scheme to build around 600 houses, a solar farm and new offices/ industrial premises in a large area south of Radley village has been submitted to the Vale District Council in return for their ‘call for sites’ for the 2041 Plan.

This is not an immediate threat but residents should be aware. The Clerk has details of AWE’s proposals if anyone would like to see them.

 “Mini meadow” trial in St James’ Terrace

Roadside verges are increasingly important for wildlife and increasing biodiversity. Over 97% of ancient wild flower meadows have been destroyed since the 1930s. Road verges are a vital refuge for many bees, butterflies, birds, bats and bugs – a good verge will supply a diverse source of nectar and pollen.

Prompted by local resident and professional landscape manager David Mulholland, the Parish Council has agreed to trial the creation of a ‘mini-meadow’ at the end of St. James’ Terrace. The cutting regime will be amended so that the range of wildflowers has a chance to flower and provide nectar for bees and butterflies. 

The grass cutting regime will be changed but not stopped altogether. If verges are left uncut they begin to decline so it is important to keep them maintained.  The plan is to cut a swathe around the outside edge of the grass verge to frame it and to stop the grass and wildflowers spilling over onto the road and footpath. The verge will be cut and the grass cleared at the end of August or early September, with cuts for the rest of the year done as normal. 

This will help to maximise flowering plant diversity on this piece of verge and maximise subsequent benefits for invertebrates and other wildlife through provision of nectar and pollen.

The project is starting this summer. The impact of the changes will not be apparent for some time.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.radleyvillage.org.uk/parish-council-update-for-july-2/