Posted 4 weeks ago (28/03) by Theresa Goss
The Chairman of an organisation titling itself “West Adderbury Residents’ Association” (WARA) posed a series of questions to the Parish Council at its meeting on 26 February 2019. Given that they all cover an already well-debated area of debate, it is expedient to answer them with a statement that addresses in the round the issues that have been raised.
The Parish Council’s powers and duties are clearly set out in legislation and helpfully listed on the Local Government Association web site. Although seeming to be wide ranging and comprehensive, much of a Parish Council’s power lies in responding to consultations from higher tier councils or in seeking to influence their decisions. The primary responsibility for traffic matters rests with the County Council as the transport authority.
The Parish Council’s priorities will be determined by the democratic votes of the council in agreeing its strategic plan, setting its spending plans and in taking decisions on individual issues as they arise.
The Parish Council has agreed a strategic plan (Minute 18/77 (v)). It remains to integrate the strategic planning with the financial planning and to agree priorities. Despite two requests for dates for the Strategic Plan Working Group to meet it has yet to do so with two members failing to respond. A third attempt is being made and a meeting will be scheduled on the basis of those members who do respond. The Working Group will then recommend to the Parish Council proposed prioritisation and integration with the budgeting process.
The Parish Council and its Environment Committee are aware of a traffic survey carried out by WARA and the responses received. The Parish Council accepts that traffic volume has grown with greater car usage and increased housing numbers. Parish Council also accepts that there are issues of traffic speeds employed by a minority of thoughtless drivers. Parish Council is impressed by the work being done by its Environment Committee to identify all areas of the Parish where traffic volume and/or speed are an issue and in identifying measures that can mitigate them in an affordable manner and with means that will prove acceptable to a majority of residents affected.
The Parish Council notes the vigour with which a few individuals have promoted the imposition of a 20 mph zone throughout much of the village but are aware that Thames Valley Police will not enforce such a limit, that Oxfordshire County Council, as highway authority, would demand measures such as road humps, build outs and road markings to seek to support the speed limit and that such measures could spoil the environment of our village and bring consequential traffic problems that residents would not welcome. The Environment Committee has yet to take a view on a 20 mph speed limit but seems unlikely to prioritise it for the reasons stated above.
The Parish Council has some difficulty with the WARA traffic survey which presented all the benefits of traffic calming schemes without reference to the downsides which have been evidenced in other places. It also suggested the funding could be provided by raiding the funds set aside for the Milton Road development.
A sum of £450,000 (index linked) was agreed be paid to the Parish Council as part of a Deed of Variation between Nicholas King developers and CDC. This agreement allowed for land which had previously been allocated for a community building to be used for additional housing, in return for this contribution to the development costs of sports and community facilities on the land at Milton Road and the Lucy Plackett Playing Field which had been previously transferred under a Section 106 agreement to the Parish Council.
For the Parish Council to request a change in the conditions relating to this funding, would mean requesting a second Deed of Variation. This would require the agreement of all of the parties to the original agreement, including Cherwell District Council, Oxfordshire County Council, the developers at Milton Road and the original owners of the land.
Given the Parish Council’s motive for supporting the Deed of Variation and planning application for the extra five houses in the first place, I am very doubtful whether the Parish Council would wish to request a variation of the agreement to permit funding of a traffic calming scheme although a minority of Parish Councillors might eagerly support it.
Also it is unlikely to be acceptable to CDC as they were clear that any funds generated could not be used as a general fund but must be used for the community facilities on the Milton Road.
It is good to read the Chairman of WARA’s support for the Milton Road development.
The Parish Council does have some developer funding from other sources specifically for traffic calming and will be deploying this on the advice of its Environment Committee. The County Council and our County Councillor are working actively with the Environment Committee to identify measures to mitigate issues of volume and speed.
The issue of rat running through the part of Adderbury referred to as Twyford is likely to be temporary when the promised necessary adjustments are made to the Aynho Road traffic lights which should reduce significantly the delays presently experienced.
There is a real issue along the Oxford Road for residents seeking to join the road although this seems to have received little attention in the recent debate. Environment Committee is considering some relatively simple measures to see if they can ease the pressure.
It is clear there is an issue at Milton Road with the new developments on both sides of the road. Again, the Environment Committee is already considering some measures and the need to plan for access to the Milton Road sports and community facilities site will increase the focus on pedestrian need and, hopefully, identify some funding to address them.
The issue of volume and speed through the village is a particularly difficult one but the Environment Committee is looking at the earlier proposal to change the configuration at Oak Tree Corner to dissuade drivers coming from Bloxham from swerving left through the village.
Of course, this will not please the residents of Berry Hill Road and there is always the worry of legal challenge so this will have to be addressed carefully. There are some who would like a footpath along Berry Hill Road but others who like the present vista so, again, there may not be an easily accepted solution.
Finally, there was the question of the timing of the Milton Road development planning which has been raised despite the protestations of support for this development. The Working Group, Working for Adderbury Community (WFAC), has done a lot of work in identifying potential users and the likely revenue this will produce as well as the potential capital costs and ongoing revenue operating costs.
However, this work now requires a more professional approach to produce accurate costings and the Parish Council has approved the appointment of architects to produce concept designs for the community facility with costings as the basis for a business plan and for seeking grants from a variety of bodies.
The architectural proposals will be based on the extensive research work done by WFAC. This work will take another month or two and Parish Council will be updated regularly.
This has always been a chicken and egg situation with the size, scope and format of the sports and community facilities depending on the needs of individuals and organisations in and around Adderbury and their willingness to pay for them while the size, scope and format will materially influence both the capital costs and the operating costs and so drive the operating revenue needs.