Revised plans for Didcot’s garden town will abandon proposals for a new technical college and flats on Ladygrove.
South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Council leaders published their draft masterplan for their garden town vision in January, which included 17 per cent of Ladygrove being built on to provide new schools, health centres and other services, including a technology institute with homes.
But on Monday the councils revealed the technical college and flats are no longer part of the plan, and that publication of the final plans has been pushed back from March 22 until May as proposals are updated.
Thousands of residents, businesses and the wider Didcot community have had their say on the district councils’ suggestions, and hundreds of people have protested at Ladygrove and at council meetings.
At a passionate town council extraordinary meeting at the town’s Civic Hall last month, Didcot chiefs unanimously voted not to surrender the lease on Ladygrove Park.
And now, Didcot green-space lovers, including councillors and residents alike, have reason to be optimistic over the future of their town’s green spaces.
Cllr Margaret Davies, who last month praised the community for a “brilliant campaign” in opposing the draft masterplan, welcomed the announcement.
She said: “I am delighted that this daft idea to build on Ladygrove Park has been pulled by SODC.
“There has been a massive campaign by all of Didcot Town Council, many Didcot SODC councillors, and most of all by residents of the town who were opposed to this idea.”
Campaigners have also welcomed the news as residents praised the “brilliant” and “fantastic” news on the ‘Save Didcot’s Amenities and Green Spaces on Ladygrove’ Facebook page.
Cllr Bill Service, leader of Didcot Town Council, said: “I am grateful that the councils have listened to peoples’ views, and I fully support the wider proposals for Didcot Garden Town.
“These innovative plans will put Didcot on the map as a place to visit, live and work for many decades to come.”
But Cllr Davies still has concerns over the closing of Cow Lane Bridge to vehicles and the potential relocation of the rail station, which would be decades away.
She said: “Residents of Didcot have been quite distressed by some of these proposals and now their worries continue until May when formal consultation will start.
“So far Didcot Garden Town has meant misery for many, not the constructive bid for government cash that it could have been.”
Cllr John Cotton, leader of SODC, said: “I am delighted with the level of interest and debate the proposals for Didcot Garden Town has raised.
“Thousands of individuals and organisations have commented, many offering innovative ideas about what a garden town should include.
“Importantly we have listened to people’s views and are amending the plans accordingly, to ensure our final plans reflect the needs and wishes of local people.”
Cllr Matthew Barber, leader of the Vale, added that the garden town will boost residents all across southern Oxfordshire.
He said: “We’ll see many new facilities, a vast increase in the amount of public open space, and it will also help to ensure we get the infrastructure needed to support the new homes in the area.”