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Great Western Park update

Public spaces on Great Western Park

We are pleased to update everyone on the progress towards opening more public spaces on Great Western Park (GWP), including play parks and allotments.

Over the last two months we have continued to have some very constructive conversations with Taylor Wimpey, the housing developer for GWP.

There are 40 remaining public space sites – which range from very small pieces of land to larger open spaces and we have agreed on 15 priority sites to focus on (which includes the skate park, play parks and allotments).

This will help us to focus attention on opening and operating these priority areas as soon as possible. We have already worked with Taylor Wimpey to open some sites prior to their official transfer to us because we know how valuable they are to the local community. This includes Diamond Drive playground (in between Diamond Drive and Hornsby Fields) and Aspen Way playground. This means all the play areas with playground equipment are now open (although we are advised a few play items are currently fenced off waiting for parts).

As part of the site transfer process between Taylor Wimpey and the councils, there is still work that needs to take place – all of which will take some time. Essentially, we need to iron out any issues, carry out all our due diligence checks and make sure Taylor Wimpey complete any outstanding issues before we take ownership. This process includes a period when Taylor Wimpey is responsible for maintaining the site to make sure all issues are sorted, which can take at least 12 months.

Taylor Wimpey’s latest timetable is for 11 sites to reach ‘practical completion’ in the next three months – this means we are satisfied that any outstanding issues will be resolved before we take ownership. Four sites have already reached this stage and should transfer to us in the first three months of 2024. The 11 sites due to achieve practical completion in early 2024 will hopefully transfer to us in early 2025.

The remaining 25 areas are at various stages of the process and will be picked up in mid-2024 following completion of the 15 priority sites.

We are working on a map that will show the location of and progress against each area, which we aim to share with future updates.

GWP health centre

You’ll be aware, the Integrated Care Board (ICB) is responsible for healthcare services in Oxfordshire. We’ve updated you previously on how we’ve been working incredibly hard over the past few years to help overcome a series of challenges that have meant the ICB isn’t immediately able to bring forward a health centre on Great Western Park.

In terms of what we as councils can influence, we are currently working with Taylor Wimpey on measures to take transfer of the site.

Once the site is transferred to us, we will enter into an agreement for lease with the Woodland Medical Centre’s third-party primary care developer who will develop the facility (upon grant of planning permission) and then lease it to Woodlands Medical Centre.

The ICB also continues to work with Woodlands Medical Centre to expand their current facility at Woodlands Road in Didcot.

Over the coming months we’ll keep the community updated on all the hard work we’re doing to try and help our partners deliver the services that Great Western Park and Didcot badly need.