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New Chair and updates for Didcot Garden Town Advisory Board members

Members of the Didcot Garden Town Advisory Board met recently to hear about the latest developments in the town and to welcome their new Chair, Cllr Liz Leffman, who is the Leader of Oxfordshire County Council.

The advisory board meetings take place each quarter for members to help coordinate new and existing projects together and within their own organisations. 

Meeting online, a representative from Barton Wilmore gave an update on Homes England’s land opposite Didcot Parkway, known as Didcot Gateway.  Plans include building new homes, a small hotel behind the pub, new open public spaces and various office buildings on the site.  Following feedback from its engagement exercise last year, the Prince of Wales pub and Lydalls Road nursery will remain on the site.  

Advisory board members were pleased to hear that the county council is making good progress on the Housing Infrastructure Fund.  The scheme will use government money to build various new transport improvements in the area, and at Culham and Clifton Hampden to reduce congestion.  New safe cycle and pedestrian paths along all the new routes are included and officers are now looking at where pathways can be joined to other cycling routes to other towns, such as Abingdon to reduce car dependency. 

The Didcot Garden Town team presented plans to lead on the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan.  The team will be looking at paths in Didcot, surrounding villages and business parks and will be engaging with community volunteers and stakeholders to identify paths with ‘missing links’.  Residents and visitors will have an opportunity to contribute to the whole project before the team share their findings with the districts and county councils to progress.

The facilitator for the Residents’ Sounding Board gave details of various new environmental projects that could help increase biodiversity in the town and wider area. One initiative would be to encourage residents to take a ‘garden pledge’ by providing information on what they can do in their own gardens to help support local wildlife and create wildflower areas.

The Business Sounding Board facilitator provided an update on their initiative to explore how they could help to ‘close the apprenticeship gap’ and encourage more young people into local apprenticeship opportunities. 

Cllr Liz Leffman, Chair of Didcot Garden Town Advisory Board, said: “I was pleasantly surprised to learn how many projects are happening and being put forward for the garden town.  I look forward to continuing my new role and working with the advisory board members and partners to help ensure improvements are brought forward quickly and in a coordinated way.”

Cllr David Rouane, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “It was great to welcome Cllr Leffman as our new Chair as we know that she shares our aims to help tackle climate change.  For example, we’re working hard together to ensure we help provide a connected network of cycle and pedestrian routes to reduce local air pollution and increase our residents’ health and wellbeing.”

Cllr Emily Smith, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “I was delighted to hear our Sounding Boards are making grassroot plans to help improve our local environment and support our residents.  We all have a role to play in building a sense of community, so it’s really inspiring to hear all our Sounding Boards are coming up with some fantastic ideas on how we can all get involved to make a difference.”

A recording of the Didcot Garden Town Advisory Boards and information on the sounding boards are available by via southoxon.gov.uk/didcot-garden-town-latest-news.

ENDS

The members of the Didcot Garden Town Advisory Board are made up of representatives from the Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Councils, Oxfordshire County Council, Didcot Town Council, a representative for the five parish councils in the Didcot Garden Town boundary, Homes England and the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

For more information on:

Didcot Garden Town – https://www.southoxon.gov.uk/didcot-garden-town

Didcot Gateway council offices – https://www.southoxon.gov.uk/south-oxfordshire-district-council/about-the-council/our-new-headquarters/

Housing Infrastructure Fund – https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/residents/roads-and-transport/roadworks/future-transport-projects/didcot-infrastructure-fund