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Concern over public square parking
PLANS for a public square and 33 new flats to regenerate the area opposite Didcot Parkway railway station have stalled over a lack of parking.
South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) is supporting the plan to develop the area, as a £7m scheme to reorganise the station forecourt nears completion later this year.
But the planning application for the square, flats and offices – on the site of the former Labour Club in Station Road – is now on hold after SODC’s urban design officer highlighted potential parking issues.
The application had been due to be discussed in March, but the parking concerns have postponed considerations, with no new date yet set for discussions to continue.
The officer’s statement on the application said: “There is no parking on site, nor is any included within the application site boundary.
“While this is a sustainable location and may justify a lower parking standard to be adopted than normal, the proposal should demonstrate parking can be achieved.”
The urban design officer added that there was also confusion in the plans about how high the buildings would be.
The officer’s concern over parking has been echoed by the South and Vale Carers Centre in Lydalls Road.
Spokesman John Tabor wrote: “If approved in its current form, the application will result in a significant increase in traffic movements along Lydalls Road searching for parking.”
Earlier this year the Government-backed Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) put forward plans for the new square, flats and offices as part of a wider scheme known as Didcot Gateway, which is expected to include a new hotel in Station Road.
Didcot Town Council has also objected to the scheme, claiming that proposed parking is inadequate. The authority has also pointed out that there are no guarantees a multi-storey car park in the area will be built.
Town council leader Margaret Davies said: “This important plan for Didcot is now on hold and it’s quite clear it has not been allowed to go forward after the urban design officer made his reservations about the lack of parking provision, something Lydalls Road residents are very concerned about.
“When the application does come forward again it will need to be considerably amended and it’s too important to be dealt with by planning officers – this needs to be properly considered by South Oxfordshire district councillors.”
Mrs Davies said she thought it would be better if an application came forward for the whole site.
Sh added: “The application for the public square and flats appears to be in limbo and people in the area want to know what is going to happen.”
SODC leader Ann Ducker said: “We don’t want to see these plans stall and are anxious to make progress. We will now have discussions with the HCA.”
A spokesman for Savills, agents for the developer, said: “We are now waiting to hear from the Homes and Communities Agency before anything can go forward.”
HCA spokesman Ben Lowndes said: “The application remains live and we have agreed to the local authority’s request for an extension of the timetable for the consideration of this application.”
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