It was with some relief that the Vale of White Horse District Council planning committee, at its meeting on June 12, refused the planning application submitted by Churchill Retirement Living (CRL) to build 39 retirement apartments on the site of the old Bellingers Vauxhall garage on Ock Street.

The application was mainly opposed by two sets of residents. Those in Bostock Road behind the old garage were concerned that the limited on-site parking (15 places) proposed by CRL would lead to significant over-spill parking on to Bostock Road where parking is already difficult.

The residents were also concerned from a safety point of view over the amount of extra traffic that would emerge on to Bostock Road from the site at the junction with Mullard Way. These concerns were shared by those in the neighbouring roads in the area.

The application was also opposed by residents in Mayotts Road, which borders the eastern side of the site, just off Ock Street. In the case of the end houses in this road (Nos. 2 & 4), the three-storey retirement complex would have been in very close proximity on the southern side and would have completely overshadowed their houses, robbing them of both light and privacy.

Both sets of residents made representations at the planning committee meeting and were supported by all three of our local councillors for Fitzharris ward: Jeanette Halliday (Town), Monica Lovatt (Vale) and Chris Palmer (Vale).

The planning department had recommended acceptance. Fortunately, the planning committee, made up of councillors, refused the application. This was because the development was not considered to be in keeping with the existing two-storey buildings on this part of Ock Street and because it would have had an unacceptable impact on the houses at the end of Mayotts Road. They also sited parking and access issues.

To be fair to CRL, they did undertake a pre-application consultation with the planning department and other parties which resulted in changes to their original scheme. Unfortunately, one of these was to move the parking area with exit on to Ock Street close to Mayotts Road to the rear of the site, with exit on to Mullard Way/ Bostock Road.

This was apparently driven by the requirement to provide a continuous frontage on Ock Street. It was this change that caused the most concern to the local residents.

It is difficult to understand how CRL might have been led to believe that the application would be acceptable, especially given the committee's reasons for refusal.

Dr Arthur Dawkins

Bostock Road


I have just read the shocking behaviour of travellers on the recreation ground in Grove in the Wantage & Grove Herald.

Why are the travellers not made to pay for the damage? Why are they not made to park in designated campsites specifically set aside in each county for them? Why are they allowed to be above the law with regard to trespass, litter, vandalism, etc?

Maybe our re-elected MP ED Vaizey could get together with the police/ council and the travellers to improve the situation. I feel so sorry for the people who use the recreation ground.

L Collins

Charlton Heights


The Orchard Centre has just had a new bus 'lane' installed in Station Road, next to Cineworld, undoubtedly at great expense.

Guess what? The buses can't use it safely for dropping passengers off because the developers have made the surface very flat and low level, leaving aside it is on a slope.

The buses cannot drop their suspension low enough to allow passengers off safely and on a level surface.

The uneven surface will greatly adversely impact

a) Those with mobility problems

b) Those using wheelchairs

c) Those using pushchairs

d) Those using shopping trollies

e) The elderly getting on and off the buses.

So the buses are using the usual bus stop at the Orchard centre .

Furthermore the new bus stop by Cineworld have removed vital disabled parking bays.

So whilst developers /architects have academic qualifications to do their job - it does seem that common sense seems to have gone out of the window.

Local residents may recall that raised cobble stones were originally used in the Orchard centre for paving but were replaced due to the amount of people having falls.

They were replaced with cobbles that were laid flush, which overcame the problem of people having falls. Again an issue of common sense.

Sue Such

St Peter's Road


I did not know whether to be amused or annoyed at Dr Sue Roberts's rant at Theresa May in last week's edition.

Shortly after the Brexit vote, Mrs May suggested that the status of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU could be addressed separately and immediately. The EU Commission insisted that the matter be addressed within the proposed negotiations. With

1 million British citizens in Europe and 3 million EU citizens in Britain, Mrs May would be foolish in the extreme not to safeguard the status of British citizens in the EU.

I have no interest in fox hunting, but I am aware that the argument is rather more nuanced than Dr Roberts's 'callousness of extremists'. Hunters argue that in hunting, the fox's neck is usually snapped by the first hound (they would say that), whereas shooting them can result those foxes, which are wounded as opposed to being killed outright, dying in agony.

Either way, she certainly took no account of the views of the henhouse.

HD McCormack

Lambwath Stream


I was gratified to see the publication of my letter on 14th June which accused The Herald of political bias in the previous week's Letters & Opinion section. However the heading you gave it is incorrect - 'Shock of letters page bias after the election'. This should read 'Before the election' since the issue in question was that of 7th June; of course the general election was held the following day.

The 'Editor's Note', published below my letter, which refutes partisanship by stating that no correspondence from supporters of other political parties was received that week is, in my opinion, no excuse - in that case, no party political letters should have been published at all.

I see that you are intent on carrying on in the same vein regardless since, besides my letter of complaint, two of the five letters published in the 14th June edition are again exclusively concerned with national politics - and both vehemently criticising the Conservative party. No matter what one's political views are, I believe that a local newspaper is not the place to discuss national government. The public is bombarded with more than enough party political propaganda in the national press, radio and TV without being subjected to more of the same in the local newspaper.

If the reason for publishing such material in The Herald is that there were only two letters submitted for publication last week which focused on local issues, then I question the raison d'être of a Letters & Opinion column.

Janis Stevens

Wantage Road


I echo Janis Stevens thoughts on the apparent bias of your letters page. Alongside Janis's letter and the Editor's note, there are 2 letters relating to the election in this week's issue, including a further letter from Herb Newark, both strongly anti government and neither relating to local issues. Please leave these letters to the national press and concentrate on local issues.

Victoria Perring



These are indeed dark days for this country and I like many am left wondering who is the state is actually working for?

Although the emergency services have been praised to the rafters thousands of police and firefighters have lost their jobs with stations closed.

The NHS is on its knees, our infrastructure is crumbling, our armed forces are shrunk, and locally children’s centres are closed, day centres cost a fortune if you want to use one and the final indignity the “dementia tax “proposal in the Conservative manifesto that means your descendants are robbed of their inheritance, so what is the point of “doing the right thing” and working hard?

Oh, and not even the grass is cut.

Britain is supposed to be one of the strongest most prosperous nations on earth with an admirable record on looking after those that need help and yet it seems, most of the political elite knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

All that has to be said is 'that would be expensive' and nothing is done. What price a life? Is one more valuable than another because of skin colour, religion or class? I don’t think so and I am no Corbynista, or wide-eyed youth. I am a hard bitten 58-year-old who has worked for 30 years. This county need to be rebuilt.

Yes, this would cost a lot of money, so we should all pay more tax, but it is time that Britain acted like a nation again, as we did in 1945.

We should all be working together and the political class must work for the people, not the party as happens at the moment.

Britain should be a place fit for heroes, not Nero.

MN Fysh