Welcome to the Keep Harwell Rural website
The aim of the Keep Harwell Rural (KHR) Campaign is to give residents of Harwell the opportunity to have a voice in matters that affect the future of the village. We are particularly concerned about the expansion of Didcot and how this might affect the rural character of Harwell.
This website gives a taste of what we do. You can see how the plans for the expansion of Didcot developed, what is proposed for the future and how we are reacting to it.
KHR works closely with Harwell Parish Council, but is independent of any statutory body. If you would like to know more about KHR or would like to join us in shaping the future of Harwell get in touch.
Whilst we do our best to consult within the village, and try to represent the opinions of many people in the village, we are primarily a campaigning group whose main concern is to preserve the integrity of the village and to “Keep Harwell Rural”.
What’s to be done next by KHR:
- Make representions on the submission version of the Vale of White Horse (the Vale) Local Plan 2031 by 19 December 2014.
- Present a case when the Vale Local Plan goes to a Planning Inspector at a Public Examination sometime in 2015.
What’s in the Vale Local Plan which affects Harwell?
The February 2014 update to the Vale Draft Local Plan contained proposals for considerably greater numbers of new houses in the Harwell area than did the 2013 version. The proposed “extra” houses were:
- A further 400 houses at Valley Park, making a total of 2,550 there (compared to 2,150 in the 2013 draft of the Local Plan)
- 1,400 houses at East Harwell Campus, reduced to 850 in the submission draft, which then added
- 550 houses north of the Harwell Campus, including greenfield land in E. Hendred
- 1,400 houses at Milton Heights
- 200 houses at West of Harwell. This is in addition to the 65 houses recently granted permission to be built at Alder View opposite.
The map below shows where these sites are (except for “Alder View”).
(Map from Vale Housing Delivery Update page 50)
Further to this, there is a recent planning application for 94 houses behind Orchard House on Blenheim Hill and a pending application for houses on the south side of the Reading Road.
Excluding the “Orchard House” and the “Alder View” houses, the 2014 version of the plan now proposes 5,550 houses in the Harwell area compared to 2,150 in the 2013 version.
This is on top of the 3,300 houses being built at Great Western Park and the 2,030 planned for North East Didcot.
We are not expecting any reduction in these numbers in the submission version of the plan, to be published in November 2014, although their distribution across the sites in question may change.
The impact of this planned extra housing on Harwell village is likely to be considerable. Currently about 20% of the parish boundary is adjacent to housing or industrial buildings. Under the Vale Local Plan proposals, this will increase to nearer 80%. The village is expanding outwards at the same time as housing in the surrounding area is creeping ever closer. The result feels like a gradual “strangulation” of Harwell village’s distinct, rural identity.
KHR’s aims in making representations about the Vale Draft Local Plan are to:
- Challenge the basis on which the number of houses to be built has been calculated (the Strategic Market Housing Assessment, or “SHMA”). If this challenge is not successful, to question why some of the houses cannot be put on another site elsewhere in the Vale, for instance at the site between Steventon and East Hanney which has been mooted for the large-scale “Oxford Garden City” development.
- Challenge the sustainability of the Plan in terms of roads and other infrastructure.
- Prevent Harwell village from being subsumed into a wider built up area by the maintentance of some semblance of a rural gap on the east side of the A34 as well as on the west side.
- Stop the village being used as a rat run for through traffic, including on the A417.
Last updated 27 October 2014