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?
- Following our representations on the publication version of the Vale of White Horse Local Plan 2031, present a case when it goes to a Planning Inspector at a Public Examination sometime in 2015.
- Object to the outline planning application now submitted for 4,450 houses at Valley Park.
KHR Draft Response
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. Some of the numbers have been changed in the publication version of November 2014, and the resulting “extra” houses are now:
- A further 400 houses at Valley Park (making a total of 2,550 there), and an extra allocation of 800 at North West Valley Park in Milton Parish, making a total for both parts of Valley Park of 3,350 (compared to 2,150 in the 2013 draft of the Local Plan)
- 850 houses at East of Harwell Campus. This has been reduced from 1,400 in the February 2014 draft, but the November 2014 publication version adds:
- 550 houses north of the Harwell Campus, including greenfield land in E. Hendred
- 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 at the end of the page shows where these sites are (except for “Alder View”).
The publication version of the Plan now proposes 5,350 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.
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 overall strategy is to try to limit the amount of development around Harwell, such that the village retains a distinction from Didcot and a rural character, and that the infrastructure (especially roads) will cope with the increased populations. Our 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”)
- Challenge the adequacy of the Plan in terms of roads and other infrastructure, some of which is still under investigation and therefore not yet defined.
- Prevent Harwell village from being subsumed into a wider built up area by the maintentance of protected rural gaps on the east side of the A34, along the B4493, and also on the west, north and south sides of Harwell which could now be approached by other ‘settlements’.
- If a challenge to the SHMA is not successful, to ask for a review of alternative sites in VWH and SODC that could accommodate some of the extra houses proposed for the Harwell area.
Within our concerns about the adequacy of infrastructure we shall try to ensure that facilities such as schools are catered for, and that the village will be shielded from use as a rat run for through traffic, including on the A417 Reading Road.
(Map from Figure 5.6a of Vale Local Plan 2031 Part 1, November 2014)
Page last updated 25 February 2015