A TRIMMED list of projects with bodies assigned to those going ahead has been put forward to keep on track plans for 15,000 new homes and 20,000 new jobs in Didcot

The Didcot Garden Town delivery plan was discussed by Vale of White Horse District Council’s scrutiny committee this week with the to-do list, initially put forward in 2017, refined. 

The idea is that the region will have “a clear identity, green space, integrated transport and well-designed homes” as it looks to deliver much-needed housing and a platform for economic growth. 

Councillor Judy Roberts (Lib Dem, Cumnor), Vale of White Horse’s cabinet member for development and infrastructure, said: “The problems that ended up creating a new delivery plan were two-fold.

“The original had 62 projects in it and it was basically unwieldy, a lot of it was based on the original masterplan and a lot of things have moved on since then. Some were irrelevant, some had been done.

“The second thing was the finances, getting those in order and making sure we could clearly track back if the stakeholders wish to see how the money has been spent. 

“A third thing is that we are now identifying who it is or what the partnerships are behind delivering the projects.

“We have had a lot of chasing tails at the advisory board, good ideas have come forward but no one has taken ownership of how we are going to get them delivered. 

“There is now a list of what has been delivered, what is in progress and what things are not going to be started.”

Elements that have been dropped include feasibility studies on rail improvements, renewable energy and water saving measures, a study to assess options for a new household waste recycling site and engagement with the private sector over the possibility of creating a district heat network – a system of insulated pipes that transfers heat from a central source to a number of domestic and non-domestic buildings.

Councillor Eric de la Harpe (Lib Dem, Abingdon Fitzharris) said: “Some of them seem quite innovative, exciting and forward-thinking so it seems disappointing that they are not going through.

“Is that it for them? Were some of them nice-to-haves without any real weight behind them and which one are we most disappointed about not moving forward?”

Cllr Roberts replied: “I don’t think that is definitely (it for) them forever but certainly, they were not regarded as particularly strong against the other bids.

“The one that I would like to see progress is the district heating commercialisation but I think one of the problems with that is the huge number of different developers. Trying to get that underway has been problematic, a lot of the developers in South (Oxfordshire District Council’s patch) are different to those in the Vale.

“I don’t think they are necessarily off the table forever but some of them, I think, were nice ideas that came from the masterplan… Some things have moved on in that respect and some of those ideas are coming through the developers rather than having a project to see what can and can’t be done. 

“Quite a lot of work has been done in other places, we can borrow (ideas or methods) rather than do the work ourselves.”