"To every complex problem there is a simple solution, startling in its simplicity, piercing in its clarity, and hopelessly and completely wrong" - Gore Vidal.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

First builder chosen for Barton Park

Oxford City Council and Grosvenor Estates, joint developers of @BartonPark_, have announced that housebuilders Hill have been chosen to build the first tranche of new housing in Barton Park.

Hill's company profile says:

Hill is committed to designing and building homes that offer their occupants stylish and contemporary living environments and that help to create appealing and sustainable local communities.

Our homes are distinguished by their inspirational design, creative use of materials, sustainable strategies, contemporary fixture and fittings and meticulous attention to detail.

At Hill we don’t believe in standard house types because every environment is different. So each development, large or small, rural or city centre, is carefully crafted by our in-house design team to be sympathetic to its surroundings and influences.

Although their website features many rather upmarket and expensive houses and developments, in and among you can find some developments which are more in keeping with what we might expect for Barton Park - see for instance this apartment development in Bow, East London or this in Cambridge, or this mixed development in Sidcup.

Barton Park has always said that Oxford's newest suburb will be built to a high standard and with the intention of creating a sustainable community, and the choice of builder for the first stage seems to support this. However, the success or failure of Barton Park will depend just as much on the provision of infrastructure - a school, shops, and most importantly viable transport links which encourage new residents to cycle, walk and use public transport rather than adding to Headington's congested roads by using private cars for every journey. We have still to see anything other than fine words on these matters.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Headington Headlines #193

Here's my weekly round-up of local news for 8 -14 December.

Roundway traders say they have been badly affected by the London Road roadworks, especially as it seems the project is suffering significant delays.

A man was assaulted and robbed by 'a gang of teenagers' on Margaret Road on Friday 5 December.

Two further robberies on Monday, in Quarry Hollow and Bury Knowle Park, are being linked by @TVPolice.

Again on Monday a man had an unknown substance sprayed into his face in a robbery which happened in the alley between Cinnaminta Road and Leiden Road in Wood Farm. The victim was carrying £3500 in cash which he was taking to the bank for his employer.

The John Henry Brookes and Abercrombie Building at Oxford Brookes, and the Maggie's Centre at the Churchill, are among 147 buildings nationally nominated for the 2015 Civic Trust Awards (scroll down the linked document to South East Region).

Headington Community Action opened a new bike shelter at the Headington Community Centre in Gladstone Road.

After two unannounced inspections by the Care Quality Commission earlier this year, the Albany Care Home was rated 'Inadequate'. The care home is on the London Road opposite Headington Prep School. One of several problems which the home seems to have failed to cope with was the departure of all their staff nurses, who had to be replaced with agency nurses. The Oxford Mail has more on the story. The company that runs the Albany, Four Seasons (Bamford) Ltd runs a large number of other care homes and has an outstanding CQC warning at a home in Manchester that they must make improvements within a given timescale.

Active posts on the Headington & Marston e-democracy forum this week:

  • no lights
  • Smoking at JR Hospital
  • Transport and the social divide
  • Pub on Barton Park?
  • Barton Rd development
  • Bicycle hazard - Headington Hill
  • Oxford-HM Forum needs your financial support!
  • Does YourNextMP have your constituency right?
I cover news from the OX3 postcode in Headington and out as far as Barton, Sandhills and Risinghurst (see map). To feed into next week's summary you can comment on this article, or tweet either with the hashtag #ox3 or @mentioning @TonyOX3.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Headington Headlines #192

Here's my weekly round-up of local news for 1 -7 December.

Headington's live Advent Calendar got off to a flying start this week. @TheOxfordMail carried this report.

A collision near the Headington Roundabout closed the Eastern bypass for a time on Wednesday morning. We seem to be getting at least one accident a week around the roadworks there.

@BartonPark_ has won the award for 'Planning for Housing Growth' at the 2014 Planning Awards.

Continuing the tradition of Headington pubs winning CAMRA's Oxford Pub of the Year competition, this year's winner is @TheMasonsArmsHQ. Congratulations to @ChrisMeeson and @Innkeeper55.

The Headington Christmas tree was duly installed in its new purpose-dug hole on Friday.

My favourite Headington-related tweet of the week:

Active posts on the Headington & Marston e-democracy forum this week:

  • I'd just like to say...
  • no lights
  • Barton Rd development
  • Dunstan Rd Speed Humps
  • Transport and the social divide
  • Barton Rd development
I cover news from the OX3 postcode in Headington and out as far as Barton, Sandhills and Risinghurst (see map). To feed into next week's summary you can comment on this article, or tweet either with the hashtag #ox3 or @mentioning @TonyOX3.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Headington Headlines #191

Here's my weekly round-up of local news for 24 - 30 November.

I blogged about the obscurity around the @BartonPark_ Reserved Matters planning documents, available online. There are 113 documents to absorb. But credit to Oxford City Council planning officers - within 48 hours of my mini-rant the document names had all been changed to something more meaningful.

The 20-bed Oxford City Community Hospital has moved from the JR to the Churchill. The move is said to put patients closer to other services.

@RosalindRogers posted this picture of a mural in Quarry Village Hall, uncovered during the on-going refurbishment.

A traffic accident outside Waitrose early on Friday evening closed Old High Street for a while.

Forget Black Friday, it's Golden Monday! The Ford family who run everyone's favourite hardware store Headington Homewares celebrate 50 years of continuous trading as a family business today. Congratulations! I'm told they are marking the occasion with 10% off everything this week.

Starting today, the Headington Live Advent Calendar @LiveAdvent2014 presents a different musical or artistic event in a different location every day until Christmas. Full details on their website, where you can download a full programme.

A busy week on the Headington & Marston e-democracy forum this week: Active posts:

  • no lights
  • Cyclists on Pavements
  • Headington Festival Weekend 2015
  • Does the Old School British Gentlemen/Lady still exist in this modern age?
  • Save the date! #GivingTuesday - December 2
  • Barton Park: Planning application November 2014
  • Drivers going too fast and thinking that's OK
  • Correction of previous submission - Care Home inviting community at Christmas
  • Parking at the JR
  • Problems with Royal Mail
  • I'd just like to say...
  • Dunstan Rd Speed Humps
I cover news from the OX3 postcode in Headington and out as far as Barton, Sandhills and Risinghurst (see map). To feed into next week's summary you can comment on this article, or tweet either with the hashtag #ox3 or @mentioning @TonyOX3.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Barton Park shrouded in obscurity

I've criticised the obscurity of the planning system before, and another example has just emerged. Big developments thrive by making informed public debate virtually impossible. The @BartonPark_ reserved matters planning documents are online for scrutiny. There are 113 documents, so good luck to anyone who wants to know the details.

For example, the preamble to the list of documents says it covers cycle paths, but not one of the documents has the word 'cycle' in its title so it's extremely difficult to find any information about what's being proposed. In fact I tried searching the page for 'cycle', 'park', 'lighting', footpaths' and 'ponds', all said to be included within the application. None of the documents listed have any of these words in their titles.

In practice the only people who will dig into the details are a few professionals working for the developers and a few Council officers. Elected Councillors won't have time and will rely on being told what the officers think they need to know. Meaningful discussion will be non-existent, and public participation effectively quashed.

Nice one, Barton Park and Oxford City.