Across from the River Thames, on Wilsham Road, a bungalow called Pendower is just about to be demolished. The grounds have room for two larger properties with higher roofs.
In the early morning, seagulls take up positions watching the river, from vantage points on Wilsham Road. You can tell their most popular positions from the white deposits they leave.
They are ready for whenever there is food on offer. They wheel round,
then swoop down to try to get the food from the ducks.
There have been two recent news stories about Northcourt Budgens. The post office in the Budgens at Northcourt Road, Abingdon, has recently had a revamp and now opens for longer, and provides more services.
The other story appeared in the Abingdon Streetlife forum, as well as a retail trends website, called IGD Retail Analysis. The Co-op has acquired 15 Budgens stores from Booker. The stores are located in Bedgrove, Bradford-on-Avon, Byfleet, Chalfont St Peter, Crouch End, East Barnet, Fakenham, Fulham, Grange Park, Northcourt, Parsons Green, Ripley, Sandy, Tysoe Street and Walton on the Hill.
Steve Murrells, chief executive, of retail at The Co-operative Food, said “Co-op Food continues to go from strength to strength, with a clear strategy that focuses on the growing convenience store market”, and intends to acquire 100 stores this year.
Meanwhile the large ex Co-op in Bury Street is still empty. It closed in May 2015 as the Co-op rationalised its retail outlets in Abingdon town centre.
In town this morning, there were some colourful people collecting for Marie Curie. They were asking people to donate and wear a daffodil in March for Marie Curie who provide care, guidance and support, for people living with any terminal illness, and their families.
In Abingdon Commnity shop there was a stall for Abingdon Good Neighbours scheme. It started off as the North East Abingdon scheme but now they cover all Abingdon, although it sounds as if they would like to find more volunteers in South Abingdon.
Volunteers befriend people (usually elderly) who otherwise would be lonely, talk with them, help with shopping, and other tasks the elderly can no longer manage. More info at http://neagns.co.uk
Hester attended 2 more sessions of the Local Plan Examination – one on the “Five-year housing supply” and one on infrastructure issues. The key points were:
1 In order to approve the Plan, the Inspector has to be satisfied that it will genuinely meet what is known as the “Objectively Assessed Need” (OAN) for housing in the area over the next 5 years. There are some people who challenge the OAN figures for this area, but the Inspector has to work with the ones that have been laid down.
2 Our area has been identified as nationally significant for economic growth – with very ambitious plans for new jobs in the “Science Vale” area (Culham, Milton Park, Harwell etc) so we are required to show that there will be adequate housing for all these new people. There was a debate as to whether job growth was really likely to be as fast as predicted, but there was a certain amount of “chicken and egg” to the discussion – employers report that it is difficult to recruit here because suitably-priced housing is in short supply… Interestingly, at the sessions I attended, there was little mention of the Vale having to help Oxford City meet their housing needs.
3 Both the Vale and the developers were adamant that if the Plan is approved, the houses on the various sites can be delivered in the required timescales, but some of those present were doubtful, largely because of the cumulative effect of all the sites on for example the ability of the Vale to process planning applications and of the builders to obtain manpower and materials.
4 The infrastructure discussion was depressing from an Abingdon perspective. The good news is that the plans for the two North Abingdon sites include provision for a Primary School and a “Local Centre” (which presumably could be a Community Centre, Health Centre or whatever is deemed necessary) although I did not hear a date for those. There is also reasonable provision for footpaths, cycle paths and bus stops. However, house building is scheduled to start in 2018 with about 500 due to be built by 2021: however that is the earliest date mentioned for the Lodge Hill interchange and other considerably later dates were also mentioned. Since building on the Radley and Kennington developments will be going on at the same time, that does not bode well for traffic in the next few years.
5 While it does seem pretty certain that the new slip roads will be built – eventually – other proposed improvements to the A34 in this area (widening, addition of a bus lane etc) sound unlikely, largely because the County Council favour an alternative approach involving a new road from the Didcot northern ringroad to Culham – including a new river crossing. They believe that, as well as linking up the key Science Vale sites it will also reduce traffic using the A34 north bound by providing a link from Milton interchange to Culham and places to the East of Oxford. Since presumably this will be largely funded by Science Vale and Local Enterprise Plan money there is a perception that it is more achievable than the A34 improvements.
At present the “North Abingdon” sites are actually in Sunningwell and Radley parishes, but the plan is for the boundary to be moved so they are in Abingdon.
The lights of the 200 meter high chimney at Didcot Power Station can be seen reflected in the River Thames at Abingdon.
A lady, I knew, approached while I was taking the picture, to say ‘Unlucky Didcot’. Her father worked there as part of the initial crew, and over the years she could remember other accidents, during the building of the power station, and since. Then just last year the woodern cooling towers, for the new gas fired power station, caught fire. Yesterday part of the concrete and steel boiler house, being prepared for demolition, collapsed, tragically killing one person. Three others are missing.