South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have approved revised plans to help improve the lives of residents living in and around Didcot Garden Town.
The renewed, ambitious delivery plan for Didcot Garden Town, approved at two Cabinet meetings, will focus on providing community benefits, a retail recovery strategy, encouraging healthy lifestyles and helping to tackle climate change.
The Didcot Garden Town Advisory Board worked together to simplify priorities to bring significant community and environmental benefits to the area. While reprioritising the delivery plan, the advisory board also considered feedback from their Residents, Business and Parishes Sounding Boards.
Work can now progress on looking at improvements that can be made to existing community open spaces and public walkways to create more attractive areas using plants and public art.
A cycling network plan will be delivered to build more connections between various existing routes and to look at where new paths can be established. This will help reduce congestion and make residents feel safer while travelling between home, the town centre, business parks and surrounding villages.
The councils will begin to look at locations in and around the garden town area for pop-up events to take place with the theme of health, wellbeing and the environment. The events will enhance the sense of community and encourage people to come together, particularly for the new residents moving into the local area.
Following on from the success of last year’s Didcot Garden Party, which saw over 4,000 people attending, the councils are already making plans for this year’s garden party to take place during the summer holidays, and details for this will be released soon.
Councillor Robin Bennett, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Regeneration at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “Our new, simplified delivery plan gives each of the partners specific projects to focus on, with thanks to the Sounding Boards for their excellent suggestions.
“Projects such as community gardens and tree planting will help us to put the garden into the Garden Town, while pop-up spaces and our new retail strategy will help us to revitalise Didcot’s historic and much-loved Broadway.”
Councillor Judy Roberts, Cabinet Member for Development and Infrastructure at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “We’re excited that this revised plan can now be progressed to deliver some great new environmental and community projects that will really benefit everyone’s health and wellbeing.
“Projects which promote healthy lifestyles will be introduced, including plans to help residents and families to grow their own fruit and vegetables, which was originally suggested by the Residents Sounding Board.”
The original delivery plan was published in 2017 to provide new community facilities and infrastructure in the town while new developments were planned to be built.
In the five years since it was implemented, the Councils, along with the Didcot Garden Town Advisory Board and its partners, have already completed several projects, including expanding the Orchard Centre and opening a new cycling and pedestrian route through Backhill Tunnel near Milton Park.
Since its creation, the advisory board has introduced a robust governance structure so that local expertise and feedback are regularly gathered from its Residents, Business and Parishes Sounding Boards.
The next Didcot Garden Town Advisory Board meeting is scheduled for 18 July. More information on the garden town meeting and the revised delivery plan can be found via whitehorsedc.gov.uk/didcot-garden-town and southoxon.gov.uk/didcot-garden-town.