Wantage Neighbourhood Plan

Posted on November 5th, 2014

A consultation has been sent around local groups to contribute to the Wantage Neighbourhood Plan. The residents of Wantage will be invited to make their contributions as householders and individuals shortly – we would urge all members to comment in particular about the cycling facilities and challenges in order to influence local priorities.

The CTC Wantage response is as below – many thanks to Steve Swanton for his input to this:

Wantage Neighbourhood Plan questionnaire

Q5. Please identify up to five specific problem areas in the existing transport infrastructure in and around Wantage which you think are most important for the mode of transport which your group represents.

  1. Almost complete absence of any cycling route infrastructure within the town centre (area bounded by Harcourt Road, Ormond Road, Portway, Ham Road and Mill Street), and in particular into the Market Place.
  2. Much of the existing cycle provision is inadequate, compromised and in some cases completely disconnected. For example, the Denchworth road cycle path from Mably Way to Stockham is compromised by the number of road crossings with lack of priority for cyclists and the route petering out at the southern end. Even the Wantage-Grove cycle path along Grove Road (which is excellent North of the Toucan crossing nr Autotype) is compromised at the Wantage end, with cyclists forced to join busy roads at the Harcourt Road traffic lights.
  3. Potholes and poor levels of maintenance of local roads. In particular Ickleton Road between Ham Road and the Letcombe turn is so poor that I am not currently prepared to take our family/beginners rides that way. The surface of the A338 to the South of Wantage near Manor Farm is dangerously eroded. There are many other examples within the confines of Wantage.
  4. Lack of safe, direct and fit-for-purpose cycle routes, suitable for all, from the local villages into Wantage (with the exception of the A338 cycle path from Grove Bridge to Toucan crossing by Autotype), In particular from the Hendreds to Ardington, East Challow into Wantage and from East Hanney into Grove.
  5. No cycle-friendly routes from either Wantage or Grove to Milton Park or to Milton Hill (Infineum). Commuting cyclists are required to use busy main/minor roads.

Q6. Please identify up to five specific improvements in transport infrastructure in and around Wantage which you think would be most effective in helping to meet the needs of the mode of transport which your group represents

  1. Reducing through-traffic in the town centre would reduce congestion and improve conditions for cycling. Currently, the Market Place is effectively a large roundabout. If through traffic flows could be reduced by developing alternative peripheral routes then pedestrianising the South side of the Market Place would become a viable option. Limiting vehicular access via some of the side streets would also help to create a congenial open, community space that would act as the hub for a cycle friendly town. The enforcement of double-yellow lines would aid traffic flow and significantly reduce the number of potential incidents – in particular Wantage Market Place and particularly the routes out on Newbury Street (around the Ormond Road / Portway traffic lights and outside the food takeaways) and Wallingford Street (outside the food takeaways on the non-parking side of the street) – surely as the council gives food premises licenses, it could very easily and at low cost take a serious interest in enforcement of these key pinch points. This style of development has been achieved in many UK towns and cities, and is particularly prevalent in Holland where up to 50% of local journeys are made by bike. Why not in Wantage?
  2. Building a northern ring road as part of the future developments around Wantage would reduce East-West (and E-N) traffic through the town centre, reducing congestion.
  3. Properly integrating cycling as a normal transport mode in all future developments in and around Wantage. All cycling infrastructure meeting Government design standards. Such cycling facilities will need to be joined up within the wider network; disconnected facilities will have reduced benefit. Road infrastructure needs to be cyclists friendly with proper consideration given to the needs of cyclists in junction/roundabout design. There is also a need to provide realistic levels of off-road car parking that avoids congesting the road space.
  4. Timely road maintenance and repair of potholes, and the proper resurfacing of obviously worn roads where there is a patchwork of temporary repairs.
  5. Improving the quality and safety of the cycling routes to local schools.

Q10. Given the growth projections for Wantage and area, do you anticipate being able to support this level of growth?

Yes. The club is consciously addressing development in the current year. The theme is to develop the scale and capability of our volunteer base in order to be able to sustainably support the growth in demand for leisure cycling activities in Wantage and the surrounding area.

Q12. What are the two best things that Wantage provides your group?

  1. Location. Great base for a cycling club. Wonderful countryside for cycling on the doorstep, with a well-connected network of minor roads between the villages in the Vale, which are generally safe for cycling at all levels; access to good tracks for off-road cycling on the Downs including the Ridgeway.
  2. Cyclists. Good basic level of participation in cycling within Wantage and Grove, with the significant growth in leisure and necessity-based cycling that has been experienced in the UK being mirrored in the Wantage area. As an example in the 2013/14 riding season, CTC Wanatge riders cycled over 73,000 kilometers on club rides, and we had 166 different riders joining us on our leisure rides, putting on 250 organised rides at all ability and fitness levels over the year.

Q13. What are the two biggest problems for your group in Wantage?

  1. Lack of a suitable starting location for our Tuesday evening rides during the summer months. We currently meet at Old Mill Hall in Grove, but due to the popularity of the hall and its’ car parking, it’s far from ideal for us, particularly as we now have anything between 25 and 45 cyclists each Tuesday evening, intermingling with increased traffic.
  2. The visibility of the group at Wantage Town Council is poor. We were not properly approached to contribute to this survey until the very last moment. It was only our relationship with other local groups that informed us. For the record, CTC Wantage can always be contacted via secretary@ctcwantage.org.uk.

Q14. How would you like to see Wantage develop over the next 20 years?

Develop as a cycle-friendly town in which cycling is considered a normal transport option with cycle friendly-routes into the town centre from all neighbourhoods and close-by villages.

A semi-pedestrianised Market Place with limited vehicular access via some of the access routes (e.g. Newbury Street) would create a congenial pedestrian and cyclist friendly hub.

A northern ring road built as part of future developments, which would help to take East-West through-traffic away from the town centre, could be a significant factor in achieving this.

More generally, we don’t think that Wantage makes enough of its location on the edge of the North Wessex Downs AOB as a centre for outdoor leisure activities including cycling, walking and horse riding. With a bit of entrepreneur-ship (noting the Betjeman Festival), Wantage could promote these activities through cycling and walking festivals – taking for example the Abingdon Spring Cycling Festival, which in only a few years has become a major event in their town attracting 100s of cyclists.

Q 15. What support and encouragement can Wantage give your group through the Neighbourhood Plan?

Effectively engaging with cyclists and, in particular, cycling groups in developing and executing the neighbourhood plan.

We extend an invitation to take a number of the working party and other councillors on a guided cycling tour of the current facilities, opportunities and challenges that the cyclists of Wantage experience on a daily basis.

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