The Community Project was originally set up to meet two perceived needs of the village. A third need came later.
The village hall. The old hall had been in a sorry state for many years. Clearly a new one was needed if the village was going to continue to have this facility. Planning consent for a new hall on a site roughly opposite the existing one was granted in 2008.
The school. Delightful though the school and its setting were it did not provide the best facilities that are needed for the 21st Century. It did not have a hall, some of the classrooms were “temporary”, there was no space for pre-school children and the building was not energy efficient and was in need of repair. Critically it could not cater for any real growth in numbers.
What became fairly rapidly apparent was that a joint project for hall and school on a single site made very good sense.
Housing. A Bletchingdon housing needs survey conducted for Cherwell District Council in 2011 pointed to a need for more affordable housing – either shared ownership or for rent.
Since the planners advised that there was only one really acceptable site for the housing in the village and that this was the same one suggested for the hall and school, it was agreed by all concerned to widen the project. It was also clear that the only way to, at least in part, fund these three developments was to include market housing in the scheme where the developer pays a contribution to the community.
The land in question is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall. In late 2011 a working group was set up which included representatives of all interested parties: Cherwell District Council officers and members, Oxfordshire County Council officers and members, the Parish Council, Village Hall and School trustees, the Duchy and a local Housing Association.
Throughout the whole period there has been extensive consultation with the people of Bletchingdon regarding the needs of the village and the school in relation to this new development. By early October there was an overall plan drawn up by the Duchy architects and this was presented to the village on October 16th 2012 and met with full support.
Since then all of the plans have been approved by the local authority and building work has commenced. The new school and Village Hall were completed by July 2015 ready for full occupation by the end of August. Building of the homes and the shop began in July 2016.
To see a site plan of the housing please click site_plan_of_houses. For specific plans of the houses themselves, go to the Cherwell District Council’s planning website and search for application 14/01141/REM.
(All plans and views are courtesy of Francis Roberts Architects or Coleman Hicks)