Revamped focus for Didcot Garden Town

Revised plans to improve the lives of residents in and around Didcot Garden Town were approved at two cabinet meetings.

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse County Councils have approved a renewed, ambitious delivery plan for Didcot Garden Town. It will focus on delivering community benefits, a dedicated retail revitalization strategy, promoting healthy lifestyles and helping to combat climate change.

The Didcot Garden Town Advisory Board worked together to simplify priorities, which will bring significant community and environmental benefits to the area. In reprioritizing the implementation plan, the Advisory Board also considered feedback received from its Resident, Business and Community Sounding Boards.

Work can now continue to explore what improvements can be made to existing community open spaces and public walkways to create more attractive areas with plants and public art. A cycle network map is provided to build more connections between different existing routes and to check where new paths can be built. This will help reduce congestion and give residents peace of mind when traveling between homes, city centers, commercial areas and surrounding villages.

Councils will begin looking for locations in and around the garden city to host pop-up events on health, well-being and the environment. The events aim to build a sense of community and encourage people to get together, especially for new residents moving into the area. Following the success of last year’s Didcot Garden Party, which drew over 4,000 people, councils are already making plans for this year’s garden party to take place over the summer holidays and plans for this will be published shortly.

Cllr Robin Bennett, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Renewal at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “Our new, simplified delivery schedule 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 transform the garden into Garden Town, while pop-up spaces and our new retail strategy will help us revitalize Didcot’s historic and beloved Broadway.”

Cllr Judy Roberts, Cabinet Member for Development and Infrastructure at the Vale of White Horse District Center said: “We are delighted that this revised plan can now move forward to deliver some great new environmental and community projects that support health and well-being really benefit everyone. Projects promoting healthy lifestyles are featured, including plans to help residents and families grow their own fruit and vegetables, originally suggested by the Residents Sounding Board.”

The original delivery schedule was released in 2017, with a focus on providing new community facilities and infrastructure in the city while construction of new developments was planned. In the five years since its implementation, councilors and the Didcot Garden Town Advisory Board and its partners have already completed several projects including the extension of the Orchard Center and the opening of a new cycle and pedestrian route through the Backhill Tunnel near Milton Park . Since its inception, the Advisory Board has put in place a robust governance structure, so that local expertise and feedback are regularly solicited from its Resident, Business and Community Sounding Boards.

The next meeting of the Didcot Garden Town Advisory Council is scheduled for 18 July. For more information on the Garden Town Meeting and the revised delivery schedule, visit whitehorsedc.gov.uk/didcot-garden-town.

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