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South Oxhey Initiative frequently asked questions

Updated March 2014

What is the latest on the South Oxhey Initiative?

Outline Planning Application

· To give reassurance to current residential and retail tenants and leaseholders, as well as potential developers, the Council intends to make an outline planning application.  This will allow residents, neighbours and other stakeholders to express their views.

What the District Council plans to do

·  Since it last consulted with residents and stakeholders the Council has concentrated on central South Oxhey – this means the shopping precinct and flats above Luffenham House, Pennard House and the existing car park and garage site.   We want to focus on improving the shopping area and build new housing.

·  This area will make up the outline planning application being made by the Council for central South Oxhey; along with potential decant sites at Hayling Road, Maylands Road and the former Jet Public House site.

· Other areas in the original masterplan will not be included in the Council’s  planning application; however potential developers may want to include them in their plans. Such areas are the Ox Pub, Kingdom Hall, William Morris Hall and the businesses on Station Parade.

 ·  In the event that the buildings at Station Parade are not required for the redevelopment, the route to and from the station may still be improved.

Areas now excluded from current plans

 · All the other areas in the original masterplan are NOT included in the current plans. These include Thrive Homes offices, the Parish Council offices, the Police station, Ascend offices, the GP’s surgeries and the Scout Hut on Oxhey Drive.

What actions are you taking now to move the project forward?
What are the next steps?

The Council are undertaking pre-application public consultation on its plans, ahead of the submission of an outline planning application.  Consultation events have been arranged for late March 2014.

At these events the architects and planning consultants will be on hand to explain the issues and there will be forms for you to give us your views.

Residents, retailers and stakeholders will be notified independently of the details for these events.

We also intend commencing a new procurement process in the autumn of 2014 to find a suitable developer partner with the aim of appointing towards the end of the year, subject to agreeing a scheme that meets the Council’s and residents’ aspirations for the area.

Can you give a revised timescale?

As a guide we expect the following activities to take place accordingly;

o                      Public consultation event – spring 2014.

o                      Planning application summer 2014.

o                      Commence new procurement process – autumn 2014

o                      Appoint suitable developer partner – 2015

o                      Development works to commence on remote sites –  
                        2016

Earliest estimated date for vacant possession of any existing property needed for redevelopment is first half of 2017.

The Council will update residents and stakeholders of any changes to key dates as the scheme progresses.

What will happen to the shopkeepers who are there now?

There will still be a good mix of smaller shops in the new development which is likely to include such outlets as a chemist and post office, etc.  The existing shop keepers and other businesses will have the option of renting new premises in the new precinct.

The new precinct will be better designed, enabling shops to have the correct size unit for their business. So the rent may be for smaller premises and therefore relatively better value by comparison.

Who should I speak to if I have any questions?

Residential leaseholders should speak to Thrive Homes.

Private tenants should speak to their landlord.

Social rented tenants should speak to Thrive Homes.

Shopkeepers should speak with the Council

What will happen to the people living in the blocks affected? 

Thrive Homes social rented tenants living in the affected blocks will be offered suitable alternative accommodation in South Oxhey if they wish.

The Council appreciates the sensitive nature of this matter and people’s concerns. At the appropriate time we will work with all parties concerned to assess tenants’ needs and preferences and see what options are available.

At present all tenant enquiries should be directed to Thrive Homes.

Will other housing be affected?

There are no plans to redevelop existing housing, other than the homes in the precinct area listed above.

Which brand of main supermarket (anchor foodstore) will there be?

The brand of the foodstore will be proposed by the developer within their final details. Several operators have expressed an interest in locating a store in the area.

Can I continue to shop while the work is being undertaken?

The intention is to carry out the construction in phases so that at any one time there will always be a selection of shops available to residents.

What will happen to the library?

The library will remain where it is.

Will there still be a market?

The new scheme is likely to provide for a market in the precinct area.

Isn’t public opinion against the precinct modernisation?
 
At the public workshop in September 2012, a majority of people were in favour of the proposals to re-develop the precinct.  290 people came to the day and 134 filled in surveys. Of these, 55% of people were in favour of the outline plans shown at the workshop, 27% were against and 18% didn’t express an opinion.

What is the business case for modernising the precinct?

We found that only 16% of shoppers in the South Oxhey are carrying out their main weekly shop there. The rest use the precinct only for ‘top up’ shopping. 

We’ve undertaken some research and found that out of a potential spend in the area of £33M a year, only £2M is actually spent locally.  Modernisation will encourage people to do their main weekly shop in the precinct – supporting local jobs and the local economy.

How was the final decision to improve the precinct made?

In January 2012 the Council voted unanimously to completely modernise the precinct area. We set up a Steering Group made up of District, Parish and County Councillors.

Who is on the South Oxhey Steering Committee?

Three Rivers District Council Leader, Ann Shaw (Lib Dem)
Watford Rural Parish Councillor Pam King (Labour)      
Three Rivers District Council Deputy Leader, Matthew Bedford (Lib Dem)
Three Rivers District Council Conservative Group Leader Ralph Sangster
Three Rivers District Councillor Stephen King (Labour)
Three Rivers District Council Cabinet Member for the Environment, Martin Trevett (Lib Dem)
County and Parish Councillor Joan King (Ashridge, Hayling and Northwick Wards) (Labour).

Are the proposals to modernise The Centre in Gosforth Lane part of the South Oxhey Master Plan?

Yes, these proposals have been informed by the South Oxhey Initiative public consultations but is independent to the South Oxhey Initiative.

Will you rule out building on the Green Belt?

We are committed to protecting the Green Belt for future generations. We will look at all other options before proposing to build on the Green Belt and we will consult with you on all proposals.  77% of the Three Rivers district is Green Belt. Even if all sites allocated for housing in the Green Belt were built on, 76% of the district would remain Green Belt.

Can you give me information about the South Oxhey Residents' association?

This is an independent organisation. For more information, please ring Watford Rural Parish Council 020 8428 0449.

How can I contact my local Councillor?

Ward Councillors’ details are here... or ring the District Council 01923 776611 for your County, District and Councillors’ details.

I didn't receive a copy of Three Rivers Times. Can you make sure I get it?

Yes we can.  Although our delivery company tracks delivery using GPS, we recognise that the distribution method is not perfect.  We provide a reminder service and can email you when the magazine is distributed. If you have not received it we can then post you a copy.   Contact us hereto go on the reminder list or ring 01923 776611

You can view back copies of Three Rivers Times here... You can also listen to a podcast version on the website.

CD and cassette versions of Three Rivers Times and South Oxhey Initiative materials are available from Oxhey Library, ASCEND and on request. Three Rivers Times is also distributed through the Watford Talking Newspaper.  

How can I be kept updated?
You can sign up for the South Oxhey e-newsletter here...
Or, alternatively, there is a postal mailing list – just ring 01923 776611 to be added to the mailing list.