Great Western Park, Didcot
The development lies within a patch of southern Oxfordshire which has become known as the Science Vale. This includes the settlements of Didcot, Wantage and Grove, and a set of major science, technology and innovation related employment sites such as Milton Park, Harwell Campus and Culham Science Centre. In 2011, the Science Vale area had a population of 117,000, with 54,000 jobs.
The Strategic Housing Market Assessment has identified that 725-825 new homes are required per year in South Oxfordshire and 1,028 per year in Vale of White Horse District. In December 2015 Didcot was designated a Garden Town, with plans for 15,000 new homes in the town, along with 20,000 new science-related jobs across the wider Science Vale area.
Great Western Park is thus one of several planned urban expansions for the town. Sited immediately to the west of Didcot, it’s a good location for foot and cycle connections to the town, but there are signs that not enough routes have been built that cross the site boundary, and at the time of our visit, in some places people were having to take matters into their own hands to create these paths.
There are ambitious targets to increase the cycle commuting in the Science Vale. The major employment site of Milton Park lies just north of Great Western Park but is cut off from it by a mainline railway line; plans to build a new road bridge could rectify this.
Within Great Western Park walkability is good and a 20mph zone is in place. A large circle of playing fields stand in the centre of the estate, providing a home for several local sports teams. There are plans to build a more typical park alongside here.
Bus services have improved recently and run every 15 minutes to Didcot town centre and railway station. There are even night buses from Oxford on Friday and Saturday nights. Some substantial transport related developer contributions have been made, including contributions towards bus services and monitoring the impacts of the development in terms of air quality and traffic generation. There have also been highway improvements at the nearby Milton Interchange on the A34.
Click here to download the Great Western Park Didcot profile.