In the village where I live, on the edge of the city of Oxford, one of the major landowners is a trust, which has a primary objective of stopping the land from being built on. It is not so much to protect our setting, rather that of the neighbouring district of the city, where newly built five-bedroom townhouses retail for in excess of two million pounds.
This setting is also under threat though, from one of the largest colleges of the university of Oxford, who own land on the northern side of the village adjacent to the Oxford ring road, and want to build up to 750 new homes, as a sort of extension to an estate currently being built by another developer. When the development is inevitably permitted, we will no longer be the last village at the edge of Oxford, but coalesced into the city.
Every morning I leave this village to go to work, the winter sun low in the sky, against a constant flow of motorists illegally driving through it to avoid the huge queues of traffic going into the city of Oxford.
And I drive to work in the Vale of White Horse, where there is housebuilding on a huge scale around small villages. One morning last week, we counted ten sets of temporary traffic lights on our twenty minutes journey from Wantage to Milton Heights. Twice daily when it rains the taxi is sprayed with dirt, as the roads are inevitably not regularly swept of the inevitable buildup of mud on them, from the constant toing and froing of lorries on the building sites.
As we queued on the A4130, with all the workers waiting to get into Milton Park, still in this age imbibed with the nine to five work culture, my customer asked if one day the land between Milton Interchange and the presently built up area of Didcot might be developed. “Almost certainly,” I responded.
Nearby is a new hotel, to which I had taken three power station workers one evening last week. Like its neighbour on the opposite side of the road, they both have the geographical designation “Oxford South”, though in fact are located fourteen miles south of the city, not even in Didcot, which is the nearest town, but in Vale of White Horse, with an Abingdon post code.
A Hackney Carriage licence holder is supposed to have a knowledge of the boundaries of district councils. Amongst other reasons, it is not legal to ply for hire, nor accept a street hail outside of the district for which you are licensed.
Boundaries might eventually catch up with the pace of modern development. But until then people will still keep asking for these hotels in “Oxford South” when in reality, they are many miles away from the city, in an area with its own distinct identity. It would be a retrograde step if villages like Milton were to lose their identity, becoming subsumed within a sort of Greater Oxford