Mindless Philosophy

New development in Bampton Oxfordshire – A resident’s view

by Darren Street

Created on: Monday March 10, 2014

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As a person who works and lives in the heart of Bampton, I have mixed feelings regarding the proposed new development which seems ever looming on our horizon. I’m not entirely against new development in Bampton, however I think it’s important to preserve the balance of people and environment that make Bampton so special.


I have never come across a more welcoming mix of people, young and old. We have million pound mansions next to semis. The village turns out for all the special events (The Shirt Race & Donkey Derby et al) regardless of the weather.

If I pop down to the shops on a Sunday morning I am greeted by “morning” from everyone I pass, accompanied with a smiling face.  I get a sense of community and belonging.

I have lived in places where no one knows their neighbours. Everyone is a stranger and potential threat.  This doesn’t mean to say Bampton is especially safe or free from crime, as we all know that isn’t particularly true considering the Post Office robbery last year,  but I guess the perception of crime isn’t present for me and this is reflected in a better quality of life.  I feel safe in Bampton.

This is special and worth preserving but I am not so sure allowing some houses to be built would jeopardise that.

The pros and cons of new housing to Bampton can be analysed by people more qualified than myself. I am just a layman who probably doesn’t understand all the finer points of housing development, the knock-on effects both wanted and unwanted, and the pressures on existing infrastructure, public services and healthcare.

The developers are all about getting a return. This is fine, however it’s up to the people of Bampton and the local councils to ensure the developers build houses that fit in with the style of the village, and provide good quality accommodation for its occupants.

pressurising our councillors and planning departments to ensure that any new builds and developments meet the specification of the consensus of Bampton residents

The developers should not be allowed to build cheap and nasty hollow boxes devoid of character and charm. The houses need to be built so that space and amenities can be incorporated, so that nature can re-take a foothold in designated green spaces.  I think anyone who watches house improvement programs on television can agree that new builds can look spectacular and fit (and enhance ) the environment.

Both Richborough and Gladman will want to squeeze as many houses on their plots as they can. They are in business to make money. If I was running their businesses I would probably want to do the same. However, I doubt we can stem the tide of house building in Oxfordshire and specifically Bampton for much longer. The government has mandated new home building for all counties and I am sure they will get what they want. But, it  is up to us to ensure the correct quantity and style of houses are built that enhance the look of the village and improve its standing.  This means more cost for the developers which they won’t want. We need to strike a hard bargain for the developers so that they can make money and Bampton has a new estate to be proud of.

So what do I mean about striking a hard bargain for the residents of Bampton? How about funding more buses that service Bampton? How about more civic spaces for the residents or play areas with ongoing financial support? These are just ideas. If we have to have the houses then let’s use that as leverage to get what the Bampton residents want.

I want to save Bampton’s future but I also want to be realistic.  I am sure when Calais Dene was built the existing residents has similar views at the time. Has the character of the village been corrupted since the creation of that development?  Would we have had our fantastic GP Surgery if it wasn’t for the increase in Bampton’s population?

To finish I fervently believe we should be pressurising our councillors and planning departments to ensure that any new builds and developments meet the specification of the consensus of Bampton residents.  I believe Gladman and Richborough would be less likely to push development if their profits are cut when they are mandated to build fewer properties to a higher specification and lower affordable cost.

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