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Didcot Garden Town

What the Community Said


A critical analysis of the official Community Engagement Summary report by South
Oxfordshire District Council.
Presentation of additional material missing in official report.

Didcot Garden Town Community - February 2017

@didcotgardenco

www.facebook.com/didcotgardentown

Didcot Garden Town ~ What the Community Said A report by Didcot Garden Town Community February 2017 1
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
People feel unsafe. Congestion is the single biggest problem. Traffic is bad. Green
is good and nice to be in. Only 18% expressed overall positive feelings. Ladygrove
Green spaces are the biggest positive asset. People want to see Cycling
improvements, Greenery and planting and Better pavements and footpaths. South
Oxfordshire District Council needs to truly engage with community and enable
community participation in decision making. To develop Ladygrove green spaces is
wrong and against what people want. Current proposals do not deserve the name
Garden Town.

Content:
Introduction
Question: Why do you feel this way?
The Colour of Flags
Question: What would you like to see here?
Free text comments What is important to people
Conclusions

INTRODUCTION
This community report refers to the 1161 comments made at the official community
consultation portal for Didcot Garden Town https://didcotgardentown.commonplace.is
between 9 November 2016 and 27 Jan 2017. It aims to critically assess the official
community engagement report by South Oxfordshire District Council, from January 2016
(here).
People could pin a flag to a place on the map and then:
1. Move a slider from 0 to 10 to say whether they felt negative or positive about this
place. (this turned the flag for this place red amber or green)
2. Name the place or places
3. Select pre-defined attributes to describe the place
4. Add free text attributes or comments on how they feel about that place
5. Select pre-defined things they would like to see
6. Add other things they would like to see or make further comments on the above

Didcot Garden Town ~ What the Community Said A report by Didcot Garden Town Community February 2017 2
QUESTION: WHY DO YOU FEEL THIS WAY?
The official report fails to acknowledge that a lot of people chose negative attributes to
describe the current situation.
From the pre-defined answers to this question, over 2000 negative attributes were chosen.

TOP FIVE pre-defined negative attributes:

Unsafe 269
Congested 257

Badly designed 243


Unattractive 201
Neglected 199
0 50 100 150 200 250 300

These responses make clear that people feel negative about quite a few places in Didcot.
People are feeling unsafe in many places.
Congestion is a very significant negative issue identified through pre-defined attributes.
A lot of bad design has happened in the past through hap-hazard, short-term thinking and
planning of housing developments and roads.
Too many respondents feel certain places in Didcot are unattractive and neglected.

Pre-defined Negative Attributes


This word cloud shows pre-defined negative attributes size of word is relative to how often
that attribute was chosen.

Didcot Garden Town ~ What the Community Said A report by Didcot Garden Town Community February 2017 3
From the pre-defined answers to this question, over 1400 positive attributes were chosen.
TOP FIVE pre-defined positive attributes

Green 383

Nice to be in 156

Attractive 150

Good 118
atmosphere

Welcoming 114

0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400

By far the strongest factor to make people feel positively about a place is the fact that it is
green. There are other places people feel nice to be in, consider attractive and welcoming
and creating a good atmosphere.

Pre-defined Positive Attributes


(size of word is relative to how often that attribute was chosen)

Didcot Garden Town ~ What the Community Said A report by Didcot Garden Town Community February 2017 4
THE COLOUR OF FLAGS
It is really interesting to look where flags are red and where they are green. Here the map for
the whole area, including the Zone of Influence. At this scale, it is a big orange-red blob
with a few isolated green flags, mainly outside the town itself in the open countryside:

We counted the flags for the Didcot Town, in particular everything you see on this image:

Didcot Garden Town ~ What the Community Said A report by Didcot Garden Town Community February 2017 5
Comments overall for Didcot Town rated as positive,
neutral (amber) or negative by respondent:

GREEN, 172,
RED, 391, 18%
41%
AMBER, 390,
41%

The RED comments focussed on roads, but some very also set to protest against proposed
future activity or to say that open countryside was neglected or to highlight any other lack of
maintenance.
The AMBER comments are spread. Over 100 were made at or near the station alone.
The GREEN comments focus on the green spaces and open countryside.

A closer look at Ladygrove Lakes and green spaces:


This area alone received over one third of all the
GREEN FLAG comments made on the whole town!
And the RED comments were certainly not
complaining about its existence, but rather pointing
out a small number of issues on site.
Ladygrove Green spaces are by far the most positive
asset in the whole of the town!
We do not know who planted the idea of a science
discovery centre / museum (to include explanations
of some of the most exciting science projects based
near Didcot) to be built on Ladygrove green spaces
in the responses (as referred to in the official report),
but we dont think it was a member of the
community!

Didcot Garden Town ~ What the Community Said A report by Didcot Garden Town Community February 2017 6
Comments for Ladygrove green spaces rated as positive,
neutral (amber) or negative by respondent:

RED, 12,
12%
AMBER,
23, 24% GREEN,
61, 64%

So how South Oxfordshire District Council can come up


with a plan for a Garden Town that proposes to develop
on the most positive asset of the whole town after this
consultation is completely beyond us!

The official report does even refer to the online petition Save Didcot's Amenities and Green
Spaces on Ladygrove!, which as of today (10/2/2017) stands at 1,693 signatures.

Didcot Garden Town ~ What the Community Said A report by Didcot Garden Town Community February 2017 7
QUESTION: WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE HERE ?
Good question. It would have been even better, if it had suggested pre-defined features that
were more in line with the well-established Garden City principles.

TOP FIVE pre-defined features that people would like to see:

Better pavements and footpaths 252

Greenery and planting 229

Cycling improvements 228

Better roads 192

Open spaces 172

0 50 100 150 200 250 300

Pre-defined Features people would like to see


This word cloud shows pre-defined positive attributes size of word is relative to
how often that attribute was chosen.

This is quite balanced. There are a lot of features people would like to see more of in Didcot.

Didcot Garden Town ~ What the Community Said A report by Didcot Garden Town Community February 2017 8
FREE TEXT COMMENTS WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO
PEOPLE
The following analysis only refers to free text comments. The word counts exclude those
resulting from pre-defined attributes, answers and features.

TOP FIVE topics people talk about

cycling 305

traffic 263

access 179

green space 179

walk 135

0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350

The interesting, that people predominantly talk about positive changes they would like to
see. There were certainly a lot of constructive suggestions in the responses.
Traffic is again highlighted as a negative feature (see above high rating for pre-defined
attribute Congested and Unsafe). This needs to be seen in the context of road accidents
(N= 19) and car-generated problems such as noise (N = 16) and pollution (N= 27).

Topics people comment and care about


(size of word is relative to how often that attribute was chosen)

Didcot Garden Town ~ What the Community Said A report by Didcot Garden Town Community February 2017 9
CONCLUSIONS
People in Didcot are not stupid. There is a lot of expertise around. People know
where the not so good places are and what needs doing to fix the issues. We wont
be fobbed off, we wont be ignored.
There are also some great assets, such as the Ladygrove Lakes and Mount and
other green spaces across town. These need enlarging and enhancing. Considering
the dominant themes in the responses, it seems entirely logical to set an aim to give
95% of the community access to a natural, pleasant green space within 300m of
where they live and to invest in a cycling network (including a route to Wittenham
clumps for example).

If there is a Garden Town in Didcot, it needs to be something that deserves the


name!
If there is a Garden Town in Didcot, it needs to be truly sustainable and reflect the
aspirations of the community!
If there is a Garden Town, it cannot be a green doughnut at the expense of a
neglected core, with traffic, noise and pollution choking up current residents!

The early Garden Town literature from South Oxfordshire District Council referred to
listening. Several times. The most recent proposals to develop Ladygrove green
spaces suggest the council is not listening at all. We need proper community
engagement and community participation in decision making, not just being talked
at. All community groups need to be engaged as stakeholders, not excluding
informal groups as it happened earlier.

P.S. Yes it was good fun counting all the flags, thanks for asking. IF the community were
given access to the same resources as the consultants and SODC staff, we would certainly
come up with a better, more sustainable Didcot Garden Town.

Didcot Garden Town ~ What the Community Said A report by Didcot Garden Town Community February 2017 10