Why was the quarry put forward as a possible employment site?
On 20 July 2006, a number of businesses in Faringdon made representations at a town council meeting, complaining about the lack of suitable land for larger business units. Wicklesham Quarry was discussed at the meeting as a possible suitable site.
We were then approached, as the quarry owners, and asked to consider putting it forward as a potential development site for business use. Although there were other sites earmarked for business use in Faringdon, none were suitable for this sort of development.
Why has this historically been rejected by Vale of White Horse District Council?
Irrespective of these complaints from Faringdon businesses, an Employment Land Review carried out by VoWHDC in 2008, found there was no need for large business and industrial units in Faringdon, and Wicklesham Quarry was excluded from the preferred options for the district’s Local Development Framework (LDF).
This is because the LDF was in line with the South East development strategy that favoured office and light business units in the Vale. The planning strategy at the time focused any provision for larger units away from the west of the district to Milton Park, near Didcot. The Vale’s planning guidance therefore effectively restricted any growth for Faringdon businesses, which had to relocate to expand, taking jobs away from the town.
Faringdon Town Council took this complaint to VoWHDC and requested more land to be allocated for business use, particularly for larger business units. The response from the Vale was to ask the Town Council to prove that such a need existed.
Has there been a need for a new industrial site?
Faringdon lies less than 10 miles from the border with the South West region of the country. This region has historically had a very different approach to allocating land for business. Swindon’s Core Strategy, for example, has generated vast expansion of the manufacturing and industrial businesses now disfavoured in the South East. Lying so close to Swindon, Faringdon has traditionally attracted satellite businesses to the industrial powerhouse on its doorstep.
But that capability has been stifled – a survey of businesses in Faringdon, carried out by Kemp and Kemp in 2009, revealed that there are many businesses that have aspired to relocate or expand within the Faringdon area but have been unable to do so due to lack of suitable sites.