Detailed Strengths and Weaknesses by Topic
Each working group made up of members of our community prepared SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analyses to inform their work. Detailed Strengths and Weaknesses by topic are shown below:
Town centre, businesses, economy and technology
Attractive town centre environment.
Good pubs, restaurants etc.
The heritage of the town.
Adjacent areas to the town suitable for expansion.
Good road access
Broad demographic – wide skills base.
Attractive place to live.
Particularly high IQ working population.
5 roads linking Wantage with surrounding area (A417E, A417W, A338E, A338W, B4494)
Proximity to major highways (M4, M40, A34)
Proximity to major rail station (Didcot)
Bus service to Oxford, Abingdon, Harwell Campus and Didcot but .. (see Weaknesses)
(Community) Bus service to local villages
School bus transport from villages
Voluntary transport scheme run by local charity for medical visits etc
Taxi rank in Market Square with good availability
Active cycling groups
Network of footpaths for walking within Wantage
Broadband cable to most areas
Generally acceptable mobile signal
Water supply (to 1 bar pressure)
Civic centre (The Beacon)
Independent Advice Centre
Market Square with markets Wednesday & Saturday (and monthly Farmers Market)
Blue badge parking
Good collection of private nurseries and toddler groups
Acorns / Camel / Ark pre-schools
Charlton Primary School (OFSTED : Good)
Stockham Primary School (OFSTED : Good)
Wantage Church of England Primary School (OFSTED : Good)
King Alfred's Secondary School (3 sites) (OFSTED : Outstanding)
Grove Church of England Primary School (OFSTED : Good)
Millbrook Primary School (OFSTED : Inadequate)
St Amand's Catholic Primary School (OFSTED : Requires improvement)
St Michael's Church of England Primary School (OFSTED : Good)
St Nicholas Church of England Primary School, East Challow(OFSTED : Good)
St James Church of England Primary School, Hanney (OFSTED : Good)
The Hendreds Church of England Primary School (OFSTED : Good)
The Ridgeway Church of England Primary School (OFSTED : Good)
Good special needs school (Fitzwaryn)
Health/ Emergency Services
Medical centre (WHC, Mably Way) housing 2 practices plus 1 other, also in Grove
Local midwife-led maternity unit
Local physiotherapy clinics (NHSP + private)
Complementary health therapists
Opticians / Dentists / Chemists
Assisted Living residences
Active, local care charities
Neighbourhood Watch areas
Low crime area
Police presence - counter service in Library
Proximity to Wessex Downs AONB and easy access to countryside generally
Letcombe Brook corridor
Vale & Downland Museum
Literary connections eg Betjeman/Hardy
King Alfred connections
Recreation Ground, Betjeman Park & other open spaces
Market Place- Market held twice weekly
Churches & The Convent
Pubs and historic hotels
FESTIVALS: Summer/MusicBetjeman/Other annual events
Wantage Town Governors/Alms Houses
Music and dance activities/Silver Band/Orchestra/icknield Morris men/folk
The Sack house museum
Strong community and many local interest groups
Wantage Improvement Act 1828
Town and other mills
Wilts & Berks Canal and Wantage Wharf
Letcombe Brook and its corridor is a rare chalk stream with protected species.
Parks, nature reserve, conservation area, green spaces, allotments and community garden.
Attractive countryside and landscape eg: North Wessex Downs AONB.
Access to the countryside - public rights of way network and Ridgeway.
Local conservation volunteer groups actively caring for the natural environment.
Attractive rural landscape and approaches to Wantage by road.
Semi-natural habitats and landscape features including hedgerows, shelter belts, small areas of woodland in surrounding countryside.
Good soils and air quality
Most historic properties are concentrated in Wantage town centre or village centres - easier to protect with conservation areas.
South and west ranges of the square not significantly altered since the 19th century
Important archaeological sites located near the Ridgeway - high national public awareness and tourist interest encourages protection.
Vale and national policies give high priority to conservation of heritage
Strong local groups promote conservation of heritage, e.g. Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, Friends of the Ridgeway, historical and archaeological groups
The award-winning Museum and events such as the Dickensian Evening raise awareness of Wantage's historic character and hence enthusiasm for its conservation.
The district is relatively affluent and property is valuable, which is an incentive to care for it.
The town's history is well-documented and there is plenty of literature available.
The town's eastern, southern and western approaches are attractive.
Diversity of styles and ages of buildings
Harmonious mix of homes throughout the town
Harmonious dimensions of the Market Place
Materials – mainly red brick with “string” course, Tile/slate roofs & generous eaves
Bay windows or dormer windows are common
Most building in the conservation areas are well maintained
Letcombe Brook and Humber Ditch enhance nearby developments
Good use of local green spaces on some estates as children play areas
Few “eyesore” buildings
Manor Park and Betjeman Millennium Park.
Youth, Leisure, Sport and Art
Good quantity and diversity of facilities in the area
3 local gyms
Wantage Silver band has hall at Tugwell Field
Also pitches for youth football. Rugby pitches at Grove RFC
Numerous clubs catering for variety of pursuits, but some do fall short of requirements
The Beacon is recently refurbished and is well maintained and central to Wantage town
The ongoing restoration of the Wilts and Berks canal is a positive step
Most areas in Wantage are maintained by Vale District Council to a reasonable level
Vale and Downland Museum offers community space for talks and performances
Children's water play area at Manor Road park
Sweatbox youth club provides activities for teenagers
Town centre, businesses, economy and technology
AONB restrains development.
Lack of range of shops.
Lack of parking for workers and visitors.
Decline in market traders.
Size of shop units.
Lack of available retail space.
Reliance on neighbouring parishes for commercial space.
No rail connection.
Poor road network
Competition easily accessible.
Past planning has damaged historic fabric of town.
Modern stereotype businesses dominate square.
No readily immediate alternatives to each of the 4 major roads
A338 N and A417 E of inadequate standard for current volume of traffic during peak hours leading to acute congestion
Roads leading to/from Wantage are not wide enough
Conflict between car/bicycle concurrent use of major roads leading to long tailbacks during peak hours
Denchworth Road inadequate to be part of Western "ring road"
Portway/Ormond Road inadequate to be part of Southern "ring road"
Cars parked on some main routes in Wantage leading to delays
Bus parking in Market Place
Excessive through traffic through centre of Wantage
No train/bus co-ordination at Didcot Station
Newbury bus Saturdays only
Limited frequency, long trip duration, poor reliability and restricted operating hours on most bus routes (Oxford is exception)
Existing shared use cycle paths do not meet national standards (e.g. width)
No safe, continuous cycle paths on main corridors
Pinched entry points to Market Square hazardous to cyclists and pedestrians
Poor reliability of some electrical mains systems)
Roads flood frequently)
Poor mobile signal in certain areas, notably Town centre)
Inadequate sewerage capacity means that raw sewage appears in gardens)
Only 1 public toilet in town centre, which has limited hours)
Poor siting of some pedestrian crossings)
No recycling litter bins)
Little social seating throughout Wantage)
Leisure centre already over capacity)
Signage requires improvement for cyclists/tourists/hikers etc)
Inadequate car parks)
Poor enforcement of parking regulations
Premises for nurseries, toddler groups and pre-schools are not secured for the long-term
Some Wantage and Grove classes already full and/or using temporary accommodation
Not all children have places within their catchment area
No Adult Education within the town
Lack of space at Medical centre for 3rd practice
Medical centre currently over capacity
Distance to major hospitals for routine appointments
Lack of good public transport to A&E/hospitals/Minor Injuries Unit
Distance of health practices from south and west Wantage
Ambulance response standards not met
Restricted mobility access within parts of Wantage
Lack of police presence at certain times of the day and night
Police counter service has restricted hours
Previous loss of heritage assets
Disconnect between rural and urban parts of town
Risk of encroachment on green corridors
Need to learn from previous mistakes re built environment
Changing age profile my threaten existing community organisations
Possible lack of vision for the character of the town
Impact assessments need greater public scrutiny
Lack of coach park and lack of sufficient parking in general
Lack of protection for some historic assets e.g. Belmont canal bridge
Poor maintenance and management of semi-natural areas in green spaces.
Unconnected habitats leading to fragmentation and isolation of areas for wildlife.
Developers, landowners and contractors not experienced in managing semi-natural habitats eg: wildflower meadows become regularly mown grassland.
Lack of environmental awareness. Little or no real gain achieved for biodiversity on new developments, lack of opportunity to effectively get involved in environmental aspect of planning process.
Lack of trees or green boundaries planted on edges of new developments.
Developers not implementing and maintaining agreed landscaping and biodiversity plans, little or no enforcement of planning conditions.
Insufficient resources and infrastructure to improve water quality at Wantage and Grove Sewage Treatment works.
Minimal resourcing of local projects enhancing the environment.
Small gardens with little space for play or wildlife.
Insufficient signed cycle paths/footpaths linking together green spaces, the Brook, Wantage and surrounding countryside.
Lack of facilities in parks for all ages.
Insufficient links with countryside community eg: farmers and racehorse stables.
Lack of open green spaces and poor distribution away from users eg: Manor Road Memorial Park.
Dog fouling and litter in open spaces and footpaths, and lack of bins.
Low civic pride, lack of active volunteers to maintain green and clean environment.
Bye-laws not enforced or un-enforceable.
General ignorance of listing system and responsibilities it imposes on owners of historic properties, despite copious information available if looked for.
Lack of support for owners of domestic listed buildings.
Shortage and high cost of traditional building skills and local materials, e.g. English elm, lime plasterers. Modern alternatives trap damp and damage historic structures.
Lack of public awareness of historic buildings in less prominent areas such as Mill Street - it is easy never to look above pavement level.
Recession has exacerbated neglect - empty shops.
Modern tarmac pavements prevent old walls from breathing. Renewal often means a new layer of tarmac, resulting eventually in floor levels below pavement levels, leading to damp.
Heavy goods vehicles cause vibration and pollution - especially at bottom of Mill Street.
Centuries-old trees in Conservation Areas rapidly being lost to disease and not being replaced - no tree planting policy.
Lack of diversity of shops (numerous charity shops, cafes and estate agents
Nationwide branding of chains detracts from local styles
Lack of residential parking when there is a heavy reliance on cars as a means of transport means significant amount of on street parking
Lack of bin storage means that refuse bins can be an "eyesore"
Weak design on Limborough Road shopping area
Several un-adopted roads
Problems with parking areas separate from homes in some areas
Poor design of Sainsbury's car park near Letcombe Brook
Shortage of public open space especially to the east of the town
Some local green spaces stipulate no ball games therefore are not useful for children
Poor road maintenance
No coach parking.
Youth, Leisure, Sport and Art
The Leisure Centre is maintained to a good standard but there have been issues concerning the service provided
The KA Academy has first call on use of the Leisure Centre
No toddler pool
There are no athletics facilities (inc running track/field event facilities or related training) in the area
There is no skateboard park in Wantage, but the one at Grove airfield/near Mably way can be seen to serve both Wantage and Grove
No Multi Use Games Area
Grove RFC has a high level of use, but quality of some facilities falls short of matching this use
There is no indoor rink for Bowls in Wantage, so from September- April, members travel to Cowley for this facility. However there are indoor Bowls facilities at Hanney and Grove
Lack of facilities for young people/teenagers for example: cinema, bowling alley, ice rink
Lack of large performance spaces
Availability of rooms at the Beacon
Sweatbox only open during term time
Plenty of school playing fields, but these aren't available for non-school groups and are unused at weekends/holidays
Plenty of surrounding countryside for walking etc, but designated open space per capita falls below recommendations and may fall
Contact us at