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A correspondent from Cooper Close writes:

Persimmon Homes - developer at the old Council Site at the top of Rock 
Hill - have posted a notice stating that the path that links Rock Hill 
with the housing adjacent to Cooper Close is to be closed from 27 
September 2006. Now this is a very popular mum and kids route for the 
infants school on the London Road and is even used by some as the 
kiss-and-drop point for the school as it is a much calmer spot that 
the London Road becomes in the morning. Older kids from Rock Hill use 
the route to get to the main school and will now either have to 
trespass over allotments or take the much longer route down to Texaco 
Corner and Albion Street where a dangerous traverse of Albion Street 
is necessary - yes I do it and its not easy at the busy times this 
will happen.

The planning application and map show an access on to the new 
development via Rock Hill but needless to say there is no indication 
this will be opened at the same time. A local Persimmon employee just 
said 'it was their land and they could close it if they wanted to!' 
So much for good community relations. Persimmon and thei
contractors have done reasonably to date in their attempts to keep 
people happy - cleaning roads etc, but the Council had to re-surface 
Rowell Way which is access to the site and was simply falling apart 
under the stress of some fairly hefty builders vehicles.

This may be an oversight by Persimmon, but the closure of this small 
artery without the complimentary opening of the new access is not the 
cleverest thing to propose and particularly as term has now started - 
peak traffic - and the nights are slowly drawing in - more children 
exposed to busy roads at peak times.  This does not even allow for 
the many folk locally who use this route simply because we live here!

The existing route should be retained until the developers can open the alternative.

I've forwarded this letter on to our District Councillors and hope that one of them will be able to help ED



Persimmon the developers of the housing site at the top of Rockhill have just closed off a footpath. An alternative route will be opened but not for several months. Residents had assumed at the Planning Application stage that the opening of a new path would be co-ordinated with the closure of the old one. Not so. Persimmon say that the closure of the old path is necessary to finish the landscaping of the back gardens of the houses on the left in the picture above. The new path is still covered in scaffolding. Up to today, this was a popular way through from the top of Rockhill to Coopers Close - used regularly by lots of people. Particularly - 

Mothers and children escorting their children to the local infants´┐Ż school on foot. Mothers of infants using the calm environment of Cooper Close as a point to park. Older School Children from the Rock Hill area walking to Chipping Norton School avoiding the awkward and busy junction at the foot of Rock Hill where a road crossing is the only option if they are to remain on a footpath.  Other residents of both areas who are connected by this route including dog walkers.

Instead of the convenient, safe and quiet back route all these people will now have to trek down Rockhill and negotiate the notoriously dangerous junction at the bottom to get across to the other side of the building site. A long detour - often hazardous.  Completely daft. Ever since the notice of closure went up John Osmond of Coopers Close has been battling to try and get the closure delayed. He wrote to the WODC Planners who replied....."the footpath which is being closed is not adopted and nor is it a public right of way...... whilst the planning permission will provide a new route into Rockhill it can not keep the existing informal route open.......I know that my colleagues have been in discussion with Persimmon. Unfortunately there does not appear to be a mechanism by which we can enforce the retention of the path. I will however, given both our Housing and Estates interest in this land, pass a copy of this response to my colleagues who may be able to look at the matter further This gentlemanly approach hasn't achieved any results since the footpath is now closed. John has now written directly to Persimmon and hopes he can also interest the local media in helping to highlight the situation. It is surprising that Persimmon who have gone out of their way to be good neighbours so far seem to have suddenly become insensitive to the anger which their action has prompted. Mums meeting their kids from school this evening will get a nasty surprise when they find the footpath closed.



In the picture above John Osmond (carrying the pink folder) has just received official word from Persimmon (represented by the Site Manager Tim in a hard hat) that the footpath between Rockhill and Cooper Close which was closed last week is to be re-opened again on October 16th. This is tremendous news. The original plan was for pedestrian access across the site to be closed for three months. This agreement followed strong protests from the many mums and kids going to Holy Trinity and Top School pupils going the other way who used the path as a back route across town - avoiding the hassle and dangers of Albion Street. John Osmond organised a petition which received over 120 signatures. He received strong support from all the town's District Councillors (Chunky Townley, Mike Howes and Eve Coles are all in the picture above). He persuaded the Town Council (represented by Rob Evans) to write formally to the District Council asking them to use all possible influence. He got the support of David Cameron. Thanks go to the Planners who had discussions with Persimmon. John wrote numerous letters and was interviewed on Radio Oxford and Fox FM. He succeeded in getting serious press interest - all designed to persuade Persimmon that they hadn't properly understood the local community's feelings. The campaign culminated on Tuesday morning when two Directors of the company came to town and John walked them all the way down Rockhill and showed them the alternative route - including the confusing crossing point by the Texaco garage. That seemed to be the clincher. By the afternoon Persimmon had agreed to re-organise their operations and re-open the footpath weeks ahead of schedule. Sincere thanks to Persimmon who have won an awful lot of goodwill from parents of young children. A great result for John and his campaign. We'll have him on the Town Council next May. Remember the name!

Chipping Norton residents showed the value of people power as they persuaded a housing developer not to close a footpath. More than 120 people in the town signed a petition against the decision by Persimmon Homes to temporarily close a path that runs around a new housing development. Parents who signed the petition said the footpath by Cooper Close, Chipping Norton, provided a safe route for children to get to school - avoiding busy town centre roads. The housing developer initially said the path had to be closed for three months while the landscaping of new gardens was completed. But, on Tuesday, two directors from the company met local resident John Osmond who started the petition. They agreed to re-open the path on October 16 after utility work had been completed. Mr Osmond is delighted that Persimmon Homes have taken the step. He said: "I have to take my hat off to them. The representatives walked down to the junction of Albion Street and London Street with me and saw for themselves how difficult it was to cross the road in that area. There is no pedestrian crossing on that road and if you have to cross it with a pushchair, it is not very pleasant at all. The penny has dropped with them that the health and safety issues went far beyond their site walls. A few hours later, I got a phone call from Persimmon saying they would open the path on October 16. We are delighted with the result. This is the first time I have done a protest of any kind in my life. We are very grateful to the company for taking this action. It is their land and it is not a legally recognised right of way. They are going to have to put money and effort into keeping it open." Martin Howard, construction director for Persimmon Homes South Midlands confirmed the decision. He said: "We have carried out an extensive risk assessment and after much consideration, we can confirm that the temporary access footpath will open on Monday, October 16. The footpath will close for eight days as site preparation work is carried out. After that time, the temporary footpath will open, which will benefit local schoolchildren who have come to rely on using the pathway. We remain committed to opening a permanent footpath as soon as practically possible."