Vil­lage link to the past de­stroyed

De­mo­li­tion work at Holy Cross site sparks out­cry from Chal­font St Peter cam­paign­ers

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

A 3D drone im­age of the Grange Manor House in Chal­font St Peter taken on De­cem­ber 31 shows skips full of ma­te­ri­als and vans parked on site.

The build­ing and roof, which dates back to the Vic­to­rian era, has been stripped and trees have been cleared, rem­i­nis­cent of a con­struc­tion area.

The Grange – pre­vi­ously part of the Holy Cross Con­vent School – is right at the heart of a bat­tle be­tween the district coun­cil and the parish coun­cil to pre­vent 200 homes and a care home be­ing built on the site.

The es­tate has a long his­tory – the father of mod­ern so­cial­ism, John Bellers, is said to have lived there, along with Hang­ing Judge Jef­freys and Napoleonic Wars hero Gen­eral Sir Ter­ence O’Lough­lin.

Oc­cu­pa­tion of the site dates back to the 11th cen­tury, and the Grange it­self be­came a reg­u­lar Quaker meet­ing place when Isaac Pen­ning­ton lived there in the early 1600s.

While much of the orig­i­nal build­ing was de­stroyed in a fire dur­ing the Vic­to­rian pe­riod, a re­place­ment was built on the old foot­print and foun­da­tion.

Parish coun­cil­lor Richard Allen said: “We have lost our his­tor­i­cally most im­por­tant build­ing in the vil­lage.” And added: “I hope peo­ple can then see for them­selves the cul­tural van­dal­ism of our vil­lage’s his­tor­i­cal her­itage.”

Philip Don­ald­son, of com­mu­nity ac­tion group SENSE4CSP, said: “De­vel­op­ment of the site and the de­mo­li­tion of the Grange will de­prive this old com­mu­nity of one of its few re­main­ing links to its past.

“Why would the nuns who have lived amongst us, ed­u­cated many of the girls and women who live here and who have been so much part of our com­mu­nity wish to de­prive us of one our few re­main­ing and ar­guably most im­por­tant of our her­itage as­sets?”

He added: “We didn’t ask that the site should not de­vel­oped, we didn’t ask that Chiltern District Coun­cil should not have the re­quired hous­ing quota in Chal­font St Peter, we sim­ply asked that a more con­sid­ered ap­proach to town plan­ning should be ex­er­cised.

“We wanted to save our pre­cious Grange from de­mo­li­tion, we wanted a land swap deal so that the CSP Academy could oc­cupy a re­place­ment school on the site and that a mixed use de­vel­op­ment which favoured a bet­ter retail of­fer for our vil­lage was in­cluded.”

Vol­un­teer his­to­rian Denise Bed­dows said: “Like coun­cil­lor Allen, I too lament the loss of The Grange and find it shock­ing that de­mo­li­tion has been started even be­fore the parish coun­cil’s ob­jec­tions to this have been fully con­sid­ered or re­jected.”

She added: “The im­por­tance of The Grange to our com­mu­nity and in the his­tory of the Quaker move­ment can­not be over­stated.”

A spokesman for de­vel­oper Charles Church North Lon­don said: “The Holy Cross site in Chal­font St Peter has long been iden­ti­fied as an area for hous­ing in the re­gion, with the de­vel­op­ment plans hav­ing been ap­proved by the lo­cal coun­cil.

“We are com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing the right homes for each lo­ca­tion in which we build, aim­ing to build a com­mu­nity while bring­ing much needed new homes to the area.”

A drone im­age of The Grange, on Holy Cross, shows ex­ten­sive build­ing work

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