Plan con­sul­ta­tion raises con­cerns over hous­ing tar­get

Hun­dreds at­tend meet­ing to dis­cuss coun­cils’ vi­sion for the fu­ture

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

Coun­cil­lors and mem­bers of the pub­lic packed into Col­ston Hall, East Com­mon, to hear about Chiltern District Coun­cil (CDC) and South Bucks District Coun­cil’s (SBDC) new emerg­ing joint Lo­cal Plan.

Town coun­cil chair­man Chris Brown gave an in­tro­duc­tory speech in which he ex­plained the con­sul­ta­tion process, fol­lowed by a short video by Gra­ham Win­wright, plan­ning pol­icy of­fi­cer for SBDC and CDC, ex­plain­ing what the plan en­tails.

Leader of SBDC, Ralphe Bagge, and port­fo­lio holder for sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment, Nick Naylor, were grilled by mem­bers of the pub­lic dur­ing a ques­tion and an­swer ses­sion to­wards the end.

Many of the con­cerns raised were about the po­ten­tial im­pact a large num­ber of new homes would have on the town.

A num­ber of other is­sues were raised dur­ing the lively pub­lic meet­ing, mainly fo­cussing on the threat of the loss of green belt land, how the im­pact of HS2 would af­fect any de­vel­op­ments, space al­lo­cated for trav­ellers and a short­age of park­ing.

Peo­ple also felt the ad­vice of de­sign, en­gi­neer­ing and busi­ness con­sul­tatants, Arup, had been ig­nored when SBDC had pub­lished their plan, as maps sug­gest po­ten­tial ar­eas for de­vel­op­ment pre­vi­ously re­jected by Arup. John Mur­phy, from Howards Thicket, said: “I note that of the four plan­ning ar­eas in this doc­u­ment, three are not rec­om­mended by Arup.

“When they re­ject a site or not rec­om­mend it there are some very good rea­sons for it.”

An­thony Walsh, from Lower Road, said that SBDC had em­ployed Arup and us­ing their ‘ ex­per­tise’ in ‘area spe­cific de­tail’ had come to the con­clu­sion that ‘they are not suit­able parcels of land’.

He added: “You’re ig­nor­ing their ad­vice. Why are you do­ing that, be­cause it’s is il­log­i­cal.”

And con­tin­ued: “You can’t ig­nore the ex­per­tise of Arup as it’s based on land ge­og­ra­phy.”

Re­spond­ing to th­ese ac­cu­sa­tions Mr Bagge said that in the view of the coun­cil’s ex­perts they found there had been ‘in­con­sis­ten­cies’ in Arup’s as­sess­ment.

Brian Lewis, Bull Lane, asked ‘on whose ba­sis’ was an area of Bull Lane con­sid­ered ‘when there are much more suit­able ar­eas for de­vel­op­ment’.

Mr Bagge re­peat­edly stressed the need to put th­ese ar­gu­ments for­ward into the on­go­ing pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion.

Roger Austin said the num­ber of new homes in the plan would amount to ‘five towns of the size of Ger­rards Cross’ and added: “I don’t un­der­stand how you can get 15,000 houses into the space you have iden­ti­fied in a quite small space of land.”

But Mr Bagge said the there would not be 15,000 new homes built as Ayles­bury Vale district will take some of the bur­den.

Roger, who did not give his sur­name, from South Park, summed up the feel­ings of many peo­ple there, say­ing: “We do not want houses to be built on the green belt. None of us want that. Why can’t you say that they can’t be build on brown belt?”

Mr Bagge said he was a ‘pas­sion­ate ad­vo­cate and sup­porter’ of the green belt, and added: “If we didn’t have to we wouldn’t do it.”

He added: “You have got to recog­nise there are forces out­side our con­trol.”

Speak­ing af­ter­wards town coun­cil­lor Jen­nifer Woolveridge, who was at the meet­ing along with Mr Brown, said she thought ‘it was a very am­i­ca­ble meet­ing’ and that ‘it all went quite well’.

She added that it was a ‘healthy meet­ing’ and it an­swered peo­ples’ ques­tions.

She said: “I thought it was very ad­mirable the gen­tle­man who stood up and said at the end, get it on­line, an­swer as many ques­tions as you can and tell all your neigh­bours to say the same – which is what we will be urg­ing peo­ple to do.”

Mr Brown said af­ter­wards that he thought it went very well, and added that his in­ten­tion was to give peo­ple feed­back and enough mo­ti­va­tion that they can re­spond to the con­sul­ta­tion.

He added: “Ev­ery­body should re­spond to it in their own right and give their in­put. It’s vi­tally im­por­tant – the con­sul­ta­tion is ev­ery­thing.”

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