Coun­cil hits back say­ing ‘noth­ing is set in stone’

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - by Tom Her­bert tom.her­bert@trin­i­tymir­ Twit­ter: @TRHer­bert

RAD­I­CAL plans have been put for­ward to build 900 new homes and re­move nearly 60 hectares from the Bucks green belt.

Res­i­dents are up in arms over the pro­pos­als, which come as part of the 20-year mass house­build­ing scheme known as the Lo­cal Plan.

Chiltern Dis­trict Coun­cil (CDC) and South Bucks Dis­trict Coun­cil (SBDC), which are prepar­ing the joint plan, have stressed that ‘noth­ing is set in stone’ and this is merely a con­sul­ta­tion stage.

Both coun­cils have been carry- ing out what is known as the ‘Green Belt Pre­ferred Op­tions Con­sul­ta­tion’, a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion ear­mark­ing pos­si­ble places for fu­ture de­vel­op­ment to tackle the hous­ing cri­sis.

The pro­pos­als will see 57.26 hectares re­moved from the green belt, an area which in­cludes Che­sham to the south, Nash­leigh Hill to the west, Ly­crome Road to the north and Lye Green Road to the east.

The de­vel­opable area is es­ti­mated at 26.1 hectares and the pro­posed av­er­age res­i­den­tial den­sity is 35 dwellings per hectare, which gives a pro­posed ca­pac­ity of ap­prox­i­mately 900 houses.

Con­tin­ued from front page

Cam­paign­ers in the town have blasted the pro­pos­als and also crit­i­cised the coun­cil for not ad­ver­tis­ing the plans ad­e­quately.

A spokesper­son for the Lye Green As­so­ci­a­tion said: “Many res­i­dents, in­clud­ing a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber who live else­where in the town, are an­gry they were not pre­vi­ously no­ti­fied of these plans and that they missed the chance to at­tend an ex­hi­bi­tion put on by CDC, in Che­sham Town Hall, on Satur­day Novem­ber 5.

“Many only heard about the pro­pos­als by chance from a friend or neigh­bour and they want more pub­lic no­ti­fi­ca­tion of the plans.”

He adds the com­mu­nity fears the plans, if adopted, would re­sult in ‘sig­nif­i­cant dam­age’ to Che­sham, harm the ap­pear­ance of the area, the ‘loss of iden­tity of Lye Green’ and the loss of qual­ity agri­cul­tural land.

There are also concerns over what would hap­pen to the other half of the site ‘when the whole site has lost green belt pro­tec­tion’.

The spokesper­son added: “Res­i­dents also ques­tion how Che­sham can cope with such an ex­pan­sion, when the road and drainage in­fra­struc­ture is at ca­pac­ity.

“There are also concerns how sus­tain­able these de­vel­op­ment pro­pos­als are in terms of be­ing too far from lo­cal shops and the un­der­ground sta­tion.

“The com­mu­nity feels that any ex­pan­sion of the town must fol­low the gov­ern­ment’s ad­vice by look­ing to brown­field sites first.

“We ques­tion the need and abil­ity of Che­sham to cope with a dis­pro­por­tion­ate share of the new homes be­ing planned in the com­bined ar­eas of South Bucks and Chiltern and urge that the pro­posal is scrapped.”

A state­ment on the Che­sham So­ci­ety’s web­site says: “There is lit­tle men­tion yet of the in­fra­struc­ture that Che­sham ur­gently re­quires and no men­tion of em­ploy­ment sites.

“De­spite claim­ing to have been work­ing on in­fra­struc­ture is­sues and pop­u­la­tion num­bers for many years, our lo­cal au­thor­i­ties have given no in­di­ca­tion of what they are plan­ning for Che­sham as a whole.”

It adds: “Rather than lo­cate ad­di­tional re­quired hous­ing on pe­riph­eral, un­sus­tain­able sites on the edge of the town, the so­ci­ety firmly be­lieves that de­mand can be met in and around the town cen­tre, by reusing old in­dus­trial sites and the mixed use of sites cur­rently only used for park­ing, while in­creas­ing avail­able car park num­bers.

“There will thus be no ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances for loss of green belt.”

A Chiltern Dis­trict Coun­cil spokesman said: “From more than 450 green belt sites which were ex­am­ined, just 15 have been in­cluded.

“Our work con­tin­ues around in­fra­struc­ture.

“We’re look­ing at trans­port mod­el­ling and are also in talks with ser­vice and in­fra­struc­ture providers in­clud­ing, for ex­am­ple, the county about schools pro­vi­sion and with the clin­i­cal com­mis­sion­ing group re­gard­ing health­care fa­cil­i­ties.

“We have been ex­tremely proac­tive in seek­ing the pub­lic’s views. To date, more than 1,300 peo­ple have at­tended one of our 13 pub­lic ex­hi­bi­tions, with three still to come.

“So far, the Che­sham pub­lic ex­hi­bi­tion held on Novem­ber 5 logged the high­est at­ten­dance with 266 peo­ple com­ing along, and we’ve had the big­gest re­sponse from Che­sham in the con­sul­ta­tion thus far.

“In ad­di­tion we held two stake­holder meet- ings, which 140 town and par­ish coun­cil­lors and res­i­dents’ groups rep­re­sen­ta­tives at­tended, where they were en­cour­aged to spread the word in their lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and we wrote to over 3,200 peo­ple/ groups reg­is­tered on our data­base.

“The con­sul­ta­tion has been cov­ered in the lo­cal press, there are static ex­hi­bi­tions in both the coun­cils’ of­fices, we have in­for­ma­tion in lo­cal li­braries and we are reg­u­larly putting mes­sages out on so­cial me­dia.

“We feel we are do­ing every­thing pos­si­ble to tell peo­ple about the con­sul­ta­tion and wel­come the op­por­tu­nity to once more en­cour­age peo­ple to get in­formed and re­spond to this very im­por­tant con­sul­ta­tion.” Visit www.chiltern. plan­ning/ lo­calplan2014 -2036 for more in­for­ma­tion.

Rad­i­cal plan: Green belt ar­eas around Che­sham could be threat­ened by the pro­posal

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