We will keep this page updated with all the latest news. Please let us know if you find any other useful information.
St Congar updates its website regarding Molins site plans
We note that St Congar has updated its web page regarding the Molins site to say there will be a planning application made in 2019 for circa 130 houses (reduced from 212). They say this will include sensitively designed housing, that it is being promoted through the WDC Local Plan, and, as community facilities, it will feature public open access, and retention of an Ancient Scheduled Monument.
Sunday 9 September
St Congar develops revised planning application
There's been very little news since the Secretary of State's decision to reject St Congar's Appeal on the non-determination of the planning application of 212 houses.
We now note that the St Congar website says they will be making a revised planning application later in 2018. It says:
"Fresh plans for a reduced scheme are being developed through pre-application discussions and a revised planning application is due to be submitted in late 2018."
We will be in contact again when we have updates.
Thank you for all your support and involvement in this long process.
Monday 5 March 2018
Molins Appeal is dismissed
It's been announced this morning that the Appeal by St Congar has been dismissed. Please see details in this link.
This is good news for those who wanted to see appropriate development of the right scale for the local infrastructure, and in keeping with the greenbelt and AONB status of the site.
We wait to see whether there will be a further appeal by St Congar against this decision. We will be looking at the detail of the report over the coming days and weeks.
Thank you for all your support and involvement in this long process.
Molins Appeal to be determined in September 2017
The Planning Inspectorate has now stated that theInspector's report has been submitted to the Secretary of State, and that a decision will be made on or before 26th September, 2017.
Meanwhile, the Neighbourhood Plan has now been fully adopted and forms part of the Wycombe Development Plan, and must be given full weight when determining planning applications in the designated neighbourhood area. i.e. Bledlow-cum- Saumderton Parish. We have not heard any further news about St Congar's judicial challenge to the Neighbourhood Plan process.
Thursday 20 July 2017
Molins Appeal delayed again and St Congar challenges
The Molins Appeal process continues with St Congar and WDC QC's exchanging letters on a further technical argument through the Planning Inspectorate. Copies of these letters appeared on WDC's planning portal on 5th June, 2017. Interestingly, the latest Planning Inspectorate case summary on the WDC planning portal has amended the date for the Inspector's service of the Inspector's report from 31st May, 2017 to "To Be Advised". This suggests no early resolution of the Molins Appeal. Helpfully, the extant Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, remains in place after the recent general election.
Importantly, the exchange of correspondence above also confirms that WDC will be defending against St Congar's call for a judicial review of the process of the Neighbourhood Plan.
St Congar clearly remains very tenacious in seeking to maximise the scale of its development on the Molins site.
Tuesday 13 June 2017
Report by Molins Appeal Inspector now extended from 31 May 2017 - now "TBA"
It appears the deadline of 31 May 2017 for the Molins Appeal Inspector to send her report to Secretary of State has been amended again and is now "to be advised" according to the WDC planning portal website.
Thursday 25 May 2017
Residents Vote Overwhelmingly For Neighbourhood Plan in Referendum
Over 81% of Bledlow cum Saunderton residents who voted in the May referendum, voted in favour of adopting the Neighbourhood Plan ( the "Plan"). In normal course, the Plan would now be adopted by WDC's Cabinet as part of WDC's emerging Local Plan and used to decide planning applications in the parish. The parish council has subsequently informed residents that the developer of the Molins site, St Congar, has sought a judicial review of WDC's decision to allow the Plan to proceed to the referendum, siting alleged errors in that part of the Plan dealing with the former Molins site.
The Molins Appeal and this judicial review are both ongoing matters to be resolved. The future of the former Molins site remains uncertain and is likely to remain so for quite a while.
Thursday 11 May 2017
Neighbourhood Plan gets through the referendum stage
The Neighbourhood Plan will now be adopted as statutory part of the Local Development Plan for the area. We thank the team involved in this and our Parish Council for seeing this through to this final stage.
The full details are on this Wycombe District Council page.
Friday 5th May 2017
Neighbourhood Plan Referendum Thursday 4th May 2017
Since the last news item, the Parish Council has released the final version of the Neighbourhood Plan (the “Plan”). Voting for this Referendum version of the Plan will take place on Thursday 4th May, 2017, the same time as the voting for election of Councillors to Buckinghamshire County Council. Those registered for postal voting will receive postal voting forms in the post which need to be returned by 10pm on 4th May. Details on the Referendum are available here on the home page of the Parish website and you can access more information using the link to the Wycombe District Council website.
The sole purpose of the Plan is to establish planning policies which will apply in the parish. Once approved at the Referendum, the Plan becomes a statutory part of the Local Development Plan for the area and will carry significant weight in future planning application decisions.
In regards to the former Molins site, Policy 3 of the Land Use Policies in the Plan specifically covers the former Molins site in Saunderton. Unfortunately, the Examiner refused to accept the detailed proposals which arose through resident and Task Group recommendation, instead accepting a site-specific interpretation of the relevant National Planning Policy Framework principles. In addition, clause 5.40 of this section states:
“In preparing this plan, the community has expressed clear local priorities for their Parish, including catering for the housing and social needs of a wide range of residents and supporting the rural economy. Redevelopment of the site for a mix of uses such as residential, retirement housing, small scale business units and community facilities would be welcomed.”
Although this revised wording for Policy 3 is less restrictive than many residents would ideally have liked to have seen, the current wording is viewed as helpful in managing the scale and appropriateness of any future development of this important site for the parish. You can read the one page relating to the Molins site on page 31 of the Referendum version of the Neighbourhood Plan.
The Plan of course covers the whole of the parish, and residents are strongly advised to read this final version of the Plan in its entirety and satisfy themselves with the Plan as a whole before voting. We believe that it is important that residents appreciate the importance of the Plan to the parish and their immediate location, and vote accordingly in the Referendum.
We still await news from the Secretary of State on the Appeal by St Congar regarding their original application. The Inspector's report was due with the Secretary of State on 6th April.
Tuesday 11 April
Report from Inspector to Secretary of State delayed
WDC's planning portal informs that the Inspector in the Molins Appeal has now been given a further two months until 6th April, 2017 to submit her report to the Secretary of State. Clearly this is likely to delay the decision.
The Neighbourhood Plan for Bledlow cum Saunderton Parish continues its progress after the official Examiner has studied it. There have been amendments to the policy regarding the future use of Molins. The Examiner requested the withdrawal of any development proposal which is any greater than the current area occupied by standing buildings (2500 sq m). You will recall that the Neighbourhood Plan had put forward a proposal (covering 15,000 sq m, so smaller than the St Congar proposal) which combined a blend of retirement, sheltered and care facilities, some residential development with mixed and affordable housing, small low rise business premises suited to start-up and small businesses and at least one community facility to serve the scheme and the existing residential area of South Saunderton. This is the news item on the Parish Council's NP website. This is the WDC publication of the news with links to many other documents for those interested.
We await the finalised wording of the revised Neighbourhood Plan document and a comment on the likely implications of the Policy 3 amendments for the Molins site. Subject to that, we expect that the revised plan will proceed to a referendum during Spring 2017.
Sunday 12 February 2017
Molins Appeal called in by the Secretary Of State
We have heard yesterday that the Secretary of State has "Called In" or "Recovered" the Molins Appeal case.
A letter from The Planning Inspectorate to WDC and the Appellant informs the parties that the Secretary of State considers that he should determine the Molins Appeal himself. Accordingly, the Inspector of the Molins Appeal will prepare a report and recommendation, which will be forwarded to the Secretary of State.
The reason for this direction is stated to be "that the appeal involves a proposal for residential development of over 25 units in areas where a qualifying body has submitted neighbourhood plan proposal to the local authority but the relevant plan has not yet been made."
An intervention by the Secretary of State is not unexpected given the development's location in the Green Belt and AONB. It is interesting, however, that significance is being given to the still emerging Bledlow-cum-Saunderton Neighbourhood Plan.
The hearing of the Molins Appeal to determine St Congar Land's planning application for 212 residential units on the former Molins factory site closed on 22nd September, following its delay due to the inspector's illness. The full closing statements by the appellant and WDC's barristers can both be viewed on WDC's planning portal and our website early in this news section.
The Secretary of State's involvement reflects the importance that the decision warrants and is to be welcomed. We will keep residents informed and advise if we hear that the Secretary of Sate is looking for further local third party representations. Even if matters proceeds without further consultation, it seems unlikely that any decision will be made before early next year.
Saturday 15 October 2016
Molins Appeal finishes with summaries from both sides and a site visit
The Molins Appeal hearing ended on Friday 23rd August after the Appellant's remaining witnesses gave evidence and were cross examined during extended day sessions at WDC's Council Chambers on Tuesday and Wednesday. By Thursday lunchtime, residual Appellant witness matters, conditions and obligations were all completed and the hearing moved onto the closing submissions by the QC's representing the two parties.
WDC's QC, Mr Ground, spoke for well over an hour in his closing submission using compelling technical argument based under the NPPF (the National Planning Policy Framework), Green Belt policy and the CROW Act (The Countryside and Rights of Way Act) against the application. Addressing the Appellant's claim for the extant data centre consent as a "fallback" in a resurgent data centre market, Mr Ground expressed his surprise with the Appellant's new evidence and the resulting volte face to its own original compelling evidence for the effective demise of that use.
Mr Warren for the Appellant, spoke for a similar time, pointing out that Molins was a "very unusual site" which would normally not be considered for residential development in an AONB. However, the existence of such a large derelict brown field site in a district with a substantial housing shortfall and an out of date Local Plan, constituted the "very special circumstances" necessary under the NPPF; the only policies which he said were important and should apply in the case. In his view, this creates a residential opportunity which should be grasped. Mr Warren went on to attack the Neighbourhood Plan's policy for the site, and became quite disparaging towards his opposition and the LPA case.
The Inspector then closed the Appeal hearing and proceedings in the Council Chambers. We expect copies of the two closing submissions to be made available through WDC Planning in due course.
The Inspector subsequently undertook a visit to the Molins site on Friday morning accompanied by WDC officials, representatives of the Appellant, a local Parish Councillor and residents. It was a fine morning with clear visibility, ideal for the Inspector to view the site and consider the important landscape and visual impact aspects raised by the parties during the hearing. Although the weather and the timing precluded sighting of flooding under the railway bridge or the heavy peak traffic flows, the Inspector visited Haw Lane, the railway bridge and the Haw Lane / A4010 junction, all of which were matters of concern raised during the hearing.
It is difficult to comment on which was the more effective closing submission of the two parties. The LPA / Mr Ground's submission made the technical planning case and was consistent with the planning advice we have received throughout. The Appellant / Mr Warren's submission seemed to be asking the Inspector to look deeper into the NPPF in order to appeal to her sense of the framework's intent for what is unquestionably an usual site and situation. It may be a while, at least six weeks, before we get a decision from the Inspector. The decision involves interesting planning issues for the AONB and PDL (previously developed land) in particular, and may of course, be called in by the Secretary of State.
Monday 26 September 2016
Appeal news for week commencing 12 September
The Appeal hearing reconvenes this week on Tuesday at 10am and normally finishes at 5pm but depends on the inspector's discretion on the day and it may end earlier or later when they reach a convenient point. The same is true for lunch breaks. They occur very much at the inspector's discretion but are scheduled for 1pm to 2pm. This week will all be appellant witnesses being questioned, firstly by the appellant's QC and then by WDC's QC. Wednesday and Thursday should be the more "interesting" days with a data centre expert (Mr Jay) starting sometime on Wednesday and is followed by a sustainability expert witness (Mr Hindle) who will probably be there for most of Thursday.
This document forms the basis for St Congar's interest in the site for the Data Centre option. This had been shelved some years ago after Planning Permission had been givenfor the previous landowner. This was thought to be due to the prohibitive cost of accessing power for the site. But now, St Congar's expert witness has concluded that this might be a viable option.
Monday 12 September 2016
Molins Appeal Inquiry - reports from MAG people attending
Wednesday 7th Sept 13.01
A few of us are attending day one of the Molins Appeal. This is St Congar's opportunity to have their application for 212 houses agreed after WDC non-determination. In fact as many of you know St Congar has amended their plan to one that has fewer houses and a public amenity which is only loosely described. Normally this type of amendment is not allowed during the Appeal process and a fresh application would be made. This morning there have been arguments by both sides; St Congar team claims their amendments are minor and they have enabled appropriate consultation since 17 July; WDC claims amendments result in a less clear proposal being debated at Appeal. The Inspector is unlikely to make a definitive decision either way and the Appeal could last up to 10 days with 6 witnesses called by St Congar team and 2 by WDC. In addition third parties have been invited to register to make their points. These include our Parish Council Chair Simon Breese, Cllr Carl Etholen, Mr Kim Martin for MAG, Michael Stubbs for Chilterns Conservation Board. These third party statements will be on Friday. The Appeal will be open to the public each day. Please ask us for details if needed. No more verbal statements will be possible except by people who registered today. The Inspector's decision will be made public at some point after the Appeal.
Wednesday 7th Sept 14.25
St Congar now argues Data Centre at Molins would be a viable option but less desirable than housing. St C says Data Centre would be far worse than the housing option they have proposed.
Wednesday 7th Sept 14.52
WDC says that if Data Centre is viable then there is strong argument to maintain its use for employment.
Wednesday 7th Sept 15.14
WDC witness landscape architect claims that data centre better fits required "openness" of AONB than St Congar housing plans.
Friday 9th Sept 12.30
The Inquiry heard third party representations from the following today; Mike Stubbs (Chilterns Conservation Board), Simon Breese (Parish Council Chairman), Carl Etholen (district Council), Kim Martin (Molins Action Group) and Peter Malaure (resident). All speakers expressed their strong objection to the proposed Molins development and put forward their specific representations. Mike Stubbs of CCB made a very strong technical planning case against the application using evidence from maps going back to 1812 showing how the existing settlements in the area have evolved; demonstrating how inconsistent and inappropriate the proposed development is both as to location and configuration to the parish. The other speakers provided a comprehensive view of the parish concerns, and expressed the overwhelming support for the parish led approach to development embodied in the latest Submission version of the Neighbourhood Plan where its policy 3 provides specifically for a recommended mixed development approach for the redevelopment of the Molins site. The hearing is now proceeding with the evidence from WDC's witnesses and is expected to move onto the Appellant's witnesses next week.
Can you attend the first day of the Molins Appeal Hearing Wednesday 7th September?
A final reminder to parish residents that the Public Inquiry to hear St Congar Land's appeal hearing (the "Appeal") for the approval of its application for a 212 unit residential development on the former Molins site at Saunderton will commence at 10am on Wednesday 7th September 2016 in the Council Chamber at WDC's High Wycombe offices in Queen Victoria Street.
The Planning Inspectorate has appointed Frances Mahoney as the inspector to the Appeal with a hearing scheduled for 10 days finishing on Tuesday, 20th September.
Residents and other interested parties can attend the hearing on any day and, at the inspector's discretion, give their views and evidence to the hearing. In order to do this they must however attend in person on the first day of the hearing, and register their wish to give evidence to the hearing.
Although the inspector will have been provided with copies of earlier residents' correspondence to both WDC and the Planning Inspectorate, and therefore be aware of the strong local opposition to the application in this case, the advice that we have received suggests that a local interest at the hearing would reinforce the evidence and support decision making. A MAG representative will attend the first day of the hearing and we suggest residents might also consider attending on the first day of the hearing.
Further details of the Planning Inspectorate's appeal procedure are available from their website.
Saturday 3 September 2016
St Congar Land Approaches Residents Through Iceni
Many residents will have received a letter dated 7th July from Iceni (a leading UK planning & property consultancy firm) on behalf of its client, St Congar Land, the appellant developer (the “Developer”) in the Molins Public Inquiry (the “Appeal”) scheduled to commence on 7th September, 2016.
Iceni’s letter informs of the Appellant’s request to The Planning Inspectorate to seek the following physical variations to the planning application itself, and to amend the Environmental Statement and associated reports with further information now made available since the Appeal documentation (together the “Variations”):
- A reduction in the aggregate new housing units from 212 to 192.
- The addition of a 270 sq. m. of A1/ D1 two storey building for unspecified new community services.
- The provision of a further new footpath link to the north-west of the site onto Haw Lane.
Copies of all these amended reports and addendum have been added to WDC’s Planning Portal for the application. In addition, the Developer has set up www.formermolinssaunderton.co.uk, a website dedicated to its Molins site project where all these documents can also be viewed.
Although WDC has strongly objected to the Variations being introduced at this late stage of the Appeal process, we understand that is unlikely that a Planning Inspectorate decision as to whether or not to accept the Variations, will be made prior to the commencement of the Appeal hearing.
Whilst the physical changes proposed are generally site enhancing, they are not in our view significant to impact residents’ fundamental objections to the original application.
The Appellant has invited residents and third parties to make new or further representations on the Variations either in writing or by email through Iceni by 29th July, 2016.
MAG can see no reason why the Variations affect the fundamental objections that residents have already submitted through earlier representations in the Appeal process . Where residents wish to submit new representations or re-affirm their original representation, MAG suggests such representations be sent to both Iceni (by post to Iceni Projects, Flitcroft House, 114-116 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0JR), and to Wycombe District Council by email to firstname.lastname@example.org (by post to Wycombe Planning, Queen Victoria Road, High Wycombe, Bucks. HP11 1BB) and to the Planning Inspectorate too. In each case please ensure that you head your representations “Former Molins Site, Haw Lane, Saunderton – Variations to Planning Application LPA Reference 15/05250/OUTEA, (Appeal Reference APP/K0425/W/15/3135297).
MAG will continue to review this matter and and will communicate to residents as matters evolve.
Tuesday 12 July 2016
Molins update - St Congar requests amendments to its Planning Application
We are aware that the St Congar team has made a request on 13 June to the Public Inquiry to amend their application. They wish to reduce the number of houses from 212 to 192. They enclose a new layout plan. They say they are responding to WDC objections to their original plan, and the subsequent detail they added earlier in 2016. They describe the changes as minor, and they say they will comply with standard planning procedures to allow the proper consultation for WDC and the public. Their request is here.
WDC responded rapidly on 16 June with a letter to the Public Inquiry contact to express their strong objection to St Congar's entitlement to change the application at this late stage in the process. This letter is here. They requested a response by Monday 20 June 2016, but this response has not yet been made public. WDC's argument is based on the fact that the normal process would be for St Congar to withdraw their application, and submit a new one. It is also based on the fact that St Congar's submission is missing various necessary points. WDC claims that "The Appellant’s amendments to the appeal scheme would cause prejudice to the Council as a result of having to deal with a different proposal at this late stage in the appeal, well after the appeal was submitted". WDC goes on to explain further why the amendments should not be permitted.
We will advise when we know more about the PI ruling on the ability to change the application at this stage, and to share more detail about the changes as we become aware. Details will continue to be made public on the WDC Portal.
Tuesday 21 June 2016
Request by Neighbourhood Plan Team for public feedback
1. Draft Neighbourhood Plan - this is a direct copy of a communication from the Neighbourhood Plan team.
This is to remind you that we are now a third of the way through the public consultation period for the first draft of the Bledlow-cum-Saunderton Neighbourhood Plan.
If you wish to discuss the draft plan or make representations in person, the Neighbourhood Plan Working Group is holding two clinics on:
- Tuesday 28th June 2016, 7.00-9.00pm at Bledlow Ridge Village Hall
- Wednesday 6th July 2016, 7.00-9.00pm at Bledlow Village Hall
Please make your views known
If you have not already done so please take the time to comment, whether positive or negative, on the draft plan. The plan is available on the Parish Council website. Alternatively hard copies of the plan have been placed at the following locations in the parish:
- The Golden Cross - Saunderton
- St Mary & St Nicholas - Saunderton
- The Boot - Bledlow Ridge
- The Country Store - Bledlow Ridge
- The Lions - Bledlow
- Holy Trinity - Bledlow
Please use the specially designed comment form, which is also available on the Parish Council website, and preferably email to email@example.com otherwise post to the Parish Clerk at:
Deadline for comments
The closing date for comments is Wednesday 20th July at 5pm.
Bledlow-cum-Saunderton Neighbourhood Plan Team
Tuesday 21 June 2016
Molins Update & Pre-submission Neighbourhood Plan Consultation
Further Neighbourhood Plan Consultation
Following the Parish Council's letter of 3rd June to parish households about the latest stage in the NP consultation process, the Pre-submission version of the draft Neighbourhood Plan is now available here. Hard copies are available at six locations - the three pubs in the parish ((The Golden Cross, The Boot, The Lions), The Country Store, Holy Trinity at Bledlow and St Mary & St Nicholas at Saunderton.
The Plan which incorporates the feedback from the consultation which has taken place so far in 2016 has been approved recently by the Parish Council, and residents now have a six week consultation period ending on 20th July, 2016 within which to make their written (email preferred) comments to the Parish Council Clerk using the format of a designated Comment Form.
Clinics for residents are planned for Tuesday 28th June, 2016 (7pm at Bledlow Ridge Village Hall) and on Wednesday 6th July, 2016 (7pm at Bledlow Village Hall). We strongly recommend residents read this first version of the Plan which, when finally approved, will, as part of Wycombe District Council's new Local Plan, direct future development in the parish. The Plan is now well formed; its fourteen land use policies are intended to cover planning matters in the parish for the next seventeen years until 2033, and this consultation is an important further check point and opportunity for residents to make their comments.
The Molins Appeal
Residents are reminded that the Public Inquiry to hear St Congar's Appeal of its 212 unit residential development application of the former Molins site is to commence on 7th September, 2016 at WDC's Wycombe offices. This public hearing has been scheduled for twelve days. Residents following this very important matter for the parish will be be interested to read Policy 3; Molins, South Saunderton (pages 29 to 33 inclusive) of the Neighbourhood Plan which can be accessed here.
This policy essentially supports the "no greater than the Existing Development" case which WDC is making in the Appeal; i.e. restricting residential development of the site to 2,500 square metres (so a much smaller number than 212). Importantly however Policy 3 also supports greater development of the site of up to 15,000 square metres where the development must comprise a blend of retirement, sheltered and care facilities, some residential development with mixed and affordable housing, small low rise business premises suited to start-up and small businesses and at least one community facility to serve the scheme and the existing residential area of South Saunderton. This is consistent with the public feedback from January's survey and subsequent comments.
We encourage as many people as possible to make a note of the Public Inquiry dates (7th Sept for 12 days). If you feel strongly about the need for careful development of the AONB within our Parish, and if you support the Neighbourhood Plan Policy on the Molins site, then your support can make a real difference at the Public Inquiry. We will be in touch with further news as this becomes available.
Saturday 11 June 2016
Neighbourhood Plan Task Group report on South Saunderton and Molins now available
Those in receipt of Neighbourhood Plan communications will have today received an email with links to all the Task Group reports. This is repeated in full below. We draw your attention to the detailed report on South Saunderton which gives a very comprehensive summary of the Molins situation. We have only had a short time to absorb this information, but it is well written and makes a good case for continuing the NP option for carefully managed mixed use development at Molins, and it believes it can continue to develop these plans without this affecting the Appeal hearing set for September 2016.
Neighbourhood Plan ~ Task Group reports now available
The reports of the five Task Groups set up to help develop the Neighbourhood Plan are now available on the Parish Council's website:
- South Saunderton
- Housing Development
- Design of the Built Environment
- Community Infrastructure
- Rural Economy & Environment
These reports take into account the feedback so far:
- Everyone in the Parish has had the opportunity to express their views by returning the survey sent out in January. The responses received were taken into account by the Task Groups.
- Public exhibitions were held in late February and early March with an extended consultation period ending on 23rd March after a series of additional clinics.
- All feedback received during the consultation period has been analysed and summarised in a Feedback Report, this is also available on the Parish Council's website.
What is next?
- We have started drafting the Neighbourhood Plan based on the Task Group's reports with the view of submitting a Draft Plan to the Parish Council for approval in May. If you have any concerns you should raise these with your local Parish Councillor.
- Once approved, the Draft Plan will undergo a round of public consultation lasting 6 weeks. In early May you will receive full details of this consultation including information on how to comment on the Draft Plan.
- The Plan will then be amended to take into account the comments received and subsequently submitted to Wycombe District Council in late summer.
- There will then be a further round of public consultation before the Plan is sent to an independent examiner for review.
- Providing the Plan passes this review it will finally be subject to a local referendum likely to take place in spring 2017.
Bledlow-cum-Saunderton Neighbourhood Plan Team
Wednesday 13 April 2016
Update on the Molins Appeal
Members of MAG attended the Neighbourhood Plan "clinic" at Bledlow Ridge Village Hall on Wednesday 16th March. Simon Breese, Chairman of the Parish Council and leading a top table of councillors, addressed residents and took questions; much of which related to Bledlow Ridge settlement boundary issues arising from the Working Party presentations in February and early March.
Simon was very clear that the Working Party needs as much feedback from residents as possible to ensure that the draft Plan reflects the majority of residents' views, and that concerns are identified for discussion from feedback at this time. The Working Party's deadline for residents' feedback has been set for Wednesday 23rd March with the draft Plan prepared by the end of March for discussion with Wycombe Council.
The following matters from the Design Task Group and Bledlow Ridge sections of the presentation are known to have raised concerns from Bledlow Ridge residents in particular. This is the map that has been shared.
- The "Haw Lane Backlands" zone, a preliminary option suggested whereby land behind the existing GB4 boundary might be utilised for new housing along parts of the length of Haw Lane. Many residents see this as encroachment into the Green Belt and AONB.
- The "Chinnor Road Inner Core Settlement Area" zone, a preliminary option suggests that a higher density of housing might be encouraged in this area. Much of this area lies South of the Chinnor Road opposite the existing GB4 settlement area. Residents have expressed concern that a greater density of housing in this zone would detract from the current character and openness of the village and add to local traffic volumes.
- The "Chinnor Road Outer Core Settlement Area" zone, another preliminary option seen as an extension to The Inner Core Settlement Area where small infill and a more relaxed policy to household extensions might apply. This area contains a number of open fields and views which currently greatly add to the openness and character of this part of the village. Residents have expressed concern that such land might be lost through new development.
We will keep you updated with further developments.
Friday 18 March 2016
Update on the Molins Appeal
MAG continues to monitor the Appeal process including filings by the parties which are made public on the WDC planning portal. There has been nothing substantive filed since WDC's detailed Statement of Case in early January 2016.
As part of recent Neighbourhood Plan presentations, residents were informed that WDC will defend its stance based on the fact that only the area currently supporting buildings can be developed. This would limit residential development on the Molins site to 2,500 sq metres, equivalent to the area of some twenty five small houses of 100 sq metres each. Such a development would only take up a relatively modest part of the Molins 23 acre brownfield site.
MAG’s own understanding of the situation is that WDC’s case is strong technically in planning terms, and it is consistent with planning advice MAG itself obtained in early 2015. Notwithstanding that, the developer seems determined to take matters to the Appeal hearing in early September 2016.
Meanwhile, the NP team has also suggested a mixed use development which covers the same area of the Molins site being proposed for the 212 house original St Congar Land development. This option would offer a smaller number of residential houses, low scale employment with office space, plus sheltered care and retirement homes.
This PDF document shows the NP team’s understanding of the situation, with the NP mixed use suggestion to be found on page 5.
We will keep you updated with further developments
Friday 11 March 2016
Neighbourhood Plan gets up head of steam
The Neighbourhood Plan Working Group's (the "WG") recent presentations at Bledlow and Bledlow Ridge village halls provided a wealth of information about the Plan by way of posters under six themed headings. Recognising the quantum of detail released and interest of residents, the WG has now made copies of the full set of display posters exhibited available on the Parish Council’s website for downloading, allowing residents to study and discuss matters at their own pace.
In addition, the WG has scheduled the following "clinics" for residents to attend. Although we are not aware of the actual format of these evening events, we expect them to allow residents to raise queries directly with members of the WG.
Wednesday 16th March Bledlow Ridge Village Hall 7pm to 9pm
Thursday 17th March Bledlow Village Hall 7pm to 9pm
MAG welcomes the WG's decision to allow all residents more time to consider the information made available to them. We believe that people have generally been surprised at how much progress the WG seems to have made, and feel that as residents they now need to get fully appraised of what is being considered on their behalf. There is a lot of detail, the issues are complex and need to be understood. In particular, the implications of the various changes put forward to control future development in the parish carry material implications to each and every household in the Parish. There is a strong feeling that residents need to be comfortable with the direction of travel before the draft Neighbourhood Plan is prepared. The WG has clearly recognised this and has deferred the date for feedback from residents until Wednesday 23rd March. Also feedback can now be emailed directly to the WG. Further feedback can be sent even if you have already completed a printed feedback form at the presentations.
This webpage in the Neighbourhood Plan section of the Parish Council website provides full details of the current situation. In order to facilitate residents’ access to the presentation, please find links to each of the pdf versions of the WG’s display posters.
- Community Infrastructure
- Design of the built environment
- Bledlow Ridge
- South Saunderton (new name given to the area around Saunderton train station)
- Housing Development
- Rural Economy & Environment
MAG appreciates that there is lot to take in from the presentation but we see the following sections as especially important to look at:
Bledlow Ridge – This presentation by The Design Task Group is important to all residents of Bledlow Ridge especially. It deals with the WG’s interpretation of the survey results into preliminary options for amending the development controls over the parish’s only “Built up Area”: primarily by way of amending the extant settlement boundaries. The last two posters in this section provide a map of BR with the boundary amendment options and a description of the five (A to E) boundary / area changes. Residents have expressed concern about the “Haw Lane Backlands” option which involves land which has been volunteered for development, and the effect of other options on open fields directly on Chinnor Road on the northern end of the village.
Housing Development – This section summarises the results of the survey the WG’s initial policy proposals and show how these might be applied in Saunderton, Bledlow and Pitch Green the other main settlements in the parish.
We recommend as many residents as possible attend the WG’s clinics, especially if you have queries, and that you provide considered feedback to the WG so that the eventual Plan is representative of residents’ views.
We will email an update on the Molins situation specifically soon.
Friday 11 March 2016
Public consultations workshops being held by Neighbourhood Plan Team in Bledlow Ridge and Bledlow
We hope many of you will get the chance to see the results of the recent residents' survey that's been set up and now analysed by the Neighbourhood Plan team. This, of course, is also concerned with the future of the Molins site in Saunderton. We will be sharing the full results on our website as soon as these are fully available, but meanwhile our first opportunity will be to attend the open event being held at Bledlow Ridge Village Hall between 10am and 4pm Saturday 27th February and then at Bledlow Village Hall on Saturday 5th March.
We will be pleased to hear your feedback and thoughts.
SaveSaundertonAONB and MAG team
From the Neighbourhood Plan team:
A few headlines from the survey:
- 87% or respondents think new housing should be directed towards brownfield or previously developed land with over half supporting infill on suitable sites within existing villages.
- There was strong support for smaller family houses and housing designed for the elderly.
- 70% or responses indicated a preference for a mixed use development on the former Molins factory site. With options for housing, office space, light industrial or a retirement village all receiving support.
- There was huge support for ensuring that the landscape and wildlife of the Chilterns were protected in the Parish and for ensuring new development was designed in harmony with the rural character of the Parish.
If you want to be able to respond in person to the findings of the survey please come along and give your views at the:
Public Consultation Workshops
Saturday 27th February at Bledlow Ridge Village Hall from 10am to 4pm
Saturday 5th March at Bledlow Village Hall from 10am to 4pm
We will be presenting:
- an update on the impact of the Molins appeal on the Neighbourhood Plan
- concept plans for the Molins site
- proposals for new settlement boundaries
- proposed design guidelines
- proposals to support the rural economy
- measures to protect and improve the environment
The Neighbourhood Plan Team look forward to meeting as many people as possible in order to discuss the project, hear your concerns and views on how you envisage the future of the parish developing, and to receive your feedback on the work thus far.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about the Neighbourhood Plan please get in touch with us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. For the latest news on the Neighbourhood Plan and to register for email updates on please visit the Neighbourhood Plan pages of the Parish Council website.
Wednesday 24 February 2016
Message from Parish Council and Neighbourhood Plan team
To all Parishioners Every house in the Parish should have received a Neighbourhood Plan Questionnaire towards the end of last week.
As expected, so far we have received a modest number of responses. We always knew that it would be a challenge to get people to reply. Please submit your questionnaire using the paper copy or online.
Please help by:
- Reminding your friends, neighbours and others to complete their survey if they haven’t already done so.
- If anyone hasn’t received a hard copy questionnaire they should contact or email the Parish Council Clark or preferably the Neighbourhood Plan team by email
- The survey can also be completed online.
While there is no specific threshold for the response rate, clearly the more responses we receive the better; both so that we have the best possible understanding of people’s views, but also a good response rate will help add weight to our plan when it is drafted.
Thursday 21 January 2016
Neighbourhood Plan Survey needs to be completed by Monday 25th January
We understand most households in the Parish of Bledlow-cum-Saunderton have now received their letter including the paper copy of the survey. We believe it’s most important we all provide our opinions through this survey back to the team. The information gathered is used directly to inform the guidelines within the Bledlow-cum-Saunderton Neighbourhood Plan, and we know these Plans have great weight within Local Authority Planning decisions and in the case of any Appeal. This includes the ongoing Appeal initiated by St Congar in respect of their application for 212 houses on the former Molins site.
Do please complete this on time by Monday 25th January. This can be done using the paper copy enclosed and returning the completed survey using the Freepost envelope, or you can access a copy online using the unique number on the accompanying letter. This might be useful especially if you are away from home between now and the deadline. If there are issues, or in the case of needing a new unique access number, then you can call or email Rachel at Engage Planning (01926 623095).
This is our best chance of influencing the planning policy within our local area for the next decade or longer!
Thursday 14 January 2016
Molins Appeal Public Inquiry Hearing Set for September 2016 and WDC files Statement of Case with Planning Inspectorate
The Planning Inspectorate has set the hearing for the Molins Appeal Public Inquiry to start on 7th September, 2016 at WDC's council offices in High Wycombe. Ten days has been initially set to hear the case but this may be changed by the inspector during the course of the hearing. Link.
WDC has now filed its "Statement of Case" against the Molins Appeal with the Planning Inspectorate, and this, together with supporting papers can be seen on WDC's Planning Applications Portal. As you will see WDC makes a very strong technical planning case against the Appellant, St Congar Land's planning application, and explains the background to the LPA's non determination of the application.
Friday 8 January 2016
Molins Employment Site Currently in Use as a Film Location
Residents may have noticed the current activity on the former Molins factory site in Haw Lane. A local member of the Bledlow cum Saunderton Parish Council has advised MAG today that the site owner has permitted a film crew to use it as film location. He has been informed that current filming will be completed by the end of this month - January 2016.
Friday 8 January 2016
All Third Party Comments on the Molins Appeal are now available to view
The Planning Inspectorate Case Officer dealing with the appeal to build on the Molins site has sent copies of all third party comments received by the 8th December 2015 deadline to WDC for their records. These are now posted on the WDC portal.
Tuesday 22 December 2015
WDC to Defend Molins Appeal at Public Inquiry
WDC's Planning Committee unanimously voted in favour of the its planning officers' recommendation to defend against the Molins Appeal at its meeting on 16th December, 2015. WDC will now issue a written statement to the Planning Inspectorate before the end of December. We understand that the date for the hearing for Public Inquiry has still to be finalised but is unlikely to be until July 2016 at the earliest.
Sunday 20th December 2015
Summary of the Molins Appeal - what we know
The original application of January 2015 for redevelopment of the Molins site was appealed to the Planning Inspectorate in September 2015. The Appellant, St Congar Land claim that Wycombe District Council failed to determine the application. WDC will claim that the Appellant failed to provide the information necessary to allow it to determine the application.
The Inspectorate completed its scrutiny and validated the Appeal with a start date of 27th October, 2015. The Appeal under reference APP/K0425/W/15/3135297 can be viewed through the Inspectorate’s “Appeals Planning Portal”
The Appeal has a dedicated Case Officer who manages the appeal process and administers and updates the portal. Correspondence and queries can be addressed to him by email or by telephone.
The portal provides a case summary but no Appeal documentation or correspondence is currently published there. Residents and others interested can however view documentation through the WDC Planning Portal. Somewhat counter intuitively, the Appeal documentation is shown on the Planning Portal and not on WDC’s Appeals Portal; Appeal documents being added chronologically into the “documents” section of the Planning Portal with the nearly 300 application documents including all the third party representations.
The Inspectorate requested WDC to forward all representations from the original application be forwarded to it. All third parties were allowed until 8th December, 2015 to provide further written representations directly to the Inspectorate. MAG suggested that residents might wish to refresh their earlier objections and send these directly to the Case Officer to the Appeal. Although the later representations are not seemingly to be published, we understand that various countrywide organisations and residents have provided new written representations.
The Appeal is to proceed as a Public Inquiry which will involve a public hearing of the Appeal locally so that third parties, including residents, may attend and give evidence. There is a current backlog of cases to be heard by the Inspectorate nationally, and our latest information is that the Appeal hearing will not take place until July 2016 at the earliest.
Appeal documents published so far are as follows:
16th November, 2015
Four files being copies of St Congar Land’s Statement of Case, the Appeal Application Form, Questionnaire, a “ Statement of matters not in dispute” and copies of correspondence between WDC and St Congar Land / its agents.
7th December, 2015
The Inspectorate has requested that St Congar Land complete a gap in its Environment Statement concerned with a Non-Technical Summary. Not a major issue for the Appellant's professionals to rectify.
9th December, 2015
WDC has filed the Committee Papers for its December 2015 Planning Meeting where its officers present the background and case for WDC to defend the Appeal. This an interesting summary and background to the case together with a few of the objections received to the application quoted fully, and a summary of wider objections received from residents and other third parties.
WDC Cabinet accepts main recommendations from TFG Group
We are pleased to report that WDC Cabinet agreed to accept the recommendations of the Task & Finish Group at its regular Cabinet meeting on Monday 16 November. There were a few wording changes to some TFG recommendations and we will report on this detail as soon as we have it available.
We believe this now allows us all as a community to focus on two things; firstly, the Molins Appeal Public Inquiry that is in progress for the 212 house Molins site application by St Congar, and, secondly, the Neighbourhood Plan, to which all residents will be invited to contribute in the coming weeks and months.
Tuesday 17 November 2015
Objecting to the Molins Appeal Inquiry with the Planning Inspectorate
St Congar Land has submitted a planning appeal (the “Appeal”) on the grounds of WDC’s failure to determine its outline planning application for 212 residential units on the Molins brown field site. The Planning Inspectorate (the “Inspectorate”) which determines such appeals has now validated the appellant’s Appeal with a start date 27th October, 2015, and set up its details on its Appeals Casework Portal (the “Portal”).
The Inspectorate has appointed a Case Officer, Robert Wordsworth, to manage the process and maintain and update the Portal as matters proceed. He can be contacted by email.
WDC is required to forward all representations made at the time of the original planning application to the Inspectorate. If you did not make an earlier representation, or, if you did and wish to add to your first representation, the Inspectorate’s guide invites your further written representations. WDC should be writing to all who objected to the original plan. Some of us received this letter today.
Submitting an Objection in the Appeal
The clock has started running on the Appeal from 27th October, 2015 and interested parties whether from residents or from organisations must be received at the latest by 8th December, 2015.
Representations can be made in any of the following three ways:
- Online through the Planning Portal.
- By email addressed to the Case Officer on email@example.com
- By post in the form of a typed letter (with two further hard copies) addressed to the Case Officer: Robert Wordsworth, The Planning Inspectorate, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Bristol, BS1 6PN
You should head your representation with the following information:
- Your name and address
- The Planning appeal reference - APP/K0425/W/15/3135297
- The address of the appeal site - Former Molins Factory Site, Haw Lane, Saunderton, Buckinghamshire, HP14 4JE
In addition, you should state (if appropriate) “I am against the appeal proposals" and explain why.
Who Should Send Written Representations?
MAG believes it is important that the Inspectorate is made aware of the strength of feeling against the Appeal. Accordingly we recommend as many residents as possible submit written objections directly to the Planning Inspectorate. If you made a representation to the original Molins application you may wish to refresh it in the light of matters which have come to light and submit a new written representation as above. We are assured this is the best way to proceed.
Thursday 12 November 2015
Molins Appeal Inquiry Instigated by St Congar Land Now In Course at The Planning Inspectorate
The Planning Inspectorate has recently set up the MAI on its Appeals Casework Portal here with a start date of 27th October, 2015.
For those interested the Portal can be used to track the future progress of the Appeal. MAG understands that the Appeal is to proceed as a Public Inquiry in that the PI has accepted that St Congar Land has sufficient evidence / grounds to appeal against Wycombe District Council's non-determination of the its outline planning application for the Molins site.
This sets in motion a complex and lengthy process whereby a formal hearing before a Planning Inspector will be held in an open forum for the public. This hearing will, however, not commence before April 2016, and probably not for some months later, given the current volume of appeal cases being processed by the PI.
All written representations sent to WDC by residents or other third parties on the original Molins application will, we understand, be forwarded onto the by Planning Inspector by WDC.
Notwithstanding that, advice received by MAG, recommends that residents and other interested parties who have already made objections, should write to the case officer at the PI and confirm that they have made an original objection and enclose / attach a copy of their original representation if possible.
Alternatively a further submission with additional objections or comments could be sent to the PI. Although there is still plenty of time, all written representations to the PI must be made by 8th December, 2015. Thereafter no representations can be made to the PI until the formal hearing commences in 2016; at which time third parties may on the first day of that hearing, register to give evidence directly to the Inspector at the hearing. These representation can be made on line via the website here. Just click the Make Representation button and follow instructions. We will post details on the process for postal submissions shortly.
MAG will shortly provide further guidance to facilitate written representations through the website and other media.
Friday 6 November 2015
Task & Finish Group Recommends Abandonment of WDC's Saunderton Area Action Plan and Commitment to Neighbourhood Plan
The TFG's final recommendations were published here on the WDC website on 5th November, 2015. As you will see from the report, the TFG makes six specific recommendations and concludes that "On balance, the Task and Finish Group found there was no local support for the proposed Area Action Plan and that a Neighbourhood Plan was preferable to consider the possible delivery of sustainable development within the Parish of Bledlow-cum-Saunderton."
The key recommendation is "That the Saunderton Local Area Action Plan be abandoned in favour of the Neighbourhood Plan and additional resources made available to support the Parish Council to facilitate its production and delivery in the relevant timeframe of the emerging Local Plan."
Once approved at an Improvement and Review Commission meeting on 11th November, 2015, this report and recommendations will be presented to Cabinet for consideration at an open meeting on November 16th, 2015. Thank you to all those residents and organisations that took part in the public and other meetings as part of the TFG's review process.
Let's hope WDC's Cabinet accept the TFG's report and recommendations.
Friday 6 November 2015
BFP coverage of final TFG meeting
Campaigners still seeking answers over controversial Saunderton plans
"Important questions were asked to planning officers last week during a controversial meeting about the creation of ‘Greater Saunderton’. Plans to build 1,000 new homes on the Chiltern’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) were condemned by residents during two public meetings at the Clare Charity Centre, Saunderton, earlier this month. The council Task and Finish Group, which is looking at the Saunderton Area Action Plan, asked questions of Audrey Jones - the deputy cabinet member for planning – and other planning officers during a public meeting in the Council Chamber on Thursday evening.
Sian Rees-Evans of the Molins Action Group said: “The Task and Finish Group did an excellent job – they asked all the right questions – but unfortunately I don’t think we got all the right answers. “They were rightly concerned about the risks of flooding, increased traffic and the protection of the AONB land. “We hope now that the Saunderton Area Action Plan will be stopped.”
Ms Rees-Evans stated she is in favour of Bledlow-cum-Saunderton Parish Council’s Neighbourhood Plan which is part of Chiltern District Council’s Local Plan for the area. “The neighbourhood plan is the ideal way to move forward with development in the area because it stops developers trying to put in speculative applications.”
The Task and Finish Group’s recommendations will be put before the Improvement and Review Commission at a meeting in the Council Chamber on November 11. They will then be presented to Cabinet on November 16 for consideration."
Link to article
Monday 2 November 2015
Report from Task and Finish Group Final meeting, WDC Council Chamber, 22nd October, 2015
Thanks to everyone who turned up to hear the Task and Finish group question the Head of Planning and other officers at WDC Council Chamber. Our district councillor, parish councillors, members of MAG, The Chiltern Society, as well as members of the public from Saunderton, Bledlow Ridge and Lacey Green attended. After the meeting and in private the TFG decided whether they think the plan for Saunderton should go ahead or not. They will present their recommendation to the Improvement & Review Commission on 11th November and this will then be taken to the WDC Cabinet meeting at 7 pm on 16th November. Members of the public are able to attend this meeting at the WDC Council Chamber. We very much hope the recommendation will be to halt the Area Action Plan for Saunderton.
Saturday 31 October 2015
Task & Finish Group Questions Planning Officers & Deputy Cabinet Member for Planning at WDC Planning Officers on Thursday 22nd October, 2015
On Thursday 22nd October, 2015 the Task & Finish Group ("TFG") will be meeting with WDC planning officers and its Deputy Cabinet Member for Planning to question them about the Saunderton Area Action Plan; WDC Planning's fast track development plan for Saunderton.
This meeting is part of the TFG's investigation of the facts as the part of the "sanity check" review requested by the Council Leader, Katrina Wood, following her election in May 2015. For those residents who have followed the recent history of the redevelopment of the Molins site at Saunderton, and how the current brown field application morphed into the threatened horror of WDC's proposal for 1,000 new homes in the AONB to create Greater Saunderton, it might prove a very interesting meeting to attend as the TFG raises its questions in a public forum.
The first part of the meeting is open to the public with the closing part being a closed meeting for the TFG deliberations.
The meeting will commence at 6.30pm on Thursday 22nd October at the Council Chamber, District Council Offices, Queen Victoria Road, High Wycombe.
Please note that at the time of writing, WDC's Agenda for the meeting website shows the starting time as 7pm. This is incorrect, we believe. We will confirm as soon as possible.
Saturday 16 October 2015
Notes from the second public meeting, Clare Charity Centre, Wednesday 14th October
There was another strong show of objection from local residents at the second public meeting held by the Task and Finish Group, 14th October, Clare Foundation.
Chair, Alex Collingwoood, stressed that he really wanted to hear from local residents and stakeholder organisations. Many spoke, with recurring themes such as protection of the AONB/green belt, traffic concerns, loss of an employment site, urbanisation of a countryside environment, the adverse effect on rural tourism attracted by the countryside and retention of dark skies.
Residents from every part of Saunderton spoke plus those from Bledlow Ridge, Bledlow, West Wycombe, Bradenham, Loosley Row and Piddington.
Representatives of CPRE Bucks, the Parish Council, the Neighbourhood Plan working group, Saunderton Vale Management Committee and The Chiltern Society spoke, with none in favour of the Area Action Plan for Saunderton.
Thank you to David Jarman from CPRE Bucks, who has allowed us to publish his statement to WDC in full:
Personal notes on behalf of CPRE Bucks for the WDC Task & Finish Group Meeting 14th October at Clare Charity Centre, re the proposed housing development at Saunderton
"Planning is one of the most important ways we control and protect our environment. Planning decisions affect us all, yet we often have very little input. We want planning to be fairer, engage communities and protect the countryside as well as regeneration of our towns and villages.
CPRE believes that we need:
- The right housing in the right places
- The right infrastructure for the right reasons
- A beautiful countryside to sustain us all.
The CPRE charter for planning reform sets out what we want to see, which includes:
- Locally distinctive communities, where high quality, well designed, energy efficient and appropriately located homes meet local needs and enhance distinctiveness
- A countryside that is valued and protected
- We are against building on AONB/green belt, as we believe these should be preserved for future generations.
Regarding the latter point, there are 9 tests put forward by the National Trust that should be applied to any development proposed in AONB. Of these, I believe the most important Test is No5 which raises two questions:
- Is the development required because of Exceptional Circumstances?
- Is the development in the Public Interest?
Judging by the large attendances at the two Task & Finish Group meetings, mostly from local residents, who raised their concerns with conviction, plus the comments made in the local press by the Vice Chair of the Task and Finish Group, I would say these proposals are clearly “Not In the Public Interest”.
This summer, CPRE Bucks sent a letter to WDC objecting to the proposed housing development on the Molins site. The key issues raised were:
- Lack of new infrastructure where at peak times the existing roads are heavily congested and the railway carriages at the local station are full to capacity.
- Too many houses which will be located too far from the existing homes in the village resulting in problems with social integration.
- Lack of jobs being offered that will exacerbate the problems mentioned in the previous point i.e. even more car and train journeys will be required.
So to conclude, we believe in the present situation, the Neighbourhood Plan being produced by the parish council will provide a good basis for deciding how best to proceed with any future housing development in the Saunderton area.
We trust you take these points into consideration when you make your recommendation to WDC cabinet."
Alex Collingwood is to be congratulated on the way he chaired both public meetings and explained what is a complex process.
Thank you also to all of the residents who spoke or who have made written submissions.
The deadline for submissions is 19th October, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Head of Planning, Ms Tollitt, updated residents on the status of the planning application at Molins - WDC is questioning the validity of the Appeal lodged by the developer, St Congar. Ms Tollitt explained that WDC Planning was awaiting information from St Congar which would had enabled determination of the application. Molins Action Group will keep in touch with WDC re the status of the Appeal. The evidence gathered by the Task and Finish Group will be discussed at the Council office, WDC, 6.30 pm Oct 22nd. The session is open to the public. All are welcome to attend and were very much encouraged to so so by Alex Collingwood.
Saturday 17 October 2015
Public meeting tonight 7pm at Clare Charity Centre
We have just been informed by WDC that 20 places only remain for tonight's meeting. Thanks for the local support in making views known at these meetings. Please book your place by email if you have not already done so via this email email@example.com It will be great to fill the venue for the second time.
In addition WDC has uploaded all the objections and comments made at the first meeting on their website here. The objections are listed at the foot of this page.
Tonight you can add your own views, agree with them or build on them.
Remember, this is the last opportunity to attend a public meeting as part of the decision-making process to influence the Task & Finish Group recommendation to WDC Cabinet as to whether the Greater Saunderton plans will be fast-tracked or not. However, you can still make written submissions by email to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday 19th October (next Monday).
Wednesday14 October 2015
Residents' Deadline for Written Representations to The Task & Finish Group - Monday 19th October 2015
Residents are reminded that, whether or not they have attended the public meetings, they may send in written representations directly to The Task & Finish Group using email@example.com
Residents should be aware that any responses sent in for the Molins Application (where the application is now closed for consideration by WDC) will not be considered by the TFG for the purposes of considering the Saunderton Area Action Plan. T
We'd urge residents with strong views to write again to the Council using the email address above.
The timetable for further meetings and decisions is as follows, we believe:
- Wednesday 14th October - second and final Public Meeting
- Monday 19th October - final date for submissions to TFG
- Thursday 22nd October - TFG meeting questioning WDC Planning at WDC offices - Open to Public followed by TFG meeting which is closed to public
- Wednesday 11th November TFG meeting - prepare recommendations to Cabinet - Closed meeting
- Monday 16th November - Cabinet meeting to consider TFG recommendation - Open to public at WDC offices
Thursday 8 October 2015
Bucks Free Press coverage of 7th October public meeting
Saunderton residents say Wycombe District Council plans will bring 'fundamental change in the quality of rural life'
Plans to create ‘Greater Saunderton’ by building up to 1,000 new houses on the Chilterns’ Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) were branded as “illogical” and “insane” by residents at a public meeting on Wednesday night.
Over 100 members of the public attended the first of two meetings organised by Wycombe District Council (WDC) to discuss the possibility of developing land in and around the Molins brownfield site in Haw Lane. The site – as well as a large area of surrounding land - is currently owned by St.Congar Land, who submitted a planning application for 212 new homes on the site to WDC. The council is now investigating the possibility developing a large area of AONB land to join up the Molins site to the Wests Yard site on the other side of the village, which has already had a 42-home development application approved by WDC.
Kim Martin from Molins Action Group said: “We are talking about a fundamental change in the quality of rural life. “It is the effect on the AONB, the effect of the traffic increase and the loss of employment land. We need a parish-wide approach to this problem.”
Lucy Murfett from the Chilterns Conservation Board said: “It is illogical to use green belt land to make use of a brown field site - let the residents dictate the plans. “Nationally, AONB land is considered as important as a national park. My message is, if you would not do it in a national park, do not do it here.”
Clive Allom added: “A significant stumbling block to this application is traffic. There is nothing you can do to stop traffic congestion that will be caused on the A4010. It seems an insane proposition.”
Lewis Stringfellow said: “The implication that the only place these plans will affect is Saunderton is a massive fallacy.” Some residents suggested that turning the site into a retirement home would be more beneficial to the community and would not add much – if any – strain to the road and rail networks.
The audience were then asked by Cllr Alex Collingwood, Vice Chair of the Council’s Task and Finish Group (TFG), to vote whether they were in favour of; no development in the area, limited development or full-scale development. All those present who voted elected for ‘limited development’ which they clarified should be “appropriate” and to scale with the size of the town.
It was also reiterated by many residents that they would only approve development on brown-field sites and would not sacrifice any of the AONB land.
Cllr Collingwood said: “Tonight shows me that the people of Saunderton are very passionate about where they live. “What surprised me was the level of detail the residents went into about the various issues there are. I was impressed with the quality of their research and the quality of their arguments. “We will make recommendations to the cabinet and I hope – considering the level of detail we have gone into to engage residents and groups – they will take those seriously.”
WDC have asked for an independent group of councillors to assess the expansion plans in and around the Molins site. Residents are likely to hear back about the project proposals on November 11 when the council will present plans to the commission at a public meeting. There are 40 spaces remaining for the second public meeting which takes place on Wednesday October 14 from 7-9pm at The Clare Foundation. For more information or to book a place email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01494 421261.
Link to website article
Thursday 8 October 2015
Task & Finish Group ("TFG") Public Meeting filled to capacity on Wednesday 7th October - some spaces still available for Wednesday 14th October meeting
The Clare Charity Centre's meeting room was filled with over 100 residents for the first of the two TFG's public meetings for residents to give their comments directly to the group making recommendation on the Saunderton Area Action Plan's future to WDC Cabinet in November.
Following a background presentation from WDC Planning, many of those attending addressed the meeting with their views. Virtually all spoke against WDC Planning's proposed Saunderton AAP for a wider development of Saunderton. Topics raised by speakers included "the loss of greenfield Green Belt & AONB land", "the fundamental change in the character and quality of rural life", "the effect of increased traffic volumes", "Saunderton station as a transport option" and "the irreversible loss of employment land".
In addition to local residents, speakers from The Chilterns Conservation Board and The Chiltern Society put forward those reservations again, including strong technical planning objections against the Saunderton AAP.
Members of the TFG were left in no doubt that the overwhelming view of residents is to protect the AONB, and avoid anything resembling a wider development of Saunderton for mass urban style housing development; calling for the Saunderton Area Action Plan to be terminated and for the Bledlow-cum-Saunderton Parish Council to be allowed to develop its current Neighbourhood Development Plan for a more suitable and sustainable Parish-wide strategy.
The second public meeting scheduled for 7pm on Wednesday 14th October will follow an identical format enabling further residents to put their views to the member of the TFG. You must book a place by contacting Liz Hornsby at WDC Democratic Services on 01494 421261 or at email@example.com.
Note - the Area Action Plan is a mechanism that could run separately to other Local Plan initiatives and potentially offer a fast-track route for Saunderton's whole-scale development.
Thursday 8 October 2015
Task & Finish Group ("TFG") Public Meetings at the Clare Charity Centre on 7pm on Wednesday 7th October & Wednesday 14th October
As you will see from the last news item, the Molins application is now going to appeal and will proceed as a discrete situation probably by way of a public inquiry. The TFG's review of the Saunderton Area Action Plan, however, is still very much live and residents need to take action to show their opposition to this much wider scheme of development in the AONB. Residents' attendance at these two Public Meetings is, therefore, still critically important to show the strength of feelings against this wider Greater Saunderton / Saunderon AAP proposal. We understand that the TFG will run the meetings using a "Livescribe" system whereby TFG and residents choose topics such as for example "Haw Lane", "Damage to the AONB" and a number of individual residents will be invited to talk for a maximum of 2 minutes each on each topic. This is a great opportunity for individual residents to make their case directly to the TFG.
With two meetings now there are still places available which can be booked through Liz Hornsby at WDC Democratic Services through firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01494 421261.
Friday 2 October 2015
St Congar Land Ends Deferral Seeks Public Inquiry for Molins Application
The applicant for the redevelopment of the former Molins site in Saunderton, St Congar Land, has requested a Public Inquiry into the matter.
The status of the application on WDC's planning website has changed to "Non-determination appeal received" and a spokesman for WDC Planning on 30th September confirmed that the council had just received the applicant's appeal and has yet to decide its response to the request.
WDC's website for the Molins application is now closed to further representations from residents, and MAG thanks you for the large volume and high quality of the responses put forward against the application. These will remain on record for the next stage being the applicant's appeal in whatever manner it goes forward.
The background here is that as part of an agreement with WDC to consider a wider development of the village of Saunderton under a Saunderton Area Action Plan, St Congar Land had originally agreed to defer determination of its application for residential development until 31st July, 2015. On the expiry of that original deferral St Congar Land agreed to extend it for a further period until 24th September, 2015 but has now decided to force a determination of its Molins application by way of a public inquiry.
We are not surprised that St Congar Land has taken this action, and planning professionals we have spoken to expect the matter will proceed by way of a public inquiry for resolution. From available statistics on the duration of public inquiries, the average public inquiry takes around nine months to complete. Importantly if the appeal proceeds as a public inquiry there will be excellent opportunities for residents to make their objections against the application.
MAG will continue to follow the process, consider and keep residents advised as matters evolve through our website, Facebook and Twitter.
Friday 2 October 2015
MAG Team Presents Residents' Views on Greater Saunderton to the Task & Finish Group
Following an invitation from the Task & Review Group ("TFG") charged with reviewing the Saunderton Area Action Plan, the MAG team met with the TFG at The Clare Charity Centre in Saunderton on Monday 28th September, 2015. As we had hoped, this proved to be an excellent opportunity for MAG to present residents' views thoroughly and frankly to the district councillors whose recommendations will ultimately go forward to the WDC Cabinet meeting in November. We are obliged to Councillor Alex Collingwood (who chaired the meeting) and his team for their time and the quality of engagement given to us last night. A copy of MAG's presentation to the TFG can be viewed here.
The TFG will now be looking to hear residents' direct comments through the two separate public meetings being held at the Clare Institute in Saunderton at 7pm on Wednesday 7th October, 2015 and 7 pm on Wednesday 14th October, 2015. WDC Councillor Services (Liz Hornsby) 01494 421261 (or by email) should be contacted if you wish to attend either of these meetings and have not already been able to book for the first meeting. MAG will provide some further information about the public meetings shortly.
Tuesday 29 September 2015
Neighbourhood Plan for Bledlow-cum-Saunderton Parish - message from Parish Council and request for input
You may have seen notices that the Parish Council has decided to develop a Neighbourhood Plan. I am writing to you to explain why the council has taken this initiative and to invite you to take part. Following changes in planning regulation over the past few years as part of the Government’s ‘localism’ initiative there are now three tiers of planning policy:
1. The National planning policy framework
2. Local Plans (in our case at Wycombe District Council Level)
3. Neighbourhood Plans (usually at Parish level in rural areas)
The Wycombe District Council plan is currently being revised but apart from the Bledlow Conservation Area there is no planning policy at Parish level. The large numbers of people attending public meetings when the Solar Farm was proposed at Skittle Green and more recently as Wycombe District Council propose plans for 800 or more houses in Saunderton, indicate that there is both interest in a Parish-level planning policy and a need. By developing a neighbourhood plan the Parish Council believes we can gain more control over inappropriate development while addressing the pressures upon us for more development. Further details explaining this initiative are available on the Parish Council’s website.
Please sign up for the Parish Council’s mailing list so we can keep you updated. Please email if you would like to volunteer to help or if you have unanswered questions (we will also report progress in both parish magazines).
MAG strongly supports the Parish Council's aims in setting up a Neighbourhood Plan covering the whole of the Bledlow-cum-Saunderton Parish. We hope that the Task & Finish Group currently reviewing the need for the Saunderton Area Action Plan will see this as the better and more efficient route to achieving appropriate development of the AONB area.
Tuesday 15 September 2015
Further coverage in Bucks Free Press
Action group welcomes district council plans to review expansion in village
Councillors and action groups opposed to development that could double the population of Saunderton have welcomed district council plans for an independently minded review into expansion.
Last week, leader of Wycombe District Council Katrina Wood called for a team of councillors, a Local Plan Task and Finish Group (TFG), to carry out detailed research into the possibility of expanding the village, which currently has under 200 households.
Phase one of a planning application from housing developer St Congar Land could see up to 212 houses built on the site of the former Molins factory in Haw Lane if approved.
Potentially, phases two and three could see up to 1000 houses in total on the Molins and surrounding greenbelt land, which could be turned into a ‘new’ village called Greater Saunderton.
A spokesman for the Molins Action Group (MAG) said the vast majority of residents in the village, which is one of the smallest in Wycombe district, are against the development they believe would cause ‘irreversible physical damage’ to AONB land.
He said: “MAG welcomes Wycombe District Council Leader Katrina Wood’s initiative to call for a “sanity check” to look at WDC Planning’s proposal to expand the village of Saunderton.
“We believe that a thorough and independently minded Task and Finish Group review into the Saunderton Area Action Plan and its proposal to place an urban style development of up to 1000 houses directly into the heart of the AONB is urgently needed.
“The overwhelming view of residents in both Saunderton and the wider area, is to protect Chilterns AONB land from what would be irreversible physical damage, to preserve some local land for employment use and to maintain the current rural aspect and quality of life in Saunderton from the fundamental change which such a massive increase in activity and traffic volumes would involve.”
While the group look forward to a public meeting on October 7, they are ‘disappointed’ at the choice of the Clare Centre as the venue.
Only residents in the immediate area have been invited to attend the meeting, which starts at 7pm and limit spaces are available. The MAG spokesman said: “Given the importance attached to this review, the precedent for the countryside and the implications for residents in Saunderton and surrounding villages, we are disappointed about the very limited number of places that will be available at the venue chosen for the meeting.”
County Cllr and Saunderton resident, Carl Etholen, who opposes the development, said: “I fully support the work that they [the TFG] are undertaking and being ably chaired by Cllr John Savage, who has many years experience, I am sure that they will make the right decision having engaged with all the local stakeholders and residents.
“As the local member and a local resident, I believe that I speak on behalf of the vast majority of Residents of Saunderton and Bledlow Ridge that the landscape and beauty of the countryside would be lost forever if these proposals are approved. “This would also set a precedent for developing in other areas of AONB and green belt. I appreciate that we as a nation need more housing, but I believe that Saunderton village is not the place for this.”
As well as councillors and residents, organisations such as Chiltern Conservation Board and Network Rail have raised concerns over the development. St Congar Land says the 212-dwelling development site will be 'people friendly' with landscaped gardens and hedges as well as car parking and open spaces. To book a place at the public meeting on October 7 from 7pm to 9pm, email email@example.com or phone 01494 421261.
Link to article
Thursday 10 September 2015
WDC statement published in Bucks Free Press
Council leader calls for independent councillors to look at case for expanding village
The leader of Wycombe District Council has called for a ‘sanity check’ to look closer at expanding a village to add new homes. Cllr Katrina Wood has asked WDC’s Local Plan Task and Finish Group (TFG) to review whether or not the council should carry out detailed research on the possibility of expanding the village of Saunderton.
The TFG, which was formed under the council’s Improvement and Review Commission which scrutinises council decisions and future policy, will now meet with community groups and residents. Residents will be able to air their views at a public meeting at the Clare Centre on October 7. Once the group has completed its fact finding, they will make their recommendations to the council’s cabinet, triggering or quashing the feasibility work.
Cllr Wood said: “Because Saunderton is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and in Green Belt land we need to think very carefully about what will help and what will harm the village. “We know that this is a unique situation and that there are obvious local concerns so I welcome the forthcoming work of the Task and Finish Group who, working with local people, will test the case for expansion.”
Planning applications submitted within the village have divided residents, with some agreeing that development is necessary, while others have strongly opposed. WDC has already approved an application for 42 new homes on the West Yard site. A planning application submitted by developers St Congar Land for the old Molins site would see the construction of 212 houses on brownfield land. The TFG would consider exploring the option of making the application part of a larger development, connecting the Molins site to the rest of the village and provide new community facilities. If the group’s research work goes ahead, it would be used as the basis for an Area Action Plan specifically for Saunderton, setting out how and where development could go and what infrastructure would be needed to support it.
The decision about whether or not to recommend proceeding with the Saunderton feasibility work will be taken by the TFG, chaired by Cllr John Savage, at the end of October.
Their recommendation will then go before cabinet in November. To book a place at the public meeting on October 7 from 7pm to 9pm, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01494 421261.
Link to story on BFP website.
Thursday 3 September 2015
Important Update on Task & Finish Group review of Greater Saunderton Scheme / Saunderton AAP
As we updated recently, WDC has changed the original date of the Public Meeting to 7pm on Wednesday 7th October, 2015 at the Clare Foundation, Saunderton. Councillor Savage, the Chairman of the Task & Finish Group wrote to all Saunderton householders and some residents of the lower part of Haw Lane in a letter dated 26th August, 2015 informing them of the Public Meeting at The Clare Centre – see link to letter. And this link is the flyer regarding the meeting they have prepared.
We understand that the meeting room at the Clare Foundation will only accommodate a maximum of 100 people. Accordingly Councillor Savage recommends interested locals to register and book their place on a first come basis by emailing to email@example.com or by calling 01494 421261. WDC informs MAG that these letters are not being sent to other Bledlow Ridge or other parish residents, intending that only those it deems as the “most affected residents” (WDC’s phrasing) should attend. When asked by MAG to consider a larger parish venue, WDC Councillor Services stated that the venue for the meeting must be a “local venue” in the immediately affected area.
Frankly MAG is quite stunned by WDC / TFG seeking to restrict the public meeting to a “most affected” group of immediate local residents. Given the importance of the independent review to the AONB and to all parish residents, we see this as an unsatisfactory restriction on what is supposed to be a public meeting on this matter.
Further Details on the Task & Finish Group review of the Greater Saunderton Scheme / Saunderton AAP
The Task & Review Group (“TFG”) is to hold a series of direct meetings with the following relevant groups prior to the restricted Public Meeting on 7th October, 2015:
- Bradenham Parish Council and Bledlow cum Saunderton Parish Council (7th September, 2015)
- Molins Action Group (28th September, 2015)
- The Chilterns Conservation Board
- The National Trust
- Chilterns Railway
These meetings should be an important opportunity to put forward residents’ views through MAG and those of influential countryside organisations directly to the TFG members. We are informed that no Agenda for the restricted Public Meeting will be made available until one week before the meeting. However, we understand that senior WDC Planning personnel will put forward the case for proceeding with the Saunderton AAP and then there will simply be a Q&A session for those restricted attendees.
A further meeting will then be held at 7pm on Thursday 22nd October, 2015 at the Council Chamber, WDC Offices. This meeting will be open to the public and members of TFG will question WDC Planning officers and the Cabinet Member for Planning & Sustainability. WDC Cabinet is then expected to review the TFG report and recommendations at a meeting scheduled for 26th October, 2015 and decide the next steps.
Sunday 30 August 2015
Change of date for public meeting
We understand the public meeting referred to below, being hosted by WDC as part of the process of the Task & Finish Group will now be held at 7pm on Wednesday 7th October at the Clare Foundation, Saunderton. please keep this date in your diaries as this could be a very important meeting to make our objections clear to the WDC Councillors and Officers.
Tuesday 25 August 2015
Amendments to the existing Molins Application posted on the WDC Planning website
The applicant St Congar Land has submitted various amendments to the original application which WDC Planning has posted on its planning website seeking responses by 28 August 2015. The amendment documents are dated 7th August.
These amendments address relatively minor changes to the overall application in such areas the lighting impact, tree planting, boundary treatment, building height parameters, site layout, floor plans of unit, parking parameters and street elevation changes. The only detrimental change that one of our residents noticed is the increase in the maximum height of the three storey building from 11.7m to 13.5m. We believe that most of these amendments simply clarify the original plans in response to queries raised by WDC Planning, and although interesting to view, these amendments will not change residents' overall views and objections to the Molins site application.
All letters of objection prior to these amendments are still valid, but residents are encouraged to submit their views if they have not yet already done so, or if they have points to make that were not made in their earlier submission(s). These need to be received by 28 August 2015. In recent weeks there have been some great letters sent in from a wide area. Here is the link to MAG’s suggested possible areas of objection, if this helps you.
Wednesday 12 August 2015
UPDATED - WDC Announces Public Meeting to Review its Greater Saunderton Proposal at Clare Foundation
The Task & Finish Group of WDC's Improvement & Review Group has announced that its expected public meeting to consider the Greater Saunderton Area Action Plan will be held at 7pm on Wednesday 7th October, 2015 at the Clare Foundation, Saunderton. No further information has been provided by the Task & Review Group at this time. As expected this meeting is being held during September but we have yet to hear how the meeting will be conducted and who will be asked to give evidence for the Task & Finish Group's review. MAG sees this as an important meeting and that a strong contingent of residents in attendance could be helpful to the outcome. Please try to attend the meeting and mention its importance to others.
Tuesday 4 August 2015
St Congar Land Agreed to Extend the Deferral of the Molins Application
We understand that St Congar Land has agreed to extend the deferral of the determination of the Molins Site application from 31st July, 2015 until 24th September, 2015. Please continue to submit letters of objection and you can find full details here. MAG had expected a further deferral but are somewhat surprised to see that St Congar Land's deadline is coterminous with the date of the Greater Saunderton Public Meeting which has just been announced by WDC's Task & Review Group. Clearly St Congar Land is well informed and determined to ratchet up the pressure on both WDC and local residents in the event that the outcome of the Public Meeting does not suit its own objectives.
Tuesday 4 August 2015
WDC Misses an Opportunity to Strengthen Protection of AONB
WDC's full council meeting on 27th July, 2015 accepted Cabinet's recommendation to simply acknowledge rather than formally endorse The Chiltern Conservation Board's 2014 - 19 Management Plan therefore avoiding the need to make the plan a material consideration in the WDC's planning applications. Although this result was not unexpected, it is still very disappointing and against the recommendations of other principal countryside protection organisations, and likely to leave WDC planning policy in conflict with its neighbouring Local Planning Authorities.
Tuesday 4 August 2015
Bledlow Cum Saunderton Parish Council Chairman Calls for Neighbourhood Plan
Simon Breese, Chairman of the Parish Council has formally approached WDC to designate the whole parish as a Neighbourhood Area, and a working party of parish residents has been brought together by the chairman to negotiate the initial stages of the project. MAG is pleased to see the Parish Council taking up its right to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan of the parish at a time when the Saunderton AONB is threatened by the WDC's Greater Saunderton proposal.
Wednesday 29th July 2015
Greater Saunderton - WDC Appoints Task & Finish Group
We wish we could tell you more about WDC's announcement of setting up a Task & Finish Group to look at the WDC Local Development Plan for Saunderton and its use of an Area Action Plan for growth there; known to most of us as the Greater Saunderton proposal. We think it is unlikely that WDC will provide further detail until late August. So far all we know is:
- A Task & Finish Group reporting to the Council's scrutiny section, the Improvement and Review Commission will review the idea of an AAP and associated development at Saunderton
- The group will be chaired by Councillor Savage (Flackwell and Little Marlow) and its vice chair will be Councillor Collingwood (Marlow North and West).
- The Group's recommendations will go to WDC's Cabinet for their consideration and final decision.
- A public meeting (probably at the Clare Foundation) is expected in late September 2015 at the earliest with recommendations to Cabinet in late November / early December2015.
Clearly it would be helpful to know who the T&F Group will be consulting with and taking opinions from, and whether this will take place in a public forum or what.
We will advise residents as soon as we become aware of any further information.
Link to WDC Scrutiny Guide
Wednesday 29th July 2015
WDC Calls Greater Saunderton Scheme for Internal Review
WDC's Weekly Planning Bulletin for 2nd July 2015 stated the following:
"The Saunderton Village Plan (also known as an Area Action Plan) has been put on hold whilst the Council reconsiders the idea. This will be through the Local Plan Task and Finish Group – a group that reports to the Council’s Improvement and Review Commission (IRC). The role of the IRC is to hold cabinet members to account, and scrutinise their work. The Local Plan Task and Finish Group recommendations will be reported to the Council’s Cabinet for their consideration and final decision on whether to proceed with the plan or not. Further details of the scrutiny process – which will involve local residents and other stakeholders – will be added to the website and bulletin when available".
MAG is pleased to see this announcement from WDC as the first sign of recognising the strength of feeling against WDC's Greater Saunderton scheme as set out in its Local Development Scheme - March 2015. Although at a very early stage, WDC's proposals had already fostered very strong opposition from residents, local action groups including MAG and national organisations charged with protection of the countryside. WDC's statement confirms that it has decided to review and scrutinise its current Greater Saunderton scheme through a group of Councillors reporting to an Improvement and Review Commission who will then make a recommendation to WDC's Cabinet where the final decision will be made. Although essentially an internal WDC review, we are pleased to see that WDC intends to involve local residents and stakeholders through a process yet to be advised. It will be important to see the detail of this external involvement; MAG will follow the process as it evolves to both comment and ensure that residents' views are fully taken into account and properly represented.
link to WDC website Meeting Minutes where Task & Finish Group responsibilities and timescales are clarified (see point 5).
link to WDC updated page referring to Area Action Plan now being on hold.
Saturday 4 July 2015
Save Saunderton AONB leaflet now available to download
The new leaflet is now available here to download in case you don't receive a paper copy soon.
Wednesday 1 July 2015
Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) delivers 80,000 strong petition to Prime Minister
Yesterday, CPRE delivered its petition to 10 Downing Street with 80,000 signatures of people wanting to save the countryside.
Network Rail submission re Molins planning application
Following contact from one of the MAG team, Network Rail has submitted a short but comprehensive note about the issues associated with the railway bridge over Haw Lane. You can view this here. It appears significant work will be needed to the bridge to allow such a development to be progressed. There has been no mention by the applicant (St Congar Land) or WDC on this issue to date.
This document also include a large scale map showing the clearly the extent of development land, and the additional land already owned by St Congar.
Friday 19 June 2015
WDC refuses to adopt Chilterns AONB management plan as a "material consideration"
We are disappointed to report that Wycombe District Council Cabinet yesterday unanimously voted not to endorse the strongest levels of protection for the AONB. This ensures that WDC would not be tied to changes that the Chilterns Conservation Board might deem necessary to ensure the proper protection of the AONB and that land bordering the AONB would be preserved for future development.
We will add further reaction to this outcome shortly.
Meeting minutes here.
Tuesday 16 June 2015
Update to AONB Plan status at WDC story - below
We have been lobbying District and Parish Councillors over the last few days and have had many expressions of support for our position. We will report back here as soon as we know the outcome of the meeting tonight at WDC Council Offices.
Monday 15 June 2015
WDC leader admits change of view
New WDC Council Leader, Katrina Wood, explains her change of view over the course of her fight to protect Gomm Valley from being released as a reserve site, to meet WDC annual housing targets.
Article in full:
Hundreds of houses being built on south Buckinghamshire beauty spots remains one of the biggest challenges for Wycombe District Council, according to the new leader who admitted defeat in her bid to keep the five 'reserve sites' unspoilt. Conservative councillor Katrina Wood, who was elected as district leader last month, was vocal in her bid to keep Gomm Valley out of the hands of developers, but now says people must work together to ensure any housing is right for the community. The Tylers Green and Loudwater representative said: "I fought very hard against getting them released at the time, I fought as long as I could until we got to the point of no return and obviously they were released. "It’s been done, they’ve been released and we need to make sure we are working with residents through the liaison groups to get the best result for people on what they want in those areas. "They’ve been released now and it’s not realistic to say what else you can do with them, they are so far down the line I think we need to continue the work which is being done there, have a look at it and see what comes out of the end of that.
Monday 15 June 2015
Missing an opportunity to give AONB status the fullest protection in WDC planning?
WDC appears set to deny full protection for the Chilterns AONB in a forthcoming Cabinet meeting. WDC seems set to turn down a request by The Chilterns Conservation Board to make the current AONB Management Plan a MATERIAL CONSIDERATION (ed. added uppercase) in planning matters. WDC is currently rewriting its local plan and we know are already working with a developer on the Greater Saunderton plans for a major development of up to 1000 houses within our AONB. We believe this move by WDC weakens protections for the AONB and may even encourage further developments. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to ask for WDC to give the highest level of protection to the Chilterns AONB by making this a material consideration. The meeting is on June 15th and is open to the public, details to follow. See full details in this link on WDC's rationale. We know that Chiltern District Council approved the same request.
Tuesday 9 June 2015
WDC publishes document describing process for identification of future housing development areas
WDC has just posted on its website the Central Buckinghamshire Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment Methodology, which is needed to provide guidelines for the choice of development sites - clearly of huge importannce to the Greater Saunderton plans. We'll be looking into this in more detail. The document can be read here.
Friday 5 June 2015
WDC published information regarding Greater Saunderton
This link is what we can find currently on the WDC website regarding the Greater Saunderton plan and the creation of the Area Action Plan which could fast-track this process. This document has been created to explain plans for Saunderton. And this document describes the wider process in the High Wycombe area. We will post more news as things progress.
Objection letters are still very welcome regarding the Molins site application
With the extension to the determination date for the St Congar Land application, it's still possible to add objections and comments via the website link (after setting up your account) or via email to Lucy Bellinger. There's more information regarding making objections here. Every submission counts!
Notes on meeting with Ms Penelope Tollitt, WDC Head of Planning and Sustainability, Thursday 14th May
To be added
UPDATED - Meeting at WDC Wednesday 26th May
We have just been made aware that WDC’s May Meeting is also its Annual Council Meeting and therefore no public questions are permitted. Consequently, we are not planning to attend on the 26th. Questions will be raised with Councillors at a later meeting, the details of which will be sent to you in due course. At that time, we will again seek your support in the Council Chamber. Please accept our apologies for this change in guidance.
Notes from Parish Council meeting 2nd April 2015, with Ms Penelope Tollitt, WDC Head of Planning and Sustainability
Unofficial resume of the meeting of the Parish Council with WDC Head of Planning at Bledlow Ridge village hall, Thursday 2nd April. Over 80 residents attended the Parish Council meeting at Bledlow Ridge Village Hall to hear Ms Penelope Tollitt, WDC's Head of Planning & Sustainability, discuss WDC's plans for Saunderton. Standing in for Chairman Simon Breese, Derek Stone introduced Ms Tollitt who proceeded to brief the council members about WDC's proposal for the village. Key issues arising from the briefing were:
Apparently, WDC is struggling with the government's housing allocation target which has risen from 400 to 600 new households per year. In order to achieve this, WDC is increasing the proportion of new housing allocated to this side of Wycombe. Saunderton is seen as a necessary location for part of this future housing need due to its railway station and the existence of a large brownfield land for redevelopment to residential use.
Ms Tollitt has been granted delegated authority (from briefing papers given to the Parish Council) by WDC's Cabinet to prepare and bring into effect the new Wycombe Local Development Scheme which includes Area Action Plans for Princes Risborough and Saunderton. The Saunderton Area Action Plan is to be prepared by early 2016 and is intended to add between 500 and 1,000 homes on land between Molins and the village.
Apparently, residents are “well aware” of the Saunderton proposals following WDC's active communication of its presentation at the Clare Foundation in December 2014.
Local interests will be represented on a Steering Group which the Parish Council will help establish and which will provide input to the Area Action Plan.
St Congar Land, the applicant for the current Molins application, has agreed to defer the hearing of that application until 31st July, 2015 and may allow it to be extended further if it believes that WDC/ Ms Tollitt is making good progress with the Area Action Plan towards creating a new Greater Saunderton.
If the Area Action Plan is not proceeding according to St Congar Land's satisfaction then they will ask WDC to determine the current Molins application (i.e. force a decision).
The chairman initially sought questions and comments from the council members and then opened questions to residents and MAG representatives at the meeting. Parish Council members, and County Councillor Carl Etholen in attendance, expressed their deep reservations at the proposals and its implications. Concerns continued to focus on the core issues of the loss of the Molins site for employment, impact upon the Green Belt & AONB and the inadequacy of both local and wider infra-structure to cope with mass housing at the scale proposed. Questions from residents and MAG elicited the following:
Ms Tollitt stated that the existence of some brownfield land at Molins and the station at Saunderton were the compelling reasons to grow Saunderton from 150 to over 1,000 households.
She cited reduced carbon emissions as being a key criteria in new developments and hence the station is an important consideration, providing alternative transport options for new residents. Existing residents pointed out that Chiltern / Deutsche Bahn have expressed no interest whatsoever in expanding its service. Indeed, given the introduction of the Oxford branch, it is more likely that there will be fewer rather than more trains stopping at Saunderton; hence it was more likely new residents would be driving to other stations, thus adding to local traffic chaos.
Queried about the Molins site's employment use, Ms Tollitt said the current house-builder owners of the site had not been able to attract any alternative employment opportunities for it. Residents pointed out that St Congar Land are property developers, not house builders, with no interest whatsoever in any other form of use except one which would maximise their gain. A change of use to residential would enable them to sell on the land for maximum gain as soon as planning was obtained; accordingly the sole dynamic driving the change of use for residential purposes is profit, with no consideration for the impact on the environment or loss of employment opportunities.
Asked to explain how WDC Planning's discussions with St Congar Land had led to the current situation of residential only use for the Molins site, Ms Tollitt confirmed that during the pre-application stage Planning Officers are only allowed to give guidance on applications with regards to current legislation policy or other material consideration. She stated that she was unaware of what the first pre-application response from the Principal Case Officer, Mrs Lucy Bellinger at WDC dated October 2013, had contained. When questioned by MAG as to why Mrs Bellinger had subsequently communicated with St Congar in August 2014 that WDC would prefer to see a larger development as part of a ‘master plan’ for Saunderton, Ms Tollitt claimed to be totally unaware of this and described the action as ‘over-zealous’.
The evening was useful in conveying the conviction and dedication that WDC Planning has to develop Saunderton using the Area Action Plan, a fast track process which, as far as MAG can determine, is normally used to implement pre-planned urban renewal projects within an extant Local Plan or framework. This, of course, is quite a different situation than here in Wycombe District, where there is no up to date Local Plan and development of the type proposed seems to be completely at odds both with local historic planning policy as well as the the latest national planning policy set out in the National Planning Policy Framework. To prevent these plans being literally “railroaded” through, it is critical to demonstrate the conviction of the whole parish and neighbouring parishes. The turnout of residents was excellent in the less than ideal timing. We were disappointed that more of MAG's queries could not be answered due to the time constraints but Ms Tollitt confirmed that she was prepared to meet us at a mutually convenient time to go through our concerns. In addition, she has undertaken to attend other meetings with residents and MAG would urge residents to take such opportunities to pose questions and raise concerns. Unfortunately much of what we learned at the meeting suggests that WDC are trying to push through these proposals at a rapid speed notwithstanding the very real concerns that have been identified and without following a Neighbourhood Plan. Such a plan permits a more considered and democratic process with a right of veto for residents. Whilst trying to stay within our original objectives of obtaining advice on the Molins application and communicating it to the parish, clearly we now need to move on to what is a more complex situation for the Saunderton proposal. As we do, it is becoming fairly certain that our brief will need to quickly change and become more pro-active to be effective as matters proceed. Given the above, you will appreciate the importance of responding to WDC Planning in regard to the Molins application. Whilst the deadline for response has been extended to the end of April 2015 (NOTE - IT CONTINUES TO BE POSSIBLE TO POST COMMENTS AND OBJECTIONS UNTIL 31 JULY 2015), it would be advisable for residents to respond by 10th April, or as quickly thereafter as is possible, so that we have a strong view from residents in place in the event that St Congar Land decide to bring this application forward. Written by Molins Actions Group.