This was my response to the local proposed housing developments. I’d thought about it for a while, but as usual left it to the last minute so maybe not quite a coherent as it should have been:
In principle, I am in favour of building new homes in the local area, although contentious, we have a surging population that needs to be housed properly and it is only right Chiltern Disctrict takes its fair share.
There are a few points though that I would like to raise in regards Chalfont St Peter (CSP) in particular as my local village as part of the broader scheme of things.
Councillors and the Council have known about these housing targets for a very long time, so I’m concerned that there hasn’t been a more long term plan with regards building these houses. My focus is drawn to the brown field sites that have been built on or given planning permission in CSP. We had an abundance of these sites which if maximised properly could have been used to meet our housing criteria, and probably Chalfont St Giles’s too.
Newland Park – I went to college there and still play hockey there. This site could easily have sustained a 1,000 dwellings, it is huge instead of the 300 odd that CDC knocked them down to. Gorelands Lane could easily be widened to cope with the increased traffic to Nightingales Lane (I believe on one side of the road, the houses have in their deeds that the road could be widened and they must give up the land in the front garden) and also good access links to J17 of the M25 and Old Shire Lane upgraded to be made into a convenient walk / cycle path to Chorleywood train station. No spades have been put in the ground yet by Comer Homes and CDC should re-open negotiations or compulsorily purchase
NSE – this is a most bizarre one – the councillors fought hard against the NSE over a decade ago and someone must have known about the housing quotas then? I also think their original plan was better as we’ve just ended up with very expensive older people’s homes and care homes – none of which particularly contribute to the vibrancy of the village replacing the student economy that left when BCUC closed Newland Park above. They have also built huge three storey buildings which in the original plans were fought vigorously. The NSE though is a sensible option for building on and will provide them with valuable revenue to continue their medical research and care – though they can only sell the land once of course.
Denham Lane – again seems fairly logical, however this will be the third big development in Chalfont St Peter along this road. Again, this area brings up the question of why if we have such steep figures to hit for housing, did the local councillors not allow the development of Winkers as they originally proposed and knocked them down on the number of houses to be developed. That site could easily sustain a close of 20 houses rather than the 8 that was granted.
Holy Cross – why weren’t the villages told by local councillors that if they knocked down the total here from 400+ to 180 another 200+ would still have to be built in the village – a huge wasted opportunity and detrimental to our village.
Instead of the Denham Lane development, a much better solution would be to build more homes on Mumfords Lane and widen that down to the A40 – that is the only lane that is usable in the mornings. It is also walking distance to CCC.
I posed this question about brownfield sites being wasted in the village and thus having to release green field sites at the exhibition and the attitude seems to be, that we’d still have to build on green field even if we’d maximised brown field because Aylesbury would insist on it?? This seems completed absurd, corrupt and someone needs to get hold of the situation and planning this County wide rather than our little individual fiefdoms. If brownfield has been wasted county wide as it has in just CSP then there has been a staggering wasted opportunity.
With regards whether the village and Chiltern as a whole can sustain these developments, I was very disappointed to only see notes about added play areas and other meaningless gestures. I was hoping I would be shown a district plan for coping with the roads and rail, education, health and more (if I missed this my apologies but I wasn’t directed to anything at the exhibition).
CCC is already huge and appears to be full to capacity and with other South Bucks villages including Iver in particular hugely expanding their population, another secondary school will have to be built there or the one that was closed re-opened. I’d also assume Amersham School will be hugely expanding its capacity and catchment area. I’m not so concerned about infant or middle school capacity (which is directly opposing the Holy Cross arguments) as Robertswood take a lot of students from outside area so have capacity I would suggest. They could also split into two sites on Denham Lane either side of West Hyde Lane and provide much better facilities at the same time.
Of course, if CDC / Bucks CC were to be very bold, they could purchase Newland Park and move CCC to that site for improved facilities, maybe capacity and more community housing and also build on the existing CCC site. This would also provide CDC with ongoing revenue as Wycombe Council is doing with their land bank.
A major concern would be the transport infrastructure. The A413 is already gridlocked most mornings and evenings at peak times. With the increased population in the whole of CDC it will fall over? What are the plans for this? Another reason why Newland Park is so attractive to develop instead is that there are multiple exits. The extra load from the NSE (unless it is all retirement properties and care homes – I hope not) and Denham Lane will be too much for Joiners / Copthall and Rickmansworth Lane. In a wider context, with these extra ‘000’s of new homes, there is no way the existing infrastructure can cope – what are the plans? Will the A413 be widened to be dual carriageway from Aylesbury to Denham – a solution first proposed in the 60’s but would have a massively detrimental effect on the landscape of all the villages it goes through if done properly?
What are the plans for trains? There is standing room only on the Chiltern Line already? The Met Line isn’t flush with capacity either?
I couldn’t see any discussions about health provisions– it is already difficult to get an appointment with a GP and emergency services are I believe already stretched at Wexham and Stoke Mandeville? I suggest CSP hospital is re-opened properly as a drop in health centre like Mount Vernon which is superb and where I normally travel to. (Yes I know about the asbestos but that is easily fixed with will power and resource). The two GP surgeries could then re-locate into the hospital and a one stop service provided at lower cost.