SOGB Campaign Update 18 /12

 

The process which the draft Local Plan is following is a lengthy one. Two public consultations have been carried out so far by SBDC/CDC, with a third one to come "early in 2019” which will be the final public consultation on the draft Local Plan document before it goes before the Planning Inspector at the Public Examination stage. It will be for the Planning Inspector to declare the Local Plan "sound", "unsound" or "sound subject to modifications" by looking at all of the expert evidence produced by those "for" and those "against" the draft Local Plan published by SBDC/CDC.

We have met with 4 out of 5 of our SBDC District Councillors and we have made representations to Beaconsfield Town Council - we have even asked our Town Council to work with us but the answer was no. Time is running out for such complacency. Both Gerrards Cross Town Council and Little Chalfont Parish Council vehemently fought against release of Green Belt in their areas. Gerrards Cross were successful and Little Chalfont Parish Council are continuing to fight. We simply are not seeing the same level of support (or even information) from our Councillors. Therefore, we have concluded that we simply cannot stand back and rely on them to defeat this - or rely on letters and discussions with them alone. Our Town Council even suggested (without consulting the public) in its consultation response last time around, that the Hall Barn proposals should go forward - and gave qualified support to the release of 117 hectares of our Green Belt. We have seen the Hall Barn proposals on the SBDC web-site and they include a 6.6 hectare business park along the eastern arm of the M40 spur.

Bearing in mind that Green Belt cannot be released unless there are exceptional circumstances (demonstrated by expert evidence), it is not just a question of one master plan being better than another. There is no guarantee what would be built, or not built, on our Green Belt, should it be released.

If a case is not made out for release of the Green Belt, it should not be released. As an example, if the Planning Inspector finds that the need for a business park at Pyebush Roundabout is unsupported by the evidence, then Green Belt should not be released. If, as another example, the Planning Inspector finds that Beaconsfield Green Belt still performs strongly the 5 designated purposes of the Green Belt, as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework, then our Green Belt should not be released. Once Green Belt is released, the public would have very little say in what is built there - although SBDC would, no doubt, carry out a consultation, just as they did with Wilton Park.

So, even if the Society had the resources (which we don't), to carry out an alternative consultation and come up with our own “masterplan”, this would not change the fundamental issues which are: whether our Green Belt performs the 5 designated purposes; whether there is real justification for the proposed plans; and whether the location and plans are sustainable and viable. And expert evidence from consultants in various fields, such as transport and landscape, is needed to settle these issues and support our case - and that evidence comes at a cost, hence the need for donations.

As far as the Inland Homes' current planning application is concerned, they bought the site for £35 million (including all properties on it) and they declare the gross development value (sales value) to be £350 million. Our rough calculation based on the figures they disclose is that they would make c. £90 million from the Wilton Park development alone (after deduction of costs, including cost of their section of the relief road). So, completion of the relief road and affordable housing does not rely on loss of the green belt. It is the "viability study loophole" (actually a fiction) which is enabling them to avoid any material provision of affordable housing - it would need a change in national policy to close that loophole.

While we wait for SBDC to trigger the final 6 week round of public consultations on the Emerging Local Plan early in 2019, NOW is the time to donate to fight to protect our Green Belt. Time really is running out. Once the Green Belt is released, you will have negligible influence over what developers build there. It will be too late to complain. There are also massive engineering roadworks in prospect, including extra road lanes of traffic along the A40, A355 and M40 spur approaches to Pyebush Roundabout – because even SBDC’s consultants say the relief road will not cope and the proposed development of the Green Belt would lead to 600% travel time increases across the town. HS2 Ltd are planning traffic lights at the Old Town roundabout A40/A355 junction too.

So, please donate NOW to the Fighting Fund and tell your friends, neighbours and contacts to do the same. Thank-you for your support.