Closing the company in good order

As you will have seen from the last posting, HFAG Ltd is being wound up. One step in this is to file our latest accounts and tax return, which was done this week.

When all the work has been completed, expected by the end of 2022, we will let you know.

Remember, the closure of HFAG does not prevent anyone from looking out for the next set of proposals from the Council and the developer. Promises have been made…

Summer update

As many of you will know from conversations with committee members, the campaign to seek to get better planning for Aylesbury has now run to its end. Our invitation from the latest public meeting to get involved sadly did not attract a response. So the committee decided that it was time to retire and is no longer operating.

HFAG Ltd, the company set up as the foundation for our activities on your behalf, is going to be wound up once all liabilities have been cleared. This should happen before the end of 2022. We are grateful to everyone who contributed funds to help us clear our debts, including all the committee members and others, who have given substantial donations. We appreciate it.

A while back, the developer told us that there would be some news about the health centre before long. At the time of writing, we have not heard anything. If we do, while the website is still operating, we will post the information here.

Finally, just because the formal campaign, committee and company are coming to an end, this does not debar anyone from keeping a close eye on proposals for the Hampden Fields and Woodlands estates. Reserved matters — these are the details beneath the outline planning approval — still need to go through the planning process, and you will have a chance to express your views.

Best wishes,

Chris Webbley, Chairman and Director of HFAG Ltd

After the public meeting yesterday

Thank you if you came to the meeting yesterday evening, and thank you, too, if you sent your apologies. Around 70 people were there to hear the background to the recent Judicial Review and talk about future options.

First things first. The case has had a significant impact on our finances, because of the extra costs that the elaborate defence by the Council and the developer Taylor Wimpey UK piled on our small legal team .

We are currently £5,800 in the red. We would really appreciate it if you could help us clear that debt by a donation of whatever size. The easiest way is to give via our JustGiving page here. Or if you want to give via bank transfer, it’s HFAG Ltd, Barclays, sort code 20-03-18 and account 13528065. Cheques are fine, too, of course — please make it payable to HFAG Ltd and give it to any committee member.

Thank you in advance. We will update this posting with changes to the financial position to keep you informed.

It was a good meeting. Thank you for your support.

Crucial Public Meeting this Thursday

What does the Judicial Review decision mean? And what are your views about possible future options?

Please come to Weston Turville Village Hall at 6.30 on Thursday 7 April to hear more and share your views.

The meeting will close by 8.00.

Please be there!

LEGAL CASE: JUDGE RULES IN FAVOUR OF BUCKS COUNCIL AND TAYLOR WIMPEY UK


Last Friday (11th March 2022) the judgement was released on our claim for Judicial Review against Bucks Council’s decision to approve the 3,000 houses on Hampden Fields. Our case was focused on supporting the NHS’s clear evidence that the medical facilities and contributions for healthcare were significantly below what they should be.

Bizarrely, the Council’s argued that an increase of 3,000 houses (that is, c.7,000 more people!) would have a “negligible” impact on healthcare to the extent that no additional doctor’s surgery or additional resources at Stoke Mandeville hospital were required at all. This is completely counter intuitive, goes against common sense, local people’s experience and the very strong evidence provided by the NHS. However, the judge ruled that the council were entitled to make that “planning judgement”.

The judge did agree with HFAG that the committee had been given “incorrect” information around the ability to build a bigger doctor’s surgery at some stage in the future. However, the judge decided that this error was not significant enough in law to have made any real difference.

In our view, this is a damning indictment on our Council and Councillors who, according to the judge, have knowingly approved a major new development of 3,000 houses in the full knowledge of the deficiencies and inadequacies highlighted by the NHS.

It is now highly likely that there will be no doctor’s surgery on Hampden Fields, just like there isn’t one on Kingsbrook after 10 years.

Now we are faced with a big bill: we had to spend £50,000 on this case and had previously raised £35,000 through your very generous donations. Unfortunately, costs have increased because of the hundreds of extra pages of documentation submitted by the Council (who obviously spent a seemingly bottomless pit of your money employing very expensive QC’s, solicitors, planning consultants and the like) and by the developer Taylor Wimpey UK. We are therefore re-opening our Just Giving page in an effort to bridge this gap, details of which can be found below, and your support would be gratefully appreciated.

HFAG DONATE HERE

We are looking into grounds for a potential appeal of this ruling but the initial advice is that the prospects are not promising. We will keep you updated.

Our next step will be to hold a public meeting as soon as we can to fully inform you of the issues and get your views before we decide the future direction of HFAG and our next steps.

As ever , we thank you for your support.

The Hampden Fields Action Group committee

TWO BIG DAYS IN COURT

It was off to London for the HFAG committee, supporters and our small legal team on Wednesday and Thursday this week.  

The Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London

On Wednesday our barrister Jack Parker set out our claim for judicial review to the judge, Dame Justice Lang at the Royal Courts of Justice.  He was followed by the QC for the Council, who finished her defence statement the following morning.  Next up was the QC for the developer Taylor Wimpey UK.  The proceedings ended on Thursday afternoon with a substantial response from Jack.

So, how did it go?  And what happens next? 

We’re glad to say we were very happy with our barrister’s performance. Both opening and closing our case, he showed a real command of the brief and an ability to challenge statements made by the other side. Not so easy, when you’re up against two hotshot QCs and a supporting barrister — the other side are really throwing a LOT of resource into this, which is a tribute to how seriously they view our case.  And we thought Dame Justice Lang gave a fair hearing to both sides, including extending the second day so as to give our barrister enough time to complete his submission. 

But of course, a case is not just about the performances on the day.  It will be for the judge to decide on the merits of our case taking account of what she heard but also of what she will have read from us and from the Council and developer.  Our solicitor advises that we can expect her judgment some weeks from now.  As soon as we hear, we will naturally let you know.

Excellent, close collaboration between all committee members and our legal team has been a feature throughout, from preparing the claim in great detail to its final delivery on the day. Another especially pleasing aspect this week was the company of HFAG supporters Pete Shaw and David Harrington.  

The local community was right there in Court Room 18.   

       

Our case comes to court

Tomorrow (23 Feb) HFAG brings its claim for Judicial Review to the High Court. Our barrister will be making the case that Buckinghamshire Council acting unlawfully when its Strategic Sites Committee decided to give outline planning permission to the Hampden Fields development last year.

The specific area of concern is the vital one of healthcare provision. The Hampden Fields estate would be so large (3,300 dwellings) that it would generate some 7,000 extra people needing GP and hospital care. The Council and developer Taylor Wimpey have been strongly criticised by the two NHS bodies who are responsible for ensuring that adequate facilities are available to cope with that extra demand.

The case will be heard before Dame Justice Beverley Lang DBE at at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. HFAG committee members John Benjamin, Peter Chilman, Chris Webbley, Glynn White and Phil Yerby will be there, together with HFAG supporters David Harrington and Peter Shaw.

Dame Justice Lang’s judgement will be made some time after the hearing. We will of course let you know as soon as we receive it.

ONE MONTH TO GO!

On February 23rd and 24th we go into court with our Judicial Review claim against the Council – the culmination of ten years of hard work on your behalf.     

We do not yet know whether the case will be heard in open court or by internet link. But please hold the date.  As soon as we hear, we will let you know. 

We were also very pleased recently to receive a generous additional donation towards any extra legal costs that may arise.  We are grateful for this and also for the confidence in our cause that it shows.

The campaign continues!    

ALARM AT LACK OF HEALTHCARE FACILITIES FOR WOODLANDS DEVELOPMENT

As well as issues over transport and flooding, HFAG are very concerned about inadequate local plans for healthcare.  At Hampden Fields, it’s a “take it or leave it” offer of a small GP surgery that the NHS have been saying for years is not what is needed. At the neighbouring Woodlands, it’s not even that — just a piece of land. Remember that this is for a population increase on the scale of a small town. 

To anyone thinking, ‘Oh, I’m sure they will sort something out — healthcare is so important’, just look at this recent posting from Kingsbrook Parish Council:  

Current healthcare provisions are struggling to cope with existing patient numbers. With the growth of Kingsbrook and lack of healthcare provision being added, despite S106 obligations, the Parish Council feels that another development without healthcare provisions will make the situation untenable.” (Emphasis added) 

Section 106 is the law that obliges a developer to provide infrastructure such as schools, roads, and healthcare facilities to offset the impact of their development. It is a legal contract, a firm promise that must be kept. 

So, what was the clear promise in the Kingsbrook prospectus? “You’ll feel better in no time thanks to the on-site doctor’s surgery, with 3 full-time doctors on-hand, ready and waiting to help. Kingsbrook also has a pharmacy conveniently located right next to the doctor’s surgery, meaning that you can take care of all your medical needs in the comfort and convenience of your own community.”

There are Section 106 plans for Hampden Fields and Woodlands. Might residents there find themselves in the same position as people at Kingsbrook?  Not if HFAG can help it.

The campaign continues!   

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