URGENT: Campaign for Secretary of State Call-In of Hampden Fields
You will no doubt have heard and seen that Bucks Council (formerly AVDC) have published thousands of pages of new information supporting four separate MAJOR planning applications for Hampden Fields, Woodlands, the South East Aylesbury Link Road and the Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan modifications. The task to examine this information is simply immense and the timeframe for responding to these is very tight in the extreme, the first one being as early as January 4th 2021.
The Action Group Committee will be working flat out over the Christmas period to try and get a strong response into the Council. However, given the size and complexity of FOUR major applications we no longer believe we have the time, resources or money to do this anything like as effectively as we have done in the past facing just one, or even sometimes two, applications. PLEASE WRITE TO ROB BUTLER MP
Rather than spend your entire Christmas (believe us it would take that long) trying to sift through 1000’s of pages we would like you to write to our new MP, Rob Butler, and ask for an Independent Planning Inquiry into the Hampden Fields Application. To give it its technical name we are asking for a Secretary of State Call In.
There are 6 key issues:
1) The Council is riding roughshod over the Secretary of State’s 2015 decision to reject this almost identical application
2) The traffic volumes in Aylesbury are now higher than in 2015 and the proposed partial link road does not provide enough relief to this Air Quality Management Area
3) The proposal joins together Aylesbury, Stoke Mandeville and Weston Turville into one homogenous mass of housing.
4) Bucks Council has lost any sense of objectivity as they are so keen to push through their plan for 16,000 houses around Aylesbury that they are ignoring the problems this will cause.
5) What was previously described as a “critical” full Ring Road has now been abandoned. Now only a partial link road around the South of the town remains.
6) No matter what the decision is regarding the Local Plan we still strongly feel that the specific Hampden Fields application needs proper objective scrutiny from the Secretary of State.
Finally, as mentioned we will be scrutinising the application and we will get back to you early in the New Year to give you a chance of being able to respond to the Council in time.
We wish you a very happy Christmas – 2021 will mark the ELEVENTH YEAR of our campaign.
We appreciate your support, including your email to our MP at this time (please copy us in if you can at firstname.lastname@example.org)
The HFAG Committee
Amanda, Chris, Glynn, John, Peter and Phil
ps: Sign up for regular updates on our website www.hfag.net
MP Rob Butler has made what we see as an important response to the Government’s White Paper on ‘Planning for the Future’.
In particular, HFAG agrees wholeheartedly with five specific points Mr Butler makes, not least because we have been saying something similar for years during our campaign for better planning in and around Aylesbury. Here they are.
- The MP points out that a preference for building on greenfield sites in ‘growth’ areas risks urban sprawl. The assumption that greenfield development is necessary should be “strongly discouraged”. ‘Hampden Fields’ and ‘Woodlands’ are, of course, exactly that sort of greenfield development.
- Urban extensions should not lead to a coalescence of villages, with existing villages not merged with a larger settlement in one conurbation. Rob goes on to name Weston Turville and Aston Clinton as examples of villages at risk of conurbation with Aylesbury should endless expansion continue. The Action Group raised this very point in our submissions to Councillors and the Planning Committee in 2016 and 2017, and Natural England have also applied the phrase “urban sprawl” to the development.
- On flooding, automatic planning permission should not apply to areas where flooding is a risk. Nor should water be displaced elsewhere. Aylesbury has suffered such problems before. We agree, and ‘Woodlands’ is just such another proposal. Aided by an environmental consultant, we have made strong arguments against allowing that development to be built right across a national Flood Plain 3.
- Infrastructure upgrades must take account of the needs of present and future populations. Infrastructure in Aylesbury is already under considerable pressure. In agreeing with this point, we would add that infrastructure plans must be objectively modelled and assessed. We have long argued that transport plans, in particular, are not sound, a point agreed by the Secretary of State in 2015 and still under examination for the latest Vale Plan. Not to mention provision for school places and healthcare facilities.
- Finally, under a heading of ‘democratic engagement’, the MP contrasts the White Paper’s proposals to introduce automatic consent with the anxiety felt by a significant number of his constituents. HFAG has championed democratic engagement for the best part of ten years, holding public meetings and investing time and supporters’ funds so that we can make well thought out, powerful representations to elected representatives at District, County and national government levels. ‘Engagement’ is one of HFAG’s five focus areas and we continue to work hard to engage with everyone involved in these important decisions. We welcome Rob Butler’s emphasis on this.
If you have any questions about any of this, please write to email@example.com
The HFAG Committee
The impact on landscape and visual impact has been criticised by one of the Council’s planners. Responding to the consultation in July, he writes:
“… it is my opinion that the submitted landscape and visual impact assessment somewhat underestimates the level of residual impact of the proposed development. (HFAG emboldening added)
In my opinion the proposed development will result in significant adverse residual landscape and visual effects to the both the receiving landscape and to visual receptors (including users of Public Rights of Way, areas of public open space and residents) along the southern edge of Aylesbury that lies to the north of the application site as well as to other similar receptors to the north east, south east, south west and south of the application site.
As such I would invite you to place appropriate negative weight in the balance when considering the landscape and visual effects of the proposed development in any planning consideration.”
In other words, the author is suggesting that the impact will be worse than the road application team are claiming.
Late last month, the Inspector disclosed his next steps. The Council is going to publish its replies to our representations and those of others. They will also be making further modifications to the Plan. (Surprise, surprise!)
These will be put out for further consultation. You can be confident that HFAG will be commenting as hard as we can, including pressing for a renewed public hearing on transport and any other area that deserves it.
The Inspector will then consider all the responses and decide whether a public hearing is justified.
We will let you know when the consultation starts.
The campaign continues!
No, that is not a misprint. It is just that October 26th was the third anniversary of the District Council’s decision to give planning officers the job of negotiating over the planning applications for ‘Hampden Fields’ and ‘Floodlands’ (aka Woodlands).
With so much of the plan already drafted, you’d have thought that this would have been relatively straightforward. Certainly not three years’ worth (and counting).
Maybe the arguments raised by this Action Group and many others back in October 2017 and carried on since did have some weight after all. Which means that …
… the campaign continues!
BBC reporter Peter Gibbs recently visited Aylesbury to assess the chances of the Garden Town vision coming true. Listen to the episode ‘Build, Build, Build’ in the radio 4 series ‘Costing the Earth’ to hear what he found.
Bucks Council’s senior planner has identified many gaps and queries in the planing application for the South East Aylesbury Link Road (SEALR). Our challenge over traffic planning has been picked up, but there are also many others. See the highlighted sections in the attached copy. Some are quite startling.
It’s easy for people involved in a years-long campaign to forget that not everyone knows all about it. So if ‘Hampden Fields’ means nothing to you, perhaps because you have just moved in to the area, here is a quick cheat sheet for your information.
2012: A proposal is submitted for 3,000 houses to be built filling the open countryside between Weston Turville and Aylesbury Bedgrove. Hampden Fields Action Group HFAG is formed by local residents.
2015: HFAG’s campaign succeeds in getting the plans rejected by planning inspector and Sec of State for Local Government. Traffic congestion and the weakness of the Council’s plans to handle it are two of the main reasons for the decision.
2016: An almost identical planning application is submitted by Hampden Fields consortium. (To see what is proposed, click here to go to the council webpage). HFAG resume our campaign.
2017: The District Council planning committee defer planning permission, instead asking officers to negotiate a detailed draft agreement with the developers. Not yet done (July 2020).
2018: HFAG appear before the Planning Inspector examining the draft Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan. After our submission on traffic, the Inspector comments that the council’s transport plan — a key element in the main plan, of course — appears rather “rough and ready”.
2019: HFAG fundraising continues while we wait for progress. And wait. And wait.
2020: A planning application is submitted for the South East Aylesbury Link Road SEALR, part of Bucks Council’s aspirational but flawed ‘orbital road strategy’. HFAG present independent transport analysis to support our objection.
The campaign continues!
The plans affecting our area are like a set of Russian dolls. Each one fits inside a larger one. So we need to keep an eye on any change to any of the set. Here they are, in descending order of size and scope.
The Vale of Aylesbury Plan VALP. We are pressing for a resumed public hearing and await the Inspector’s next decision.
Hampden Fields and Woodlands: We continue to look out for any changes to the Section 106 negotiations. These will determine what gets built and what gets funded.
South East Aylesbury Link Road SEALR: we have put in detailed objections to the planning application and await the Council’s response and any public meeting.
If anything changes, we will let you know here.