What is this all about?
Since 2015 the Coordination Group of the Parish Council and the Little Chalfont Community Association (LCCA) has campaigned, with massive support from Little Chalfont residents, to prevent a large development in the Green Belt between Lodge Lane and Burtons Lane.
A draft Local Plan published in 2019 by the former Chiltern and South Bucks District Councils proposed releasing the site from the Green Belt for construction of up to 700 dwellings and other facilities. Over the years when the Plan was in preparation the Coordination Group kept the community informed by leaflets and emails, and held nine public meetings to discuss how to respond to the Councils’ consultation process. The result was that out of about 2800 households in Little Chalfont, 1369 residents sent objections in response to the first public consultation, and 964 to a second. The Coordination Group’s own final objection to the Plan, based on legal advice and accompanied by professional studies, can be found on this website under Archive (see Archive from 2018, then Draft Local Plan – Consultation Response – August 2019).
The draft Chiltern and South Bucks Local Plan was taken over by the new unitary Buckinghamshire Council in April 2020, but was withdrawn and abandoned later that year for reasons not connected with our site. Therefore no up-to-date Local Plan will exist for this area until Buckinghamshire Council produces its new county-wide plan, expected in about 2024.
What is the new proposal we need to fight?
In the absence of a Local Plan allocating areas for development, would-be developers try their luck by making planning applications. In July 2021 Biddulph (Buckinghamshire) Ltd and their associates used a leaflet drop and other publicity to announce their intention to apply in the autumn of 2021 to Buckinghamshire Council for permission to build a large development on the former golf course and Homestead Farm – an area of about 29 hectares within the larger site of 46 hectares proposed for development in the defunct Chiltern and South Bucks Local Plan (see above).
According to a preliminary document submitted to Buckinghamshire Council by the developers, they envisage that:
“the redevelopment would comprise the demolition of existing buildings on Site and construction of up to 380 homes (including 40% Affordable Units), 100 unit Retirement Village (Use Class C2/C3 – ‘Housing for Older People’), 60 bed Care Home (Use Class C2 – ‘Care Home’), safeguarded land for a 1FE Primary School/ Primary School Expansion with nursery, Community Centre (possibly including retail use, flexible office space, satellite GP surgery) and new public parkland.”
(In our view, since the site is almost virgin Green Belt and contains less than 1% built form, it is strange to describe this as a redevelopment.)
What are we doing about it?
UNTIL A PLANNING APPLICATION HAS BEEN MADE, THERE IS NO NEED FOR RESIDENTS TO WRITE TO BUCKINGHAMSHIRE COUNCIL.
The Coordination Group will lead the Parish Council and LCCA opposition to this project, drawing on our long experience of working to protect the site, but we are seeking more volunteers to help. Leaflets, email and social media will be used to brief residents, a public meeting may be held when the time is right, and the maximum possible number of residents will be encouraged to send objections to the application if and when it appears. A full objection by the Parish Council and LCCA is already in preparation for use, with professional supporting material, when the time comes. The following is an outline of our case so far.
- The site is in the Green Belt, which was created to prevent encroachment on the countryside. Government rules require ‘very special circumstances’ to allow development in the Green Belt. We strongly believe that the need for housing and other benefits offered by the developer, when weighed against loss of Green Belt and other harm (outlined below), does not amount to ‘very special circumstances’ in Little Chalfont.
- Although the site is not in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the AONB begins at the eastern edge of the site, at Lodge Lane. The development would harm the setting of the AONB.
- The proposed development is disproportionate to the present population (about 2800 households), and the infrastructure of Little Chalfont does not have the capacity to absorb such a large new development. Such radical urbanisation would change the whole character of this village.
- Lodge Lane and Burtons Lane are proposed for access to the two parts of the development – with no access for private vehicles between the parts. Lodge Lane, now quiet and rural, would suffer harm from extra traffic, noise and pollution. An entrance in Burtons Lane would add to built form in the dry valley, and would feed new traffic into the village centre. Both lanes would also feed traffic to even narrower local roads, such as Roughwood Lane (to reach the A413).
- Traffic from the new housing would further congest Little Chalfont centre. This would increase delays and put the many children who walk or travel to school at risk. The already chronic parking problems near the shops would become worse.
- The proposed pedestrian/cycle exit from the site would create safety risks: (a) There would be overcrowding on the narrow pavements of the A404 at commuting and school arrival/departure time and (b) for road safety reasons it would be difficult to place new bus stops on the A404, near to the Oakington Avenue exit, as proposed. (See Transport Statement with application documents for details.)
- There would be harm to biodiversity and ancient woodland from urbanisation and pollution.
- There should be no building in the dry valley – a valued Chiltern landscape feature.
Should we find other reasons to add to this list, for example information about alternative brownfield sites, an updated list will appear elsewhere on this website, and will be made available through all our communication channels when needed for responding to the anticipated planning application.
The six Buckinghamshire Councillors elected to represent parts of Little Chalfont have made a statement opposing the development proposal (see on this website under News – posted 9 August 2021) and are likely to support a campaign against it. That is good news. However, Buckinghamshire Council may still finally approve the application if they conclude that it is justified on technical planning grounds. Our job is to show that it is not.
The Planning Application Process
- A developer makes a planning application to the Local Planning Authority (LPA), Buckinghamshire Council.
- The LPA invites comments from local residents and relevant organisations while it considers the application.
- The LPA decides whether to permit or refuse the application.
- If refused, the developer can appeal to the Appeals Inspectorate, a government body.
- If an appeal is made an Inspector considers the application, all the comments submitted previously, and any new evidence presented.
- The appeal is either allowed or dismissed. If allowed, the project is permitted to go ahead.
The Parish Council / LCCA Coordination Group, August 2021