I recently received the below letter from Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, concerning the revocation of the regional strategy for the South East of England Plan. I warmly welcome this announcement which means that the top down Central Government targets for house building will be scrapped. It will give more responsibility to elected local councillors to decide how much development we need and where it should take place.
Archive for the ‘Aston Clinton’ Category
A letter from Eric Pickles concerning the revocation of the regional strategy for the South East of England PlanFebruary 14, 2013
Last Friday I visited and met the management of The Hub in Aston Clinton a great local business which aims to cater for the whole spectrum of needs of the local community. For further information about The Hub you can visit their website here.
Over the weekend as well as attending the Wendover Information Event for the HS2 Compensation Consultation I opened Stokenchurch’s new community library. The opening of the library is a tremendous community effort and I congratulate all those involved with it.
I have enclosed a couple of pictures from my visits below.
Residents in Weston Turville and Bedgrove will know that the consortium hoping to build 3000+ homes on the Hampden Fields site recently submitted a revised planning application. This included some significant changes to the original plan. They then applied to the Communities and Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, to decide the case. There was a lot of local surprise at this since neither Aylesbury Vale Council nor local residents had had time to consider the new plans. From what the consortium has said, it would seem likely that what has driven them is a fear that the Planning Inspectorate would decide the appeal against AVDC’s refusal of the Fleet Marston development proposal (North of Berryfields) ahead of any decision on Hampden Fields. Presumably they fear that if the Inspector allows development at Fleet Marston, it would weaken the case for yet more housing at Hampden Fields.
Anyhow, I’ve signed off a letter to Mr Pickles to make clear my view that it would be wrong for his Department or the Planning Inspectorate to accept the Hampden Fields case for decision at this stage, when there has not been anything approaching a reasonable time for the revised proposals to be considered locally. My understanding is that the Inspectors are still considering whether or not to accept the case onto their list. I’ll post the text of the letter here as soon as possible.
I’ve also lobbied the Planning Minister Nick Boles about the need for the Government to deliver on its policy of scrapping the previous administration’s Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS) which include Labour’s housing targets. He told me that they would do so but that since the courts had struck down their first attempt to do this, they needed to be absolutely certain of their legal ground. The good news is that just before Christmas Ministers announced the scrapping of the RSS for Eastern England. I shall continue to press hard for early action to do the same for the South East targets.
Last month, the Planning Inspectorate and the Secretary of State upheld AVDC’s refusal of planning permission for about 1400 homes, a primary school and other facilities in the so-called Quarrendon Fields area which lies between the approved development areas at Berryfields and Weedon Hill/Buckingham Park.
The documents, including the full text of the Inspector’s report can be seen HERE. The Inspector sets out her reasons for upholding the Council’s decision in paragraphs 121 onwards.
The arguments set out here strike me as very relevant to the current planning application in respect of the so-called Hampden Fields area between Bedgrove and Weston Turville. I suspect that both AVDC and the development consortium will be looking carefully at the Inspector’s reasoning.
The local NHS consultation closes on 16 April.
To see a short and jargon-free summary and to comment online you can look HERE.
The proposals include changes to hospital services at Stoke Mandeville and Wycombe. There’s been a fair bit of coverage in the local media already but if you haven’t yet what is being suggested and want to have your say, do follow the link.
Arla has now sent in its formal planning applications to AVDC. On Friday, the company briefed me on what they were proposing and how they had amended their plan in the light of comments by local residents. I also went to the site, next to the waste transfer station alongside the College Road North industrial estate, to have a look at the land that would be built on if this scheme goes ahead.
You can see details of the Arla proposal at this site . If you want to make representations to the Council either against or in support of the proposal, you have until three weeks after the site notices are first posted to make your views known. I do not know exactly when the site notices will be posted, but am told by AVDC that it will be within the next two weeks. I will update this blog post as soon as I hear of the actual date.
The documents associated with Arla’s planning applications (of which there are four) can be found on the AVDC web-site here. You will need to search for planning applications 11/00962, 11/00963, 11/00964, and 11/00965.
Douglas Hurd once said to me when he was Foreign Secretary that one of the strongest reasons to support the British system of having one MP for each constituency (a lot of democracies use proportional systems with multi-member constituencies) is that it kept your feet on the ground. For him, it was having to come back from international meetings with the likes of Mikhail Gorbachev and talks about the end of the Cold War, to sit in a draughty church hall in Oxfordshire while people came and shouted at him about the Poll tax.
It was a bit like that this Friday. After three days in the States, I was back (rather jet-lagged) to a full constituency programme. I started in High Wycombe, where (along with my colleagues Dominic Grieve and Steve Baker) , I was briefed by the leaders of Wycombe District Council about housing, planning and economic development issues. Then to Aylesbury for an update from Arla on their plans to build a huge new dairy just off the A41 Aston Clinton bypass. The company is making further changes to its proposals in response to local comment and intends to submit a formal planning application to Aylesbury Vale District Council in a few weeks’ time. I’ve told them that when they have settled on their final plan and submitted it, I will want to visit the site to get a clear idea of what the visual and noise impact the new development would have on the local area.
The afternoon brought the usual three hours of constituency surgery cases (letters to dictate over the weekend) and then in the evening I went to the public meeting organised by Stoke Mandeville Parish Council to discuss HS2. There were well over 200 people present. The Eskdale Road Community Centre was full – not just the hall but the two small meeting rooms as well- and people were standing in the foyer and outside the windows of the hall too. Obviously people were very worried about the local impact if the scheme goes ahead, especially since the Secretary of State has now confirmed (see earlier posts) that the current plan involves re-routing both the A4010 Risborough Road and Marsh Lane over the top of the HS2 line, something which , because of masts and gantries needed for the railway, would involve a high flyover. But both the presentations from the platform and the questions from the hall focussed on the business case and the claimed national interest justification for this proposal. People asked about the forecasts of passenger demand, whether ordinary families could ever afford an HS2 fare, whether the project could be afforded, whether it would regenerate northern cities or just draw more jobs to London and whether other improvements to rail and road networks could provide a less costly and less environmentally destructive answer to the need to provide additional capacity. Throughout, the tone of the meeting was calm, focussed and serious. These were not people who can be dismissed as NIMBYs.
Please find below a press release from Arla. The press release has details about public meetings regarding plans for a new diary in Aylesbury.
Arla Foods to host public consultation events regarding proposed fresh milk dairy
Aylesbury residents are invited to two public consultations to discuss the proposed £150 million investment into the world’s first zero carbon fresh milk dairy, near to Aston Clinton.
Arla Foods has assessed sites across the Midlands and South of England in a bid to find the ideal site for its new dairy. Aylesbury was selected due to its access directly onto the strategic road network minimising the impact on any local villages. The town also offers access to a strong workforce and the dairy will create more than 680 skilled jobs.
This unique scheme will bring a windfall investment into the local economy as well as providing education, training and apprenticeship opportunities and delivering high quality commercial space to foster new business growth in the area.
Arla Foods is keen to engage with local people and three drop-in exhibitions will be held on the following dates:
Wednesday 8 December 2010 from 6pm until 8:30pm at Weston Turville Village Hall, School Approach, Weston Turville HP22 5RW
Thursday 9 December 2010 from 4pm until 7:30pm at Anthony Hall, London Road, Aston Clinton HP22 5HG
Thursday 9 December 2010 between 8.30pm and 9.30pm at Buckland Village Hall, Buckland Village, Aylesbury HP22 5HU
Tim Evans, senior director UK projects and engineering at Arla Foods, says: “We are keen to discuss the emerging master plan with local people prior to submitting a planning application, which is why we are hosting two public consultation events to present our plans and give the local community the opportunity to discuss them with the project team.
“We believe the site we have identified is the ideal location for this unique proposal. Not only will it deliver high quality employment and training opportunities, it will process milk from British farms, which will support the country’s farmers.”
www.arlafoods.com/aylesbury.Following the consultations, Arla Foods will review the master plan, considering the comments raised at the exhibition, before submitting a planning application this winter. If planning permission is secured, Arla Foods will be in a position to invest by 2011.
A team from Arla came to see me in Aylesbury on Friday to brief me on their plans for a new mega-dairy beside the A41 Aston Clinton bypass. I was pleased to hear that they have already had a meeting with Buckland Parish Council and are sending out a leaflet to every home in both Buckland and Aston Clinton. Public exhibitions are to be held in both Aston Clinton and Weston Turville. My own first reaction to Arla’s plans is to welcome a development that will bring 500 jobs to the Aylesbury area. Our local economy has far too few big private sector employers and the largest, Lloyds/HBOS, is cutting jobs sharply. But it’s also right that any development should go through a proper planning process and that local people have the right to have their say. I hope that Arla’s decision to take the initiative in publicising their plans will mean that the debate can take place on the basis of a shared understanding by of the facts.
One or two constituents have told me that they thought the new dairy would actually involve keeping large numbers of cows in sheds. This isn’t the case. This will be a dairy to process and pack milk brought in aboard tankers. There is a completely different controversial proposal by other people for a massive indoor dairy unit, housing hundreds of cows in sheds, but that is in Lincolnshire not Bucks.
Another welcome bit of news is that access to the dairy will be directly from the A41 and not from country lanes.
I look forward to learning more as the planning process gets under way.