Ashwells Forum concerns and queries on the latest Masterplan
Notes from site meeting of 4 members of the Ashwells Forum (Miles Green, Ken Cooke, Gerry King & Alec Harrow) with Charles Brocklehurst 8th April 2021 (Apologies from James Galitzine)
A copy of the full Current Masterplan is available here but will be subject to change.
Meeting held socially distanced in The Copse behind 10 Carter Walk.
1. Pumped sewage and sweet water mains – Does their routing require significant changes to house positions shown on the Masterplan. Also, likelihood of 6m verge for pumped sewer pushing access road out still further.
GK suggested that this Masterplan should be withdrawn as it clearly did not take into account the pumped utility exclusion zone requirements, and that Condition 28 of the March 2020 Approval, which he then read out, had not been met.
“28. No development shall take place until a drainage strategy detailing any on and/or off site foul drainage works, has been submitted to and approved by the local planning authority (in consultation with the sewerage undertaker – Thames Water).”
GK indicated that a minimum 6m (3m either side of the pipe) clearance of buildings and trees is needed from a pumped sewer and it needs to be outside of people’s property. The Pumped sewer currently runs through the planned development and the Masterplan does not cover how this will be re-routed.
CB said the plan is to run it up the current route of public footpath CWY14 adjacent to the boundary Ashwells Manor then turn at and run behind the back gardens of Carter Walk close to the boundaries. We advised that this will require clearing a strip of trees up to 12m wide from the copse along a 50m long strip adjacent to Ashwells Manor and 30m long strip behind #10 and #12 Carter Walk and up to 45m more at the Wheeler Ave end.
GK explained that the 6m wide exclusion zone widens to 12m wide (half the depth of The Copse) when it cuts through trees. CB denied this (but GK subsequently provided proof of the 12m requirement).
APH Pointed out that both the Gomm Valley Development Brief and pages 4 & 6 of the Feb 21 Masterplan call for the retention of the existing woodland screen.
GK & APH suggested that running the pumped sewer along the SW perimeter of the copse under the planned road adjacent to new gardens would prevent removal of trees on the boundary of Carter Walk , protecting the existing screen and be cheaper to implement with little or no impact on the planned house positions.
CB confessed that he was having difficulty getting approval to relocate the existing CWY/14 PRoW and that if the 6m wide exclusion zone could fit between the Ashwells housing back fencing and the gardens of the self-build houses then that could be an attractive alternative.
GK and APH also indicated that the previous Masterplan, denoted as Masterplan 3 – HTA, presented Dec 2019, had a layout that was much better suited to this suggestion, and that to the residents of the Wheeler Avenue Estate [Legally, it is the Ashwells Manor Estate, as indicated on the house deeds.] the protection of the copse is a critical requirement of the development.
ACTION: CB committed to revisit this with the engineers & planners and revert.
2. Justification for moving new access road, now 40m further south on Cock Lane, thus reducing main open grass area.
According to CB, the main reason why the new access road had been moved was to satisfy requirements for visibility splays. (Other reasons being maintaining access to the pumping station, topography, and gas main.) KC referred to a sketch (previously sent to CB) to illustrate how visibility splay could work with the access road as the Development Brief. CB added that the use of any part of the plot next to the pumping station as part of a visibility splay would not be allowed. But the gas main might be the critical factor and CB offered to obtain further information from his engineer.
ACTION: KC to resend visibility splay sketch to CB. CB to check with engineers on gas main and revert.
3. Overspill of 2 custom-build houses onto the open grass area
C explained that maintaining the original position of access road would affect the lower part of the proposed custom build houses, losing 2 of these but with the potential to increase the plot width of the remaining seven. He referred to a sketch (previously sent to CB) showing this.
ACTION: KC to resend to CB sketch showing effect on 2 houses of maintaining access road in original position.
4. Timescale of development as a whole to limit disruption
CB said there was likely to be a delay to the start of the infrastructure as the departmental Service Director, John Reed. (Property & Assets) would like the award of the contract to be reviewed by the new Cabinet at their first meeting in June, with work on site not likely to start before July.
GK pointed out that the planning permission stated trees could not be removed during nesting season of March – September and that there were bats (given even more protection in the permission) at the Wheeler Ave end of The Copse.
We stated we would prefer a complete plan before any work starts “ducks in a row” so that the work is continuous and as short as practical to mitigate the impact on the local community.
CB also stated that he hasn’t been able to talk to the planners for months as they are too busy. The current plan had been shared with 3 potential developers as part of a marketing brief to invite proposals at the beginning of April.
ACTION: CB will share the proposed timescales
5. Avoid new houses over-looking Greenridge houses and gardens
CB had stated the ‘custom builds’ are proposed split level/mono-pitch houses without rear first floor windows (subject to Reserved Matters). Their ‘back-to back’ distance also reduces risk of overlooking.
ACTION: see 3 above
6. Copse – varying depiction on successive maps. Route of FP through/around it
For example the Preservation of Green Infrastructure on Page 5 states “An aspiration of the project is to preserve much of the established green infrastructure – existing trees, hedgerows / copse and grassland and shows the Copse virtually as it is today. Yet page 7 shows a road and a house within the current copse (the “nursery” area) and a path right through it and a large diagonal swathe removed near the end of Wheeler Avenue.
It was also pointed out that the planned new footpath (minimum 2m wide) from CWY14 at the rear of 10 Carter Walk to CWY15 was originally designed to follow the southern edge of The Copse [as per the BCC Definitive Map Order] and if it was returned to that position it would stop a further swathe of trees being removed from the Copse (as trees in it are in parallel rows less than 2m apart).
To the residents of the Wheeler Avenue Estate the protection of the copse is critical requirement of the development.
ACTION: CB committed to revisit this with the engineers & planners and revert.
7. Open space at Carter Walk FP entrance – Proximity of Ashwells Manor visibly and audibly – Requires removal of part of copse?
APH pointed out that although the Master Plan states on page 7 section c) this had been introduced “following community consultation”, he as one of the nearest existing residents had not been consulted, and in speaking to his neighbours nor had they. This clearing of existing vegetation is contrary to page 5 of the master pan, and the Development Brief, and appears designed to encourage people to gather under the windows of the nearest properties in Ashwells Manor and by the first houses in the new development and may encourage anti -social behaviour. The creation of this clearing appears to have led to extending the road in this area and introduction of a house within the area of the current copse.
To the residents of the Wheeler Avenue estate the protection of the copse is critical requirement of the development.
ACTION: CB committed to revisit this with the planners and revert.
8. FP access to Carter Walk and Horse & Jockey
It was agreed that the existing PFP CWY14 needed some repair, levelling and maintenance. CB stated that the developer would be required to set aside funds to support this under a Section 106 agreement and this was already in place for the section from Wheeler Avenue to The Horse & Jockey.
ACTION: CB to ensure there is a plan to update and maintain the section from Carter Walk to the new development
9. View of overall Masterplan concept with focus on chalkpit and roads radiating from it
This was discussed and agreed as a good concept but relies on the detail at reserved matters stage.
10. Dwelling typologies – Council’s decision notice states limit of 2 1⁄2 stories
The local residents (GK & APH) pointed out that the Development Brief calls for 2 storey designed with low roofs where adjacent to existing properties.
There was a discussion as to whether 2.5 storey properties are higher than 2 storey. It should be noted the Master Plan references 2.5 Storeys – greater height. It was agreed there should be a mix and styles of properties but the location of the taller properties should be considered.
CB stated he agreed that the plan appeared incorrect in having 2.5 storey properties adjacent to the boundary of the development
ACTION: CB committed to revisit this with the planners and revert.
11. 2 1⁄2 story townhouses – better placed on lower side of chalkpit
Similar to 10 above, the local residents would request the “higher” townhouses should be placed on the lower side of the chalk pit.
12. Parking spaces for visitors to the site with its attractive open space facilities and Gomm Valley tracks
It was discussed and all agreed there was no need for “visitor parking”
13. Basketball court – is it needed? Allotments perhaps in view of small gardens?
It was discussed that due to the location this may encourage undesirables and anti-social behaviour, but allotments may be unsightly. Also due to the requirement for NEAP this probably needs to remain as basketball court or similar.
14. Management and ownership of green spaces – cf Human+Nature’s detailed proposals
It was discussed whether the new residents will need to pay a maintenance fee to manage the green spaces.
CB stated he was unsure who would own the copse and other retained green spaces so who would be responsible.
It was strongly requested that as part of the plans the copse and green spaces should be protected in perpetuity under a covenant.
ACTION: CB to revert on future ownership and covenant
15. Design Code – consultation with local community
CB handed to KC for review 2 copies of the Design Code prepared by Haines Gadd Grieves (HGG) and BD Landscape Architects.
ACTION: KC to review and draft comments for MG/AH/GK to add their comments so a consolidated response can be provided.
16. Affordability- 45% of total dwellings. Discuss real benefit of Discount Market Value Sale houses
It was discussed and suggested the smaller properties should be targeted for Discount Market Sale scheme to give young families a chance to purchase within the development.
ACTION: CB to instruct Carter Jonas (land agent) to see what potential developers propose.
17. Overall view of local consultation
CB had commented on the draft agenda for this meeting that – ‘We’d rather keep people informed but we’re now at implementation stage’.
GK stated he believed they were still entitled to comment because the March 2020 Outline Planning Permission only dealt with access – and maximum house numbers – so there was no opportunity to comment on Reserved Matters at this stage. It was noted that there will be opportunity to comment on the final application.
APH stated he believed they were still entitled to comment (as) and would not just accept things and depending on the feedback we would seek to raise with the planners, councillors and MP.
GK remarked that no notice of latest Planning Application had been given to residents bordering the development, as was customary, if not mandatory, so it was suggested that this application be withdrawn until notice was given.
It was agreed it should be made more readily accessible to all local residents via the council website and the PTGRS website, and possibly hold another presentation at the village hall.
CB advised that it should be possible to submit comments through Chris Steuart at Wycombe.
ACTION:- CB to ensure Masterplan is easy to find on Council websites. ACTION:- MG to get Masterplan published on the PTGRS website
18. Tylers Green as a non-lighting area needs emphasis
It was noted that several votes had taken place and the residents of TG have decided to remain unlit. It was agreed that if the new development is to integrate with the existing community it should have the same policy. Individual properties can have movement sensor lights.
ACTION:- CB to remind planners the development is not to have street lighting and that properties should incorporate PIR motion sensing lights
19. Developer Choice – procedure and criteria. Benefit of Human+Nature as lead developer
CB stated – “In order to implement the Design Code and avoid protracted OJEU procurement rules (which still apply), we are using Homes England’s pre-qualified ‘Developers’ Panel (‘DPP3’). H + N are not on it.”
KS had noted that applications for the new DPS system could be made from this month in advance of the changeover happening in July. MG/KC had referred this to Human Nature to apply. H+N is not on the DPP3 panel, but CB said that he would welcome their participation in the developer selection competition, and that this could be done within the anticipated timescale.
The group including CB feel it would be beneficial if H+N was the lead developer as their design approach was thought to provide “quality” as well as having a common developer for Gomm Valley and Ashwells.
CB also stated there aren’t many quality developers on the Panel, most being inappropriate volume housebuilders, making selection limited. The developer selection process will involve a ‘beauty parade’ by a final shortlist of two, including presentation of design proposals. John Reed is likely to want the developer shortlist to be reviewed by the new Cabinet, and this will mean that award of developer contract could not happen until the end of this year.
The group asked what the selection criteria was. CB will advise
ACTION: KC to forward to CB the HE press release on the change to DPS system, and to pass a message to H+N re. application for DPS registration.ACTION: CB to get Carter Jonas to include H+N in the selection processACTION: CB to share the Developer selection criteriaAny Other business.KC had noted that in the 5 years since the register opened, only one custom-build association had registered, and perhaps the Council should consider ways of marketing the scheme, for example engaging an architect to prepare a concept design for the custom-build houses to demonstrate the potential to interested associations. CB liked the idea and would ask HGG to prepare a scheme.CB stated he would prefer to gain agreement with the group than for us to contact our “members” as this ends up on his desk and causes delays.
There will be a separate meeting to discuss:
- Middle School parking & traffic – Use of car park/Pelican/Puffin crossing v. central refuge
- School crossing point at Barnes Corner
- New Road chicane or alternatives – Speed camera, traffic lights
- Chicane (plus lighting) or road narrowing near new access road
- Measures to protect school users from construction traffic
There was some discussion and it was agreed a pelican crossing was a good idea, as was a 20 or 30mph speed limit past the school. It was said increasing the school car park should be opposed. CB said there is a ground level survey to be carried out to ensure adequate / safe visible sight lines.