This is how the developers described their aspirations for Gomm Valley at their ‘Community Engagement and Design’ event held in the fields behind the Perigrine Business Park over the weekend of 30 June/2 July. This took the form of an exhibition illustrating the development objectives, together with explanatory talks and Q&A. The developer selected by Aviva (as landowner), is known as ‘Human + Nature’(H+N), which has assembled a team with strong credentials in the planning and design of sustainable communities.
Proposals are still at pre-planning stage, and the aim was to present themes that would form the basis for development, and share thoughts on these with the local community, inviting comment that could then be taken into account as the planning and design move forward. The overarching themes are intended to enhance Gomm Valley’s special characteristics, through respect for landscape and ecology, sustainability, and green transport, delivered through continuing community engagement in the design and delivery process. The plans covered the valley area south of Ashwells (which is to be developed by a different team), incorporating some important deviations from WDC’s Development Brief, particularly with regard to the configuration of the Gomm Valley spine road and its connection with Cock Lane.
In terms of impact on P&TG, H+N’s preference is to leave Cock Lane as single track, with the spine road reconfigured to join Cock Lane much further down (opposite the Christmas tree yard). The alignment of the spine road would respond to the topography, creating a slowly winding and circuitous path through the valley. The intention is to make the spine road an unattractive option for drivers looking for a rat-run down to the A40.
The contribution of GV&A to Wycombe’s future housing needs (as defined by the new Local Plan) is 520 new homes, of which 100 are on the Ashwells site. This leaves 420 in Gomm Valley. H+N propose a significant increase in this, to a figure potentially between 700 and 1,000 units, citing the creation of best value from the developable area and a critical mass able to support their proposed community facilities. They believe that this need not necessarily occupy a much bigger footprint than WDC’s plan,, as there will be more flats (providing an increased number of smaller, more affordable, homes). This increase will place added pressure on traffic volumes. To mitigate this, H+N hopes to reduce car dependency by providing a small fleet of electric buses running a service to HW station at peak times.
The focus of the new community will be a village square with a mix of uses, including primary school, supported living, coffee shop, restaurant, bakery and convenience store. They also envisage co-working facilities such as ‘makerspaces’ and studios, car club/bike club, and a GP practice. The square will open out to the valley to its north where there will be amenity grassland and play areas for children.
The immediate impression was that H+N seems to have a very different idea of how they want to deliver the project compared with that of WDC, but this needs to be tested for feasibility and deliverability. It is expected that the Liaison Group will meet soon, for H+N to explain how they intend to move forward and for WDC to indicate their response. All being well, an outline planning application could be submitted at the end of September, with the development taking 7-9 years to complete.
For further information, visit www.gommvalley.com (where there is an informative video).