Chairman’s Response to a resident’s letter about P&TGRS’s objection to the Football Club planning application.
I must start by making it clear that the P&TGRS has no power to make a decision to reject any planning application. In this case we were merely one of many bodies and individuals commenting. In due course the Planning Officers’ recommendation was that the application should be refused.
It is the responsibility of the District Council, as the Planning Authority, to consider the application in the light of the relevant legislation. They have to interpret planning law in an entirely even-handed way and make a recommendation accordingly. Their recommendation was that the application should be refused, for much the same reasons as earlier applications, and you will know that the Parish Council, the Chiltern Society, the Chiltern Conservation Board, and CPRE, objected to the application, as did P&TGRS. When so many bodies, all with long experience of planning applications, come to the same conclusion you have to ask why. It is most definitely not that we do not appreciate sport, in this case soccer, and the benefits it brings people of all ages.
You questioned whether we had the backing of local residents. As I have already pointed out, planning decisions are based on planning law rather than on the numbers of people who support a particular view, but we did look at all the representations and found some 43 individual letters from residents opposing the scheme and that some three-quarters of those writing in support, mostly in the form of a standard template e-mail, were from outside Penn & Tylers Green. Indeed, the Planning Officers’ report noted the strength of the opposition to the application. It is by no means a one-sided argument. You may recall that there were around 1,000 objections to the proposed running track on Rose Avenue, Hazlemere, just a few years ago. One of the principal objections was light pollution caused by floodlighting.
You also pointed out that the Tennis Club already has floodlights. The planning application for those was refused by the District Council, but subsequently allowed by an Inspector on Appeal. They are of course only half the height of the 50ft floodlights proposed and were considered less obtrusive by the Inspector because of their slim design. None are so close to houses. A condition of the planning consent imposed in 1996 by the Inspector is that lights must be turned off by 9pm in the interests of residents.
The P&TGRS was reluctant to oppose the Football Club’s application because the Club is so self-evidently a thoroughly worthwhile organisation, but there is a direct clash here with other important planning legislation which we could not ignore. P&TGRS has to consider the community as a whole. Our activities, all of which are for the benefit of the community, are spread widely. You may know that we purchased and manage Common Wood, were bequeathed Millar Wood, purchased a Village Green in Coppice Farm Road, run a not-for-profit pre-school, started Village Voice many years ago, as well as commenting on significant planning applications that affect the community as a whole.
The Gomm Valley/Ashwells development with a proposed new road connecting Tylers Green via a widened Cock Lane directly to the London Road with a potentially huge increase in traffic is a current example of an application in which we have been much involved. Last year there was a proposal to build several hundred houses on the horse fields at the side of Penn Road. Like the proposed floodlights this is on Green Belt and AONB, and we argued against it. We have strongly resisted a proposal for a 1,200 pupil secondary school on the Penn School site since it would bring with it an enormous amount of traffic.
Please be assured that there is no question of any hostile intent towards the Football Club. We came to our conclusions carefully and with the best interests of the community as a whole in mind. Indeed, on a personal note, I have spent the last 40 years working in this field and wouldn’t for a moment support any action which I thought was not in those wider interests.
With all good wishes
2nd March 2018
Please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like copies of our detailed submissions that have been submitted to the Chiltern District Council planning department relating to the last 2 Football Club planning applications.
Penn & Tylers Green Residents Society statement to the Chiltern District Council meeting on 22 Feb 2018
This has been a difficult application (to consider) because the Football Club is a very considerable success story. It does outstanding work with youngsters, boys and girls, keeping them active and fit, involving parents and many volunteers. It started as a village team playing on a single muddy pitch on a Saturday afternoon. No lights, no facilities. When I came to live in Tylers Green 40 years ago, you hardly noticed that the Club was there. Since then it has grown steadily to have some 800 members with 28 teams playing on most days of the week. It can no longer fairly be described as a purely village Club and this is evidenced by the e-mails in support of this application, three-quarters of which are from outside Penn & Tylers Green.
12 years ago, I was involved in a formal appraisal of the combined Penn & Tylers Green Conservation Area, which was adopted by WDC. We looked at all the buildings, their architecture, history and setting and saw the Front Common with its large pond surrounded by listed buildings and cottages, as the focal point of the village. The place to which families walked at a weekend. In short, its careful conservation and setting, matters to many people.
The Club has regularly, and I believe in good faith, claimed that its applications would not increase activity, and wrote to residents in 2012 that it would not seek floodlights, but inevitably, growing numbers have brought more games and more training with increasing disturbance from noise, lights and parking. The Club now says that they need to have these floodlights to stay in Step 6 and that they would like to progress to Step 5. They would require covered accommodation for 200 spectators of which at least 100 must be seated.
If this highly successful Club was almost anywhere else, there could be no argument about supporting its application, but it is the Club’s misfortune to face a combination of AONB, Green Belt, Conservation Area, Listed buildings and a no street-lighting policy. Clearly, expansion has its limits and at some stage, someone has to say stop, no more growth. And would it really be such a disaster for the Club? There are only 3 senior teams who may be obliged to play under these proposed lights. The Club estimates that without them they will lose 2 teams. This will still leave them with 26.
The Historic Building Consultant concluded that there was no question that the lights would be harmful to the setting of the listed buildings and the Conservation Area and that the public benefit did not outweigh that harm. This is the nub of the argument. A balance has to be struck. The Penn Parish Council, Chiltern Society, Chiltern Conservation Board and CPRE have all objected.
The P&TGRS have submitted a very detailed response to the planning application for the development on the site of the Field Grove Nursery on Hammersley Lane.
please see the document at is available here.
Planning Application for site of Field Grove Nursery on Hammersley Lane
23 March 2017
Residents are invited to comment on the Wycombe District Council, planning application for five 4-bedroom houses on the land where Field Grove nursery ( more recently Alb Plants) was located. (17/05531/FUL), please note the consultation closes on 30th March 2017.
Miles Green, Chairman of the P&TGRS has commented on this application as follows:
Alb Plants have moved to Henley and a planning application (17/05531/FUL) has been submitted for the 2 acre site for five 4-bedroom houses to line the side of the road. The problem is that it is Green Belt land and a precedent could well be set for further development in that part of the GB.
30 years ago WDC decided not to remove the designation of the land as Green Belt and so prevented any housing. The difference now is that the planning rules have changed with the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework which aims to encourage more house-building. However it remains a question of interpretation of the new regulations and the application, goes into very considerable detail, probably because they know that they are arguing a case which is by no means certain.
The key point is the impact on the openness of the GB and we need to look critically at the contrast between a row of five very solid houses with their domestic gardens and cars on the roadside, and the temporary structures which are there now, which although dilapidated and ad hoc, are a part of the rural scene, whereas the proposed row of very similar houses is not. They describe it as previously developed brownfield land occupied by the permanent structure of a garden centre, but it was always a nursery rather than a garden centre, with very little public footfall, and can the dilapidated greenhouses really be described as permanent structures? It is the case that the nursery has never been successful but there seems no reason why the land should not revert to its original agricultural use.
I cut my planning teeth 30 years ago on successfully preserving the GB south of Sandpits Lane and so have to admit to continuing to be against housing on this site, but our P&TGRS planning team will have their own views and be weighing up the pros and cons. The closing date for comments is 30 March.
District Councils approve bid for two new unitary authorities
Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe District Council members have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a proposal for two new unitary authorities in Bucks, at each of their recent respective council meetings. The Districts’ proposal is to abolish the County Council and all four existing District Councils in Buckinghamshire, and replace them with two new unitary councils, one in the north alongside the existing unitary of Milton Keynes, and one in the south to cover the area of the three southern district councils, saving tax payers almost £58million over a five year period. Under the new proposal each unitary council would be responsible for the delivery of all council services for the two distinct areas.
The four District Leaders met the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, on Thursday 19 January to discuss their proposal. He listened carefully and asked questions. He has already received a separate proposal from the County Council for a single county-based unitary and will decide what to do next in March before the County Council elections. He could make a clear decision, or perhaps ask for an agreed county decision, or he might ask for further representations. It does not look as though there will be any public consultation. This flurry of urgent applications has been driven by an acute shortage of funding, particularly for the County Council’s responsibilities.
The District Councils say that late last year, they engaged with 146 key stakeholder organisations across Bucks. 73% favoured a multiple unitary model, whilst only 27% said they would prefer a single unitary authority (as proposed by Bucks County Council). This information, as well as showing a good deal of local consensus, has been used to help form their proposal for innovative change which they maintain will not only improve the outcomes for the people of Bucks, but will also provide a solid foundation for service provision and future challenges.
Cllr Katrina Wood, Leader of Wycombe District Council said: “The difference between the north and south of Buckinghamshire, in terms of the economy, jobs and housing market, demographic and even the topographical geography, is significant. We strongly believe that these differences will be best served by the creation of two new, more locally accountable, unitary councils in the north and south of the county.”
Cllr Isobel Darby, Leader of Chiltern District Council said: “While we’ve maintained high-quality service provision and demonstrated a strong track record of innovation in the face of financial challenges – reshaping our business models, sharing services and staff, regenerating our towns and attracting inward investment – communities are still suffering the consequences of failing county-wide services.”
Cllr Ralph Bagge, Leader of South Bucks District Council said: “The north and south face different opportunities and challenges. Aylesbury Vale sits within the Oxford to Cambridge arc, identified for significant growth by Government. The three southern districts have a strong economic relationship with London with the forthcoming Heathrow expansion and high demand for new homes.”