Monday, 16 June 2014

Courage and common sense gives bag charge every chance of success

The Break the Bag Habit campaign congratulates the Government today on updating its proposals for England’s carrier bag charging scheme so that it will deliver the greatest benefits for the environment, retailers and consumers.

In response to calls from environmental campaigners including CPRE, carrier bags made from any type of plastic and paper are now included in the scheme, as are the smaller retailers who made it clear they want to take part. The scheme now has the best chance of taking England a small step closer to its zero waste ambitions, as well as greatly reducing litter and the damage it does to wildlife on land and at sea.

Samantha Harding, spokesperson for the Break the Bag Habit campaign, says:

‘The Government has shown us with this decision that it is willing to listen and engage properly with its consultation process. In responding so clearly to the calls of our campaign, and the concerns of other people and sectors affected by this charge, we can celebrate that an effective charge will be introduced that is consistent with those in our other home nations’.

‘Now that the details of the scheme are clear, we hope retailers will voluntarily introduce the charge in England in autumn this year, at the same time as the scheme comes into play in Scotland. With over 8 billion bags being used every year, there’s certainly no reason to delay it for another year.’

Bag charge scheme has greater chance to succeed after Government decision

The Break the Bag Habit campaign welcomes the Government’s announcement today that it has included [small retailers / paper bags / biodegradable bags] within its proposals for England’s carrier bag charging scheme. This demonstrates that it has listened to the conclusive comments given in response to its consultation in December 2013.

The bag charge is designed to significantly reduce the 8 billion bags given out every year in England, in turn reducing the incidence of littering and choked wildlife. By including [small retailers / paper bags / biodegradable bags] the scheme will be less confusing for consumers and go some way to reducing our reliance on disposable bags.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Wolfson Prize: we still need a proper strategy to provide more housing while protecting the countryside

The Campaign to Protect Rural England warned today that the Wolfson Prize shortlist overlooks the main challenges in meeting  the nation’s housing needs. Any new garden cities should be properly planned with local agreement, a high proportion of affordable housing, and built on brownfield land before greenfield or Green Belt sites are considered.  

Shaun Spiers, CPRE’s Chief Executive, said: ‘We will study the shortlisted entries with interest. The Wolfson Prize is certainly an interesting exercise. At present the  Government’s planning approach, which too often involves imposing large developments on local communities through planning appeals, is not working. Garden cities may be part of the solution to our housing crisis, but only if they are locally supported, help regenerate our existing cities and provide significant amounts of genuinely affordable housing.  We need major policy improvements to meet these objectives and without, plans for new towns and garden cities will achieve very little.’

CPRE’s key requirements for meeting our housing needs, set out in the Charter to save our countryside, are:

·         don't sacrifice our countryside – three of the shortlisted entries focus on greenfield development when enough brownfield land remains available for over 1.5 million new homes. Disappointingly the proposal for a new garden city in the Black Country is only described as ‘interesting’ rather than shortlisted. There is concern about short-circuiting proper tests to find suitable locations through the planning process and also undermining  brownfield regeneration;

·         a fair say for local communities - there is a big risk of repeating the mistakes of the last Government's ‘eco-towns’ programme, i.e. a top down process of selecting sites for major development without local democratic input or support from local authorities;


·         more housing, but of high quality and in the right places. Are these proposals serious about providing the housing that is affordable, well-designed and environmentally sustainable?

Saturday, 14 June 2014

A mad dash for infrastructure will cost the countryside dearly

Following the Queen’s speech today (Wednesday), the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) warns of increasing threats to the countryside.

Responding to proposals to increase housing supply Shaun Spiers, chief executive of CPRE said:

‘We need to provide many more homes to meet the needs of a growing population but we need a robust planning system to ensure they are delivered in the best locations.  At present the Government’s planning approach, which too often involves imposing large developments on local communities through planning appeals, is not working.  We welcome measures to encourage the reuse of suitably sited public sector land and small housebuilders. 

Garden cities may be part of the solution but only if they are locally supported, help regenerate our existing cities and provide significant amounts of genuinely affordable housing.’ 


Responding to proposals to exempt smaller house builders from environmental controls, Shaun Spiers, said:

“It is bizarre that in the midst of a national debate about how to meet out energy needs the Government is relaxing rules so that house builders can build new homes that leak energy. 

“It’s right to support small builders - we’ll never get the homes the country needs if we just rely on half a dozen or so big firms. But why not help them to build sustainably, rather than the sort of draughty, badly-insulated homes that other countries stopped building years ago? This announcement is just storing up trouble for the future. It is bad for fuel poverty and bad for the battle against climate change.


Responding to proposals to that make fracking easier, Shaun Spiers continued: 

“The Speech also provides more evidence of the Government making life easier for fracking companies at a time when public confidence is at rock-bottom, and when the focus should be on the strongest possible controls to protect the environment and communities. That is not only right in principle, it’s sensible politics if the Government wants to get public consent to fracking.”  




Responding to proposals in the Infrastructure Bill to turn the Highways Agency into a company, Ralph Smyth, CPRE’s senior transport campaigner, said:

“We are deeply concerned by such a mad dash for roads reform – yet another threat to our countryside from ill-thought infrastructure plans.

  “The Bill would create a new roads company and lock its funding into law in a drive to deliver the biggest road-building programme in 50 years. This will not only mean further cuts to bus funding and rises in the cost of train tickets, it will also lead to silo thinking, making it harder to join up different forms of transport.


“Hundreds of miles of new and widened roads will threaten swathes of countryside, nationally treasured landscapes, ancient woodland and wildlife sites. We need to prioritise improving and reopening rural railways rather than risk damaging our landscapes for little gain.”

Friday, 6 June 2014

Solar farm planned for Newport Pagnell


Green Energy UK has submitted a planning application for a 30-acre solar farm at The Kickles, north of Newport Pagnell. Milton Keynes council had earlier ruled that an environmental impact assessment is not needed for the scheme.

The application is for solar farm with a connection capacity of up to 7.5MW, comprising the installation of photovoltaic panels, boundary fencing, security and CCTV cameras, site access and electrical infrastructure including a switch station, inverter units and transformer and temporary construction compounds for period of 25 years (14/01068/FUL).

Each of the 28,368 panels had originally been planned to be three metres high, but that has now been reduced to two metres. 


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

PLEASE SUBMIT A PETITION

FROM HS2 ACTION ALLIANCE - PLEASE SUBMIT A PETITION

We can't be any more direct - this is a critical point in this campaign.

People in Buckinghamshire who are impacted by HS2 have only a short period to make their views known to Parliament before a special committee of MPs begins detailed consideration of the Hybrid Bill authorising construction of Phase 1 of HS2. This process is called "petitioning".

You, your neighbours and anyone else who would be impacted by the construction and operation of HS2 should submit a petition to Parliament setting out your concerns and detailing what solutions you would like to see. It's your only chance to let the committee of MPs looking at HS2 know your views.

HS2AA have worked hard to ensure petitioning is as easy as possible.

Full details on how to petition can be found at "www.hs2aa.org/petition" where you will find all the documents you need to submit a petition.If you have limited time download our quick petition from our website. You will also need our fact and cover sheet which you can download here.

To submit a petition you must either hand it in person at Parliament or if you can't make it to Westminster, provide it to your Member of Parliament to submit on your behalf.

But remember if a business wants to petition the deadline is May 16th. For individuals, parish councils and other community organisations the deadline is May 23rd.

As well as completing your own petition, remember that every other person in your household and community of any age can petition. Schools, churches, community facilities  such as sports clubs that are impacted by HS2 can also petition. Even your MP can petition-and it's important he or she does this to ensure a better outcome for your community. All the details of how these groups can petition are on our website. "www.hs2aa.org/petition"

HS2AA have also arranged for volunteers and legal professionals to be at the Taxpayers Alliance, 55 Tufton Street, London SW1P 3QL between 1PM-6PM on Thursday 15 May. You will be able to get help to complete a petition on the spot and take a five minute walk to Parliament to hand it in personally.


So to recap,
(i) Make sure you submit a petition as soon as possible and prior to the deadline of May 23rd for individuals and May 16th for businesses.

(ii) Ensure your spouse and any children who live with you and neighbours submit a petition too.

(iii) Encourage any organisation which you are connected to which would be impacted by the construction and operation of HS2 to petition too. All the materials they need are at www.hs2aa.org/petition.

(iv) Contact your MP and ask him or her to petition too on behalf of your area.

Thanks-this is really important. 

Friday, 2 May 2014

Plans for Waterside North, Aylesbury town centre

A new public square and enhanced landscaping around the Grade II* Judges Lodgings are at the centre of plans published by AVDC for the next stage of the redevelopment of Aylesbury town centre at Waterside North. Up to seven restaurants and 40 houses will also be built. Further details



Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Lidington threatens resignation as HS2 bill forges ahead


The HS2 bill passed its second reading in the Commons yesterday by 452 to 41 votes, a majority of 411.

MPs threw out a proposal by Chesham and Amersham MP Cheryl Gillan for the plan to be halted by a majority of 401. Fifty MPs backed Gillan’s motion. She told the Commons:

"I started as a nimby but I have looked at this project and I do not believe it is the best answer to the UK's transport problems."

Among those missing from the debate was Aylesbury MP David Lidington – as Minister for Europe he was visiting Estonia. Before the vote, he told the Bucks Herald:

“I have decided to abstain, but I have been and remain opposed to HS2, I’ve fought alongside campaigns and the Prime Minister knows my views. The key test for me is, given there is a massive cross-party majority in favour of this scheme, can we get the generous and fair mitigation that the local area deserves?

Lidington said he would resign as a minister at the third reading of the HS2 bill if mitigation is inadequate:

“I will resign at a later stage of the bill if they don’t get mitigation, and that for me includes a Chilterns tunnel.”

Monday, 28 April 2014

Wildlife Trusts set out mitigation vision for HS2

The Wildlife Trusts have published a report setting out a vision for large-scale nature restoration along the proposed high speed route. The Trusts say that the impacts and mitigation measures for line have not been properly assessed and there will be a net loss of biodiversity from Phase 1. They say with effective mitigation, the line could create "a wild green ribbon from London to the north." 

In the Colne Valley, 19 hectares of semi-natural broadleaved woodland, scrub, wetland and grassland will be replaced by just 3 hectares of compensatory habitat – a net loss of 16 hectares.

An earlier report from the University of Leeds for the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) found that the line could lead to local extinction of colonies of the Bechstein’s bat, a protected species, in the Bernwood Forest.

The report sets out an environmental, social and economic case for the government to properly address the impact on wildlife and ecosystems. Mitigation would use less than 1% of the current HS2 budget (£420 million) and the benefits of new areas for wildlife and people would outweigh the costs.  

The Trusts still oppose the line and support the proposals by the Chilterns Conservation Board for a bored tunnel through all of the AONB. However, if the line was to go ahead, with effective mitigation, the project could create “a wild green ribbon from London to the north.” Opportunities for habitat recreation and enhancement undertaken as part of the HS2 programme could be linked to wider efforts by partners to “build ecological connectivity at a larger scale beyond the tracks.”

Friday, 25 April 2014

Sony Stratford: Cofferidge Close saved


Campaigners in Stony Stratford are celebrating after winning a four year campaign to block a superstore at Cofferidge Close. 

Cofferidge Close is a new town development with a listed frontage on Silver Street. The planning inspector described it as:

An unusually successful intervention into the historic townscape of Stony Stratford… It stands out through its attention to aesthetics and its integration with the historic setting.

Developers were proposing a large supermarket which the Save Cofferidge Close Group said would have “killed-off town trade”. The inspector said the development would be harmful to the character of the Stony Stratford Conservation Area and the setting of the listed buildings in Silver Street. 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan consultation


Aylesbury Vale council is consulting on the content and scope of its new Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan (VALP), the authority’s plan for development up to 2031. The council was forced to withdraw its previous planning blueprint, the Vale of Aylesbury Plan (VAP), in February after it was found unsound by the Planning Inspectorate. Consultation closes 28 May   .

This consultation includes a call for sites for development. The Issues and Options consultation is scheduled for late summer 2014 and the Draft Plan consultation for summer 2015.

Milton Keynes hits out at government’s affordable housing policy


Milton Keynes council has hit out at the government’s affordable housing policy in a letter to planning minister Nick Boles. 

Developers are allowed to appeal the level of affordable housing in new schemes and frequently negotiation for less than the 30% affordable housing level required by local policies.

The deputy leader of the council, David Hopkins, who is the portfolio holder for planning and economic development, said: "We are trying to build a city that is sustainable and we are not being allowed to," said David Hopkins, deputy leader of the council. "They are setting up problems not today or next year but in five years time, and there will be a shortage of affordable housing. That will lead to problems in the service sector and public sector because people won't be able to afford to live in Milton Keynes." 

Nick Boles told the Guardian that planning deals negotiated during the last housing boom are "economically unrealistic, meaning no development, no regeneration and no community benefits".  In a reply to David Hopkins, Boles refused an offer to meet and said: "We have been clear that the only grounds to reconsider previously agreed affordable housing contributions are economic viability and this needs to be evidenced and demonstrated for review.”

See also Milton Keynes Web

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Winslow plan examination to begin despite legal challenge


The examination of the Winslow neighbourhood plan was halted last month after legal objections from Gladman. The developer had argued that a neighbourhood plan could not proceed in the absence of an up-to-date local plan. The government new planning guidance and, it has to be said, existing legislation makes it quite clear that that plans can proceed in these circumstances. Aylesbury Vale has announced the examination, under Nigel McGurk, will now go-ahead (£ Planning).

Gladman’s legal challenge continues.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Response to the Wycombe District consultation document

CPRE, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, is concerned, as indeed the Council is, at the impact on this sensitive area of meeting the (hypothesised) future housing needs of the District.
Whilst the proposed plan describes all the planning and other constraints, from the AONB and the Green Belt to the poor – unavoidably poor in many cases – road structures and lack of appropriate new employment land, it appears the Council considers that these constraints must be overridden or ignored, as failing to meet hypothetical housing need in full will lead to rejection of your Strategy and a consequent developers’ free for all.

Download the full response document here.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Watermead housing thrown out


Plans for 1,560 homes on a 300-acre site between Watermead and Bierton have been unanimously refused by Aylesbury Vale District Council. The developer, Hallam Land, already has an appeal lodged with the planning inspectorate for an earlier, identical scheme turned down by AVDC last year.

Following the withdrawal of the Vale of Aylesbury Plan, the council does not have a five year land supply and the developers will use this to press the planning inspectorate to give approval to this scheme.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Holy Cross School plans go to appeal court


Chalfont St Peter Parish Council has been granted permission to appeal a judicial review.

Persimmon Homes was given permission to build 198 homes and a 75-bedroom care home at the former Holy Cross School site site on appeal to the planning inspectorate. That decision was confirmed in the high court after the parish council challenged the planning permission. 

Chalfont St Peter CoE Academy wants to relocate to the Holy Cross site to give the children more space and facilities.

Parish councillor Richard Allen told the Bucks Free Press that in the high court hearing: “The key questions we raised in court at the very beginning were never addressed”.

Should traveller sites be in the green belt?


South Bucks council has launched a consultation looking at options for sites for gypsies and travelling communities up to 2023.

The consultation is asking whether existing sites should be safeguarded to prevent them being converted to alternative uses in the future. It also wants to know whether there is support for expanding existing sites, though is it suggesting not above the recommended size of 15 units. There are three sites with temporary permission. Should these be given permanent permission? Should new sites be allocated?

The council says that gypsy and traveller sites should not be in the green belt, except in exceptional circumstances.

The consultation closes on 16 April.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Daws Hill Neighbourhood Forum ends legal action


Daws Hill Neighbourhood Forum has ended its legal action after its case was thrown out by the appeal court. The judge’s ruling has important implications for neighbourhood planning.

The DHNF had argued that Wycombe council was wrong to exclude the former RAF site at Daws Hill and the Handy Cross Sports Centre site from the neighbourhood area designated for the neighbourhood plan.

In his appeal court judgement, Mr Justice Supperstone said: “The discretion given to the authority is a broad one.” He concluded the council had dealt with the designation of the neighbourhood area correctly.
Many communities will begin neighbourhood plans at a point where plans for development in the plan area are well advanced. This was the case for Daws Hill. Judge Supperstone ruled:
“The council was entitled to consider if any useful purpose would be served by the proposed neighbourhood area when the sites would be under development before the process was concluded.”

The judgement will be studied by councils around the country. It allows them to exclude areas from neighbourhood planning where development plans are underway. That will limit the ambitions of communities who want to shape – even prevent – major developments in their area through neighbourhood planning.

Local Government Lawyer reports that DHNF will not be continuing its legal action. It quotes Wycombe council saying: “At a local level it means we can all move on and work with Daws Hill Neighbourhood Forum to help our district flourish.”

Bucks Free Press reports DNHF members saying the judgement: “Makes a nonsense of the legislation, which is supposed to be there to encourage participation."

Should Slate Meadow be returned to the green belt?


Wycombe council is proposing a review of green belt boundaries to accommodate housing.

As part  of the plans, Housing is proposed on Slate Meadow, a space previously removed from the green belt between Bourne End and Wooburn, substantially narrowing the gap between the villages. Now, Bourne End Residents Association is suggesting that Slate Meadow should be returned to the green belt.

Speaking to the Bucks Free Press, chairman of Bourne End Residents Association, Jim Penfold, said: “They took the site out of green belt land so it could become a potential development… If they are doing a review into green belt land they should review the possibility of putting Slate Meadow back into green belt.”

Bourne End Councillor Brian Pollock, backed Penfold: “There are serious concerns for me if they were to develop on Slate Meadow the whole nature of the area would change.”

Sunday, 2 March 2014

HS2 - Plan B Blueprint

"Plan B" – A Blueprint for HS2 in Bucks


Bucks CPRE was among those that contributed towards a “plan B” to come into play if permission for the high speed line is given. 

A group of councils, rural, environmental and business organisations led by Bucks county council is calling for a station near Aylesbury, liners parks to buffer settlements and a country park area in Bernwood area to “actually off-set some of the economic damage that'll happened around areas like Steeple Claydon, and some tunnelling around the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.” The report also calls for a station for HS2 workers on the East West Rail line at Calvert; a Waddesdon relief road; a longer rail tunnel through the AONB; and no spoil placement within the AONB. 

Chalk grasslands should be created on embankments and cuttings, and the diversion of the River Colne completed early in the scheme to allow riparian habitats to become established. Overhead power lines must be undergrounded and light pollution at vent shafts minimised. The National Trust is asking for a cut and cover tunnel to reduce the impact on Hartwell House. Aylesbury Vale council says “HS2 should treat the Bernwood Forest as Special Area of Conservation status” until a review is completed into whether more of forest should be classified as SSSI. Biodiversity offsetting is proposed to compensation for ecological damage in the Calvert area. 

The contributers call for an independent design review by CABE/Design Council to ensure the highest design standards are utilised, particularly for principle features and infrastructure. They also want local jobs and a community compensation fund for small projects. 

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Winslow plan

Localism threatened as Gladman delays Winslow neighbourhood plan


Last Sunday, I wrote that the withdrawal of the Vale of Aylesbury Plan would threaten the neighbourhood plan for Winslow. I am unhappy to report that the examination of the neighbourhood plan, which was due tomorrow, has now been delayed after a legal objection from Gladman Developments.

Gladman hopes to build housing west and south of Winslow in conflict with the emerging neighbourhood plan and against the failed Vale of Aylesbury Plan. Planning magazine (subscription required) quotes Gladman’s lawyers:

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Aylesbury Vale

Aylesbury planning crisis may hit Winslow

 
A lack of five year land supply has hit many districts around the country, undermining local planning and leading to many unplanned speculative developments being approved by the planning inspectorate under the presumption in favour of sustainable development. Now it is the turn of Aylesbury Vale to be in the face of a planning storm. After a planning inspector said the number of homes anticipated by the Vale of Aylesbury Plan was too low, and the council had failed in its duty to cooperate, the plan has been withdrawn.
 

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Wycombe District

Consultation on the Wycombe District Local Plan

Wycombe council is to carry out a review of green belt boundaries as it attempts to find enough land for housing. It is aiming to build between 500 and 700 houses a year up until 2031. Currently around 400 homes a year are built.


Sunday, 2 February 2014

Milton Keynes

Consultation on Milton Keynes waterside development 

Milton Keynes Council has begun a six-week public consultation on the Campbell Park and Newlands Draft Development Brief. The aim is to provide “high quality urban waterside” neighbourhood. The brief includes plans for high quality energy efficient homes private and social housing, with  accessible green open spaces and leisure facilities. The development will be one of the first phases of a larger community linking around Campbell Park.

Consultation closes February 24.


Location of the three development sites at Campbell Park and Newlands

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Winslow

Winslow – housing approved and rejected, appeal expected

Aylesbury Vale’s planning committee approved 250 homes on land adjacent to Furze Lane, Winslow. The development is in line with the emerging Winslow neighbourhood plan. The same committee yet again threw out a bid by Gladman developments for more than 200 houses on land at Glebe Farm, off Verney Road.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

HS2 - Latest news


The supreme court has rejected the final outstanding appeals by objectors to the HS2 high-speed rail link, who had claimed the decision-making process was unlawful. See the report here.

Friday, 24 January 2014

HS2 - Latest


Latest

A Supreme Court decision on an appeal against High Speed 2 by Bucks County Council and others is still awaited . Chiltern council leader Nick Rose said the failure to make a Major Projects Authority report on HS2 public is “morally corrupt”. The report is believed to suggest that HS2 is rated “Amber-Red” – in danger of failing. Rose said: “We'd like to express our continued disbelief at the stifling of democracy in this way."

Monday, 20 January 2014

Gerrards Cross

Gerrards Cross to be new garden city?

The national press has been reporting for some that the government has supressed a report calling for two new garden cities. One would be in Oxfordshire, another in Bucks. Today the Daily Mail reports Eric Pickles is backing the scheme. The newspaper names the locations as Yalding, Kent and Gerrards Cross in Bucks.

Bucks County Council pledged to fight any plans for a garden city at Gerrards Cross, saying it will contravene green belt policy.

Meanwhile, in the Telegraph, Boris Johnson says there is enough brownfield land in London to solve the housing crisis. 

Saturday, 18 January 2014

HS2 - Consultation

HS2 - Consultation extended


The consultation on the Environmental Statement has been extended to 10 February after HS2 Ltd failed to distribute 877 pages of documents from electronic versions of the consultation documents. The company had claimed it had corrected the errors by 16 December, but the Commons Standing Orders Committee was told that errors still persisted. HS2 said it was happy to comply with the ruling but claimed:

“The pages that were briefly missing from the Environmental Statement memory sticks would not have prevented anyone from being able to respond to the consultation.”

Friday, 17 January 2014

Wilton Park

Wilton Park redevelopment consultation opens




South Bucks Council has opened its consultation on the development brief for the ex-MoD site at Wilton Park.  


The consultation ends on 28 February. You can access the plans and a response form on the South Bucks website

Chalfont Holy Cross

Chalfont Holy Cross plans approved

Controversial plans for nearly 200 new homes and a care home on the site of the former Holy Cross Convent have been given the go-ahead on appeal. The scheme was unanimously thrown out by Chiltern council last year, but a planning inspector has now approved the scheme.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Stoke Poges

Stoke Poges free school thrown out by South Bucks

 
In a decision that is almost bound to end up being challenged in the courts, South Bucks council rejected plans to convert an office block in Stoke Poges into a secondary free school. The Khalsa Secondary Academy would largely have served residents of nearby Slough.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Aylesbury Plan

Green fields threatened as Vale of Aylesbury Plan thrown out

 
A government planning inspector says he wants to throw out the Vale of Aylesbury Plan. He argues that the Plan, which has been some years in preparation, does not allow for enough housing. Aylesbury Vale council had planned for 3,850 new homes and a minimum of 6,000 new jobs by 2031. The inspector says that this is not enough.