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Concerns Over Village Growth

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Many residents of Haddenham are feeling rather anxious about the major housing developments that are currently in the early stage of planning.

Various public consultations and exhibitions have been held in recent weeks, as developers with options to build appear to be moving rapidly towards submitting formal planning applications to AVDC.

There are currently four main ones known to your website editor:

  • Haddenham Airfield — Lands Improvement
  • Dollicott — CALA Homes
  • Land north of Tiggywinkles — Lightwood Strategic
  • Land linked to the Medical Centre — Haven Health Properties

If all four of these proposed developments were to be given the green light, Haddenham would increase in size by some 700-800 homes!

When does a village become a town?

Presumably the scramble to submit planning applications indicates that they will not all gain approval? Let us hope that this is the case.

But in the meantime, what influence do local residents or the Parish Council have in all this?

Andy Fell and HPC colleagues, in association with concerned members of the Village Society, have been doing a very thorough and committed job compiling a draft Neighbourhood Plan. However, this needs to fit into, and be consistent with, the regional plan of AVDC. Sadly, as things stand, there is no such regional plan, as the document most recently submitted by AVDC was rejected by government authorities. This leaves our Neighbourhood Plan flapping in the breeze.

What about the public consultations, then? To what extent are developers paying meaningful attention to the comments, views and opinions of those who have attended their exhibitions and briefings? Is this a serious endeavour to reflect local needs and preferences, or are they indulging in a glossy, graphics-rich PR exercise simply because the planning authorities would expect them to have "consulted with local residents and their representative bodies"? What's your opinion?

The Parish Council is comprised of a fine group of individuals who give up lots of their personal time, all on a voluntary basis, to represent the collective needs of Haddenham residents. They represent an intelligent and public-spirited group who have a sincere desire to help our community function fairly and well, and they work to maintain an physical and social environment in which we all enjoy living — to experience a sense of community spirit, satisfaction and wellbeing. In very many respects, the Parish Council should be applauded for its efforts, and the village would be a much less satisfactory place to live without this body of folk working on our behalf.

That said, there have been misgivings voiced by some residents when it comes to dealing with the most challenging issues. Dog Turds seem to be high on the HPC's agenda at the moment, and the Council ("after years of complaints") has acted to offer draft dog control orders. Meanwhile, on a more weighty scale, residents of Sheerstock grow increasingly frustrated by the long-term parking problems caused by rail commuters wishing to avoid car parking charges, and the housing developers are circling the village, salivating at the prospect of such development potential in a region with well-heeled residents, good rail and road links and no legislative barriers to entry at a very local level.

Your website editor has invited the Parish Council to offer some thoughts about their potential span of influence over housing development in Haddenham, and they have kindly responded with an entry in the Share & Chat forum on this website. This is helpful and appreciated.

Given the scale of the housing growth that is currently on the drawing board, perhaps it's time to hear a little more from them?

And as individuals, what have we done to engage with the issue of housing growth in Haddenham? Have you personally attended any of the developers' briefings and offered your thoughts and feedback? To what extent have you engaged with the Neighbourhood Plan and helped the Parish Council to form a collective view of what current residents would like the village (or town?) to look like in 15 years?

There's another public consultation event on Monday 21st July, during which Lands Improvement will provide feedback on its finding from earlier village consultations relating to the development of the Airfield. See our EVENTS diary for details.

Please feel free to comment — either in writing to the editor, or via the Share & Chat forum.
Our email address is: haddenham.net@hotmail.com

Andy Fell is the lead councillor for the Neighbourhood Plan; his email address is: andrew.fell831@btinternet.com

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