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Development: A Glimmer of Hope?

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The current draft version of the Aylesbury Vale Local Plan (VALP) has serious implications for Haddenham. It is very likely that we will see 1,000 new homes built here over the next few years — this can be viewed as 'a given'.

But more serious is the potential for Haddenham to become the location for a 'New Settlement'.

This would see a further 5,000+ new homes built here, with serious implications for traffic management, school places, medical services and 'village centre' provision for shopping and community events on the scale required.

The structure of the village would make such growth a daunting prospect: consider the challenges that already exist in terms of roadside parking near the station, traffic congestion at school start and finish times, and the time it takes to secure a GP appointment.

Some believe that Aylesbury Vale has no need for a 'New Settlement' — that this has only been factored into the VALP because other district councils in South Buckinghamshire have based their own local plans on much lower housing densities than have formed the basis of development plans in the VALP.

Thus, AVDC has been planning to accept the transfer of so-called 'unmet housing needs' from Wycombe and South Bucks into our area while those district councils seek to protect their own greenfield sites.

Formal objections to the draft VALP lodged separately by Haddenham Parish Council and the Village Society included serious challenges to this discrepancy in planned-for housing densities.

However, there are small but positive signs that AVDC Planners are reconsidering their position.

Here is a formal statement from AVDC, published on Friday 4th November 2016:

Housing numbers drop in local plan

Following recent reductions in the population growth forecasts, Aylesbury Vale District Council are revising the housing numbers it needs as it prepares the final version of the Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan, (VALP).

The neighbouring authorities, Wycombe, Chiltern and South have found more space for housing. All this means the latest figure for new homes in Aylesbury Vale is now below 27,000 — over 6,000 fewer new homes than the 33,300 figure in the draft local plan.

Such a large reduction in housing need means planners are revising the proposals put forward in the draft local plan. Additional work is needed in making detailed assessments of proposed sites and devising a new strategy, and taking into account the consultation feedback. The revised strategy will be subjected to a sustainability appraisal and there's more new detailed evidence to be taken into account.

AVDC planners also emphasise that the new figures mean that over half of the new homes required to meet housing needs in the district by 2033, are already built or have planning permission.

To ensure that the new local plan has the best chance of being approved by the government's planning inspector, AVDC has revised the committee deadlines they were working to. After consulting the Department for Communities and Local Government, (DCLG), the timetable for bringing the final Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan to council meetings, will shift by around eight weeks, to March next year. This means the consultation period of the final Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan may commence sometime in April, but dates have yet to be confirmed.

Cllr Carole Paternoster, Cabinet member for Strategic Growth said: "We are very pleased to hear the population forecasts have been lowered and that other areas have found more capacity, but we will continue to robustly challenge unmet needs from other authorities as we move forward. We regret that it will take longer to prepare the plan but we have to ensure that we deliver a workable and well considered local plan that makes Aylesbury Vale a special place to live and work".

Letter from John Bercow, MP

Dear Editor of Haddenham.net

Further to our earlier correspondence about development in Aylesbury Vale, I have now had the opportunity to seek clarification from the Council and consider the situation.

From what I am advised, AVDC is actively challenging the unmet housing need figures which had been advanced by neighbouring Authorities. However, given the relatively urgent need to get a new Plan in place for the district, AVDC consulted on the 12,000 figure as a "worst case scenario". AVDC has made no commitment to accommodate specific numbers of units from other Authorities — the inclusion of the unmet need in the Plan consultation represented a recognition by AVDC of their statutory duties under the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to address unmet need.

On the specific point of density assumptions adopted by Wycombe District Council and the disparity with the figure used in the Vale, I am advised that this is a matter which is currently being discussed between the two Councils and I welcome the commitment I have received from AVDC that it will be "robustly challenging" Wycombe District Council on a number of points.

Of course, I stand ready to assist to the very best of my ability and will monitor this situation closely .

Yours sincerely
John Bercow
MP for Buckingham & Speaker of the House of Commons

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