Development Landrush?

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There has clearly been a marked acceleration in developers' moves to build houses in and around Haddenham, with two formal planning applications now lodged with AVDC — one for approximately 340 homes on the glebe land north of Tiggywinkles, and the most recent for 233 homes on the airfield. A third in relation to the Dollicott site is also anticipated soon.

The more cynical among us might imagine that this is an attempt by developers to secure outline planning consent ahead of Haddenham's Neighbourhood Plan coming to fruition.

What powers do we, as residents of the village, have to stop this? And what about the Parish Council? Are our elected parish representatives in a position to intervene, given that our Neighbourhood Plan has reached such an important stage in its development — namely the publication of its first formal draft this coming Saturday, 6th December 2014?

Sadly the answer is no — there seems very little, in theory, to stop AVDC from granting outline planning consent across the various sites. However, some very serious lobbying is going on behind the scenes and we hope that common sense will prevail at AVDC, so that the Neighbourhood Plan can be finalised ahead of any major planning consents being granted and ultimately provide the guidelines that will help to shape the nature and scale of Haddenham's development over the coming 15-20 years, as it is intended to do.

In the meantime, how will the Neighbourhood Plan progress?

As mentioned, this coming Saturday sees the publication of the NP in its draft form. The document seeks to represent the views of local residents, as they have been expressed through the various public consultations and workshops that have been ongoing in Haddenham for the last 16 months.

The draft publication will be available in the village hall in paper form for all local residents to come and view, from 10.00am until 4.00pm . There will also be a number of parish councillors available to help answer any questions or concerns residents might have.

If you cannot make it to the village hall in person, the draft document is available in electronic form here — see the PDF link below the images on this page.

It cannot be over-emphasised that this is the DRAFT Neighbourhood Plan — there is still plenty of time for Haddenham residents to help re-shape this, if necessary. Indeed, if you have not yet engaged in the public consultations to date, it's about time you did! Once published in its final form, you will have lost the opportunity to contribute to the NP and "no one told me" arguments will sound a little hollow. So wake up, smell the coffee and get involved!

The public consultation of the draft NP will continue for six weeks after its publication on Saturday 6th December. Any amendments will be incorporated during that period before the document is submitted to AVDC on 17 January 2015.

AVDC is then required to offer a further six weeks of consultation before proceeding to a public referendum, involving all Haddenham residents.

Inevitably there will be differences of opinion and plenty of scope for disagreement among village residents, but it is very important to recognise that we need to finalise this document as quickly as possible in a form that meets our collective desires as a community. We need to achieve a consensus. This means a document "we can live with" rather than the perfect solution that expresses every aspect of "our individual wants". Let us seek to achieve that, before we fall foul of developers who would love to see 1,000 new homes built on the green fields around us. This is the best way of achieving a level of local power and influence that, at the time of writing, simply does not exist.