Haddenham 'New Settlement'?

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Local residents do not need reminding that planning permission for 1,000 new homes is already in place and that our village boundaries are extending outwards at a rapid pace.

Of more concern to many is the prospect that Haddenham will be chosen as the location for a 'New Settlement' which will place an additional 5,000+ new homes on our doorstep. One possible site being mooted is on the Thame side of the railway line.

Questions have been raised about the efforts of our District Councillors, particularly those on the Strategic Development Management Committee of AVDC, to resist this initiative.

One of our District Councillors, Judy Brandis, is not on that committee unfortunately, but some would argue has been much more proactive in the public debate. She has very recently written to Lord Adonis, who is heading up the National Infrastructure Commission. Here is her letter.

To: Lord Adonis
National Infrastructure Commission

Dear Sir

I write to you as a District Councillor of Aylesbury Vale. I have been a Councillor for Haddenham for 18 years and in that time I have fought to keep my village just that, a village, albeit with extra housing coming on board over those years.

We are now taking over 1,000 new homes and most of those will be built within 5 years i.e. long before this present plan has expired. This means that the village will be absorbing anything from 2,000 to 4,000 people within that time limit. The present VALP (Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan) runs from 2013 to 2033 with the expectation that the rate of building would be evenly spaced throughout the period to preserve a village ethos. Villages in the past have grown organically over time.

We have agreed to the 1,000 houses but I would like to give you some idea of the village I represent.

It is very much a forward-looking village with many interests represented. However we have very few shops and because we are only 2 miles from Thame which is a market town with all the facilities entailed we will probably not have many more shops. We have no 'centre', no market square and the beautiful Conservation area runs like a golden thread from one 'End' of Haddenham through another 'End' to the final 'End'. This would be subsumed if we have much more housing and our village would just become a suburb with people not knowing each other and losing that sense of 'belonging'. Haddenham is a beautiful village with its rare witchert buildings and walls, the setting for many television productions. There are old footpaths with high witchert walls which take a walker from one 'End' of the village to the final 'End' only crossing a road once. It is good to bring in 'new blood' but not in such quantities that the very thing that people come here for is destroyed.

I would also like to express my unease at another village being put just one field away. Planning documents always stress that there should be no coalescence between villages. By putting another village only a field away this could not be achieved. Moreover Winslow is better placed as it is a town and the new railway now being built would connect with areas east and west so opening up the country more and dispersing the people away from the over-crowded south-east.

We are losing our green spaces rapidly, dog walking areas have gone and increasingly the surrounding green fields are disappearing. We are already building on Class A agricultural land which should be maintained to feed all the extra people the country has brought in in the last few years. There should be a balance between the availability of good agricultural land and housing.

Several years ago I spoke to the then CEO of HS2 asking why when there was a perfectly good train line between London and Birmingham the government should be introducing another one. Why not add carriages and trains to the existing line, I asked. The reply was that they were unable to do this and that there was finite capacity at Marylebone. Why are we then building more and more houses close to an already over-crowded train service which cannot be expanded?

I would welcome a visit from you or any member of your committee to come and see what is already going up in Haddenham and what would be destroyed by even more housing and another village too close.

Judy Brandis
District Councillor, Aylesbury Vale District Council.
June, 2017