St Mary's Church, Thame
By Haddenham Webteam - 18th January 2016 9:30am
The Haddenham Village Society held its AGM on Thursday evening, 14th January. Despite the rather chilly weather, attendance at the Community Library reflected an encouraging level of support for the Society, now in its 51st year.
Chairman Sir Roderick Floud presented his review of the last year, and Treasurer Ralph Newell outlined its financial status, which has benefitted from a slight rise in member numbers during 2015. Continuing efforts will be made to broaden the appeal of HVS by continuing to host a wide range of talks and events, and so encourage new residents of all ages to consider joining the Society.
Secretary Brian Cole stood down after serving HVS for many years as Secretary, and was thanked sincerely for his considerable service to the Society in that capacity. He will continue to look after the membership administration, while Graham Tyack will kindly be taking on the role of Secretary going forward.
After the formalities of the AGM were concluded, David Truesdale (Chairman of the Planning Committee of Haddenham Parish Council) provided an insightful, if rather depressing, overview of the pressure for new housing in Aylesbury Vale and the extent to which Haddenham is likely to feature very significantly in AVDC's new housing plans over the next 15-20 years. David's comments will be summarised in a separate article here on the community website.
Below is the Chairman's report.
Haddenham Village Society, 2015
2015 was the 50th year of the Society's existence. It has been a very successful year, with increased membership and a number of well patronised events; the average age of our members has gone down as we try to represent the whole village community. I am particularly grateful for the support which I have received from the Vice-Chair, John Brandis and the Secretary, Brian Cole, together with all the members of the Committee. Henriette Webb has been good enough to continue to provide refreshments at our meetings and we are most grateful to her and those, such as Hazel Cole and Judy Brandis, who have assisted her.
This year we changed our policy; we decided that Haddenham and its residents should be the focus of our talks. Meetings have included an in-depth history of the airfield, a talk by Jane Robinson about her latest book on the Society for the Unmarried Woman and her Child, a very lively presentation by the Rt. Hon. John Bercow, MP, and a history of the Gallipoli campaign by Richard Moore. We intend to continue this focus, for example with February's discussion of Education in Haddenham and March's meeting on Witchert, our very own building material. I am very grateful to Mike Mingos for leading the programme committee.
We have held some very enjoyable social events. We are particularly happy to support the December concerts of the Witchert Chorale and other events have included the annual St. George's Day dinner — enlivened by the quiz compiled by our Secretary — , the visit to opera at Hall Barn, the summer walk and, this year, the summer garden party to celebrate our 50th anniversary. Attended by at least 250 Haddenham residents from 0 to 90, this was a splendid occasion for all of us and I am very grateful to everyone who assisted with it and particularly to Gin Samuda for mounting a fascinating display on the history of the Society.
The Society exists to support the Village, however we can, and to preserve and enhance its special character. This year saw the completion of the Neighbourhood Plan, to which many members of the Society have contributed, and its triumphant endorsement by the residents of Haddenham in the referendum in July. Many of us have had doubts about the concept of neighbourhood plans as part of the housing development process — and recent events have not allayed those concerns — but there is no doubt that it has been very valuable to think about all the aspects of our village — sports, leisure, health, education, business, transport etc — and to plan its future until 2033. I have been particularly pleased by the fruitful collaboration with the Parish Council and we look forward to working with them — and holding them to account — as the plans are worked out and put into practice. We will have an opportunity to discuss the future of the whole plan during the Annual General Meeting.
The Committee has been very well supported during the year by its Planning Group, which has commented on a number of development applications, and by a small group on transport, which has focussed particularly on the Sheerstock parking problem. Both have aroused controversy and members of the Committee and of the Society have expressed widely different views; this is healthy and to be fostered, since it helps to clarify the issues.
The Society has, however, expressed strong collective opposition — supported by many residents — to the proposal for a large housing development on the Glebelands site bounded by the Aston and Stanbridge Roads. Even those who are more sympathetic to development in that area resented and objected to the attempt by the developers to pre-empt and later to overturn the neighbourhood plan. The Society supported the request by the Parish Council that the application should be called in by the Secretary of State. Written submissions were made to AVDC and members of the Society spoke at AVDC's Strategic Development Management Committee which ultimately ignored our views. I and Nick Lock gave evidence on behalf of the Parish Council and the Society to the Planning Inquiry held in December. I am also very grateful to Brian Bowman and Chris and Robyn Thorogood, Gaynor Bull and Nick Nash, as well as Judy Brandis, for speaking at the Inquiry. Members will know that we still await a decision by the Secretary of State on the application, as well as by the High Court on whether a judicial review of the whole Plan is to take place. The review is an attempt by the developers and landowners to interfere with the democratic process in their own financial interests. They are attempting to get a High Court judge to throw out the whole plan on the grounds that it was made badly. This is nonsense; I am sure that the Society, in collaboration with the Parish Council, is right to resist it in every way.
I wish every member of the Society a very happy New Year.
Chairman, Haddenham Village Society