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Planners Refute Accusations

by Haddenham Webteam – 5th December 2015
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neighbourhood plan graphic 02roderick floudnick lock 01

Many residents will have followed the reporting of the Public Enquiry held recently to examine AVDC's decision to grant planning permission for 280 houses on the Aston Road / Glebe site, in contradiction to the preferences expressed in Haddenham's Neighbourhood Plan. During the Inquiry, the QC acting on behalf of Lightwood Strategic made a number of assertions that some observers regarded as highly offensive and potentially defamatory. Below is a formal statement made by Professor Sir Roderick Floud and Nick Lock, both of whom were criticised by Lightwood's QC.

Glebelands Planning Inquiry – a statement by Roderick Floud and Nick Lock

We are very grateful for the support of all the Haddenham residents who attended the Planning Inquiry into the proposal to build 280 houses on the Glebelands site adjoining the Aston and Stanbridge Roads. Reports of the Inquiry have appeared on Haddenham.net and in the Bucks Herald.

However, what has not been fully reported is the accusations made against us, and by extension against the Haddenham Neighbourhood Planning Team, the Parish Council and the residents of Haddenham. In his Closing Submissions, Christopher Boyle QC, acting on behalf of Lightwood Strategic Ltd, accused us of being "interested parties determined to oppose certain development proposals", who had demonstrated either "a conscious lack of objectivity" or "crushing incompetence" in carrying out the site assessments which allocated housing to different sites within the Neighbourhood Plan. He concluded that "Far from the neighbourhood plan setting out a 'spatial vision' of allocations which amounts to 'the authentic voice of the local community' in accordance with the Government's commitment to localism, the local community have been misled and misinformed ....". Further even more extreme personal accusations were made in Mr Boyle's Closing Submissions but withdrawn at the suggestion of the Planning Inspector.

We wish to make it clear that we deny all these accusations, which we refuted during more than two hours of aggressive adversarial cross-examination. We have considered whether to take legal action about these accusations, but prefer to rely on the good sense of Haddenham residents to judge the position between the volunteer Neighbourhood Planning Team and the developers who, it was revealed, expect the 280 houses to sell for more than £30 million. The developers, in addition to employing many consultants and legal advisors for this inquiry, are attempting, through Judicial Review, to overturn the entire Haddenham Neighbourhood Plan. We had already accepted that two mistakes were made in reporting two site assessments, but neither had a significant effect on the outcome, nor do they justify the accusations and inferences which have been made against us.

Neighbourhood planning, a central part of the Government's localism agenda, will be impossible if local residents are to be accused – we believe totally unjustly – of pursuing self-interest. We are interested in preserving and enhancing Haddenham. It is disgraceful of developers – motivated by the prospect of financial gain – to question the motives of ourselves and many others in Haddenham who have devoted many hours of voluntary effort to producing what an independent inspector described as a model Plan.

Roderick Floud, as Chair of the Haddenham Village Society, will make a report to the Society on the Inquiry at the AGM of the Society on Thursday, 14th January at 8.00pm in Haddenham Library. Meanwhile, he will be very happy to answer any questions which residents may have; he can be contacted on roderick.floud@btinternet.com or by telephone at 01844 291086.

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