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VALP Under Scrutiny

by Haddenham Webteam – 18th July 2018
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The public examination of the Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan (VALP) is currently underway in Aylesbury, with Inspector Paul Clark hearing representations from interested bodies and individuals in relation to specific elements of the Plan prior to its formal acceptance by the Government.

It is worth noting that AVDC has already granted planning permission for 50% of the allocated sites in the VALP overall, including two of the three large ones in Haddenham. In reviewing the VALP, the Inspector isn't determining an individual planning application – he is examining the overall soundness of the Plan.

On Tuesday morning 17th July the session focused on Plot HAD007, i.e., land at the immediate northern edge of Rosemary Lane and Dollicott and west of Churchway, which the VALP notes as 'suitable for 315 homes'.

Present with an opportunity to speak at the public hearing were Peter Whitehead, on behalf of the Rosemary Lane Action Group, and Alyson Glasspool, a resident of Rosemary Lane. Christopher Roberts was speaking on behalf of Persimmon and Cala Homes. Members of AVDC Planning Department and their legal representatives were also able to contribute.

Among members of the public who were present as observers were Roderick & Cynthia Floud, Richard & Tricia Hirst and John Brandis (representing the Village Society), Judy Brandis (District Councillor for Haddenham), David Truesdale (HPC Chairman), Brian Fattorini (resident) and Keith Milmer (Editor, Haddenham.net).

Brian Foster (District Councillor for Haddenham) also turned up five minutes before the session concluded.

The Inspector conducted the discussions in a very focused and accomplished manner, examining each of the issues raised in advance and looking in particular at the following aspects in relation to the suitability (or otherwise) of the site:

  • Impact on the conservation area and associated heritage assets at the northern boundary of Haddenham
  • The difficulty in providing adequate walking and cycling access to the village amenities and especially to the station
  • Reservations about inadequate sewage disposal options, water supplies and the drainage of surface water

In response to several of the concerns that were very clearly and eloquently raised by Mr Whitehead and Ms Glasspool on behalf of Haddenham residents, Mr Roberts argued that the site should be enlarged, taking the northern edge closer to the A418 and thus providing room for a more open and aesthetically pleasing development to be designed. This would also facilitate the construction of a new footpath and cycleway, joining the HAD007 site directly to the Airfield development.

There was much discussion over the apparently "random" size and shape of plot HAD007 (particularly its northern boundary) as outlined in the VALP versus the natural boundaries in place as defined (potentially differently) by existing hedgerows and other natural features. AVDC argued that its planners wished to keep development on this site well short of the A418 so that it remained invisible from the "attractive landscapes" to the north of the road – the A418 follows the line of the ridge that provides a natural visual barrier.

The Inspector he said he was prepared to take it "as read" that AVDC's section in draft VALP on HAD007 included an assessment in relation to the Conservation Area. His concern was that he had not been furnished with the 2008 Haddenham Conservation Area review as part of his briefing documents. AVDC undertook to provide him with the 2008 report (a particularly thorough piece of work).

The session on Tuesday 17th July formed part of a lengthy examination process by which the validity and acceptability of the VALP is being assessed. The Inspector's findings are not expected until late 2018/early 2019.

The VALP can be read here (the section relevant to HAD007 begins on page 123):

The Summary of Issues discussed at the public hearing can be read by clicking on the PDF on this page.

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