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The picture gets even more complicated - Mohammad Fayyaz talks about planning

August 28, 2020 2:47 PM
By Mohammad Fayyaz in Your Chesham

Mohammad FayyazWhat is our local plan? Just as important, what is the government's plan for us? The picture gets even more complicated.

Chiltern District Council spent the last ten years working on a new local plan, first on its own then with South Bucks District Council. They finally managed to come up with a proposed plan, and the government inspectors were due to start the official inquiry into it on 17 March. But then came the lockdown. In the meantime, the inspectors wrote to the councils suggesting that the plan looked seriously flawed because the councils had not taken account of their duty to cooperate with Slough Borough Council to help meet Slough's housing needs. It looks as though ten years' work may end up in the bin.

Some groups will be happy about that because they don't like the proposals to surrender some green belt for housing, including land on the edge of Chesham towards Lye Green. Brown Not Green say "build the houses in the town centre", the Chesham Renaissance Interest Company's Masterplan says the same and the Town Council is now working on a Neighbourhood Plan along the same lines. The new Buckinghamshire Council has to produce a plan for the whole county, so perhaps all the green belt will be safe.

All very well, of course, but even if the 500 houses proposed for our bit of green belt can be sensibly and sensitively built in the town centre, that will still not meet the housing need for our area, let alone allow us to help Slough, which could be a problem.

Now, into the middle of all this, we get the government promising to "build, build, build" to get the economy moving and proposing a bonfire of planning rules. Of course, they say what they always say, that they will protect the green belt and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Let's hope they mean it this time. It's going to need a lot of imagination and thinking outside the box to provide all the houses that people need and preserve all the green belt as well.

This article by Cllr Mohammad Fayyaz originally appeared in Your Chesham, issue 120, September 2020.