BACKGROUND & HISTORY
This is a short summary of how the Green Belt to the North East of Chesham came under threat from development, how Brown Not Green (BNG) came into being and the work BNG has done with unpaid volunteers from within the community over the last four years:
A New Local Plan?
In 2014, the combined areas of Chiltern & South Bucks commenced preparations for a new Local Plan. The original timetable for this Plan has been modified several times and the Council are now years behind schedule.
In late 2015 the Local Planning Authority (LPA) began looking at various options for development upon Green Belt land in the area. In January 2016 the LPA announced a Regulation 18 Public Consultation that ended on 15th March 2016 seeking public reaction to such ideas. Lye Green to the North East of Chesham was Preferred Option #1 for Green Belt release with circa 900 homes being suggested on the land there.
The concerns raised prompted the community to form a residents' association called Brown Not Green which later incorporated in June 2017 as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee.
Between October and December 2016, the LPA published a further non-statutory Public Consultation on revised Green Belt areas although Lye Green remained largely unaltered from the earlier consultation exercise. This time 380 objections were registered with many thoughtful material planning considerations raised. Click on these links to see some of these submissions:
BNG raised concerns with the LPA over the methodology that had been used to select the Green Belt sites and specifically in respect of Lye Green, NE of Chesham.
BNG also questioned the lack of "Exceptional Circumstances" being identified or demonstrated to justify any Green Belt boundary revision particularly at Lye Green, NE of Chesham.
Exceptional Circumstances are required by Government Policy and the National Planning Policy Framework before Green Belt boundaries can be changed. The Courts have ruled that housing need alone is not sufficient to represent "Exceptional Circumstances". BNG also questioned why brownfield opportunities were not being pursued and/or why higher densities of homes were not being built on brownfield land.
BNG hosted a public meeting in Chesham Town Hall in October 2017 Chaired by Dame Cheryl Gillan MP. The meeting was oversubscribed with many people standing outside. In anticipation of the popularity and the strong feelings aired at this event, it was filmed to ensure wider public update on the issue .
Click here to see the video.
Some eleven months after the last public consultation, the LPA published its Post Preferred Green Belt Consultation report in Nov 2017. The LPA still maintained the whole site should be removed from Green Belt and "safeguarded" for future development.
Although the precise details of housing development proposed remained unclear in late 2017, it appeared as though LPA's own landscape consultants had suggested the land should only accommodate just over 100 homes.
In May 2019, the Council approved publication of the Final Draft Local Plan for submission to an independent Planning Inspector with the whole site shown for removal from Green Belt for development of:
Just prior to to the Council meeting to approve the publication of the Final Draft Local Plan, a member of the BNG Team, a member of the Beaconsfield Society and a local Councillor gave interviews to local radio. Click here to listen