The Local Plan Examination Hearing Sessions commence next week and we will be expecting the Inspector to make several site visits to Lye Green, Chesham and the surrounding area. It is imperative therefore, that we demonstrate the strength of feeling against the Local Plan, specifically the building on the Greenbelt around Chesham.
It is time to get our BNG signs and banners out on display again, as above.
The BNG Team
BNG is not a political party and will always endeavour to remain politically neutral but the events leading up to these Hearing Sessions and the revoking of the ACV status of the land at Lye Green, North-East of Chesham, had prompted BNG to question what benefit there are to be had in the major political parties being so involved in local policies and so BNG encourages independent candidates to stand for election at the forthcoming local elections on May 7th.
BNG are pleased to report some success in this regard with candidates coming forward already to seek election as Town Councillors for Chesham with potentially a couple also wishing to stand as Councillors for the new Unitary Authority that will come into effect on the 1st April. BNG would like to see more!
Residents For Chesham has been set up to support independent candidates.
View their website here: www.residents4chesham
BNG, with circa 1,800 supporters, is prepared to assist any independent candidate who is concerned about the Emerging Local Plan and proposals for building on Green Belt without having first tested or identified all the brownfield opportunities. Or concerned with the creation of Local Plan policies which the Council have acknowledged will see significant increases in the carbon footprint of the district in direct contradiction of Central Government Policy and their own declaration of a Climate Emergency.
If anyone is interested in joining this campaign to stand as an independent councillor, please get in contact with BNG through the website and BNG can put them in touch with an independent coordinator at Residents For Chesham.
Postscript: Due to COVID-19, the elections have been postponed to 2021.
PLEASE NOTE, THE HEARINGS HAVE BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE DUE TO COVID-19
Independent Inspectors have now been appointed to commence the Examination Hearings of the Chiltern and South Bucks Local Plan. A few weeks ago, the timetable for the Stage 1 Hearings was announced.
The first day of hearings will commence on Tuesday 17th March 2020 and will be conducted at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Gerrard Suite, Oxford Road, Beaconsfield HP9 2XE. Hearings are scheduled to continue until Thursday 26th March, but it must be emphasised that these are Stage One Hearings and will not be considering site specific issues until the Stage Two Hearings are undertaken probably in mid-May or early June.
However, BNG have been devoting considerable resources to making representations and intend to attend all Stage One Hearing Sessions and have submitted Hearing Statements in respect of all Matters that the Inspectors want to discuss in the Stage One Hearings.
The Inspectors had sent some Initial Questions to the Council, to which the Council recently responded to and subsequently the Inspectors have published their Matters Issues and Questions (MIQ’s) to be considered at the Examination Hearings and BNG, whilst making representations on all issues in the Stage One Hearings, feel that the topics on Day One (Tuesday 17 March - re Legal Compliance) and on Wednesday the 25th March (re the general issue of Green Belt release and GB boundary changes) are the most important.
PLEASE NOTE MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC ARE ALLOWED TO ATTEND ALL HEARING SESSIONS BUT WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO SPEAK OR MAKE REPRESENTATIONS UNLESS THEY HAVE SOUGHT PERMISSION FROM THE INSPECTORS TO DO SO BEFOREHAND.
BNG will therefore be attending all Hearing Sessions and will be represented either by their retained barrister (Sasha Blackmore of Landmark Chambers) or by Phillip Plato MRICS or another representative of BNG.
Supporters may be interested to know that in addition to the Hearing Statements for each Stage One topic, BNG have also coordinated with other community groups to submit a Statement of Common Ground. This has now been submitted too and aside from BNG, involves; Chesham Society, the Chiltern Society, Holmer Green Residents Society and Chesham Renaissance CIC (authors of the Chesham Masterplan).
Copies of this Statement of Common Ground and all the Hearing Statement Submissions by BNG can be found below together with the Initial Questions raised by Inspectors to the Council, the Council’s responses to those Initial Questions, and the Inspectors MIQ’S.
BNG hope that anyone interested in attending the Hearing Sessions will feel free to do so and sit in the public gallery of the forthcoming independent inspection, as this is clearly the final and most critical stage in the BNG campaign to have this flawed Local Plan modified or withdrawn.
Examination Supporting Documentation:
We recently reported on the Council’s outrageous decision to remove Green Belt land to the North-East of Chesham from a list of Assets of Community Value (ACV) and you will be aware that BNG had taken legal advice which revealed that there were several grounds for mounting a challenge under Judicial Review.
Unfortunately, such challenges are not granted automatically, they require Leave of the Court and as such are expensive. Also for understandable reasons, most lawyers want fees paid in advance of such litigation.
For the last couple of months, BNG have been campaigning against this ACV Review decision with a view to raising further funds from the community to mount a Judicial Review challenge. However, the time limits for making any such legal challenges are very restrictive and it is with some reluctance that the BNG directors recently concluded that they could not fund this litigation.
This is not only due to funding but also because other developments relating to the Local Plan Stage One Public Examination Hearings being recently been announced, which now requires BNG’s focus and for remaining funds to be prioritised to maintain BNG’s continued opposition to the Local Plan.
The Local Plan is still seeking to allocate this land for development and to remove a number of villages around Chesham from Green Belt status. These proposals and many other flawed components of the Local Plan are of serious concern to many BNG supporters as well as to other community groups and BNG felt that the ACV issue, whilst grossly unfair, should not be a distraction from this objective. However, BNG are not abandoning the ACV issue and will be making a formal complaint to the Local Authority about the ACV Review Decision which may then be referred to the Local Government Ombudsman in due course.
We continue to welcome financial contributions from the community as already with current expenditure on consultancy & legal advice our funds have run down with BNG Directors dipping further into their pockets to make up the shortfall. Go to our fundraising page to see how you can help.
We will be publishing further news over the the next couple of days.
Thanks again for all your support.
The BNG Team
Members of the Brown Not Green Campaign