The Government recently published two White Papers on Planning that may affect all our lives in the future. You can view the White Papers by clicking the links below :
The first White Paper Changes to the Current Planning System got much coverage (and ridicule) in the National Press & Media due to its promotion of an algorithm to calculate housing need in areas. This one size-fits-all approach, if applied as proposed, would see the already challenging housing need assessment in the Chilterns further increase by 232%, yet 88% of this District is designated as Green Belt with 72% also designated as AONB.
You would have thought after the fiasco of the exam results algorithm this Summer, someone in Government might have dressed this up as anything but an Algorithm!
Brown Not Green continue to campaign for a common-sense bottom-up approach to Planning and have pushed back against this Planning Algorithm in the Consultation responses to these White Papers. With thanks to Phillip Plato who has worked tirelessly (and continues to do so with super-human effort) during our protracted campaign for putting in these responses. You can read them here:
Thanks again to all members of the BNG Campaign Group and their supporters for their continued hard work.
The BNG Team
On Tuesday 13th October, BNG noted that Buckinghamshire Council published a Press Release announcing that at the next Council Meeting on 21 October 2020, the Council will approve a proposal to withdraw the draft Chiltern & South Bucks Local Plan.
BNG take no pleasure in seeing over five years of work abandoned at ratepayer expense but BNG have long opposed the draft Local Plan which was deeply flawed and given the independent Inspector’s criticism questioning the legal compliance of the Plan which BNG had itself alerted the Council to as far back as 2016, this is the only practical course of action for the Council. Accordingly, BNG welcome this proposal to finally consign this deeply flawed Local Plan to the rubbish bin.
As the Plan contained proposals to remove significant areas of Green Belt land and to allocate these areas for development, including land to the North-East of Chesham near Lye Green for between 500 and 900 homes plus a gypsy/traveller site, this news represents the removal of that immediate threat. The Council have further announced that it is their intention to now commence work on a new county wide Local Plan which itself may take several years to prepare.
BNG director, Phillip Plato MRICS said “This news is most welcome and represents a significant victory for the Local Community who have understandably been very concerned about these protracted proposals. Whilst the land may still be under threat in any new iteration of the next Local Plan, this campaign is therefore not yet finished and BNG will continue to take all the action it can to protect Green Belt around Chesham. “ He also thanked the many hundreds of local people who have supported BNG and donated money to its legal fundraising efforts.
The good folk at the Campaign for Rural England (Bucks Branch) have sent another letter to the Council reciting earlier claims the Local Plan is fundamentally flawed and should be withdrawn. This comprehensive letter speaks for itself and can be viewed by clicking here.
In the meantime, the Council continues to act very evasively regarding our Asset of Community Value Complaint with repeated broken promises regarding a formal response. This does not put the Council in a good light and will work against them when we take this further.
Thanks again for your support
The BNG Team
Following the outrageous decision by the Council to revoke this status BNG had secured on the land, BNG were unable to raise sufficient funds within the limited time available for a legal challenge under Judicial Review but have since filed a formal complaint to the Council under the Council’s complaints procedure.
This Complaint seeks a reconsideration of the matter and an explanation why the Council acted as they did and in the manner they did. It is notable that there have been subsequent court decisions that support BNG’s views that the ACV status of the land has been removed for inappropriate reasons.
A copy of the Complaint can be seen by clicking here.
Again, at the time of writing a formal response from the Council has not yet been received after over 5 weeks since it was acknowledged.
Thanks again for your support
The BNG Team
July 2020 POST SCRIPT: Despite repeated broken promises, still awaiting a formal response from the Council whose behaviour can now fairly be described as being entirely evasive.
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
The District Council’s outrageous decision to remove Greenbelt land to the North East of Chesham from a list of Assets of Community Value, whilst allocating it for development of over 500 homes in its draft Local Plan appears self-serving and hypocritical.
It follows a growing list of questionable decisions and shortcomings relating to the Council’s preparation of its draft Local Plan where many Councillors have raised serious concerns or chosen to remain silent yet they have still voted to adopt this Plan anyway!
The Countryside Charity (formerly the Campaign For Protection of Rural England – CPRE), recently called on the Council to withdraw this Local Plan as they felt it was already out of date
Is all this an indication that it is now time for change? Why are our elected Councillors tacitly condoning such behaviour?
BNG have concluded that the community has to elect independent Councillors onto the Town Council in May 2020. We need Councillors who are INDEPENDENT of party politics and/or prepared to stand up for the community and openly question the “party line” of voting to approve a Local Plan that builds unaffordable houses on the Green Belt in an unsustainable location that creates more traffic congestion, worsens air quality in the town and compromises natural habitats and wildlife.
If you wish to discuss this or are considering standing for election onto Chesham Town Council and want support from BNG and its 1,800 supporters, please contact us at www.brownnotgreen.com/contact
The Countryside Charity (formerly the Campaign For Protection of Rural England – CPRE) has sent an open letter to Chiltern & South Bucks District Councils calling on them to scrap the draft Local Plan which is still awaiting public examination despite the fact the Council itself will cease to exist at the end of March this year when a new Unitary Authority for Buckinghamshire takes over.
BNG was invited to be a co-signatory to this letter together with a number of other local community groups and several Councillors who are also fearful of consequences of this Local Plan.
CPRE highlighted that the draft Local Plan is already out of date and that the Council’s own advisors estimate the Plan will increase the carbon footprint of the District by at least 21% yet the Council have only recently themselves declared a “climate emergency” and so to proceed with this Local Plan would be reckless hypocrisy.
BNG urge everyone to write to their District & County Councillor urging them to drop this controversial and highly unpopular Local Plan.
You can view the CPRE Press Release: Click here
You can view the Open Letter: Click here
Members of the Brown Not Green Campaign