The Manor Waste Refurbishment

I have been following the Manor Waste debate with interest. Following Belinda Brackley’s well-researched letter about policy and the impact of this refurbishment on the surrounding Conservation Area, there are important lessons by the District Council and future applicants for funds received through AVDC. As an ex-Independent District Councillor for Wendover and Halton and a member of AVDC’s Planning Committee ,conservation area issues frequently arose. My thoughts are : policy – Local Authorities – of which our Parish Council is one – have permitted development powers therefore they did not need planning permission to refurbish the Manor Waste. Impact – I would have thought that prior to any decisions about the overall look of the Manor Waste, contact could have been established with the Conservation Officer to seek their informal views on a design that would blend in better with the surrounding Conservation Area and advice asked about a solution to the Health and Safety issue raised by the cobbled section of the old Manor Waste. In Aylesbury’s Market Square, AVDC’s solution was to shave the tops of the cobbles, removing the problem whilst retaining this pleasing aspect of the Square. However considering the amount of money spent on this refurbishment it would be impractical to replace this inappropriate design – surface colours more suited to Oxfordshire and style more suited to a modern environment – so I hope that the PC looks into low cost options for addressing those issues.

Our District Councillors could have a big role to play by ensuring that any other Parish Councils receiving money from the District Council for similar projects in conservation areas are advised by the Council to seek informal advice from Conservation Officers. I believe this sorry saga has raised issues of national importance which our District Councillors should raise in full Council. It is irrational to have policies which ensure Joe Public living in a Conservation Area must engage with planners on a variety of issues; trees, windows, railings etc. yet once they step out of their house on to the pavement, a Local Authority through permitted development has no such restrictions. I suggest after that full Council discussion, AVDC writes to the Planning Minister proposing that rules be amended so that prior to any permitted development works in Conservation Areas, the advice of Conservation Officers must be sought.