Wendover Neighbourhood Plan September 2018
I attended the Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan (VALP) Examination in public (EIP). A number of community representatives from Wendover and Halton also came. The purpose of going was to ensure that we got across the views of the community about the future of Wendover and RAF Halton in the light of the housing and other changes proposed for the area. We wanted to ensure in particular that, if RAF Halton were developed, then appropriate jobs and infrastructure was provided and the green and built heritage preserved. The Steering Group (SG) had already set out its comments on the VALP in December see http://wendoverneighbourhoodplan.co.uk/more.html. A number of us also were able to participate at the Inquiry (that is speak and ask questions). The purpose of the hearings (held between 10 and 20 July 2018) was for a government appointed planning inspector (who had experience of the making of such plans and the relevant legal requirements) to look at all aspects of the VALP and decide if it was sound. Soundness means in essence that the VALP must ensure: that the housing and employment development proposed is achievable. There were many participants from the area, AVDC, local residents from across the district and developers with land interests. All participants put in evidence and it was necessary to look at this beforehand – some was put in late in the day.
The main session we attented related to RAF Halton. The main questions here were listed in http://www.aylesburyvaledc.gov.uk/section/valp-examination
- Could the housing development at RAF Halton be delivered within the Plan period (ie up to 2033)?A number of developers argued that Halton was not deliverable within the Plan period, and that there was a need to review the Green Belt (GB) boundary before allocating the site. AVDC argued that they had reached an agreement with the DIO over developing the site, and that the proposed housing would cover the existing built up area and therefore did not require prior revision of the GB.
- Were the infrastructure provisions of the plan in relation to the allocation of RAF Halton sufficient to meet the needs of the community? The Defence Infrastructure Organisation had submitted a Vision Statement (VS) The VS caused some concern because it gave details of housing proposals only for the site (82 hectares of the land being essentially the built up area of the camp, and excluding Halton House and its grounds) and contained a number of important errors. It altered the housing figure back to 1000 (from 2000 plus in their earlier evidence). It envisaged conversion of the barrack blocks and building on the existing built area of the site. No detailed transport proposals were made No employment plans were proposed and only limited infrastructure improvements.
All those attending for the community, pressed for changes to the VALP to enable all necessary jobs and infrastructure to be provided, see http://wendoverneighbourhoodplan.co.uk/more.html
AVDC will now amend the VALP and put in Modifications (amendments) to address the above objections to the detail of the proposals for infrastructure. Any Modifications to the VALP will be the subject of public consultation. It should be noted that the allocation proposals for RAF Halton, at pages 125 and 126 of the VALP as presently drafted, and without any Modifications, makes reference to the provision of housing only on the site. There is reference to a Masterplan yet to be developed but which is likely to cover infrastructure issues. There is no reference to any employment uses.
The second session attended related to supplementary planning documents (SPDs). The reason we attended was over the lack of infrastructure provision for Wendover given the allocation at Halton. We also wanted clarification of the transport and parking provisions for Wendover. The VALP and supporting evidence contain no proposals to deal with traffic or parking issues affecting the Town. As a result some clarification on parking and design issues for new build properties was given and it is likely that further Modifications will be made to the VALP to assist the community.
As well as the above sessions I attended others, and points to emerge were AVDC may or may not succeed in showing that their spatial strategy (where they will put most new housing development) is right (60% of development at Aylesbury and less at larger villages or near Milton Keynes), in persuading the Inspector they have provided enough houses and showing their transport plans are sufficient.
Overall the Inspector will have to decide whether the VALP can be made sound by extensive Modifications or be rejected. The next stages are set out on the website http://wendoverneighbourhoodplan.co.uk/more.html. Essentially we will know more in early September when the Modifications are published.
One point that emerged at the EIP concerned “omission sites.” Please see http://www.aylesburyvaledc.gov.uk/section/valp-examination
In the meantime the SG are keeping a weather eye on all these matters and starting to prepare a draft plan.