Apr 172017

Although it’s been a long wait, there is still no sign of a free school application being approved for the Penn School site anytime soon.

Just before Easter the Department for Education (DfE) announced the outcome of the review of free school applications under the national Wave 12 process.

You will know from previous updates that the Penn School Working Group has been reporting for several months that three applications were made to the DfE naming the former Penn School site as the preferred location for a new free school.

As part of the recent announcement, and specifically in relation to the Penn School site, the DfE made the following statement:
“The Education Skills and Funding Agency confirms that as no school that names the site has been approved in this wave they will be considering their options. This may mean holding onto the Penn site as it is a good location for a school or disposing of the site for other development. While it is physically possible to build a secondary on the site, they believe it is more suited to an alternative provision or special school”.

Details of the timing of and criteria for the next wave of free school applications will be confirmed following the publication of the Government White Paper in response to the Schools that Work for Everyone consultation.

The Penn School Working Group will monitor developments and do whatever it can to achieve a positive outcome for the village. It will also continue to regularly report on progress to residents in Village Voice and on the P&TGRS website.

18th April, 2017

Mar 222017

Field Grove Nursery, Hammersley Lane

Residents are invited to comment on the Wycombe District Council, planning application for five 4-bedroom houses on the land where Field Grove nursery ( more recently Alb Plants) was located. (17/05531/FUL), please note the consultation closes on 30th March 2017.

Miles Green, Chairman of the P&TGRS has commented on this application as follows:

Alb Plants have moved to Henley and a planning application (17/05531/FUL) has been submitted for the 2 acre site for five 4-bedroom houses to line the side of the road. The problem is that it is Green Belt land and a precedent could well be set for further development in that part of the GB.
30 years ago WDC decided not to remove the designation of the land as Green Belt and so prevented any housing. The difference now is that the planning rules have changed with the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework which aims to encourage more house-building. However it remains a question of interpretation of the new regulations and the application, goes into very considerable detail, probably because they know that they are arguing a case which is by no means certain.

The key point is the impact on the openness of the GB and we need to look critically at the contrast between a row of five very solid houses with their domestic gardens and cars on the roadside, and the temporary structures which are there now, which although dilapidated and ad hoc, are a part of the rural scene, whereas the proposed row of very similar houses is not. They describe it as previously developed brownfield land occupied by the permanent structure of a garden centre, but it was always a nursery rather than a garden centre, with very little public footfall, and can the dilapidated greenhouses really be described as permanent structures? It is the case that the nursery has never been successful but there seems no reason why the land should not revert to its original agricultural use.

I cut my planning teeth 30 years ago on successfully preserving the GB south of Sandpits Lane and so have to admit to continuing to be against housing on this site, but our P&TGRS planning team will have their own views and be weighing up the pros and cons. The closing date for comments is 30 March.

Miles Green

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