Jan 142018
 

WDC have received the outline planning application for the Ashwells site. Please have a look!

The planning application is also available on the WDC website. There will also be an exhibition of the application in the Village Hall, and all the documents will be available to read at Chepping Wycombe Parish Officers in Cock Lane shortly, the Site Notice confirms the  deadline for submitting comments is 26 Feb 2018

An article is to be published in the next edition of Village Voice and provides a high-level view of the application and associated documents. We are pleased to publish this article in full on this website in the Village life/planning & conservation/Ashwells tab.

The application (Ref. 18/05002/R9OUT) can be viewed by going to www.wycombe.gov.uk and clicking on ‘Find a planning application’.

 

Nov 282017
 

Copy of the letter sent to the Planning Department at Wycombe District Council on  24th November 2017.

CONSULTATION ON PUBLICATION VERSION OF WYCOMBE DISTRICT LOCAL PLAN

Please consider the following representations from the Penn & Tylers Green Residents Society on the above version of the Local Plan. These representations incorporate those of the Ashwells Forum group of residents and of the representative on the WDC Liaison Group from Chepping Wycombe Parish Council.

Firstly, it is our view that the Plan complies with the provisions of s.20(5)a of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act (2004) and is thus “legally compliant”.

Secondly, however, we must respectfully assert that the Plan is not in our opinion sound, when examined against the considerations in paragraph 182 of the NPPF, because it is ineffective in a significant regard, as indicated below.

Our Major Concern

The major concern of all contributors to the letter is the significant increase in traffic through Penn and Tylers Green, particularly past the Middle School, as a consequence of having a new, two-lane route to and from the A40 London Road, via Cock Lane, the Spine Road, and Gomm Road. This increase is likely to be at A40 London Road levels. WDC’s declared aim is to have no significant increase in traffic through Tylers Green and past the Middle School. We maintain that, since it is not practically possible, using the proposed traffic calming measures, to achieve WDC’s intention, the Plan is unsound in that regard and ineffective, because of the harm that will be done to Tylers Green.

Furthermore, the planned north end connection of the Spine Road to Cock Lane is not justified on the forecast of only an additional 42 vehs/hr at am peak hour from the Gomm Valley and Ashwell’s sites, so there is no planning need for it.

Argument
1. We do appreciate that WDC are trying to address our concerns by making the declaration in the Local Plan (5.1.46) that the capacity of the Spine Road and the northern end of Cock Lane should be restricted by effective traffic calming in order to prevent it becoming an unofficial ‘by-pass’. We note that WDC claim that the effectiveness of the traffic calming cannot be accurately assessed until planning applications and Traffic Impact Assessments have been submitted for both Ashwells and the main Gomm Valley developments. However, we believe that there is already sufficient data available from March 2017 and later, which was not fully considered by WDC, before the Plan was finalised.

2. We see a conflict between WDC’s objective to ensure no significant increase in traffic and Bucks County Council (BCC)’s repeated view that ‘the Spine Road effectively provides an additional route down to the A40 London corridor which some existing traffic on the network may re-divert onto…..modelling work shows that it proves more desirable than some other routes locally…..the additional traffic would be significant…..It is proposed that the stretch of Cock Lane will be widened to ensure the function of the Spine Road is achieved.’ (Cllr Mark Shaw (BCC), 23rd March 17).

3. A Jacob’s study in August 2017 (Countywide Local Plan Modelling, Phase 3 Technical Note) clearly labels the Spine Road/Cock Lane as a mitigation measure – but then shows that it significantly increases travel time eastwards on the A40 from before Cock Lane right out to Junction 3 with the M40. ‘This contravenes Plan Principle 5a), page 89, “Improve congestion on the London Road” ‘.

In this connection, we would draw attention to a recent report, ‘The impact of road projects in England’, commissioned by CPRE from consultants at Transport for Quality of Life (TfQL). This reviewed over 80 official evaluations of road schemes, as well as carrying out four detailed studies of older road schemes. The report challenges what it describes as the misguided belief that expanding the road network can reduce congestion and concludes that road building schemes:
• induce traffic, that is generate more traffic – often far above background trends over the longer term ;
• lead to permanent and significant environmental and landscape damage,
• show little evidence of economic benefit to local economies
4. We have obtained figures based on Jacobs’ modelling for an unconstrained route that shows an increase to almost two and a half times baseline AM peak traffic flow levels (to almost 700 v/hr in each direction) along Cock Lane past the Middle School. Other BCC / WDC figures show that, of this increase, only 3% is a result of the new houses in the Gomm Valley while 97% comes from traffic diverted from elsewhere.

5. These figures are similar for the 200m of Cock Lane, which it is proposed to widen to two lanes. According to Jacobs, the new houses in the Gomm Valley will generate only about 42 v/hr [30 heading north + 12 heading south] at the a.m. peak hour. Neither this prediction nor the one in para 4 above has been questioned by BCC. We are obliged therefore to ask the question, “ Where is the planning need to justify connecting the top of the Spine Road directly to a widened top end of Cock Lane? ”

6. We have been advised by an experienced traffic consultant that, worthy though the detailed traffic calming measures are, as set out in para 5.1.2 of the Development Brief, neither they, nor chicanes or traffic lights will achieve WDC’s goal of no significant increase in traffic past Tylers Green Middle School and will not mitigate or obviate the almost 700 vehs/hr each way at am peak hour predicted by traffic modelling. He says that traffic calming measures can be effective in slowing traffic and making the road safer, but they very seldom result in a decrease in traffic of the magnitude needed here to achieve WDC’s stated aim. His experience tells him that connecting the Spine Road to Cock Lane will unavoidably create an alternative route to the A40 which determined drivers will find. None of the calming measures proposed in the plan is applicable to a widened Cock Lane.

7. There is ambiguity in the application of traffic calming measures, as proposed by WDC and the County Highways Authority. Whilst it has been advocated that the Spine Road and the proposed widened section of Cock Lane are to be treated as one with regard to the assessment of traffic volumes, the application of any traffic calming measures to be applied to the Spine Road and Cock Lane are distinctly different. In the event that the Inspector agrees that it is preferable to stop the Spine Road within the Gomm Valley development and not join it to the top of Cock Lane, then there will be no conflict.

However, the joining of the Spine Road and Cock Lane as proposed will bring into play how the application of traffic calming will meet the stated objectives of preventing it becoming an ‘unofficial by-pass’. Whereas some specific means of traffic calming on the Spine Road have been spelt out, nothing specific has been proposed for Cock Lane. Indeed, the proposed improvement in forward visibility on Cock Lane, which paradoxically has been stated as something to be avoided on the Spine Road, will have the opposite effect.  The two roads have quite different characteristics requiring different approaches to the means of deterring their use by through traffic, but this has not been recognised in the Local Plan.

Our Conclusion
We, therefore, see the only sure way of achieving WDC’s aim of no significant increase in traffic is:

  1. a) to have no direct connection between the Spine Road and the top end of Cock Lane, but to end the Spine Road in a cul-de-sac. We note that an objection to a cul-de-sac put forward by WDC was that it would be detrimental to fostering joined up communities, but pointed out that this aim contradicts the declared principle of achieving a separation between Tylers Green and the Gomm Valley development,
  • b) to keep the top end of Cock Lane as a single lane but improve it to eliminate dangerous cliff edges and cut away a small part of the eastern bank to allow longer visibility.
  • As an indication of the strength of local support for the views expressed in this letter, we have 539 signatories for an e-petition calling for the above ( see the link :

    https://councillors.wycombe.gov.uk/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?ID=93&RPID=32664108&HPID=32664108 )

    We should also like to point out that the traffic flow numbers we have used to reach conclusions in our above representations were obtained from Jacobs, BCC’s and WDC’s own traffic consultants, in reports produced for BCC or WDC.  A more detailed analysis can be made available when necessary.

    If we may, there are other aspects of the Plan to which we wish to draw your attention :
     
    Identity of Tylers Green
    Despite ‘Principles for the High Wycombe Area 2a (p.88)” calling for the need to ‘strengthen the Sense of Place …..by  ‘respecting and improving the community identity of the adjoining settlements’,  Tylers Green is not accorded any identity or any status in the Settlement Hierarchy (p.406) other than being grouped as ‘Hazlemere/Widmer End/Tylers Green’ as part of ‘Tier 1 of Large Urban Area’.  We feel very keenly that our very different needs can, therefore, be easily overlooked and submerged by those of the greater High Wycombe area.
    2. Land off Penn Road, Hazlemere

    In our comments on an earlier version of this Local Plan (our letter to WDC of 1st August 2016), we made strong objection to the developer proposal to take land off Penn Road, Hazlemere, out of the Green Belt in order to build houses. The land is also in the AONB, and we argued that the proposal would constitute a major development in the AONB. This argument was accepted, and the proposal does not figure in the Local Plan under consideration. We wish to declare our strong support for this decision and our wish to argue the case to the Inspector should the proposal be repeated.

    3. Traffic congestion

    Another key issue for us is the cumulative effect of all the proposals by both WDC and CDC (since our community of Penn & Tylers Green straddles the border of Wycombe and Chiltern Districts ). Their separate proposals combine to increase traffic along the B474 through our village to an alarming degree.

    4. Penn School

    We are pleased to note that there is no mention of an earlier proposal for a large secondary school in the grounds of the former Penn Special School. We made a strong objection to it because the site and access roads to it are completely unsuitable for a large school.

    5. Green space in Gomm Valley

    Retention in perpetuity of green space in Gomm Valley and Ashwells, with public access as far as possible, is strongly welcomed. Management of the copse behind Carter Walk needs to be decided.

    Finally, because our representations are seeking a change, we do wish to have the opportunity to speak at the public examination.

    A copy of this letter goes to Cllrs Katrina Wood, David Shakespeare, Lawrence Wood and to David Anderson, Robert Harrison and Ian Manktelow, WDC, Cllr Ian Forbes, CWPC and colleagues in the Ashwells Forum.

    signed by Brian Bennett, Secretary and Miles Green, Chairman of P&TGRS and Ashwells Forum

    Jun 272017
     

    The meeting had been requested by Penelope Tollitt (PT) Head of Planning and Sustainability at Wycombe District Council, to brief the Ashwells Forum on the current status of the Development Brief (DB). Representing the Forum were Miles Green, Gill Markham, Gerry King and Ken Cooke. The full report of the meeting and follow up notes is available report

    It was agreed that the following list of topics would form an agenda for the meeting:

    • Cock Lane/Spine Road
    • Size of gap between Parcel 8 and Ashwells
    • The Copse
    • Density
    • Hammersley Lane access to Parcel 1
    • Traffic levels in P&TG
    • Bus Routes
    • Construction Traffic Access to Ashwells site
    • Car Parking
    • Green space in perpetuity

    The Developmnent Brief will be considered for adoption at the 10 July meeting of the WDC Cabinet. This final version of the Brief will ‘go live’ on the Council website 5 days in advance of the Cabinet meeting.

    It is not clear what the timetable will be for the presentation of planning applications. It is likely that the overall plan for the GVA reserve site is currently being reviewed by AVIVA as the new landowner, and although there have been expectations of an OPA being submitted for over a year, so far there has been no request for a Pre-application meeting. Proposals for the Ashwells site will be reviewed in-house with the property section of WDC (Charles Brocklehurst), but again there is no timetable for this.

    the full report and response to this report from Penelope Tollitt is published in full in the Ashwells Development section of this website

    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

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