Controversial Buckingham planning decision ‘not taken lightly’

District councillor Pearl Lewis
District councillor Pearl Lewis
0
Have your say

A district councillor has spoken of her sadness following last week’s unpopular decision to allow an 80-home development on Moreton Road, Buckingham.

But this week, district councillor Pearl Lewis told the Advertiser she was satisfied planners had no alternative but to pass the application.

The 80-home estate, which was strongly opposed by local residents, will be on land between the existing new estate on Moreton Road and Buckingham Rugby Club.

A previous application by Bellway for the site was refused by Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC) but allowed by the planning inspector at appeal.

AVDC originally announced it would challenge that decision in the High Court but will not now be continuing with the challenge.

On her website, Miss Lewis, a district councillor for Luffield who has consistently opposed Bellway’s plan, spoke of her initial anger and surprise at last week’s decision.

But after many conversations with the head of planning to explore the legalities of the case, Miss Lewis said she now sees the committee could not refuse the application.

One key factor is that the South East Plan (SEP) – on which AVDC’s argument to the High Court was based – has now been revoked, meaning AVDC cannot base planning decisions on those housing numbers or apportionment.

This month, AVDC submitted its new blueprint for development in Aylesbury Vale over the next 20 years to the government for independent examination.

The Vale of Aylesbury Plan (VAP) proposes the delivery of 13,500 new homes, almost 10,000 of which are already at the advanced stages of planning, including those on Buckingham’s Lace Hill.

This is a much lower number than was set out in the SEP, and major objections to the VAP housing figures were submitted by developers during the consultation process, arguing AVDC has not provided enough growth for the Vale over the next two decades.

Miss Lewis said this meant the soundness of the VAP was still in question, and couldn’t hold the weight that it would have if no major objections had been received to the housing figures.

Miss Lewis told the Advertiser: “Of course I’m really disappointed, as everybody is. I think it’s a real shame but I’m satisfied there was no way out of it. Everybody on the committee said there was no way they could refuse it. We’re in a period of flux at the minute and there’s a huge loophole which can be exploited by developers.

“We did everything we could. A lot of people said AVDC has rolled over and they’ve just given up but that’s not the case at all.

“It wasn’t a decision that was taken lightly by the planning team or by the strategic development control committee. They were all sad. I had e-mails from some of the members to say how sorry they were they weren’t able to refuse it.

“I just hope the New Homes Bonus money which should come through and the Section 106 money will be put to good use in terms of alleviating the problems that will occur from the growth in that site.”

Miss Lewis has put her full explanation for the decision on her website at http://pearllewis.yourcllr.com