row of shops disappears from plans for land behind Market hill

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A drastic change to plans for a key town centre development could see a planned row of new shops replaced with homes.

An application for a mixed-use development on land behind Market Hill, Buckingham, was first lodged with planners at Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC) in 2009.

The original plan was for a development of 38 flats, 24 houses and six commercial units forming a small parade.

But an amendment lodged with AVDC last month sees a dramatic change, with most of the commercial space replaced by more dwellings, and just one commercial unit remaining.

The amendment is set to be discussed by Buckingham Town’ Council on Monday.

Chairman of the town council’s planning committee, Warren Whyte, said: “The main thing is the loss of a good opportunity to add good-quality retail to the town centre.

“The concern here is there are already so many flats in the town there’s an imbalance.

“This is a classic example of bringing residential too close, into what is good, prime retail space – or even office space. We’re lacking office space in the town as well.

“This really waters down a cracking opportunity.”

Mr Whyte said many stakeholders and students attending workshops to develop the new Buckingham Neighbourhood Development Plan had expressed a desire for a better range of shops in the town centre.

But Iain Taylor, planning director of Village Homes, which is behind the application, told the Advertiser it was not viable to build new commercial space in Buckingham.

He said: “The financial side of it and the complete lack of demand for commercial units in Buckingham have been accepted by the district valuer and AVDC.

“There’s a lot of vacant commercial units in Buckingham at the moment. Why make six more?”

An AVDC spokesman said: “We are awaiting a viability assessment on the scheme from the district valuer. Once we have received all the information, we will be in a position to make a recommendation to the committee. A date for the committee to debate the application has not yet been set.”