Buckingham Town Council has clashed with Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC) over the planned development of a new care home in the town centre.
The plans for the development, which would be located at Cornwalls Meadow, are in the final stages of approval by Aylesbury Vale District Council, but the town council still hopes to block any building taking place – if necessary by requesting that the Secretary of State for Housing ‘calls in’ the plan.
The town council (BTC) argue that putting the proposed Grand Junction Care Home on the suggested site contradicts the Buckingham Neighbourhood Development Plan (BNDP), which they say reserves the area for car parking and riverside walks.
The BNDP cost taxpayers approximately £80,000 and received a 91.4% approval by residents in a referendum, although the turnout was a lowly 21.5%.
Susan Kitchen, corporate planning officer for AVDC, disputes the claim that the BNDP precludes the building of a care home, saying in a statement to this paper: “The committee listened very carefully to Buckingham Town Council’s arguments on their interpretation of those policies as well as their other concerns and were satisfied the proposal would not conflict with the relevant neighbourhood plan policies.”
Concerns have also been raised by the town council over a risk of flooding and the consequences this may have with regards to evacuating older residents.
The care home would be located almost entirely within an area designated as a flood zone: assessed as a less than 0.1% annual risk of flooding, with only the south-eastern corner located within flood zone two, which has between 0.1% and 1% risk of flooding.
Mark Cole, the deputy mayor of Buckingham said: “Buckingham has had four major floods since 2002” adding “the Environment Agency have got it wrong so many times.”
Richard Hall of Coast Consulting Engineers, who provided the flood risk assessment for the project, said when contacted that any flood risk is mitigated by plans to raise the ground level of the building two feet above the modelled flood level.
He also argued that a reduced run-off provided by the development was a benefit.
Some town councillors have questioned the need for another care home.
Mr Cole pointed out that two other care homes have recently been approved in the town.
He said: “We’ve got more care home beds than we need.”
Hugh Daglish of developers Crown Care Homes said in a statement: “A greater proportion of the population is now older.
“There is clear evidence of a need for the care home.
“Crown Care wouldn’t be building it if there wasn’t.”
Roger Edwards, Chair of the Buckingham Society who campaign to improve and enhance the town, emailed this paper saying: “The Buckingham Society does not believe that development should not happen in our town.
“Buckingham needs sensible, well planned developments.
“All we ask is that new developments take proper account of the views of the people who know the town best – the people who live here.”
Buckingham Town Council are holding a planning committee meeting tonight (Monday) to decide the next steps in opposing the development.