Mayor of Buckingham writes open letter about planning application to build care home on flood plain

The mayor of Buckingham has written an open letter addressing comments from the residents of Buckingham about a planning application for a new care home on a flood plain.

Here is Mark Cole's letter in full:

Photo taken on Friday November 15 showing the proposed site of the care home under floodwater

Photo taken on Friday November 15 showing the proposed site of the care home under floodwater

"As mayor of Buckingham, I feel it is necessary to answer the concerns of the town about the building of a 61-room, 14-apartment care home on the flood plain adjacent to Cornwalls Meadow car park.

"As most will be aware, not only the car park but the care home building site went under water on Friday November 15 when the River Great Ouse burst its banks, something that has happened more and more frequently over the past 30 years.

"I have been questioned by many over the past few days about why Buckingham Town Council allowed this development in an area prone to flooding.

"The answer is that we did not.

Photo taken on November 15 showing Cornwalls Meadow car park, Buckingham, covered in floodwater

Photo taken on November 15 showing Cornwalls Meadow car park, Buckingham, covered in floodwater

"Buckingham Town Council opposed it from day one; we fought it vigorously.

"Our Buckingham neighbourhood development plan – which was adopted in 2015 with the agreement of Aylesbury Vale District Council, and approved by 91.45% of residents who voted for it - specifically zoned this site behind the Grand Junction public house for further town centre parking, electric car charging points, a riverside walk and picnic area.

"Building housing for vulnerable people in flood zones two and three – in which this site sits - is specifically excluded under Buckingham Neighbourhood Development Plan and National Planning Policy framework policies.

"Yet AVDC decided it was an appropriate place to build a care home for vulnerable people, and planning permission was given in May 2018.

"Both our then mayor Cllr Jon Harvey and I wrote separately to the Secretary of State for Housing to ask him to call in this ill-conceived development, but he declined.

"My attached photographs, taken last Friday (and appearing within this story), show both the care home site and the adjacent Cornwalls Meadow car park under several feet of water.

"We submitted similar flood photographs, taken in 2007, 2012 and 2016, to AVDC’s strategic management committee, but presuming to know more about Buckingham than those who live here, it ignored this evidence.

"I have no doubt that Crown Care Homes will have taken note of the latest flood event, and there will likely be more during the coming winter.

"It may be too much to hope that they will abandon this ill-conceived development, but the safety of vulnerable people must override all other considerations."