2nd April 2015
Hemley Hill Travellers Site
The last of the travellers left the site last November and a group of local residents have purchased the field, so we can hope that it will be returned to its original state. We have to thank Wycombe District Council for pursuing this case with steady resolve since April 2009.
The proposal for a solar farm at Forty Green was refused and again we thank the planners for the advice they gave the planning committee as the farm would have been clearly visible from the AONB and the Icknield Way.
A more unusual proposal was made for a touring caravan site on Chapel Lane. Apparently this did not need planning permission as such sites are administered by the Caravan Club who were singularly uncommunicative. Thankfully permission was refused as the lane is only passable with care owing to many residents having to park their cars in the road.
At a public meeting in Saunderton it was suggested by the planners that up to 800 new houses could be built in a new ‘Greater Saunderton’ starting with 42 at Wests Yard and 212 on the former Molins site. Both sites are in the Green Belt and Chilterns AONB. The council is extremely concerned that the understandable development of a brownfield site is not used as the thin end of the wedge to set a precedent for developing sites in the AONB.
The Parish Council fully appreciates the need for new homes and understands the pressure to develop Wests Yard and the Molins site. Amongst other things we have asked that:
- The new Molins estate should have direct pedestrian access to Saunderton Station.
- Additional parking space be found near Saunderton Station, perhaps by the Wests Yard development being redesigned to allow additional spaces on Slough Lane.
It seemed there was a very real danger that short term expediency was likely to leave Saunderton both dangerous and dysfunctional for posterity. My fellow councillors urged the district council and planners to carry out their duty to ensure that Saunderton is developed so that it works for the future generations, even at the cost of a few years’ delay. An Area Action Plan has recently been proposed ‘for availability early to mid-2017’. How this might work and how this timescale will interact with a developer pressing for a decision this summer has yet to be seen.
Employment and Light Industrial Units
The lack of cheap industrial space for new businesses will continue to harm the local economy. This is exacerbated by similar planning initiatives in Chinnor which are replacing existing light industrial accommodation with housing. The impact is very real. To give a simple example: the man who services my car in Chinnor can find no alternative accommodation this side of Aylesbury, and a bodywork business forced to leave Wests Yard is also homeless. The council asked for some light industrial units at Wests Yard but this has been ignored as was the request for additional station parking.
Princes Risborough Bypass
In part I suspect as a by-product of an accident of local government boundaries, Princes Risborough seems likely to be developed as it is outside the AONB. To the North West Risborough will almost be contiguous with Longwick.
We are deeply concerned about the outline proposals for a road to be built to the South East of Princes Risborough. The AONB will already be under pressure from The Molins and Wests Yard developments. There is now a danger that the AONB will be threatened by the line of this road. Just as the railway contained the expansion of Princes Risborough for a century or more, this new road will invite the south easterly expansion of Princes Risborough into the AONB.
The finances and outstanding balances of grants made for the Meadow Stiles playground were established thanks to some almost forensic accountancy by Cllr Stallwood, and an elegant solution devised by Cllr Reading. Cllr Hojer is now leading a sub-committee of local residents to manage the site.
The already marginally viable village shop reported that it was suffering as a result of the new housing development on the site of the old garage blocking the shop from view. The council made a grant for a shop sign which will hopefully cause an increase in passing trade.
Generally the roads are now in a reasonable state, but there continues to be a steady stream of potholes and roadside subsidence being reported, which are being attended to by Transport for Buckinghamshire. The last major blackspot Haw lane was resurfaced and is much improved.
Bledlow Ridge has acquired two Vehicle Activated Signs which were eventually sited satisfactorily after the intervention of Cllr Cox. We can only hope that these may discourage the excessive speeding from which the village suffers.
Broadband & Web site
Cllr Britnell has continued his lobbying of Connected Counties to encourage them to improve the broadband service to the Parish. While we have received tantalising assurances of expected additional funding for improved connectivity, no concrete proposals have yet been announced.
Thanks are also due to Cllr Hojer who has set up a new and improved web site www.bledlow-cum-saundertonparishcouncil.org.uk following the withdrawal of support for our old site by BucksVoice.
As part of the government ‘localisation’ initiative the Parish has been encouraged to join a consortium led by Princes Risborough Council to carry out verge cutting. We have agreed to this on a trial basis. This is cost neutral, should allow us greater control, and may even increase the frequency of the cuts.
Health & Charity
The NHS approached the council in February 2014 encouraging us to install defibrillators. To be effective we decided that we needed a champion to lead this as a project. I am pleased to report that a new charity is being set up, led by our former County Councillor Paul Rogerson to do just this. The first machine was installed in February 2015 at the golf club with three more to be installed at Saunderton Railway Station, and both village halls. Given the slow ambulance response rates to a rural area such as ours, I am hoping that the Risborough First Responder scheme will be extended to the parish ‒ again we need a champion.
Tour of Britain
In September the Tour of Britain passed through the Parish along Chinnor Road, Wigans Lane and Upper Icknield Way, thus avoiding the less well maintained roads in the parish.
During the year we carried out a full review of our budget. With the likely impact of the Community Infrastructure Levy we will be able to keep the Parish precept at £16,800 plus an impenetrable government grant of £257.
Cllr Stallwood resigned from the council and we welcomed Cllr Blackwell who was co-opted in November. We look forward to elections in May. Hopefully we will manage to avoid election expenses caused if seats are contested without having to co-opt too many councillors after the election!
I wish to thank the Clerk, and the Councillors for their commitment and support during the year. I also wish to record my particular thanks for the support of Cllr Stone who has acted as Vice Chairman but who, despite my pleas to the contrary, has decided to stand down from the council after eight years as a councillor.