Buckinghamshire Council response to our Letter of Concern to Martin Tett
Below is the April 29th response to our Letter of Concern to Martin Tett, from: Cllr Warrren Whyte BC Cabinet member for Planning and Enforcement. We shall be responding when the new local Councils are in place and hope to open up a constructive dialogue, helping resolve emerging issues and represent any community concerns.
Dear Mr Streule,
Thank you for your letter to Martin Tett, Leader of the Council. The Leader has asked me, as Cabinet Member for Planning and Enforcement to respond on his behalf, as I have responsibility for this area. I am responding to your RARA letter of April 2021.
The Local Plan has been subject to continuous community engagement with the whole of the Wycombe area, as the growth proposed covers the legacy Wycombe District Council area. This is set out in the WDLP Statement of Consultation and associated appendices. The Statement of Consultation and related appendices can be found on the Council website: https://www.wycombe.gov.uk/pages/Planning-and-building-control/Planning-policy/New-local-plan-examination-supporting-evidence.aspx#Submissiondocuments
Extensive engagement was undertaken with Princes Risborough community in particular in light of the major growth proposed. This included a local steering group including local councillors, town councillors and members of other groups in the town (including RARA).
RARA’s comments on the Local Plan were addressed as part of the Examination process (undertaken by an independent planning inspector), alongside comments from the wider community, stakeholders and developers, with the Inspector’s report setting out her conclusions on the plan’s legal compliance and soundness.
A petition was also submitted by RARA in 2017. It received 3,758 signatures. The predecessor Council fully responded to the petition at the 5 June 2017 Cabinet, and updated information papers on the website as part of the response. All papers can be found on this webpage: https://www.wycombe.gov.uk/pages/Planning-and-building-control/New-local-plan/Princes-Risborough-town-plan.aspx
The concerns relating to the Plan proposals at Risborough have been responded to previously at length, and we are not proposing to repeat what has already been set out. A summary of the Princes Risborough proposals can be found in this Local Plan Topic Paper: https://www.wycombe.gov.uk/uploads/public/documents/Planning/New-local-plan/Local-plan-publication-version/Princes-Risborough-Local-Plan-Topic-Paper.pdf
The reasoning for the scale of growth has been set out and tested through the Local Plan evidence, including Sustainability Appraisal. The Local Plan has followed a due process, was subject to an appropriate level of engagement that went beyond what is statutorily required. We believe that the Steering Group has very much shaped the vision, objectives and policies for Princes Risborough.
After the examination hearings, the Council started working on the Capacity and Delivery Plans for the Expansion Area. This took the form of a Princes Risborough Expansion Supplementary Planning Document (PRE SPD). As set out by policy PR17 of the Local Plan, these were to provide further details on the delivery of the Expansion: the when and the how.
The Council has continued to engage the local community via its elected representatives on the draft Princes Risborough SPD through Princes Risborough Town Council. This also involved the three local ward members and then-County member, as they also sit on the Town Council. The draft SPD was shared with the Town Council in Spring 2019 and several briefings were held. The SPD was subject to a full public consultation in June / July 2019 and the community was informed of this via notification through various means such as a leaflet posted to all households who receive Crosstalk, a banner and posters displayed in the town centre, information at the town council office and local library, press release etc. We received 180 responses. Following the consultation on the SPD, the Council reviewed the comments made, while continuing to engage with stakeholders to resolve outstanding issues. The main issues raised and how the Council responded, including how the SPD has been changed where necessary, is set out in the PRE SPD statement of consultation.
See more information on the PRE SPD statement of consultation here: https://www.wycombe.gov.uk/uploads/public/documents/Planning/Princes-Risborough-SPD/Princes-Risborough-SPD-2021-03-16/Princes-Risborough-Expansion-SPD-Statement-of-Consultation.pdf
Landowners and developers have not “driven” the plan since the 2019 WDLP adoption. However, it is recognised that as we are moving towards implementation of the WDLP and delivery of the expansion, there is a need for greater engagement with those stakeholders who are going to deliver the homes and infrastructure. There will however be further engagement in the coming years, as the Expansion phases get delivered, through the normal development management process. We therefore encourage RARA and the local community to get involved with future planning applications.
The Council understands your concerns about the A4010 and the impact of the relief road, and it is of course right to continue to consider the scope for wider improvements, however it is important to recognise that the relief road and the wider highway impacts were fully assessed and tested through the preparation of the Local Plan which was supported by the inspector.
The delivery of the Expansion is complex and will happen over many years. The PRE SPD sets out a way forward for this delivery, through careful phasing of homes and associated infrastructure. It is incorrect to claim that much of the infrastructure will be end loaded and we refer you to Table 1 in the Executive Summary which shows when key infrastructure is anticipated to be delivered, in line with homes being delivered. The delivery profile is not time driven; it is dependent on developers coming forward and the number of homes proposed to be delivered, and the infrastructure will have to be delivered in step, in accordance with specific triggers. While a developer agreement was sought throughout the SPD preparation, it has not happened, and the SPD delivery plan sets out considerations of alternatives. Ultimately, it is for the landowners and developers to bring the site forward with the necessary infrastructure in a timely way.
Buckinghamshire Council is starting work on a Local Plan for the whole of its area. Any review of the WDLP will be through this process. We remain committed to engage with RARA and the local community on future plans for Princes Risborough and for Buckinghamshire. We will:
· update the website as developments come forward or with other news
· encourage pre-application briefings by developers to Planning Committee/the local community
· continue with email project bulletins for the SRL project
Cabinet Member for Planning and Enforcement