An action group chairman has accused local councils of playing by ‘FIFA’s rules’ by promoting a major development it will also be ‘judge and jury’ on.
Aylesbury Woodlands to the north of Aston Clinton on the A41, which would include housing, employment land and leisure facilities, is being put forward by quango Bucks Advantage which is controlled by Aylesbury Vale District Council – which rules on planning applications – and Bucks County Council, which plays a key role as a consultee on transport matters.
Phil Yerby, chairman of the Preserve Aston Clinton Village Environment group, said that while it was too early to judge the merits of the scheme, he was concerned the plans would not be fairly and objectively assessed.
He said: “We need to think carefully before we decide on proposals for another huge development on the A41. This is being brought by BCC and AVDC outside of their own planning process. The council is currently developing a strategic plan for growth around Aylesbury. It is critical to have a co-ordinated plan for growth with sufficient infrastructure, such as schools and doctors. This proposal carries no such infrastructure and clearly puts the whole planning process in jeopardy.
“It will, almost certainly, encourage yet more opportunistic developments around the town. Can you imagine how AVDC can oppose other developments brought outside of the planning process when they themselves choose to ignore it?
“In addition Aston Clinton is currently developing its own Neighbourhood Plan. This also renders that plan irrelevant.”
Mr Yerby, a former Tory AVDC cabinet member who is now chairman of Aylesbury’s UKIP party, said ‘all the people assessing this will be the direct employment of those people promoting it’.
“They will also be the consultee, judge & jury for their own application. You could not make it up – these are FIFA rules.”
“We must all remember Bucks County Council supported the Hampden Fields transport case. That case fell apart under scrutiny from independent traffic experts. “Bucks County Council will no doubt do the same here as they are the developer.
“We are not saying this is the wrong thing to do, We have not made up our minds, unlike the council it seems.
“We need to see more. However, it is clear this needs to be fairly and objectively assessed. It needs to be brought back into the planning process or given over to an independent public inquiry to ensure we make the best decision for Aylesbury.”
However, Tracey Aldworth, director at AVDC, said there ‘is no conflict of interest in relation to this matter as suggested by Mr Yerby’.
She said: “In the period between the new local plan being prepared and adopted it is common practice for major planning applications to be properly determined in accordance with national and local policies and such applications are determined by elected members of the council.
“The proposals being pursued by Buckinghamshire Advantage are no different from any other development scheme that is submitted prior to having an adopted local plan in place.
“A planning application has yet to be made for this scheme but once an application is submitted then the authority will need to consider it in the same way that it would any other major application.
“This involves public consultation with the local community, residents and businesses and statutory partners/agencies, who will all have the opportunity to submit their comments for them to be considered at the appropriate time.
“AVDC has experience of being the promoter/developer for other schemes, such as the Waterside regeneration schemes, as well as the local planning authority and again this is common practice in many local authorities across the UK.”