After a huge influx of planning applications in Haddenham, residents are worried about the potential strain on current infrastructure with no clear plan on how the large village will cope with a new influx of people and cars.
One of the primary concerns voiced by local residents in relation to the growth in Haddenham is how the infrastructure will cope with a rapid rise in the village population and the extra vehicles that will be associated with 1,051 new homes as allocated to Haddenham in the Aylesbury Vale Local Plan (draft).
At the last Census in 2011, Haddenham had a population of 4,502. With these new houses, it could as much as double.
This has raised serious questions about schooling and healthcare provision in the town, along with how the roads will cope.
Already, the effects of developments are being felt.
Earlier this year, St Mary’s School added 45 new places - which has made the parking at Church end an absolute nightmare. Cars park all the way up Station Road, at the busiest time of the morning effectively creating a single track road at peak hour.
Keith Milmer, Editor & Webmaster of Haddenham.net said: “Most residents of Haddenham have accepted the need for major housing development. The challenge for us as a community is to preserve the ‘village-like culture’ that we enjoy and value so highly.”
“There’s little evidence of in depth strategic planning in these areas, and the lack of a sensible approach to traffic management could have very serious implications for road safety and simply getting around the village. Piecemeal developments are ignoring these practical issues, given their location in relation to the station.”
David Trusdale MBE, who is head of Haddenham Parish Council said that local authorities don’t have a choice anymore but to build, such are the current pressures on the housing market.
He said: “ We have a national housing crisis which is largely because of under-supply of housing over decades – a major failing of public policy.
“The current government is telling local authorities in no uncertain terms that they must plan for housing growth, and are prescribing how that should be done – it is for example currently consulting on a national methodology for assessing housing need, has said it will be applying national delivery targets, and has threatened to intervene and impose Local Plans where Councils don’t get on with the task.
“It has also told local authorities they must help each other out across Local Authority boundaries (known as “duty to cooperate”) – so for example AVDC has to help Wycombe, South Bucks and Chiltern Districts, which have large parts of their areas in the metropolitan green belt or are in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so cannot meet all their housing needs in their own Districts – so effectively at least part of Haddenham’s housing allocation may be meeting need in Districts to the south.
“AVDC has no such restrictions, and is being seen as a potential growth area – not least by the new Government quango, the National Infrastructure Commission, which is advocating major new settlements at/near both Haddenham and Winslow as part of the economic development of the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge corridor.
Haddenham’s housing policies as outlined in their neighbourhood plan were quashed following a High Court order in March 2016, which has left them vulnerable to hostile planning applications.
David added: “ Developers and land agents are deliberately targeting land and sites in local authorities without an approved Local Plan and/or a 5 year housing land supply in expectation of an easier ride in getting planning permission, if not with the local authority, then on appeal to the Planning Inspectorate (a Government quango) – and of course the profits to be made are considerable.”
Local Authorities simply don’t have the money to contest these legal cases.
The first draft of the Aylesbury Vale plan was rejected four years ago, which would have offered some protection against planning applications.
In the absence of a completed Plan in all that time, Haddenham has been rendered vulnerable to oprtunistic developers
The Planning Inspectorate dismissed the Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan (VALP) submitted by Aylesbury Vale District Council on two main grounds:
a) Insufficient co-operation and collaboration with neighbouring councils
b) Insufficient housing growth to accommodate the districts own requirements or a share of housing needs that neighbouring councils may not be able to supply.
A local resident, John Hurrell said: “Because of the lack of Central Government funding that AVDC receive, they have had to back down from legal challenges, which could cost them up to £35,000 just to defend.
“Haddenham is now defenceless to these cynical planning applications untill the Aylesbury Vale Local Plan is Approved.”
Bucks County Council has recently been issuing public statements about its focus on the need for additional infrastructure as housing growth occurs across the county.
They have bid for £250m of the Governments £2.3bn Housing Infrastructure Fund, launched by the Government in July to unlock 100,000 new homes across the country.
Buckinghamshire County Council Leader Martin Tett said: “We recognise that residents want and expect decent infrastructure to accompany new development. We are committed to working with colleagues in AVDC to identify and deliver this infrastructure. An example of this is our recent bid to government for £204m of extra Housing Infrastructure Fund for Aylesbury.”
Cllr Carole Paternoster, Cabinet Member for Growth Strategy at Aylesbury Vale District Council, said: “In developing the new Local Plan, and planning for growth generally, we work closely and involve all service providers to ensure the needs of both the existing and new residents are accommodated.
“In particular, we work with Buckinghamshire County Council (BCC) on the provision of educational, social care and transport facilities.
“We also work with local health providers, the Environment Agency and Thames Water, and initiate legal agreements with developers, to ensure utilities are on site when required.”
Cllr Paternoster added: “AVDC is actively working towards new ways of generating income, and we have successfully bid for government support for Aylesbury Garden Town status.
“With BCC we have made submissions for more than £200 million to enable early provision of infrastructure (new highways, education, land assembly) to support the Vale as it grows over the next decade.”