We need a plan! Top Tories hit out at development which will ‘destroy’ villages

Councillors Carole Paternoster, David Thompson and Bill Chapple
Councillors Carole Paternoster, David Thompson and Bill Chapple

Senior Conservative councillors have hit out at ‘opportunistic’ housing developers who threaten to ‘destroy’ villages surrounding Aylesbury.

In a joint letter to The Bucks Herald, councillors Carole Paternoster (cabinet member for strategic planning at Aylesbury Vale District Council), David Thompson (former cabinet member at AVDC) and Bill Chapple (former deputy leader of Bucks County Council), said they fear for the future of Aston Clinton, Weston Turville and Bierton, which they represent.

The council’s Vale of Aylesbury Plan housing strategy stipulated only 6,000 new homes were needeed in the Vale until 2031.

However, the plan became defunct after a government inspector found it to be unsound – leaving the district with little protection against unwanted development until its new Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan is adopted.

This is not likely to happen until at least summer 2017.

Current or probable applications in Weston Turville and Aston Clinton include:

> 3,200 homes - Hampden Fields appeal held, result will be known in January.

> 27 - Brook Street, Aston Clinton, consent granted.

> 91 - Brook Street/College Road South, application expected.

> 47 - Chapel Drive, Aston Clinton, at public inquiry.

> 45 - Stablebridge Road, Aston Clinton, consent granted on appeal.

> 30 - Weston Road, Aston Clinton, application expected.

> 135 - New Road, Weston Turville, consent granted.

> 70 - New Road Weston Turville, current application.

The councillors said: “It is obvious to the residents of Aylesbury and the surrounding villages that the Vale is being bombarded with developers putting in opportunistic planning applications since the Vale of Aylesbury Plan was withdrawn earlier this year.

“They are trying to get planning consent on their land before the district council has chance to put another local plan in place and close the door on them.

“Without a plan in place planning officers have a difficult task refusing planning permission.

“If the council refuses consent then the developers just appeal to an unelected planning inspector.

“Should the planning appeal succeed, as it frequently does, the developer’s legal costs may well be awarded against the district council, which means that the council taxpayer has to pay.

“We, as your Conservative representatives, will fight these applications in order to keep the identities of the villages around Aylesbury and stop them being consumed by urban sprawl.

“We are working closely together to fight these applications one by one.

“Each application has to be judged on its own merits and fought on its own failings.

“If successful, all of these developments will be commenced shortly, which we feel will destroy our villages.

“These homes will bring more children wishing to attend local schools and more patients for our surgeries.

“How can we continue to take more housing when our villages are stretched already? The new Local Plan cannot come soon enough.

The trio called on residents to write and object to the applications.

Speaking last week as plans for 135 homes between Weston Turville and Bedgrove were approved by the council, an AVDC spokesman said: “Developers and landowners can make planning applications at any time. The council can’t control when this happens and have a legal duty to consider the application under the appropriate local and national guidance.

“If applications for sites come forward in advance of the Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan (VALP) being approved, it’s important all aspects relating to the sites are fully considered. This is to ensure the strategic development management committee are fully aware of all issues when making a decision.

“The National Planning Policy Framework states that if a plan is absent, silent or out of date, permission should be granted, unless there are significant and demonstrable reasons not to grant permission.

“Following the withdrawal of the Vale of Aylesbury Plan (VAP) earlier this year, it was clear we would have to develop beyond our original plans – meaning much higher numbers of new homes. We don’t know what these are yet but we will ensure there is adequate provision for additional infrastructure such as schools, play areas and transport improvements to support new development.”

Mass development in Weston Turville (to the south-east of Aylesbury) was actually promoted by the council in its core strategy in response to the Labour government’s demand for 26,000 new homes in the Vale.

Mrs Paternoster was still in charge of planning at this time.

The core strategy was dropped after the coalition came to power in 2010 and promised local control over planning.

This was welcomed by the council – however since then local politicians have hit out at what they claim is government interference in the local plans.