Torrent of objections over plan to create heavy machinery training hub on farmland near Buckingham

More than 70 people have objected to proposals for a training centre for heavy plant operatives for projects such as HS2

Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 4:39 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 11:57 am

A planning application for a change of use of farmland in Poundon has unleashed a torrent of objections from local people.

More than 70 objections have been received to the application, by Peter Flannery, for a temporary seven-year change of use of agricultural land at Red Furlong Farm, on Twyford Road, Poundon.

The plan is to set up training centre to train people to operate heavy plant and machinery for major infrastructure projects such as HS2 and East West Rail. The proposals include demolishing an existing barn and constructing a new temporary accommodation block with around 40 rooms plus a caravan site for those attending the course.

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The farmland near Poundon

Red Furlong Farm is in open countryside half a mile from the village of Poundon and six miles from Bicester. A public footpath, the Cross Bucks Way, crosses the site, connecting Poundon with nearby Twyford.

The applicant's statement says: "There is currently a shortage of trained workers who are able to use the plant machinery required to deliver the infrastructure projects coming forward within Buckinghamshire. These infrastructure projects include the HS2 Rail Link that will connect London with Birmingham, the East West Rail link that will connect Oxford with Cambridge and other infrastructure projects coming forward across Buckinghamshire such as new housing development.

"The infrastructure projects coming forward requires a substantial range of skilled personnel in the operation of both plant and sophisticated machinery including GPS-operated machinery and machinery used to detect the routes of conduits and services. Without the required skilled workers risks the timely delivery of these infrastructure projects which are in the national interest in order to improve transport connections. The proposals forming the basis of this application are in response to the need for skilled workers to deliver this national infrastructure."

But objectors say the plan shows how indirectly the influence of HS2 is creeping out into the rural environment.

The Cross Bucks Way crosses the site

As well as over 70 objections from local people, both Charndon and Edgcott Parish Councils have objected to the plan.

Charndon Parish Council wrote: "This planning application supporting the vanity project of HS2 should not be approved. The time has come to say enough is enough. The devastating effect on local villages from this infrastructure, and EWR, have seen large levels of traffic, road closures and diversions on local roads not robust enough to accommodate them. Many of these roads do not have footpaths or street lighting and are continuously used by pedestrians, schoolchildren, horse riders and cyclists. Indeed, the said roads are falling into disrepair with potholes, subsidence, and damaged verges. This is another example of the 'couldn't care less about you' mentality being driven by the hierarchy of HS2. This planning request is for seven years with assurances to reinstate the land to its original condition! Highly unlikely. Retrospective requests to extend over the seven years and the former Green Belt changed to Brownfields is the possibility and it would have a major impact on the surrounding villages."

Edgcott Parish Council wrote: "The site is not easily accessible and all journeys to this proposed development will be by road and with poor public transport most visitors to the site will be reliant on private cars. This goes against all Government policies of reducing carbon emissions. The proposed development is designed to train workers for the local infrastructure projects of HS2 and EWR but the additional traffic generated by this proposed Training Centre will further compound the traffic misery that local residents continue to suffer and will intentionally coincide with peak construction phases of HS2 and EWR."

It added that the accommodation block and caravan site "would have an undesirable urbanising effect on the local landscape" and "The construction work and the nature of the work carried out at the proposed training centre would have an adverse effect on the surrounding landscape and its residents in terms of night-time light pollution and daytime noise pollution. Brownfield sites should be considered as a priority for this type of development rather than causing the harmful loss of further green and rural spaces."

Access to the site on a country lane

Other objections include the loss of historic ridge and furrow landscape and the potential closure of part of the Cross Bucks Way should the plan go ahead.

The planning application, no 21/03284/APP, which can be viewed on the Aylesbury Vale Planning Portal, has yet to be decided.