Letters to the editor - Council clashes with campaginers over Aylesbury Vale local plan

Carole Paternoster from AVDC clashes with Phil Yerby from Hampden Fields Action Group today over the local plan for Aylesbury Vale

Tuesday, 23rd October 2018, 2:16 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th October 2018, 8:55 am
Letters to the editor - Council clashes with campaginers over Aylesbury Vale local plan

Dear Editor,

Thank you for reporting the Inspector’s interim findings into the Local Plan for Aylesbury Vale. It is not easy to interpret every aspect of such a detailed planning document.

The article therefore missed some very important things relating to Hampden Fields, Woodlands and indeed the whole of Aylesbury.

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First of all, the Inspector’s report is so critical that it caused the Council to hold on to it for five weeks (29 August to 1 October) before publishing it.

Even then, they tried to get the Inspector to agree that it should be published as a “discussion document” only.

That speaks volumes for the significance of this damning interim assessment of the Local Plan.

Secondly, paragraphs 44-50 of the findings dismiss the Transport Plan for a series of link roads around Aylesbury as unsound. As readers of your paper will know, we have long argued that this is the case.

We were relieved to finally have the opportunity to present our evidence and analysis to an independent assessor and to be heard at the public hearing in July.

The Inspector also agrees with us that the plans for the Woodlands road – the Eastern Link Road (South) -- are simply not good enough, as it is planned to go headlong through Aylesbury’s biggest flood plain. That is something everyone in and around Aylesbury should be very concerned about, on grounds of both ecology and cost.

Effectively the entire transport strategy has been routed and they are back to Square One and we are faced with many months if not years before the next version will be ready. We can all agree that is wholly unsatisfactory.

As members of the community we really did, and still do, want to help both AVDC and BCC come up with a better strategy for the whole of Aylesbury and the Vale.

In the absence of any meaningful engagement formally challenging the Local Plan was our only option. It appears the Inspector agrees with what we have been saying for many years.We would prefer not to have to go through it all again.

AVDC and BCC should surely would want to genuinely engage the community and use everyone’s expertise and knowledge?

We would welcome an honest and open discussion on this vital topic, and will be trying to get this going in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, however, it would be most unwise of the Council to try and force through the Hampden Fields and Woodlands developments given the crucial weaknesses – now proven -- in the evidence on which those applications were based and assessed.

We believe that will begin many more rounds of formal challenge and delay.

Phil Yerby Hampden Fields Action Group


AVDC response to Mr Yerby’s letter

Following the letter from Mr Yerby published in last week’s Bucks Herald, I felt compelled to write and correct the inaccuracies it contained.

The corrected version of the Inspector’s report was received by the council on Monday 3 rd of September and the council replied with its comments on Friday 7 th of September.

When the Inspector decided that he would consider our comments on Friday 28 th of September, we immediately published all documents. We did not ‘hold on to’ anything.

The Inspector’s Interim Findings are not a ‘damning interim assessment’ of the Local Plan. In fact, the Inspector considers that it can be found sound and adopted.

If it was a damning assessment the Inspector would have told us to withdraw the plan entirely, when in fact, his actual words were: “At the end of the hearing sessions, I offered the opinion that VALP is capable of being made sound. That remains my opinion.”

Mr Yerby alleges that paragraphs 44-50 dismiss both the Transport Plan and the link roads. That is not correct.

What they essentially mean is that we should incorporate more detail int the Local Plan, which is something we agreed to do during the public hearings in July with the Inspector.

Regarding the Eastern Link Road to the proposed Woodlands development being within the floodplain, this is a misunderstanding that arose due to a consultant showing the wrong line on a plan which was submitted to the Inspector.

The actual road line will be the one contained in the planning application, which the Environment Agency and the County Council have already accepted.

The Local Plan’s transport strategy has most certainly not been routed as claimed and the council is not back at square one. In fact, as set out above, adjustments to meet the pointsraised by the Inspector in relation to the transport strategy are already in hand.

It is also very misleading to suggest that the council can come up with an entirely new strategy for the future development of the area at this late stage in the plan making process.The only way the council can do that is by withdrawing the proposed plan, which will mean throwing away over four years of hard work and starting from scratch again.

This would mean years of planning by appeal rather than on the basis of a plan.

I would also like to stress that the modifications proposed only relate to a few parts of the plan and they are not the wholesale rejection of the plan as portrayed by Mr Yerby.

Accepting what the Inspector has told us to do will mean we can have an up-to-date plan in place very soon when currently we have a plan dating from 2004.

The claim of an absence of meaningful engagement is also misleading as we have carried out extensive public consultation about our local plan and listened to all those who wanted totalk to us about it. We have not been hiding in our ivory tower as the letter implies. We have not agreed to all the suggestions made to us, but an Inspector has now told us that the plancan be made sound and adopted. I believe that the objective we have been working towards for years is now within sight. This should be welcomed by residents because the Plan willmanage and direct growth in the district to the most sustainable locations.

Finally, as for ‘forcing through’ the two developments referenced; they have already had extensive consideration through the development management planning applicationprocess. The council has resolved to permit both, subject to the signing of legal agreements, and there is no justification for reversing that position as Mr Yerby suggests.

Councillor Carole PaternosterAVDC Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Infrastructure