Bucks Council releases statement after rejecting £300 million mega prison near Aylesbury

Bucks Council has released a statement explaining its thinking behind rejecting plans to build a £300 million mega prison near Aylesbury.

By James Lowson
Friday, 25th March 2022, 12:04 pm

The application put forward by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) was for a major building that would have cost £300 million to construct and covered up to 67,000 square metres.

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Grendon Underwood was the chosen site for this new complex, but hundreds objected to the idea locally.

There are two existing prisons near to where the application was lodged

Complaints raised were due to the potential noise pollution, increased traffic, loss of privacy and sense of security, the removal of green space, and potential affect on wildlife.

The prison would have been erected adjacent to two other complexes in Aylesbury Vale, the HMP Grendon and HMP Springhill jails.

Councillor Alan Turner, who chaired the meeting in which the council unanimously voted down the application, said: “After careful consideration the Committee felt that the combined effects on the local area in terms of sustainability, heritage and the environment would have an overriding negative impact.

"There was also a feeling that not enough consideration has been given to alternative sites which could be more suitable for such a facility.

“Whilst the Committee acknowledges the efforts made by the applicant for offsetting some of the concerns raised during the application process, the overarching sentiment is that the scale of this proposed development would irreparably alter the nature of this rural and historic landscape.

“Taking all factors into account and giving fair consideration to all viewpoints, our decision goes in favour of the officer recommendation to refuse this planning application.”

Yesterday, in the immediate aftermath of the decision, Buckingham MP Greg Smith, who had been actively fighting the proposals alongside local councillors, said: “The MoJ’s application was speculative and totally inappropriate, with no consideration of the rural area.

"The site is surrounded by small settlements and served by an inadequate network of rural and unclassified roads that are already under pressure from existing approvals and approved growth in Aylesbury and Bicester.

"It is my belief that brownfield sites should be considered as a priority for this type of building work, rather than causing the loss of rural green spaces.

“This victory is an important one - together we have convinced planning officers to recommend refusal and the Strategic Sites Committee to actually refuse the application.

"But it is not the end of the road - the next step of the battle is to ensure the Ministry of Justice understands the strength of feeling locally and that their application has failed to meet key planning policy tests.

"I will be taking the case to the Secretary of State for Justice, demanding he does not appeal this decision and leaves Buckinghamshire alone.”

Several members of the Edgcott Parish Council were instrumental in fighting the proposals and making residents aware of the major plans laid out by the MoJ.

Councillors requested for the application to be referred to committee on grounds of transport and cumulative impact, location, design, flooding, landscape, biodiversity, heritage and archaeology.