The decision over whether a development of 192 houses goes ahead in Monks Risborough will now be made at a public inquiry next year.
Gladman Developments Ltd, who are proposing the build an estate on land off Mill Lane, has requested the decision be made at a public inquiry, stating that Wycombe District Council “failed to give notice of its decision within the appropriate period on an application for permission or approval.”
WDC planning committee met last night to discuss the application and agreed unanimously against the development, but the final decision will now not be made by them.
Chris Steuart, planning officer, told the committee that although they could not make a decision on the application, they needed to be “looking at how we might defend ourselves at the public inquiry.”
At the planning meeting on Wednesday evening, all councillors on the committee agreed they would have refused permission for the development, citing serious flood risks, traffic problems on Mill Lane under the railway bridge and the harm to future railway line upgrades as the main issues.
Loss of agricultural land, harmful impact on Chilterns Area of Outstanding National Beauty and an unsafe pedestrian railway crossing were also noted.
Councillor Alan Turner told how he has “extreme concerns” about the development.
He said: “There’s an awful lot that’s wrong with it and not a lot that is right with it. The flooding issue shouldn’t be overlooked. In the 27 years I have lived in Risborough, I’ve known it to flood at least eight or nine times. Developing on there will just exacerbate it.”
He also warned that extra traffic that the development would bring would cause “absolute chaos” to the surrounding roads.
He said: “The [Mill Lane] bridge would have to be completely rebuilt to do a proper job of widening the road. There would have to be compulsory purchase of people’s gardens to try and widen the footpath. It’s not an easy job to do.
“The people of Risborough are reluctantly looking at an increase of a couple of thousand houses, so it’s not as though they’re being NIMBYs and saying not in our back yard. There has to be a right place and a wrong place and I think this is a wrong place.
“It would be a dangerous precedent to go down the route of allowing this development. It would be a dreadful, dreadful step.”
Councillor Tony Lee said: “I’m amazed that we would consider an application for almost 200 houses, 400 cars when it’s only access is a single track road. To me, that’s the most dangerous thing about the whole development.
“With that many people, there is going to be the odd person who will take the risk of crossing the railway line. It’s an extremely dangerous situation.”
Cllr Lee told how on a site visit, he “feared for his life” standing on the footpath under the railway bridge on Mill Lane: “I was staggered. It was so dangerous and that was with very low volume of traffic.”
Councillor Clive Harriss, who represents the Icknield Ward, said: “I think we have much more attractive and much more practical sites to use, smaller scale within the area that could be developed in keeping with the area.
“Local people are not adverse to development, but they want to see it on a smaller scale and with a desirable design as well.”
The investigation is due to be held between January 26 and February 12 next year, or in any three week period within February 16 to the end of March 2016.
Gladman Developments are planning to call six witnesses during the estimated 12-day inquiry, with around nine witnesses expected to be called by WDC, including representatives from Network Rail and the Environment Agency, who have both objected to the development.
Despite objections, the developers maintain that their "overall vision for the site is to provide a distinctive and high quality place, which enhances the qualities and character of Monks Risborough."
View all the documents for the application here.