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'Even doctors can't afford new homes in Amersham'
YOUNGSTERS will continue to be priced out of Amersham unless plans to build cheaper homes are given a chance, it has been warned.
The latest plan to build 50 low-cost houses and flats was turned down by Chiltern District Council last week - despite the clear gap in affordable housing in the town.
The Rural Housing Trust, which wanted to build the homes on the Bury Farm site in London Road West, said first-time buyers are already being forced out of Amersham to find a property.
Moira Constable, chief executive of the trust, said even junior doctors couldn't afford to buy a home.
She said: "I am sure we all know many people, or even our own children, who are being priced out of the market. There are dire shortages of professional people."
Her comments were echoed by Cllr Vera Head, member for Amersham on the Hill, who said the town would lose vital key workers such as nurses and teachers if other affordable housing schemes were chucked out.
She said: "There is a desperate need for affordable housing. Young single people are going to move away and we will lose them."
But other members of the planning committee said the land was in the Green Belt and was a no-go area for homes. Many homeowners against the plans even applauded as the vote was made.
Cllr Don Phillips, chairman, slammed the application for not doing enough to mirror the character of Old Amersham.
He said: "I would want to see some truly imaginative architecture to even consider this. I do not see a very convincing argument."
Cllr Peter Jones, member for Ballinger South Heath And Chartridge, said: "We have our planning rules. If we cannot obey them then how can we expect others to?"
Martin Brooks, chairman of the Amersham Society, admitted there was an urgent need for affordable housing but was against the density of the proposal.
He said: "We recognise the need for affordable housing. Unfortunately it is a problem and it is something we all need to work on to find a solution.
"But we were concerned about the number of houses proposed and that this would set a precedent. It is green belt land and there are other small patches of land in Amersham that could follow."