Chesham college housing plans given approval by Chiltern District Council

Bucks Free Press: Chiltern District Council's offices in Amersham Chiltern District Council's offices in Amersham

PLANS for a new housing development on the site of a disused college moved a step closer to becoming reality after being agreed in principle.

A total of 45 dwellings, including 18 affordable housing units, now look set to be built at the site of the former Chesham campus of Amersham and Wycombe College after being approved by members of Chiltern District Council's planning committee on Thursday.

Although councillors gave their unanimous consent, the proposals still need to be ratified by the Secretary of State before building work can go ahead at the Lycrome Road site.

A previous application for 52 new homes - of which 21 would have been affordable units - was turned down by the council in May.

Developer Cala Homes submitted new proposals, which attracted a total of 30 letters of objection and ten in support.

Speaking at the meeting, Cllrs Nigel Shepherd and Alison Pirouet both said the new proposals were an improvement on the previous plans, while committee chairman Don Phillips said: "Overall it's quite a pleasing layout. It works quite well."

The plans would lead to previously developed land in the Green Belt being built on, but Cllr Peter Jones said the reasons to refuse consent in the protected area "can be overcome".

But Roger Smith, who spoke on behalf of two residents' associations, said the plans would be in contravention of the council's planning guidelines, the Core Strategy.

He said the new plans had a 13.6 per cent greater footprint and 35 per cent taller than the existing college buildings, which he said "will have a greater impact on the Green Belt than one central building".

Mr Smith said: "This is the gateway to our community and it should be developed in accordance with the Core Strategy.

"It would set an unfortunate precedent and could lead to a free-for-all in the countryside around Amersham, Chesham and the rest of the Chilterns."

Douglas Bond, representing Cala Homes, told committee members the scheme had been "amended drastically" from the previous plans, with the number of car parking spaces being increased at the request of residents.

The proposals also include plans for a redeveloped sports pavilion on adjacent playing fields, which is used by Chesham Athletic FC.

Former Chesham Mayor Mohammad Bhatti asked councillors for a covenant to be placed on the football pitches, which should be written "in such a way so it can't be sold for housing in the future".

The college site had been earmarked for development as long ago as 2010 but it took until March this year for a formal planning application to be submitted. It has been disused as an educational establishment by Amersham and Wycombe College since last year.


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