THE time is right to release five ‘reserve sites’ for development, despite residents reinforcing the fact they are unwanted, Wycombe District Council workers have said.
A proposal has been made to release Slate Meadow in Bourne End and High Wycombe sites Gomm Valley and Ashwells, Abbey Barn South and North, and Terriers Farm for development.
This has come after a new government framework stated the district needs to develop between 500 and 700 new homes every year, with the council previously being asked to work to a target of 400 homes.
WDC head of Planning and Sustainability, Penelope Tollitt, said: “We have just consulted on our Local Plan, but during that period our reading of the rules has shifted.
“There is now much more emphasis on the short term delivery of houses rather than the long term plan for development.
“According to the new framework we need to be able to show we can develop a certain amount of houses (between 500 and 700) in a five year land supply. But it is not just enough to say we can do it, we actually have to do it.
“That is why we think the time to release those reserve sites is now, in order to demonstrate we are managing that five year supply.
“If we do nothing, developers can put in applications and if we refuse it is very likely they will just be permitted on appeal.”
The council are now going to begin a consultation with concerned parties to discuss their proposal.
Once they have discussed the plans to release the sites, the concept will be put to the WDC cabinet for a final decision in October.
Ms Tollitt said: “The idea of the consultation for the Local Plan was to see the views of people regarding possible future developments.
“However, we did receive a huge amount of feedback from people in regards to the reserve sites and that reinforced that people are concerned about development in this area.
“That is why we must work with these people to come up with the best possible solution. If we do nothing people will just try and develop as they would like to, and we would struggle to stop it.”
Cllr Neil Marshall, cabinet member for planning and sustainability, said: “We thought we could rest on our laurels and work towards a Local Plan, but the picture is changing and it has changed while we were doing this public consultation.
“There is now much more emphasis on the immediate which is looking around about 600 new homes per annum, although we don’t have an exact number.
“The amount, which is somewhere between 500 and 700 homes, is what we will be expected to achieve, and if we are put to the test, that is what we will be expected to reach.”
The council are now due to hold public workshops to discuss the proposal to release the reserve sites.
The first workshop will be at Bucks New University on Thursday, August 14.
To attend either meeting, register by contacting Lynn Bartley on 01494 421101 or Simon Barlow on 01494 421158 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org