Send your news, photos and videos by texting bucksfreepress to 80360 or email
Hold them to account for this shameful failure
2:24pm Friday 31st August 2012 in Your Letters
I WISH to draw attention to the way in which the South Bucks District Council (SBDC) is undermining its own policy that was supposed to address the continuing shortage of new affordable housing in South Bucks (Core Policy 3, adopted in February 2011, requires that developments of more than five units must include or provide for 40% being ‘affordable’).
This failure is all the more worrying in light of current reports that the Government is proposing that Local Authorities be allowed to loosen such policies and permit developers to avoid obligations to contribute affordable housing provision when building ‘luxury’ developments. This calls for a political response supported by concerned local residents.
The majority of residents of Grove Road in Beaconsfield have been responsibly resisting, for nearly five years, repeated attempts by developers to get approval of plans to knock down traditional family homes and replace them with large blocks of expensive flats. The case for one such scheme of 12 flats in two blocks is typical.
The plan was first opposed by residents and the Town Council but approved by the SBDC in 2008, and that approval was subsequently renewed in early 2011 – just before its expiry and the effective adoption of the SBDC’s new Core Policy 3. But to date the developers have not built anything.
Since the renewed approval in 2011, the project has been taken over by a different development company that has submitted three further proposals, each involving creeping growth in the scale of the plans.
The first two were opposed by residents and the Town Council, and rejected by SBDC on the grounds of inappropriate overdevelopment, negative impact on immediate neighbours, and failure to provide for any affordable housing. The developers appealed to the Planning Inspectorate, whose inspector in late 2011 rejected the appeal on essentially the same grounds.
This month, the third similar proposal was reviewed by the SBDC’s Planning Committee. It involves fewer (eight) but larger flats in the same sized blacks, now with underground parking. The plan was again opposed by residents and the Town Council, but recommended by the SBDC planning officers.
This time, the SBDC Planning Committee capitulated, in spite of several councillors expressing strong concern about the lack of a contribution to affordable housing.
In effect, SBDC talks about getting affordable housing built but fails to enforce even its own policy on this (CP3).
In this particular case, the precedent has now been set that threatens to open up the rest of Grove Road to overdevelopment, while doing nothing to help provide for the young family buyers seeking to live close to the many local schools or the key workers needed to maintain our local services.
It is time for a broader coalition of concerned voters to hold our councillors to account for this shameful failure.
We would welcome support from any others facing similar frustrations.
Stephen Brandon, Grove Road, Beaconsfield