Plans to create ‘Greater Saunderton’ by building up to 1,000 new houses on the Chilterns’ Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) were branded as “illogical” and “insane” by residents at a public meeting on Wednesday night.

Over 100 members of the public attended the first of two meetings organised by Wycombe District Council (WDC) to discuss the possibility of developing land in and around the Molins brownfield site in Haw Lane.

The site – as well as a large area of surrounding land - is currently owned by St.Congar Land, who submitted a planning application for 212 new homes on the site to WDC.

The council is now investigating the possibility developing a large area of AONB land to join up the Molins site to the Wests Yard site on the other side of the village, which has already had a 42-home development application approved by WDC.

Kim Martin from Molins Action Group said: “We are talking about a fundamental change in the quality of rural life.

“It is the effect on the AONB, the effect of the traffic increase and the loss of employment land. We need a parish-wide approach to this problem.”

Lucy Murfett from the Chilterns Conservation Board said: “It is illogical to use green belt land to make use of a brown field site - let the residents dictate the plans.

“Nationally, AONB land is considered as important as a national park. My message is, if you would not do it in a national park, do not do it here.”

Clive Allom added: “A significant stumbling block to this application is traffic. There is nothing you can do to stop traffic congestion that will be caused on the A4010. It seems an insane proposition.”

Lewis Stringfellow said: “The implication that the only place these plans will affect is Saunderton is a massive fallacy.”

Some residents suggested that turning the site into a retirement home would be more beneficial to the community and would not add much – if any – strain to the road and rail networks.

The audience were then asked by Cllr Alex Collingwood, Vice Chair of the Council’s Task and Finish Group (TFG), to vote whether they were in favour of; no development in the area, limited development or full-scale development.

All those present who voted elected for ‘limited development’ which they clarified should be “appropriate” and to scale with the size of the town.

It was also reiterated by many residents that they would only approve development on brown-field sites and would not sacrifice any of the AONB land.

Cllr Collingwood said: “Tonight shows me that the people of Saunderton are very passionate about where they live.

“What surprised me was the level of detail the residents went into about the various issues there are. I was impressed with the quality of their research and the quality of their arguments.

“We will make recommendations to the cabinet and I hope – considering the level of detail we have gone into to engage residents and groups – they will take those seriously.”

WDC have asked for an independent group of councillors to assess the expansion plans in and around the Molins site.

Residents are likely to hear back about the project proposals on November 11 when the council will present plans to the commission at a public meeting.

There are 40 spaces remaining for the second public meeting which takes place on Wednesday October 14 from 7-9pm at The Clare Foundation.

For more information or to book a place email or phone 01494 421261.