PLANS to transform part of a now vacant industrial site into residential properties with a portion of affordable housing have been approved – but not without dispute over the scope of council conditions.

The redevelopment of part of the former Springfield Road Industrial Estate in Chesham by developer Inland Homes was carried by the East Buckinghamshire Area Planning Committee on Tuesday (July 28) – but some members questioned why conditions for approval of the scheme had been so narrow.

Cllr Jane MacBean led a fiery tirade on “why oh why oh why?” there was no provision for improvements to the road and pavements along Springfield Road as part of a Section 106 Planning Obligation Agreement – in addition to on-site affordable housing and education contributions.

A S106 Agreement is a legal agreement between a local authority and a developer to mitigate the impact of development.

She also claimed town council objections to the site had not been noted in the report, which she said was an “error and… quite an oversight”.

Ms MacBean said the pavements and highways are in “appalling condition”, and in terms of access, she knew “for a fact” emergency, and waste collection vehicles had struggled to access Springfield Road, resulting in “missed collections”.

She said access “to this site is a major concern”.

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Ms MacBean hammered home her point, saying parking standards for Springfield Road residents was “diabolical”. She urged Inland Homes to take the proposal away and improve it.

One committee member countered however the roads and paths were the responsibility of Buckinghamshire Council and not Inland Homes.

“We need to beat our colleagues up in Highways and say, ‘this is not good enough’,” said Ms MacBean.

Cllr Tony Franks said the proposed bin and cycle stores on site are isolated and hidden, posing a risk to residents who might be victims of crime.

Ms MacBean backed up Cllr Franks stating Thames Valley Police, who had been “twice” consulted on crime prevention, told councillors on two occasions “there is little regard for the safety of residents”, adding, it was creating a development that has “criminal and antisocial behaviour elements that will encourage that kind of activity”.

Thames Valley Police responded to a consultation process stating, “some outstanding concerns” and committee members accepted its suggestion that a “Secured by Design accreditation will be achieved” ahead of construction.

Although there was some back-and-forth on these issues, it was agreed at close of business the approval was “recommended with conditions” – such as fixing the highways and site security.

Plans to transform the easterly side of the Springfield Road Industrial Estate include provisions for 34 residential units (with associated landscaping and infrastructure), of which 14 are affordable housing.

Originally, outline application permission had been granted for up to 55 residential units across the entire site (not just the east), in 2017.

Read more: Plans to build 55 homes on industrial estate given the green light

The site in its current state has been determined as having no “reasonable prospect” for commercial re-use due to “access limitations, its location and economic factors”.

Bucks Free Press:

Some 63 parking spaces are planned for all 34 units – 32 within two courtyards with the remainder in groups of up to four.

Some 60 photovoltaic (solar) panels are also proposed for rooftop installation.

Approval of the redevelopment is conditional upon 14 affordable housing properties being built and contributions to local schools by Inland Homes.

The affordable housing specifications are:

  • 1 x one-bed apartment and 3 x three-bed houses in shared ownership
  • 5 x one-bed apartments, 3 x two-bed apartments and 2 x two-bed houses as social rented

The plans were amended in April and June 2020 – first to address objections to their “bulk and design” which lies within the Green Belt and AONB, and later to replace projecting terraces with near-flush Juliet balconies throughout.

Several Springfield Road residents have objected to the proposal; and some had no objection but did request a turning bay, more on-site parking, and that the road be resurfaced.

Some also objected to Inland Homes circulating cards seeking support of the proposal; others surrounding site access and expected “degradation of the road”.

“If we approve the recommendations, we can have additional conditions,” said Cllr Caroline Jones. “Obviously we want the police involvement… and the state of the roads, if it helps, we can write a letter… Can I have a proposal that we accept the recommendation with these conditions?”

Committee members voted in the majority to approve the Springfield Road redevelopment “with conditions”.