A popular family attraction has hit back after a row with a developer over an alleged breach of lease agreement.    

Chiltern Open Air Museum (COAM) has spoken out following a spat with developer Comer Homes after the cancellation of its Halloween Spectacular event and concerns about use of land for future filming.

Over the years, hit TV series and films including Downton Abbey, Mary Queen of Scots, Midsomer Murders, Call the Midwife and Taskmaster were filmed on site – a major source of income for the museum in Chalfont St Giles. 

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COAM said on Friday, October 7, the owner of the freehold of the site decided that activities like the Halloween Spectacular and filming "are in breach of our leasehold,” and their access to the field used as overflow parking for the event was “blocked”.

The museum’s marketing and general manager Helen Light said: “Comer Homes have always been aware of the filming and have also financially benefitted from filming that has taken place, so it was a shock when we received a communication to say that if we didn’t cancel our filming then they would begin legal proceedings against us for a breach in our leasehold.”

Comer Homes currently owns the freehold of the museum site, located near to the developer’s new luxury housing development Newland Park.

Although Comer Homes has agreed to transfer the freehold of the museum land to the museum, “this has not happened,” an independent campaign group Save Chiltern Open Air Museum said.

While Comer Homes wished “to stress our continued commitment to transfer the freehold to COAM, as agreed as part of our purchase of Newland Park, this is a complicated process and one that requires open and appropriate dialogue between the two parties,” the developer said.

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They claimed: “There have been repeated breaches of the current lease agreement, with one such issue including loud music playing until the early hours.

“This is a situation we must resolve with COAM ahead of the first residents moving into Newland Park to ensure their peace and privacy is not disrupted.”

COAM’s manager Ms Light responded: “The Museum has had a wedding licence since 2015 and Comer Homes were informed that we were applying for the licence which has now been renewed on multiple occasions throughout the years without any concerns raised.

“The museum hosts a small number of weddings throughout the year to generate some additional income which helps to support the museums running costs, collections care and the valuable conservation work that we do.

“The majority of the weddings are small intimate daytime weddings.”

Buckinghamshire Council’s was aware of the “challenges being faced by Chiltern Open Air Museum, as a result of their existing lease,” although the Council was not a party to the existing lease.

Cabinet Member for Planning and Regeneration Peter Strachan said: "As part of the Newland Park planning permission, there is a requirement for the freehold to be transferred to the Chiltern Open Air Museum.

“The accompanying planning agreement sets out the terms of the transfer.

The transfer hasn’t yet taken place because of ongoing negotiations between Comer Homes and the museum, and the Council was “reviewing matters,” he said.

COAM, Comer Homes and councillors are due to meet to resolve the issue.