The plans for a new parish centre in Buckinghamshire village have been postponed.

Buckinghamshire councillors have unanimously voted to defer the plans to redevelop the St Leonard’s Parish Centre off Glebe Way in Chesham Bois.

The East Buckinghamshire Ara Planning Committee devoted most of its two-hour meeting on Tuesday, October 17 to the discussion over the controversial plan.

The St Leonard’s Parochial Church Council wants to redevelop the site by demolishing the existing parish centre to create a new multifunctional parish centre with a cafe, nursery, replacement rectory with a detached garage, two outbuildings providing a prayer room and bin and bicycle storage and associated parking and landscaping.

Bucks Free Press: Part of the current parish centre in Chesham BoisPart of the current parish centre in Chesham Bois (Image: Alison Bailey)

The committee discussed the councillors’ concerns, including the impact of more people using the site, parking for 150 people, access and how wildlife would be affected by lighting.

Councillor Jonathan Waters said: “It’s not clear and straightforward and it’s not easy to actually know how this new site will be used. And it’s not something we have seen before, where we can say this is actually what will happen. It may be that if we can do this assessment, it will give us the evidence, but we what we need is certainty and the committee haven’t got that level of certainty.”   

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All seven councillors present voted in favour of councillor Stuart Wilson’s proposal for the plans to be deferred subject to receipt of a satisfactory, appropriate assessment for the site considering potential usage and some different scenarios.

A number of residents and the Parish Council have opposed the plans, citing concerns over lack of consultation with the public, lack of access from the highway and light pollution and its impact on wildlife.

Supporters of the plan have said the new parish centre will provide a space for the community to come together and a much-needed new nursery.

The current plan, which was submitted in December last year, comes after the refusal of the previous application in April 2022.

The current application puts forward the same plan except an additional house known as Keeper’s Cottage has been removed.

When the plan was submitted for consideration, there were 50 letters in support and 264 of objection.  

St Leonard's Church made headlines last week after a sermon delivered by the wife of the Rector Wendy Clow surfaced. During the sermon delivered in August, she referred to those opposed to the parish centre plans as "evil".