BLEDLOW Ridge residents have voted en masse in favour of stopping the Molins industrial site on Haw Lane being used for housing.

At a meeting at Bledlow Ridge Village Hall on Wednesday, March 16, people were asked to discuss the future of the 26-acre area of green belt land.

Molins, an international engineering company, approached Wycombe District Council about the possibility of redeveloping some, or all, of the land.

David Cowen, group finance director at Molins, told the Free Press: "The amount of space we use is much reduced and therefore there is a review of options underway which includes redevelopment. We would expect to maintain some operations on the site."

The meeting was called by district councillor David Devine (Con, Bledlow and Bradenham) to ask people if they were in favour of continued industrial use on the green belt land, or if the site should be used for housing.

Cllr Devine said: "There was an overwhelming response in favour of it staying for employment use and that was my own feeling too."

Ian Manktelow, team leader for planning policy at Wycombe District Council, told the meeting the Molins area is classified as a major developed site, meaning that any redevelopment of the land should still include employment use and take into consideration traffic and visual issues.

An economic study had suggested a mixed use of employment and residential use. Mr Manktelow told the meeting he estimated around 120 houses could be built on the ten hectare site.

Mr Manktelow said: "There are no decisions at this stage we haven't nailed our colours to the mast as yet."

Fears raised by residents that the current industrial usage of the site would leave a level of radioactive contamination were denied by Mr Manktelow who said: "We have to assess the level of contamination but we are not aware that it is a contaminated site. However it is certainly something we will look into."

Cllr Richard Pushman was also keen to stress the need for hi-tech businesses to migrate to the site rather than more traditional industries. He said: "There is no economic future if we start to compete with third world enterprises."

Cllr Devine agreed: "We don't want some chemical factory on our doorstep."

A further public consultation will take place in September.