New Local Plan - what happens next?
The timetable for the next stages of preparing the plan will be agreed in the autumn. However, while we want to be sure that we have the full summary of comments received before deciding the future timetable, there are some immediate matters that we need to address.
To that end, we have arranged meetings to discuss the proposals for a new motorway junction ("Junction 3A") as well as the implications of national changes in relation to housing delivery and the implications for us locally, in particular our 'reserve sites': Abbey Barn North, Abbey Barn South, Gomm Valley & Ashwells, Slate Meadow and Terriers Farm.
Full details, including dates and how to register to attend are available on Local Plan events.
Options for High Wycombe
High Wycombe is the main town in the District. It is largely surrounded by the Chilterns AONB, so the town cannot just expand to accommodate all the new homes and jobs that it needs.
There are a few reserve sites. These can accommodate some of the homes and jobs the town needs.
Most of the sites have important environmental features such as wildlife sites. To protect these, only certain parts of the sites would be built on. That means other sites in the District are needed as well.
An alternative approach would be to build more on these sites so that we don't have to look for as much land elsewhere.
Click on the map for a larger version.
Jargon buster: Reserve sites
Reserve sites are pieces of land not in the Green Belt options for High Wycombe at the edges of towns and villages that have been identified in previous plans to help us cater for future growth. They are 'greenfield sites' which means they haven't been built on before.
These sites can help us to provide space for some new homes, jobs and amenities for local communities. If we don't make use of our reserve sites we will need to find other sites elsewhere. We expect to see these sites developed in the next few years.
There are four of these sites at the edge of High Wycombe and one on the edge of Bourne End (see Wye Valley and Marlow).
However, our assessment of these sites suggests they would only meet up to 15 per cent of the homes we need, so we have to look further afield.
In the pipeline
New homes and jobs are coming to the town in the next few years, including at:
1 Handy Cross Hub: State-of-the-art leisure centre alongside new jobs and transport hub
2 Hughenden Avenue sites: New homes (including for older people), jobs, environmental improvements and link road
3 RAF Daws Hill: New homes, businesses and a new primary school
4 Cressex Island: New retail schemes
5 The Town Centre Master Plan: We are making the town centre a better place for visitors and residents by altering some of the roads so that we can provide a greener, better connected and more pedestrian-friendly town centre. This is set out in the DSA Plan finalised in 2013.
6 Abbey Barn South: This could provide around 450 homes, new businesses and new open space. It could help provide new community facilities and better transport links between the Daws Hill area, Flackwell Heath and the town centre. The historic woodland ride on the site would be a new park.
7 Abbey Barn North: This could provide around 75 homes and potentially a local nature reserve. Most of the site would remain undeveloped.
8 Terriers Farm: This sensitive site between Terriers and Hazlemere could provide around 400 homes as well as transport measures in the wider area and sports pitches. There is the possibility of providing a park and ride site here.
9 Gomm Valley & Ashwells: This sensitive site has an attractive valley landscape, with some important wildlife areas. Whilst the site could provide around 400 homes, new jobs, and potentially an extended local nature reserve, most of the area would remain undeveloped.
Places for new jobs
We are looking for new sites where we could encourage new businesses.
The options we have are:
10 Land north of Heath End Road ('Junction 3A'): Could there be a new business development between High Wycombe and Flackwell Heath, with a west-facing junction on the M40 to complement the east-facing one already at Junction 3? This would be a major economic development opportunity but it is in the Green Belt.
11 Wycombe Air Park: The Air Park will be kept open. Could we make better use of the existing business space at the Air Park? Could we allow an extension of these activities whilst retaining air park operations?
12 Buckmaster Playing Fields (Booker): By moving the playing fields elsewhere, is there scope for a new employment site here?
What happens if we don't plan for new homes and jobs?
A lack of homes will lead to overcrowding and greater strain on all services. More people may have to move out of the District. If there are no new jobs it will mean there will be more commuting trips to other places, with the impact those extra car journeys and carbon emissions would have on the environment and road network.