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Reserve sites explained

Reserve sites are pieces of land not in the Green Belt at the edges of towns and villages that have previously been identified to help us cater for future growth. They are 'greenfield sites' which means they haven't been built on before.

Our Cabinet decided in 2014 to release the reserve sites to help provide space for new homes and other development. Following this decision, a range of work is underway to help determine how these sites should be brought forward. This includes the setting up of liaison groups for the sites as well as a period of public engagement and consultation.

Public workshops January to March 2015

A series of public workshops were held during January to March 2015 on the reserve sites, following our Cabinet's decision to release the sites for development.

We appointed AR Urbanism to run these workshops. The workshops were all-day events, allowing for much more in-depth discussion than previous meetings to build on the issues already identified, and to start exploring how these might be addressed.

The dates and venues for the workshops were:

  • Gomm Valley and Ashwells: Saturday 31 January - Highcrest Academy, Hatters Lane
  • Terriers Farm: Saturday 7 February - Holy Trinity Church in Hazlemere
  • Abbey Barn South and Abbey Barn North: Saturday 28 February - John Hampden School, High Wycombe
  • High Wycombe - infrastructure: Saturday 7 March - Bucks New University, High Wycombe
  • Slate Meadow: Saturday 14 March - Community Centre, Bourne End

Planning in a nutshell training, 10 February 2015

On 10 February 2015 we held a training session covering the basics of planning for members of the reserve sites liaison groups.

See also the Department for Communities and Local Government's Plain English guide to the planning system (external website).

Terms of reference for the liaison groups

We are setting up small liaison groups that will meet periodically to review the development proposals as they come forward. The membership will be confirmed at the first meeting of each group. Full details, including membership, terms of reference, and notes of meetings, will be made available on the respective reserve site's page in due course.

It is very important that the liaison groups have clear terms of reference. Following the meeting held on 8 January 2015 discussing the terms of reference for the groups, the overall terms of reference were approved by Planning Committee at its meeting on 21 January. These terms of reference are being used as a guide for the individual liaison groups.

The infrastructure round table

The site liaison groups are intended to deal with each specific reserve site. This would include all issues associated with the site and the land immediately around it. This would include access arrangements and local traffic issues.

The infrastructure round table is intended to deal with town wide infrastructure issues. These are cumulative issues that will arise as a consequence of four of the reserve sites being in High Wycombe.

Depending on the outcome of discussions on infrastructure, improvements may come forward that will have an impact on individual reserve sites. These will be discussed with the liaison groups and where appropriate built into the site specific briefs. The impact on individual sites will become clearer as the infrastructure round table progresses. As the preparation of a development brief is an iterative process there will be opportunities to react to new information as it comes forward.

Reserve sites released for development

At its meeting on Monday 17 November, the council's Cabinet reviewed and considered five recommendations from the Improvement and Review Commission (I&RC) concerning the release of the area's five reserve sites. These recommendations were passed to Cabinet following the I&RC meeting on 12 November. Cabinet agreed a detailed response to these recommendations and voted to uphold its original decision of 20 October to release the reserve sites.

Work will now start to work with representatives of the local communities to establish local liaison groups for each site and a High Wycombe infrastructure 'round table group' with a view to producing detailed development briefs which will help to shape the future of each of the reserve sites. This process will allow local people to play a proactive role in setting out key parameters for the way these sites should be developed in a managed way to inform any planning applications that are submitted by developers.

Site diagrams

Site diagram set out in the 'Options Consultation Document' published in January 2014 are for 'illustrative' purposes only (see Page 42 of the Options Consultation Document). The diagrams were intended to stimulate useful consultation responses. They were not blue prints for the future development of the site. There are no fixed proposals.

The design and layout of the development needs to be assessed through detailed site analysis of the development opportunities and constraints. This detailed work has only just started. It is too early say what the best option is. The purpose of preparing development briefs is to reach a view on where development should go. This view has not as yet been reached.

Planning performance agreement (PPA)

We're using a planning performance agreement (PPA) for project management, a framework in which parties come together to agree how they are going to take a development proposal through the planning process.

Using a PPA for complex planning applications and negotiations helps the process run efficiently. The applicants and the Council agree appropriate timetables and resources for the advice required before applications are made. This can include the preparation of development briefs. PPAs are particularly useful where tailored public involvement is required. In essence PPAs are about good development management encapsulated in an agreed document.

It makes sense that those who seek to benefit from the grant of planning permission fund the necessary work to achieve acceptable development worthy of that planning permission. If we did not charge for the work undertaken the cost would need to be met by the council taxpayers generally.

If we cannot reach agreement with the developer on the content of the PPA and the financial resource that such an agreement has the potential to provide we would have to consider funding the process of preparing the brief itself - which means using taxpayers' money. Any discussions on the emerging planning application would be dealt with through the standard 'pre-application' service that we offer.

29 September 2014 workshop

On Monday 29 September 2014, we held a workshop to discuss the concerns and key issues surrounding the five reserve sites. This meeting was a follow-on from a pair of meetings we held on the reserve sites in August.

We will now take the issues raised an include them in the report to the Council's Cabinet in October, when they will make a decision on whether or not to release the reserve sites.

Should there be a "yes" decision to the release of the reserve sites, we would be looking to set up liaison groups for each of the reserve sites, as well as an overarching group who would look at cumulative infrastructure impacts across the four High Wycombe sites. We are meeting parish councils and residents associations on Tuesday 30 September to discuss the terms of reference for these groups, so that these, too, can be included in the Cabinet report.

Workshop 29 September 2014 issues raised [PDF | 130 KB]: At the workshop held on Monday 29 September, we asked stakeholders to assess issues that had previously been raised about the reserve sites. The goal of this exercise was to identify if there were any omissions, and then to try to put the issues in order of priority. This document sets out what those attending the meeting concluded around their tables, as well as including a record of the many points raised by individuals.

Your questions answered

Briefing packs

We prepared a number of information packs for Councillors in relation to the issues being discussed at the reserve site workshops as well as a set of technical FAQ's. Overall the information they contain will be covered during the meeting, but they contain additional material that will not be covered in detail.

Public meetings

We held two meetings in August 2014. The meetings covered the same content as we ran 'repeats' because of the holiday season.

  • Local Plan Reserve Sites 14 August 2014 [PDF | 2.0MB]: Presentation on the current state of planning nationally, and how it impacts the reserve sites in Wycombe district.
  • Local Plan Reserve Sites 28 August 2014 [PDF | 4.0MB]: Slightly amended version of the presentation given on 14 August 2014 on the current state of planning nationally, and how it impacts the Reserve Sites in Wycombe district.

Contact information

Web form: Planning team


  • Telephone: 01494 421 158