Chiltern Chamber is very active in helping formulate local and regional plans for economic development, to promote a positive business environment.

The Chesham Masterplan

logo for Chesham MasterplanVarious Chamber members have been involved with the Masterplan for Chesham, which is in part a response to the changes to Chesham likely to be directed by the joint Local Plan for Chiltern and South Bucks Districts (see below).

Chesham Renaissance is a community interest company, which has drawn up the Masterplan. It accepts the need for around 2,000 new dwellings over the next 20 years, implying a population increase of 5-6,000 and calling for higher density of residential accommodation.

A thriving industrial and business sector already exists within Chesham. But there is already a need to update or create new business premises, or locate commercial enterprises out of the town, to meet the needs of businesses and improve access. This need will become more pressing with higher density residential accommodation.

The object of Chesham Renaissance is therefore to deliver residential and commercial development and infrastructure, based on innovative and joined-up planning, rarely possible through more piecemeal development decisions. It seeks to persuade Chesham to embrace this process as an economic development opportunity, a catalyst for inward investment, and a chance to make Chesham an attractive place for residents, businesses and visitors. All the while, it is determined to retain and enhance the special character of Chesham.

If you would like to discuss further with a member of Chiltern Chamber, please contact Andy Garnett.

Joint Local Plan

For much of 2016, and into 2017, a major preoccupation has been the various phases of the Joint Local Plan. The Plan, covering the Chiltern District Council (CDC) and South Bucks District Council (SBDC) areas, will set out policies used to determine planning applications, site allocations or proposed new development (eg housing or employment) and broader land designations (eg Green Belt areas). It will run from 2014 to 2036.

The Chamber believes that it is critical to engage with this process, if Chiltern is to remain an area conducive to business, supporting a vibrant community, whilst also preserving the character of our area.

Chamber members have attended numerous meetings. Here is a flavour of some of our initiatives:

Robert Gibson, Peter Martin and Tony Molesworth on Chiltern Voice

  • On the evening of February 10th, we hosted a Question Time-style discussion entitled “Where Will Our Children Live and Work? – Planning the future in the Chilterns”report here.
  • On 16th February 2016, Committee Member Robert Gibson led a discussion (right) on the Local Plan with Peter Martin, holder of the Cabinet Portfolio at CDC for Sustainable Development, and The Chesham Society Chairman Tony Molesworth.
  • We have worked with The Chesham Society on their excellent and thought-provoking A Vision for Chesham. Committee members Andy Garnett, Robert Gibson and Paul Batey participated at a packed Chesham Town Meeting on Thursday 26th February 2016, Andy providing the perspective of business, Robert as facilitator and Paul leading the break-out group on Employment.
  • The following evening, The Chamber and The Chesham Society held a similar session at Chesham Town Hall for Chesham traders.

    If you didn’t see the Chesham Society’s video presentation of their vision, here it is (though please note that this has since been largely supplanted by The Masterplan for Chesham (see above):

  • As a consultee, Chiltern Chamber filed its response to the Joint Local Plan, and our response is available for download here (PDF).

Joint Local Plan – Key Dates

The Initial Consultation Incorporating Issues and Options was carried our between January and March 2016, and Green Belt Preferred Options Consultation between October and December 2016.

The next stage in the Local Development Scheme is the publication of the Draft Local Plan for consultation prior to submission for an examination; this is currently anticipated to start in October/November 2017.

By the Councils’ own admission, preparation of the Draft Plan has not progressed at the pace anticipated. The original timetable expected submission of the Plan to the Secretary of State in September 2017; examination in December 2017; and adoption in June 2018.

Progress has been held up for a number of reasons, including time taken to agree a level of unmet housing need from Chiltern and South Bucks to be accommodated as part of the emerging Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan; the unprecedented levels of response to the two public consultations; and the need for additional evidence base work.

Visit this page on Chiltern District Council web site for updated progress reports.

If you would like to discuss further with a member of Chiltern Chamber, please contact Andy Garnett.

Joint Local Plan – Some Main Points

The plan will look, on the one hand, at likely economic development needs for the area up to 2036, and on the other hand, will assess likely availability of land for housing and economic purposes. It will also seek to take into consideration infrastructure needs and other factors such as environment and heritage. Below is a brief summary of some of the main points from the initial consultation document.

Needs

Initial assessment of housing development needs across the CDC and SBDC areas was for 15,100 houses, of which affordable housing would be between 2,700 and 4,200. NET additional employment space needs are put at 15 hectares. Interestingly, while the housing needs were relatively equal across the two councils, CDC’s need for additional hectares was just 2, with 13 for SBDC; did this mean that CDC may be more able to handle its requirements via existing brownfield sites – or is there a higher presumption of growth in the SBDC area, maybe a Heathrow effect?

From the very start, it was made clear that the planners considered it unlikely that sufficient sites would be identified to satisfy likely housing needs – and that some cooperation may be sought with adjoining councils. In July 2017 this resulted in an MOU between Aylesbury Vale District Council, Wycombe District Council, Chiltern District Council and South Bucks District Council, that 5,725 units of CDC’s unmet housing need would be accommodated within the Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan.

Supply of Land/Green Belt

Various options for development land and sites would be considered, both in terms of land types and locations. These are displayed, including in maps, in the initial consultation document.

Again, one message was clear: almost certainly, there will be a need to use some current Green Belt land. A Green Belt review was therefore commissioned – Part 1 to establish an agreed methodology of review, Part 2 to consider the extent of land to be removed from the Green Belt, taking into consideration development needs and other factors. On the other side of the coin, local communities may nominate green areas of special importance to them, for consideration of special protection through the Joint Local Plan.

Infrastructure

At every single meeting on the subject it has become clear that infrastructure is big question: how will the infrastructure (not just roads, but schools, utilities, medical facilities etc) be put in place to support this development? The Councils state that they are undertaking a Settlement Infrastructure Capacity Study to understand an ‘infrastructure baseline’ position for key infrastructure needs such as roads, schools, health, and utilities, and planned improvements/additions by service and infrastructure providers/funders. From this they will then proceed to determine infrastructure requirements to support different growth scenarios, producing an Infastructure Delivery Schedule alongside the Joint Local Plan.