Working within our Community & Economic Development
Chiltern Chamber is very active in helping formulate local and regional plans for economic development, to promote a strong and positive business environment.
The Chesham Masterplan
Various Chamber members have been involved with the Masterplan for Chesham, a response to the joint Local Plan being prepared for Chiltern and South Bucks District Councils.
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.
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Joint Local Plan
Since 2016 Chiltern and South Bucks District Councils have been preparing a new local plan. It 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), and will run from 2014 – 2036.
The Chamber believes it is critical to engage with this process, supporting a vibrant community, whilst also preserving the character of the Chiltern Region.
Chamber members have attended numerous meetings. Here is a flavour of some of our initiatives:
- 10th February 2016 we hosted a Question Time-style discussion entitled “Where Will Our Children Live and Work? – Planning the future in the Chilterns”
- 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
- 26th February 2016 The Chamber led a vibrant Chesham Town meeting for residents themed A Vision for Chesham
- 27th February 2016 The Chamber and The Chesham Society held a similar session at Chesham Town Hall for Chesham traders
- As a consultee, Chiltern Chamber filed its response to the early public consultation on the Joint Local Plan, and our response is available for download here
Joint Local Plan – Key Dates
The Initial Consultation Incorporating Issues and Options was carried out between January and March 2016, and the Green Belt Preferred Options Consultation was carried out between October and December 2016.
The next stage in the Local Development Scheme is the publication of the Draft Local Plan, due for public consultatation in May 2019 prior to submission to National inspectorate for examination.
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 including consultation with The Pbulic Highways Division.
Visit this page on Chiltern District Council web site for updated progress reports.
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Joint Local Plan – main points
The plan will, on the one hand, look 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 some other factors too, such as environment and heritage.
Below is a brief summary of some of the main points from the initial consultation document…
Initial assessment of housing development needs across both areas was for 15,100 houses, of which affordable housing would be 2,700 – 4,200. NET additional employment space needs are put at 15 hectares. While housing needs were relatively equal across both councils, CDC’s need for additional hectares was 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?
Planners considered it unlikely that sufficient sites would be identified to satisfy housing needs – and some cooperation may be sought with adjoining councils. In July ’17 this resulted in an MOU between Aylesbury Vale District Council, Wycombe District Council, Chiltern District Council & 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.
Almost certainly, there’ll be a need to use some current Green Belt land. A Green Belt review was therefore commissioned. Part 1 to establish a 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.
At each meeting it became clear that infrastructure is a crucial element. How will infrastructure be guaranteed to support support 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 new Joint Local Plan.