Wilton Park Watch comments on Inland Homes’ Consultation

RESPONSE TO Inland Homes Exhibition 4 – 5 December 2015

This document summarises the views of the Wilton Park Watch committee following the exhibition held at Beaconsfield Town Hall in December 2015 and subsequent review of the materials presented. For ease of reading and brevity, the response uses bullet points.

The committee (WPW) wish to congratulate Inland Homes (IH) and Hard Hat (HH) for holding the event, and in so doing, giving an opportunity for local residents to understand how the project is progressing. WPW noted the widespread circulation of invitations and advance notice through multiple channels to ensure a high level of participation. The quality of the physical exhibits was excellent, thank you.

The new material, essentially boards #4 and #5, only contained an ‘illustrative’ layout and some sketches. To those attendees who came along with no prior knowledge of Wilton Park (WP), this could have been valuable, although to anyone familiar with earlier machinations it offered little extra and left much unanswered in the detail.

WPW recognise our expectations may have been too high ahead of any Outline Planning Application (OPA) and strongly suggest that IH consider a similar publicised exhibition a few days after the publication of the OPA. This would allow residents to see exactly what SBDC sees, in an exhibition setting, so that INFORMED comments can be submitted by the public in good time.

WPW believe it would be in IH’s interest to be able to reassure/explain etc.

This may run contrary to local planning procedures so, as an alternative, WPW is happy to organise a public event if IH and HH would accept an invitation to present and/or answer questions on their OPA.

Turning to some specifics,

WPW feel positively towards:

  • The idea of a new Wilton Park House as the premises for apartments and as a focal point of the avenue and vista.
  • Putting the sports pitches closest to the town (and relief road).
  • Having the ‘park’ close to the Community Hub (CH).
  • The general layout and variety of the differing residential areas.
  • The plan to update and expand the SFA in zone 8 first, to kick the project off (planning application already submitted). We welcome updating rather than knock-down-and-rebuild.
  • The Relief Road (RR) is to be welcomed but capacities may well prove totally inadequate, time will tell. To learn that work has begun is excellent news.

WPW feel negatively towards:

  • An apparent scarcity of car parking both for the recreational and residential areas. Far fewer than the quoted 100 spaces near the sports pitches and CH were shown. The distance from the rest of the town means that the majority of recreational users are highly likely to come by car; if people cannot park, they won’t come.
  • WPW seeks reassurance that sufficient off-street parking would be available on residential plots.
  • Zone 10 (‘Rural Parkland’) is a very long way from the town and less likely to be used other than by WP residents, especially as the only way to get there from any car park is through a few paths weaving closely between houses.
  • The intensive nature of the residential building. A more spacious and inviting layout would be more saleable and appropriate. E.g. Seeleys / Howe Drive areas in the Town. Maybe spread Zone 10 around the housing area.
  • No provision for bus stops  / turning space near the middle roundabout but we recognise that in the absence of any bus company agreement this is a chicken-and-egg issue.
  • The CH still has no definition. WPW would be pleased to participate with other organisations in the Town and IH to define what this might best comprise. Passions run high on this point as was overheard at the exhibition.
  • Pedestrian and cycle access across the A355 has been approved by Transport for Bucks and planning has been granted but WPW remain worried as to its practicality and safety.
  • The RR may well prove totally inadequate, but the Town must live with it.
  • Lack of explicit plans to satisfy affordable housing obligations, all remains rather vague.
  • No explicit plans to recognise the history of the site, retaining the walled garden is positive.
  • No reference to infrastructure overload on the rest of the town. WPW hope that this subject will be more adequately covered in the OPA.

WPW feel relaxed by:

  • The likely build quality of the housing, having seen other IH developments, and recognising this as a prestige project for IH. WPW look forward to as much detail as possible in the OPA.
  • The accessibility of the proposed recreational space will encourage Town residents onto the site and the amenities in the Town should be a draw for WP residents. Proximity of WP to the Town remains the obstacle to ever closer ‘integration’ and something for the Town to address over time.
  • Current users of the sports pitches, BHFC, are eagerly awaiting comfort and confirmation of continued usage in the medium term. BHFC is a popular and valued community group in the Town.

WPW believe the most likely used elements of WP will be:

  • Relief road, Park, Other open space areas, Walking routes, Cycling routes, Community Hub, Sports pitches

WPW aim remains to see a win – win for present and future residents from this exciting development opportunity in our Town. The committee welcomes continued dialogue with IH as the project progresses.

15 December 2015                                           Mike Elliott – Chairman WPW on behalf of the Committee