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

Joint Local Plan

For much of 2016 our major preoccupation will be the various phases of the Joint Local Plan, in the first instance responding to the consultation phase and helping our members to understand the issues. This 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, 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, 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 haven’t seen the Chesham Society’s video presentation of their vision, here it is:

  • 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 Joint Local Plan now moves onto its next stage, with further consultation stages. Whilst the Chamber’s focus is largely on business (we suggest engagement with a greater number of SME’s in the Local Plan area as part of the development of a local Economic Strategy), we expect to share thoughts and ideas with many of the other submitting parties over coming months.

If you would like to discuss further, please contact Andy Garnett.

Key anticipated dates are as follows:

  1. Public Consultation commencing in January to 14th March 2016 incorporating an ‘Issues and Options’ Consultation
  2. Preferred Options Consultation commencing in October/November 2016
  3. Publication (Draft Plan) Consultation commencing in March/April 2017
  4. Submission of the Plan to the Secretary of State in September 2017
  5. Examination in December 2017
  6. Adoption in June 2018

In addition the Councils are continuing to carry out ‘Duty to Co-operate’ discussions throughout the process and will review the need for a joint Community Infrastructure Levy between September 2016 and July 2017.

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.

The CDC web site’s Local Plan page makes available a multitude of other documents relevant to the consultation.

Needs

Initial assessment of housing development needs across the CDC and SBDC areas is 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; does 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?

One point that was spelt out, however, was that at this early stage, the planners consider it unlikely that sufficient sites will be identified to satisfy likely housing needs – and that some cooperation may be sought with adjoining councils.

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 will therefore take place – Part 1 has established an agreed methodology of review, Part 2 will 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: ho will the infrastructure (not just roads, but schools, utilities, medical facilities etc) be put in place to support this developement? 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.