Old Red Lion Appeal Upheld
On 4th September the Planning Inspectorate upheld the developer's appeal against Chiltern District Council's refusal to grant planning permission for development to the rear of the Old Red Lion.
The Chairman and two other members of GMVA spoke at the appeal hearing along with two members of the Parish Council.
Below is a synopsis which will be printed in the November issue of The Source.
Development of a long strip of land between Great Missenden High Street and the Station car park, formerly owned by Tesco, has finally been given the go-ahead. After two planning rejections, the developers PGMI Great Missenden (the company formed by the purchasers Peker Holdings of Istanbul), have won their appeal against Chiltern District Council for the construction of 25 houses on the land and 5 flats in the Old Red Lion. The Council had refused permission on six counts but in a surprise move on the first day of the Appeal withdrew the two reasons regarding access. The developers had successfully argued a ‘fall back’ position in which, if the development did not go ahead and the Old Red Lion was returned to commercial use this could result in an increase in existing permitted traffic. This was accepted by Bucks County Council highways authority only days before the Appeal commenced.
Benefits to the Community Inspector David Wildsmith who visited the site on 31 July, wrote in the summary, “I do realise that many local residents will be disappointed by my findings in this case, especially in view of the strong opposition to the proposed development on access grounds”. However, he points to the social, economic and environmental benefits. The proposed development would deliver 34 new homes to meet housing need and would assist in creating a strong, vibrant and healthy community. The development would provide for future growth of Great Missenden within the existing boundary, and would not expand the town into the Green Belt or undeveloped areas of the Chilterns AONB. Moreover, the proposal would result in the use of a brownfield site, set in a very accessible location. There would also be a benefit arising from the re-use of the Old Red Lion.
Housing Need There was constant reference to the NPPF, the government’s plan to provide more housing. Indeed a revised plan was published the very day the Appeal began. Housing can only be refused in ‘exceptional circumstances’ and the Inspector felt that on balance the development would be beneficial. He went on to say, “Even if I am wrong on this point, I am satisfied that exceptional circumstances exist in this case, evidenced by the very limited scope for the provision of housing within Chiltern District on sites that do not lie within the AONB or the Green Belt and the fact that there is a severe shortfall against the housing requirement”.
Access The Inspector recognised concerns about safety at the access points expressed by those who spoke at the inquiry as individuals and on behalf of Great Missenden Parish Council and the Great Missenden Village Association and in numerous written representations. However, he accepted the developer’s plan to shave off 0.7m from the side of the Red Lion to improve visibility between emerging drivers and pedestrians. This he considered safe. The access would be single width for about 11m. All other shared surface roads within the development would be wide enough for two cars to pass. The Fire Authority had raised no objection to this proposal. The Inspector acknowledged that some of the largest vehicles, including pantechnicons, would not be able to turn in. Access to the site would be controlled by both a Demolition and Construction Method Statement and a Delivery and Servicing Plan, both conditions of planning permission.
Affordable Housing, Parking The Inspector accepted the developer’s argument that the development could not support affordable housing. Instead, it will pay a substantial sum towards the additional educational facilities needed. The Council lost their case with regard to on-site parking with the Inspector accepting a ‘suppressed level of parking’ due to proximity to the station, and refuse collection which will be done privately.
Comment from Chiltern District Council Further to the decision on the appeal, Chiltern Councillor Peter Martin, Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development said: “We are extremely disappointed that the Inspector has upheld this appeal. Chiltern remain concerned about the impact of this development on the local area and now that the site has permission will continue to work with the applicants to try to mitigate any local impact as much as possible. In granting permission here, the Inspector has commented on the lack of housing sites in the district. This is a reminder to us all how important it remains that we have an up to date Local Plan in place and we will be re-doubling our efforts to bring that plan forward as soon as possible.”
To read the complete appeal decision please click here
Thank you for your objections and support which did make an impression on the Inspector. In the end, national housing needs prevailed over serious access and parking concerns. The Inspector has, however, imposed many conditions before construction can start. The Council's new Head of Planning and Economic Development has said that he will liaise closely with the developer and insist that a comprehensive traffic management plan is produced.
Please click here to view the GMVA response submitted to CDC Planning on the application. This was used in evidence at the Planning Inspectorate enquiry. It is rather long but we have put a summary of the main points at the beginning.
The bar part of the building has been sold off and is to be opened as a pub run by Stephen How, whose family run two pubs in Little Missenden. There is a planning application with CDC for the rest of the site, including the Courthouse, to be converted into four houses (including one new build). It is over five years since the pub closed. During that time, the Save the George campaign has opposed residential use and wants to develop the site as a community asset. It has become a contentious issue and GMVA is reluctant to take sides. If you wish to comment on the application, the deadline is next Monday, 25 June.
Comments can be emailed to email@example.com quoting Planning Ref: CH/2018/0773/FA Comments should include your name and postal address
The Save the George Campaign have a website - for details of their campaign click here