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HCA meeting minutes plus SHIELD statement 21st July 2017

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Chalgrove Airfield Action Group

Homes and Communities Agency / Carter Jonas / Newgate Communications /

Chalgrove Parish Council meeting - 21 st July 2017

Present:

HCA:

Carter Jonas:

AECOM:

Newgate Communications:

Chalgrove Parish Council:

Chalgrove SHIELD:

Apologies:

Terry Fuller, Gareth Adam

Nick Taylor

Chris Carter

Ben Lowndes

Ann Pritchard, Jacky Nabb, David Turner

Paul Boone, Jo Arnold, Ian Gifford, Simon Reynolds, Neil Topping,

Heather Topping,

Louise Wyman (HCA), Will Dymott (Chalgrove SHIELD)

Minutes:

Gareth Adams introduced the new Strategic Land Team, who have taken over from the previous

Operational Team headed by David Warburton following a restructure of the HCA in April. Terry

Fuller leads the new Strategic Land Team. The Strategic Land Team is responsible for a number of

sites, mainly in the South East, and generally manages developments of 3000 homes and above. The

team ultimately reports into the Secretary of State for Local Government. Louise Wyman reports in

to Terry Fuller, and Gareth Adam reports into Louise Wyman.

Carter Jonas has been appointed to support the HCA, and some of the original consultants, such as

Chris Carter and Andy Ward, have been retained. In addition, BLP Solicitors and Montagu Evans are

also working with the HCA.

With regards to the site, Gareth Adam reported that discussions were ongoing with Martin-Baker

Ltd, and that it was anticipated that a positive outcome would be forthcoming. No timescale was put

on the when this might be completed. Further questions were raised about the viability of the site

without an agreement with Martin Baker; the HCA would not be drawn on any details due to the

sensitive commercial nature of the negotiations.

The Enquiry by Design was discussed, and the HCA advised that they were using the plans that had

been developed by the EbD as a starting place, as these had been agreed with the community during

the EbD. Several members of Chalgrove SHIELD and Chalgrove PC advised forcefully that the plan

produced by the EbD was not endorsed, agreed with, or supported by the community, and that the

final plan presented did not differ materially from the original plan proposed in 2016. It was

highlighted that key features of this plan were specifically opposed by the majority of residents, and

yet were included in the plan regardless.

In terms of timescales, it was anticipated that the HCA would make their submission to SODC before

the end of 2017, but could not give a specific date. There would be community engagement prior to

that, but the form of this engagement is yet to be decided.

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The HCA advised that they had met with a number of local Parishes. Chalgrove Parish Council was on

that list, but due to the status of Chalgrove, the HCA wanted to bring senior people in to meet with

Chalgrove Parish, and with other issues being raised, it was difficult to get diary slots. It was

highlighted that Chalgrove SHIELD had requested this specific meeting. Chalgrove Parish Council also

stated that they had not received the letter sent out on May 17 th by the HCA, and had needed to

contact the HCA directly to organise a meeting.

A number of questions were raised about the viability of the Airfield site. These included the Martin

Baker agreement (see response above); previous owners of the site (HCA advised that their legal

team were looking into this); the agreement between Martin Baker and RAF Benson (HCA Advised

that this would be addressed in due course). More questions were raised in regard to infrastructure,

specifically in terms of roads. No specific answers were given; everything is still in the planning

stages so nothing could be shared.

A discussion regarding what constitutes “sustainability” in the minds of the community was raised by

the HCA. Chalgrove SHIELD members and CPC advised that the SODC criteria for sustainability were

pertinent in this area, ranging from transport and road infrastructure through to the recognition of

our rural status.

A question was put in regard to the addition of Sites for Travelling Showpeople as required by SODC

in their latest consultation document. Clarity was being sought by the HCA from SODC.

A question was raised on items such as sewage; HCA are working with Thames Water, but again, no

details are available.

The provision of site infrastructure and site access during the construction phase was discussed, but

again no details are available.

The question of costs, budgets and financial viability was raised; Terry Fuller of the HCA stated that

the costs had not yet been quantified. He felt that the site would be viable based on current house

prices in the area. If the plans get rejected at any point there is no “plan b” in terms of use of the

land; the intent of the HCA is firmly focussed on housing.

The website set up to keep us informed is still not up to date. Ben Lowndes confirmed that this

would be updated next week, and the corrected minutes of the EbD will also be posted with a note

to confirm that they had been corrected.

Before the meeting closed, Chalgrove SHIELD read out a prepared statement of our view of the

process thus far; see below.

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Chalgrove SHIELD Statement to HCA:

Following the announcement of Chalgrove Airfield being South Oxfordshire District Council’s

preferred option for a New Town, the Chalgrove Airfield Action Group, aka Chalgrove SHIELD,

formed with the primary purpose of supporting Chalgrove’s response to the consultation –

individuals, NDP and Parish Council. Our mission now is to help Chalgrove and surrounding

villages and hamlets to find sustainable alternatives to excessive local development. We want

to ensure that our elderly residents and children not only have access to affordable homes,

but also have somewhere to live that provides a safe environment without excessive and

unnecessary traffic and associated pollution. We want to ensure that Chalgrove Village is not

swamped and ruined by an unnecessary and unsustainable town. We absolutely support

development, and completely support the aims of our NDP. However, we must ensure that

any development is proportionate, sustainable and can properly integrate with our

community.

Chalgrove SHIELD has 15 permanent members within the village, and has the support of

almost the entire community. We work closely with interested parties in all of the

surrounding villages and hamlets, the vast majority of whom are opposed to this

development.

Ever since the plan was announced, we have been extremely disappointed with the conduct

and behaviour of the HCA and the associated consultants. We feel that we have been treated

condescendingly, contemptuously and dishonestly, and are happy to share examples. In

particular, the attitude of the HCA the initial village presentation must be highlighted; if you

had chosen a presentation style that was guaranteed to incite a negative reaction, you could

not have made a better choice. The presentation made everything seem like a fait accompli,

and that the HCA were doing us a huge favour by wrecking the village we love.

The Enquiry by Design event was poorly run, poorly executed, and was wasteful of both time

and resources. We were misled as to the structure and content of the EbD, our concerns

were either ignored or misreported, and the final plan encompassed almost everything we

had said that we did not want. At the public drop in sessions, EbD participants were

misquoted. The final presentation was poorly managed; the facilitator in particular appeared

to be there simply to filibuster rather than allow questions to be answered appropriately. We

consider the EbD process to have been inappropriate for the circumstances.

Communication, or lack of it, has been another key feature of this proposal. Communication

with SODC, communication with Chalgrove Parish Council, and communication with the

residents has been minimal, and the few communications we have received have contained

misrepresentations and errors.

We are hopeful that the entire concept will, on sober reflection, be recognised for the

unsustainable folly that it is. If it is not, we will use every possible legal option to oppose it.

For and on behalf of Chalgrove SHIELD

chalgroveshield.org.uk press@chalgroveshield.org.uk facebook.com/chalgroveshield

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