20.03.2018 Views

Cabinet Meeting 20th March

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Although it may not always seem that way, the Chalgrove Airfield Action Group is very much in

favour of the Local Plan. From the outset, we have contributed to the consultations, highlighting and

correcting countless inconsistencies and errors within the early drafts of the Plan and the

Sustainability Appraisal.

However, in many cases our input has been ignored or overlooked. We advised SODC of the issues of

transport and traffic and the need for major investment, and our objections were brushed aside. We

advised that Martin Baker were not willing to relinquish their lease, and were brushed aside. We

advised that money was not the issue with Martin Baker, and were brushed aside. In every case, the

Council chose to believe Homes England.

Homes England has not excelled themselves in Chalgrove. They have repeatedly broken promises to

the residents, or have wholly ignored our input. We have tried to act as an honest broker for the

residents of Chalgrove and have been met with half-truths and evasion. We were promised Guided

Bus Lanes, but now we have an enhanced bus service that presupposes bus usage in Chalgrove will

be more than double the country average. We agreed a masterplan at the Enquiry by Design, but the

final presentation was the one scenario we had rejected. We were told that negotiations were

“going well” with Martin Baker, but they were not. We were promised a follow up transport

workshop in Spring 2017; that never happened. Even now, Homes England is equivocating about the

amount of highways improvements that are needed, and whether they should be funded by third

parties. Meanwhile, they persist with a scheme to widen Hollantide Lane into a “strategic transport

corridor” at exorbitant cost, whilst ignoring the two access roads in Chalgrove that each have a

single lane bridge. And their latest letter outlines a scheme is to build a secondary school in Phase 1,

a phase which will take place BEFORE the existing runway has been moved (unless the timetable

they presented to us last year is also untrue).

To rely on the promises of Homes England is high-risk; they have yet to deliver on anything. They are

now solely reliant on Compulsory Purchase, but we know that Martin Baker will vigorously fight this

in the courts; we have seen independent legal opinion which supports their case. Given the option of

believing a QC with extensive planning experience, and a group of well-meaning but ineffectual Civil

Servants and consultants, we side with the QC.

We KNOW that Martin Baker cannot grow their business adjacent to 3000 houses due to the

inevitable noise nuisance of their operation; we have more legal opinion which supports this. We

also KNOW that the All Party Parliamentary Group on Aviation is now looking specifically at this case.

We know all this because we asked. We don’t understand why the Council planners and Homes

England have not done the same.

We want the local plan to succeed and be sustainable and deliverable. We don’t want to be at the

mercy of developers such as Gladman Homes who want to build anywhere and everywhere,

regardless of suitability or sustainability. We do not see how the local plan can succeed whilst it

contains a site which is not currently available and cannot be delivered in the lifetime of the plan,

breaching the District’s own definition of deliverability.

We all need a plan that will work for both the Council and for residents old and new across the

District. We therefore urge the Council to stop throwing good money after bad, and remove

Chalgrove Airfield from the plan now, while there is still time to make alternative arrangements.

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