Ecological Literacy Board

Much of what we use gets discarded when we don’t need it anymore. This installation reminds us that when we leave our litter in the Natural World, it can remain in the land long after we are gone.  To protect the place where we live, we need to reuse, recycle and repurpose.

This project was funded in collaboration with the GMPRG and the Missendens Community Board, and was guided by the Prestwood Village Association, the Great Missenden Parish Council and the Prestwood Scouts. It is located on the Prestwood Scout Hut on Prestwood Common.

GMPRG’s Comments on Plans for Future Development at Great Missenden Station

Great Missenden & Prestwood Revitalisation Group (GMPRG) is a voluntary community group, an independent not-for-profit organisation run 100% by local volunteers.

As a local stakeholder, GMPRG has a number of points to raise about the development proposals as shown on website https://greatmissendenstation.co.uk/, as follows:

Principle of development

The general principle of regeneration of the area of land owned by Network Rail in front of Great Missenden Station is supported. Provision of something more useful to the village than the current car sales businesses has long been awaited and is welcomed.

It is agreed that the site is an important gateway to the village and at present gives a very poor impression to visitors arriving at the station.

However, given the constraints on meeting the development needs of the village, due to the Green Belt, Conservation Area and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB),

 it is considered that it is extremely important to get the right development on this site.

Response to current proposals

The current development proposals raise a number of concerns-

  1. Inappropriate design for the location
  2. Height and bulk
  3. Amount
  4. Parking
  5. Intensification of access onto Station Approach
  6. Damage to current retail businesses
  7. Impact on the wider landscape.

1. Design

The proposed design is considered to be too urban in style and incongruous to the Great Missenden Conservation area and the AONB.

Whilst Great Missenden Parish has as yet to have a Neighbourhood Plan, it does have a Village Design Statement (VDS), within which are consulted guidelines for developers- https://www.gmprg.org.uk/GM-village-design-statement/

For development in Great Missenden the VDS outlines the following –

“A vital element in the protection of the historic centre of Great Missenden is its designation as a Conservation Area, details of which can be found at: https://www.chiltern.gov.uk/article/7862/Conservation-Areas

 This is particularly important as the village is at the centre of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and its railway station acts as a gateway for visitors. This protection must be maintained and enforced, as should existing planning policies. The unique characteristics of the village must not be lost, and the views from the surrounding countryside of, and into, the village should be preserved as well as the views of the countryside from within the village. 

It is apparent that any material development within the boundaries of Great Missenden could have a major impact on the village. In particular, rising ground levels to the west of the High Street, towards the railway, mean that almost any development in this area would be at the ridge height of most of the buildings in the High Street.

Without affecting the general nature of existing planning and other protection the following guidelines should apply to any material development within the village:

  1. The use should be residential with the intention that the present retail and commercial uses within the village be confined to Station Approach and the High Street
  2. No structure within the Conservation Area should exceed the ridge height of the existing buildings on the land affected and should not exceed the ridge height of adjoining buildings
  3. Existing building lines should be retained
  4. Vehicular access directly onto the High Street should not be increased in size, nor should any development be permitted if it would result in an increase in the number of vehicles using those access ways
  5. To protect the historic buildings in the Conservation Area from structural damage, developments `should not be permitted if they would intensify vehicular use of the High Street
  6. Extensive landscaping should be incorporated to ensure that any new buildings blend into the landscape and do not affect the views into the Conservation Area from surrounding areas, or views from the historic High Street to the countryside
  7. Applications for planning consent in the Conservation Area should be accompanied by a “Street View Plan” showing the proposed development in the context of adjoining properties.”

Further guidance for development and appropriate materials can be found in the Chiltern Conservation Board’s Buildings Design Guide- https://www.chilternsaonb.org/uploads/files/ConservationBoard/PlanningDevelopment/BuildingsDesignGuide2010.pdf

 2. Height and bulk

There are concerns that the built form within the current proposals will be overbearing, in particular in relation to the station building due to the height and roof style. Whilst it is noted that there are mansard roofs on properties in Station Approach, being located further up the hill this style of roof only increases the impression of bulk.

3. Amount

This site was listed as site CD 0448 in the Chiltern and South Bucks Local Plan 2036, Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELLA), January 2020, now withdrawn. It was also in the previous Delivery DPD of the Chiltern District Council Local Plan February 2014 as site O11. Prior to this it was included as a potential site in the Strategic and Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA).

Within these documents there are a number of reservations about development on the site –

CD 0448 Land on the frontage of Great Missenden Railway Station-

‘In the absence of replacement parking proposals and evidence of land availability the site is unsuitable and unavailable for development.’

The site is within the built-up area and is previously developed. It is within the AONB, but is unlikely to be considered a major site considering its content, scale and existing use’.

In the SHLAA it was included as a site for up to 22 new dwellings.

Given that there were no site allocations for Great Missenden in the recently withdrawn Local Plan, a House Need Assessment would be necessary to justify the amount and type of housing proposed.

4. Parking

Within the Local Plan evidence base documents previously mentioned there is a requirement for sufficient car parking for any new development on this site and that parking to meet the station car parking needs must be retained.

Parking in the village has been a problem for many years; new development must provide adequate car and bike parking on site, so as not to exacerbate the problem.

It is doubted that undercroft parking will be sufficient for the new dwellings and units.

5. Intensification of access onto Station Approach

Although there is no record on Crashmap of any serious collisions at the junction of the station car park with Station Approach, there is concern that the proposed intensification of use of this access could prove to be a danger to highway safety.

The speed of traffic accessing the village on the A4128, from Martinsend Lane, is already considered to be a danger to drivers and pedestrians, which may be worsened by the proposed increase in travel movements by occupiers of both housing sites and the units.

However, the proposed use of this access from the land owned by PGMI to the rear of The Red Lion and High Street is considered to be one of the major benefits of this scheme. But only if a traffic management plan creating a one way system, that traffic has to exit the development via the station frontage instead of Great Missenden High Street, is put in place.

Please note: GMPRG is currently working on a plan to improve the public realm in Station Approach and this junction is within the scope of the project.

6. Damage to current retail businesses

There are two schools of thought about the proposed retail units on this site-

  1. Existing retailers and cafes are concerned about the effect that further retail may have on their businesses.
  • The right type of retail, such as a Marks and Spencer Simply Foods or Mini Waitrose, could have a positive effect on the village and on existing businesses by increasing footfall, (station footfall figures for 2016 were 565,000 per annum).

It is suggested that use Classes for all new units be restricted, to prevent them becoming fast food outlets or any other use that could be detrimental to the village.

7. Impact on the wider landscape

Whilst the proposed landscaping to create a better environment within the site is supported, it will do little to prevent an impact on the wider landscape of the village due to the height of the proposed built form and the elevated location.

One of the planning requirements for the site in the Chiltern Delivery DPD stated-

“The height and design of the development must take into account the value of views of the Great Missenden Conservation Area and listed buildings”.

Summary

As discussed above, whilst development on this site is seen as a great opportunity to revitalise the village, if the current plans are taken forward to a full planning application they will meet with a considerable amount of justifiable opposition.

Alternatively, a more sympathetic design approach, taking into account the context of the site within the historic village and its beautiful rural location, at the heart of the Chilterns AONB, could result in a benefit to all.

Proposed plans for the station can be downloaded by clicking the button below

GMPRG’s response to Buckinghamshire Council regarding the plans can be downloaded by clicking the button below

UK Bus Services Business Model Analysis

To assist progress for this project, Simon Rhodes created an overview of national bus services. The table of contents is shown below and the document can be accessed via the Download button further down. The Appendix includes a definition of Community transport and associated data taken directly from the Council website.

                                                                                              

Background                                                                                                  

Passenger Bus Operator – Business Model                                                 

Fare Increases                                                                                             

Concessionary Fares                                                                                 

Impact of changes in the British Retail Industry                             

Bus services in our Area                                                                        

Arriva UK overview                                                                                 

Appendix                    

                                                                               

John Skrimshire memorial bench

Memorial bench for past-chair of GMPRG

A memorial bench dedicated to John Skrimshire (1941-2016) has been installed close to the Pocket Park on the Buryfield, Great Missenden, where John used to enjoy times with his grandchildren.

John, who lived with his wife Angela in Crown House on the High Street for many decades, was Chairman of Great Missenden and Prestwood Revitalisation Group (GMPRG) and Committee member of Great Missenden Village Association (GMVA).  He was a member of the parish council for many years and in his capacity as resident and as a planning lawyer was much involved in protecting and influencing many aspects of village life and development, which he always did with a great sense of fun. He is sorely missed. The making and installation of the bench has been funded jointly by GMPRG and GMVA.

Midsomer on the Misbourne

Midsomer on the Misbourne leaflet produced with financial contribution from GMPRG

GMPRG recently contributed to supporting the production of the Midsomer on the Misbourne Locations Trail leaflet along with other Chiltern Revitalisation Groups under Chiltern District Council’s umbrella.

The Trail is the outcome of a CDC initiated workshop towards achieving the development of a visitor strategy for the Chilterns to boost local businesses and improve the local economy and footfall to local high streets, including increasing visitor numbers-to Great Missenden.

Click this link to View the leaflet – or click image below.

Midsomer on the Misbourne leaflet produced with financial contribution from GMPRG

Prestwood High Street Car Park – GMPRG’s case for more park benches

The case for park benches to encourage exercise and improve health


New research has shown that park benches are an asset to our lives and to our
communities.
Not only is the park bench great for encouraging people to go outside,
somewhere to sit and chat, it can also improve the lives of elderly people too.
Elderly people are suffering more and more from mental illnesses with 28% of
women over 65 being diagnosed with depression. Depression in elderly people
is a result of many different factors, with one of the key factors being isolation.
Loneliness can cause excess stress on the body and this can result in chronic
diseases including heart failure!
However, by going out for a walk and being able to sit on a bench enables
older people not only keep mobile but also to interact with people their age.
Not to mention that having a place to sit down gives older people a place to
rest whilst they go for a walk.
Prestwood High Street Car Park, owned by CDC, offers a great opportunity to
provide a bench at an appropriate location between other benches to help
the less mobile to get out and about, do a bit of shopping, go to the doctor’s
etc. Without somewhere to stop and sit, older and disable members of the
community are reluctant to venture out, in case they get out of breath or in
pain.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence( NICE) , quoted in The
Times 23 March 2018 as saying that areas with benches, flowers and lighting
tempt people to go out for a walk. They emphasise the need for improvements
to public space to be more active. Councils are advised “to make it as easy
for possible for people to walk”.

The guidance from NICE adds- “For most older people walking is by far the
most important activity”. Doctors describe exercise as a “wonder drug” that
can prevent cancer, diabetes and other diseases.