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

Thursday, October 21st, 2021

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

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