Protect Chesham Bois Common & Surrounding Area
Who We Are
Chesham Bois Common & Surrounding Area Campaign
As concerned residents of Amersham & Chesham Bois, we highly value and want to protect the unique nature of the Common, the woodland and the buildings that make the heart of Chesham Bois village and surrounding area enjoyable for everyone.
The reasons for setting up the campaign:
Create AWARENESS of the St Leonard's large scale development in the heart of the Conservation Area through stating the facts about the redevelopment.
Provide a platform for the wider community to SHARE THEIR VIEWS AND CONCERNS.
PROVIDE GUIDANCE for members of the community to state their own views formally.
The Proposed Development
The two sites will become one large site - all existing buildings will be demolished, with the following new builds:
The 'Parish Centre' consisting of:
A large (275 people) hall to be used for church services & gatherings with the intention of an 'all week' presence;
Additional multi-purpose hall to replace the existing Village Hall with an additional capacity for 100 people.
Offices for St Leonard's Church and Chesham Bois Parish Council, including meeting rooms;
Church led cafe.
A new enlarged Rectory and 1 additional home for Church staff
A separate building for Maryland Day nursery;
Car parking for 114 cars, accessed via Glebe Way and covering the whole of the site including the Glebe Land (and with 22 overflow spaces on the grass area)
Detailed plans can be found here
The cost is estimated to be around £5.5 million, making it the biggest development in the Chesham Bois Conservation area for many years.
The Proposed Development
St Leonard's Church
The site is owned by and is to be developed by the church, not the Parish Council. St Leonard's Church is an Anglican, Evangelical & Charismatic Church that promotes the School of the Prophetic. Habitat for Humanity, are the project management company working with the church to develop the site:
The Church's Vision
Grow the Congregation
The intention is to grow the church congregation (to 275) from outside as well as inside the Chesham Bois community. Currently a very small proportion of Chesham Bois residents attend St Leonard's services. Congregation numbers year on year are declining.
The primary purpose of the buildings - a 275 person, multi-purpose hall, offices & cafe, is for use by the church community and other local community groups. Members of the groups will be renting the building for a variety of purposes. It will be used during the day and in the evenings.
The existing St Leonard's Church on Bois Lane is a Grade II listed building. It will continue to be used for the 8.00am & 10.00am Sunday services.
The Concerns of The Community
Serious concerns from the residents in Amersham & Chesham Bois have been raised on the proposed St. Leonard's development because:
·The size and intensity of the development is huge. It is not simply a replacement Parish Centre – it is a new Church, to include a number of extra buildings.
This unprecedented large-scale development will be located in the heart of the Chesham Bois Conservation Area; it will impact ALL Chesham Bois residents.
It undermines the distinct character of The Conservation Area and promotes the spread of urbanisation – it does not preserve or enhance The Conservation Area.
The proposed buildings could hold around 400 people, which would result in an increase in traffic, with the incremental increase in light / visual / noise/ air pollution issues.
Inevitably, parking will spill out on to the surrounding roads. Although parking has been increased to 114 in the amendments, this is still not adequate for up to 400 people being on site when all the buildings are in use. Additionally, access via Glebe Way (which turns into a one way road with cars parked there) for 114 cars arriving and leaving at a similar time (eg. for a church service or event) will inevitably result in congestion and over spill parking in the surrounding area
It sets a precedent for future large-scale development applications within the area, resulting in increased urbanisation and the loss of the distinctive semi-rural character forever, which we all value highly.
This will be an active site, with 7-day week worship, leisure and business activities both day and evening; it will greatly alter the nature and tranquility at the heart of the village.
Current Church attendance is declining, with 40% of the congregation coming from outside the area. St Leonard's intention is to grow numbers from outside the parish, yet there are already 9 churches in Amersham.
There is an existing St Leonard's Parish Church on Bois Lane - what has been done for this church building to be adapted to twenty first century worship? Will it become a relic with the relocation of church services to the new worship hall development?
Up-date on the Planning Application
CBPC stand firm on their decision to support the St Leonard’s development - WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW
We would like to bring you up to speed with the chain of events and recent decisions made by Chesham Bois Parish Council and urge you to write to Bucks Council lodging your concerns.
In April CBPC voted 9-1 against the development. They gave 3 principle reasons for refusal:
The scale and intensity of the proposals would result in harm to the setting of the Conservation Area and harm to the setting of the adjacent Listed Buildings.
The parking arrangements are insufficient and inadequate and would harm the local transport network.
The proposals would harm the amenity of nearby residents in terms of noise and light pollution and unacceptable levels of disturbance contrary
On 5th October CBPC voted 6-4 in support of the development after reviewing St Leonard’s amendments to the planning application. Only one of the above principle reasons for refusal, it could be argued, had been overcome by the amendments. Namely the increased parking arrangements (parking now covers the whole of the Glebe site and is still likely to cause traffic congestion and overspill parking on local roads). The other 2 reasons are unaltered by the amendments.
Additionally, they have completely ignored the opinion of the large majority of the Chesham Bois and Amersham community – people they are meant to represent – and residents are struggling to understand their decision to vote in favour.
After the 5th October meeting, it was requested that CBPC review their U-turn decision in the light of the overwhelming number of objections from residents as well as new reports/events:
Thames Valley Police, which raised serious concerns regarding on site security
Environmental Health, which identified material drainage shortfalls
Bucks Council’s Urban Planner, which identified damage to the Conservation Area if the Police recommendations were implemented.
The withdrawal the Chiltern and South Bucks Emerging Local Plan which will increase the parking requirements.
On 9th November CBPC voted 7-4 not to rescind their original vote to support the development in the light of the new reports/events and the significant concerns of the Chesham Bois and Amersham community and still did not give clear and convincing reasons for their decision to now vote in favour and to explain their motives.
At the end of this message are excerpts from the minutes of the meeting on 5th October detailing councillors’ reasoning for supporting the application and which can all be challenged - full minutes can be found via https://www.cheshamboispc.org.uk/your-parish-council/council-meetings/
We will inform you as soon as the minutes from the 9th November meeting are published.
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW
There is as yet no date for the application to come before the Bucks Council Planning Committee:
They are still accepting objections - if you haven’t made yours already, there is still the opportunity
Concerns you have about the CBPC’s decision to support, how they made their decision and the reasonings for the U-turn can also be sent to Bucks Council via the Planning Application website. On the site you will see how other residents have done this.
Here is the link:
If you have any problems, please email:
Many thanks for your support.
OBJECTIONS THAT HAVE BEEN SUBMITTED
You can view all the documents and the objections on the Bucks Council website under the 'Documents' tab:
The reference number to access the St Leonard's Planning Application is:
Many thanks to all of you for submitting your objections to the amendments. There are circa 160 objections to the amendments in addition to circa 200 submitted in March, all of which put forward very compelling arguments against the development. Additionally, there are objections from The Chiltern Society, Amersham Residents Association, and our MP Dame Cheryl Gillam.
We are hoping that the Planning Committee will meet in 2020 to make a decision and will let you know as soon as we hear about the date of the meeting. Our Planning Consultant will be attending this meeting on behalf of the Protect group.
Excerpts from the minutes of the meeting on 5th October - full minutes can be found via https://www.cheshamboispc.org.uk/your-parish-council/council-meetings/
‘Cllr Harbottle stated that the Church is at the heart of the community providing useful services, including pastoral support and other services providing well-being to the community. Cllr Harbottle felt on balance that the benefits the facilities would provide to the community outweighed the harm to heritage and amenity to The Old Rectory.’
‘Cllr Hartley supported the application. Although the size of the main building and the impact on the amenity of The Old Rectory is still an issue; having considered the points on traffic and highway safety covered by Cllr Harbottle and the benefits a community hub would have for the village Cllr Hartley stated on balance the benefits outweighed the harm.’
‘Cllr Thomas supported the application. The style of building is modern and sympathetic, and it is well-screened. The additional parking will mean less overspill of traffic. The development will have a net positive impact on Chesham Bois.’
‘Cllr Woolveridge supported the application. Although Cllr Woolveridge still had some reservations on the heritage aspects, her concerns regarding parking and traffic have been addressed by recent independent transport reports; therefore, on balance Cllr Woolveridge supported the application.’
‘Cllr Heath supported the application. The design was striking, and the building will provide a community hub for current and future residents. Parking issues have been addressed and the percentage increase in traffic was minor. Cllr Heath was aware that there were challenges with the impact on the Conservation Area and immediate neighbours, but in balance the benefits to Chesham Bois outweighed the harm.’
‘Cllr Large supported the application. The design of the main building and the benefits it brings to the community would be welcome. Cllr Large’s initial concerns regarding parking have been addressed by the amended proposals. The tension between providing appropriate security in the eyes of the Police and avoiding light pollution have been addressed with a better use of light and appropriate use of fencing. Cllr Large had noted the two independent heritage reports which do not identify any major issues regarding the impact on The Old Rectory and heritage and was aware of the concerns of the owners of The Old Rectory. Having listened to the Cllr Harbottle’s commentary and further analysis of the traffic report Cllr Large no longer considered this a sufficient concern to prevent her support.’
The formal Planning Application has now been registered. We are at the end of an email and very happy to discuss the plans in greater detail with you. Please contact us at:
We will regularly place updates on Facebook, please follow us on: @ProtectCheshamBoisCommon
Read the HERITAGE REPORT, which Alison Bailey has curated, this provides some amazing stories and reasons why we need to protect the Chesham Bois Conservation Area.
Chesham Bois Parish Council are also seeking views from across the community. Email your view to: