Protect Chesham Bois Common & Surrounding Area
ST LEONARD’S APPEAL HAS BEEN DISMISSED
It's good news that the appeal has been dismissed. The primary reason for dismissal is because “the scheme doesn’t preserve the integrity of the Chilterns Beechwood SAC”. During the course of the appeal, Natural England issued new advice regarding significant recreational pressure upon Chilterns Beechwoods Special Area of Conservation (SAC) - you can read more about this in this link to an FAQ document.
You can also read the full report from the Inspectorate which provides more details of his considerations if you wish.
There is still uncertainty over what might happen next, but we'll definitely keep you all informed if we hear anything.
We'd like to thank all of you for your valiant efforts in opposing this development - we know how much time and thought you have all put into it and it is very much appreciated.
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?
Bucks Council unanimous refusal of the planning application
REASONS FOR REFUSAL
The formal confirmation of the reasons for refusal from Bucks Council Planning Committee have been posted on the website within the Documents tab:
Also, here is a link to the PDF of the reasons for refusal.
Here is a summary of the notes we took during the meeting:
Reasons for refusal:
Significant harm to the Conservation Area
Scale, density, and design inappropriate to the setting and not in character with the other buildings in The Conservation Area – over-development of the whole site.
Impact of significant amount of traffic, noise, late hours etc to the amenity of the Grade II Listed Old Rectory and other residents
Proposed access to site inadequate for level of traffic and too close to dangerous junction.
New rectory sited too close to North Road and not acceptable in Conservation Area.
It was also noted:
Contrary to planning policy there was no biodiversity net gain
Requirements for visibility splay would remove existing screening.
Inadequate parking would cause unacceptable over-spill on surrounding rounds where there is no capacity.
Security issues highlighted by Thames Valley Police had been addressed in a way inappropriate in a Conservation Area.
Garden of additional new house ‘Keeper’s Cottage’ inadequate and the building is too close to the Old Rectory.
ADDITIONALLY - The Planning Inspectorate have written to inform us that St Leonard's have withdrawn their application to extend the access over common land to the Glebe Way site.
We will continue to keep in communication with you all when-ever there is news.
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: