Protect Chesham Bois Common & Surrounding Area

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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:

  1. The 'Parish Centre' consisting of:

  2. A large (275 people) hall to be used for church services & gatherings with the intention of an 'all week' presence;​

  3. Additional multi-purpose hall to replace the existing Village Hall with an additional capacity for 100 people.

  4. Offices for St Leonard's Church and Chesham Bois Parish Council, including meeting rooms;

  5. Church led cafe.

  6. A new enlarged Rectory and 1 additional home for Church staff

  7. A separate building for Maryland Day nursery;

  8. Prayer Garden;

  9. 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.

 
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The Proposed Development

The Developers

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:

Click here for more info

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.

 
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The Concerns of The Community

Sensible Redevelopment

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?

 
 

How do I object to the planning application amendments?

The amendments to the planning application requested by Bucks Council Traffic Department and now available to view on the website

IMPORTANT ACTIONS

  1. Please submit your objections to the planning application amendments to Bucks Council Planning by 8th October.

Details are on the Bucks Council website:

www.chiltern.gov.uk/viewplanningapplications

The reference number to access the St Leonard's Planning Application is:

PL/20/0401/FA

When your arrive at the page, you'll see a number of tabs:

Details, Comments, Documents, Related Items, Map

Go to 'Comments' and this provides details on how to submit your objections/comments. 

If you objected to the original application, we ask that as minimum you simply state that your original comments are unchanged post the amendments to the planning application. 

If you would like to raise specific concerns about the amendments, then please state your original comments are unchanged and add comments regarding the amendments which further concern you (eg. no change to size and scale, parking, access, traffic congestion).   

If you encounter problems with the website, email your objection to

planning.csb@buckinghamshire.gov.uk

Then copy and email your objections/comments to Chesham Bois Parish Council 

clerk@cheshamboispc.org.uk

Under the 'Documents' tab, you will be able to see all the relevant documents and comments that other people have made.

SUMMARY OF ONGOING CONCERNS

The Protect planning consultant has reviewed the amendments to the St Leonard’s planning application for the new Worship Hall/Parish Centre, as requested by the Bucks Council Traffic Department.  These amendments exacerbate the concerns of the Protect group rather than alleviate them on several key points:  

SIZE & SCALE OF THE DEVELOPMENT

The revised plans are almost identical to the initial plans.  It seems that the concerns of the Chesham Bois community regarding the size and intensity of the development have been ignored.  Indeed, the amendments INCREASE the scale of the development.

PARKING

The entire site will now be covered, with car parking spaces increased from 92 to 114.  The enlarged carpark will cover the whole of the Glebe Land (with 22 overflow parking spaces on the grass). The area of The Glebe Land initially designated on the plans as “Open Space” will now be used for parking thereby further harming the Conservation Area and the Old Rectory.

Additionally, parking for 114 cars is still inadequate for potentially 400 people using the site if all the buildings are used at the same time, and this will inevitably result in spill out on to the surrounding roads.  The Church has still not provided clarity on other commercial activities that may be held (as they are at the Kings Church) which would further add to parking pressure around the area.

ACCESS & TRAFFIC CONGESTION

Access on Glebe Way was reviewed but failed to take into account that parking on Glebe Way turns this road into a single lane road.  This is likely to cause considerable TRAFFIC CONGESTION with 114 plus cars arriving and trying to get onto and off the site at the same time (eg. a service or event in the 275-capacity worship hall).  This is also likely to result in congestion and street parking in the surrounding roads (eg. South Rd, North Rd, Chestnut Lane, Bois Lane, Lexham Gardens). 

Additionally, access to the site is over common land, which is owned by Chesham Bois Parish Council.  The plan is to widen the access road, but we believe no consent has yet been requested from CBPC. The development of the site is therefore reliant upon CBPC and the Secretary of State granting right and access permission. There is no guarantee that either of these parties will grant consent. This was a prerequisite of Transport for Bucks which St Leonard’s have not addressed.

COST & USAGE OF THE FACILITY (Church and commercial)

St Leonard’s have so far spent in excess of £200,000 on this planning application and have quoted a budget of £5.5 million to develop the site (see Church Report/Accounts -  https://www.stleonardscb.org.uk/reports).  No projections are given regarding the expected cost of running the development site post build and maintaining the existing church.  

The aim is to move the service currently held at The Beacon to the new development, but the original Church will continue to provide the same Sunday services. 

This raises two key points which have not been clarified:

  • Paragraph 2.1 of the Planning Statement states, “The intention is to expand the building for non-church activities during the week and also on Saturdays.”  This indicates that this is a large-scale commercial proposal in a quiet semi-rural part of the Conservation Area, where there is no need.

  • No projections for the up-keep and running costs of the Grade 1 listed Church are provided. 

THE CONCERNS OF THE COMMUNITY REMAIN THE SAME:

  • The community is not averse to a sensible redevelopment of the Parish Centre.  It is the huge size and intensity of development that have raised serious concerns.

  • It is located in the heart of the Chesham Bois Conservation Area, undermines its distinct character and promotes the spread of urbanisation

  • There will be considerable impact on traffic congestion, incremental increase in light, noise and air pollution especially from vehicles coming from out of the Amersham area.

  • Parking will inevitably spill out onto the surrounding roads already with little spare parking capacity.

  • It sets a precedent for future large-scale development applications within the Conservation Area

  • The 7 day a week worship, leisure and business activities both day and evening will greatly alter the nature and tranquillity at the heart of the village

  • There are concerns about the long-term viability of a new 275 seater worship hall and the existing 800 year old church.

THE CHURCH’S MISSION

Although St Leonard’s claim that this development will be to the benefit of the whole community, their mission statement (on their website - https://www.stleonardscb.org.uk/) says nothing about caring for and integrating with the diverse community within Chesham Bois. Any benefits to the community as a whole will be far outweighed by the detrimental effect on the area.

2. CHESHAM BOIS PARISH COUNCIL REVERSE THEIR DECISION AND NOW VOTE IN FAVOUR OF THE REDEVELOPMENT

On April 24th CBPC  rejected by a majority the Church’s February 2020.

They gave 3 principle reasons for refusal:

  1. 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 contrary to Policies LB1, LB2, CA1 and CA2 of the Local Plan and Policy and CS20 of the Core Strategy (Design and Environmental Quality)

  2. The parking arrangements are insufficient and inadequate and would harm the local transport network contrary to Policy TR16 of the Local Plan and Policies CS25 and CS26 of the Core Strategy and Policy CP3 of the emerging Local Plan

  3. The proposals would harm the amenity of nearby residents in terms of noise and light pollution and unacceptable levels of disturbance contrary to Policy GC3 (protection of amenities) and Policy GC7

CBPC held an Extraordinary meeting on Monday 5th October to discuss the amendments to the Planning Application and voted 6 - 4 IN FAVOUR of the redevelopment.  

Only the parking has been addressed in the amendments (by increasing the number of parking spaces and thus covering the entire site), nothing has been done to address the size and scale, impact on the Conservation Area and noise, pollution and disturbance. 

We urge you to email Chesham Bois Parish Council asking them to explain their reasons for the reversal in their decision.

(clerk@cheshamboispc.org.uk)

 
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STAY INFORMED

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:

protectcbcommon@gmail.com

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:

clerk@cheshamboispc.org.uk

 
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