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?
Planning Application REFUSED
Planning Committee unanimously REFUSE the St Leonard's Planning Application
Now that the dust has settled on the excitement of the REFUSED outcome of Tuesday’s Planning Committee meeting, we’d like to say the following:
THANK YOU TO EVERYONE
For the time you invested in pulling together your objections (and we know we asked you to do many!), talking to your neighbours and others in the community, and being so supportive of everyone working on the Protect campaign. It is massively appreciated, and we’re so pleased everyone’s hard work has paid off.
REASONS FOR REFUSAL
The formal confirmation of the reasons for refusal from Bucks Council Planning Committee have not 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.
We will be closely monitoring the situation and preparing for the next steps we may need to take.
APPEAL - there is the possibility of an appeal despite the Planning Committee unanimously providing St Leonard’s with little scope to justify their plans. We are already in contact with someone who specialises in such matters and our Planning Consultant will continue working with us for subsequent advice and action as and if required.
THE PLANNING INSPECTORATE - we are waiting to hear from The Planning Inspectorate regarding the access.
KEEPING IN TOUCH WITH BUCKS COUNCIL
We will keep in close and clear contact with planning officers and planning committee members, in particular the Chairman, Caroline Jones and Jane MacBean. We therefore ask that all future communications to them come through us. Please email us if there are any specific points you would like to make.
POTENTIAL SUBMISSION OF NEW PLANS – an ideal outcome would be for St Leonard’s to listen to what the community and the Planning Committee have said and go back to the drawing board with more modest plans for the redevelopment of the village hall, which could work for both the church and the local community.
We will continue to keep in communication with you all when-ever there is news. In the meantime, enjoy the success we have had so far Protecting Chesham Bois and the Surrounding Area!
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: