‘Not yet down and out’ in three village battle

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CRITICS have vowed to fight on, despite plans for nearly 2,500 homes to the east of Aylesbury getting the thumbs up from politicians.

Just an hour before a crucial planning meeting last week, district council bosses learned that the secretary of state, Eric Pickles, had put a holding directive on the bid.

The move means the controversial application to build three villages –which opponents say will swamp neighbouring Bierton and Broughton – cannot be approved until Mr Pickles decides whether it should be ‘called in’ and examined by a planning inspector.

Developers say the three villages – which were approved by a six to two majority, with one abstention, will take 17 years to build.

A planning meeting last Wednesday heard the district council is insisting that at least 20 per cent of the new housing is affordable – compared to a district-wide target of 35 per cent.

Councillor Brian Robson, chairman of Bierton with Broughton Parish Council, told AVDC’s strategic development control committee that people living in the villages are ‘almost unanimously’ against the development.

And Margaret Robertson, from the Bucks Badger Group, said rival applications in Hampden Fields and Fleet Marston would do less environmental damage.

Following the meeting, Tony Strevens, who heads the Bierton, Broughton and Hulcott Action Group said: “The holding directive means we are not yet down and out.

“It does not necessarily mean the Secretary of State will refer the application to an inspector so we shouldn’t get too excited.”

He said the government had decided not to intervene in the Arla megadairy application earlier this year, but added: “In our case, it was not actually a unanimous verdict by the strategic development control committee to support the application and there are significant criticisms by two previous government inspectors about the site.”

The plans also include a 25 acre employment zone, two primary schools, local shops and a Wetlands Centre.

Peter Murphy, the project’s development director, said: “It will create three new villages, set amongst parkland, where people will aspire to live and work.”