VALP Main Modifications
Representation ID: 3221
Respondent: Miss Marlen Lawrenz
Legally compliant? No
I object to MM070, MM071, MM075 and MM076 (in respect of 'Shenley Park') given that:-
1) The modifications were made without due consultation of the affected parties, thereby preventing a proper comparison testing of the three potential sites (Eaton Leys, Salden Chase & Shenley Park).
2) AVDC failed to comply with its 'Duty to Cooperate' with the adjoining local authority MKC in terms of i) local planning aims, and ii) developer's contributions.
3) The Sustainability Appraisal appears to be incomplete, jeopardising the report's soundness and validity of its conclusions.
Modifications MM07, MM071, MM075 & MM076 need to be deleted from the VALP before adoption of the VALP occurs. Eaton Leys, Bletchley or Salden Chase, Newton Longville should be considered as a sustainable replacement for Shenley Park. Ideally, alternative sustainable sites should be identified closer to the larger towns within Aylesbury Vale - thereby helping that towns' sustainability and economy rather than that of Milton Keynes.
I object to the proposed Main Modifications MM070, MM071, MM075 and, importantly, MM076, which have all been made in respect of 'Shenley Park (WHA001). My objection is based on the following key points:-
1. Shenley Park was only included at this late stage by way of 'modification'. It is, however, evident that AVDC's decision to prefer Shenley Park over the two competing sites (Eaton Leys & Salden Chase) was taken without allowing for a full hearing of the parties affected by the proposed site allocation. This lack of consultation denied Whaddon Parish Council and local residents the opportunity to properly examine, scrutinize and discuss Shenley Park and its impact. Importantly, this also prevented a due & proper comparison testing of the three potential allocation sites. This is unfair and the modifications are not adequately justified. I ask the Inspector to open a further hearing session at the end of the consultation period to rectify this defect, which could otherwise render the final plan unsound and therefore, potentially, unlawful.
2. The proposed modifications were made by AVDC without complying with its 'Duty to Co- operate' with the adjoining authority (being MKC). Whilst AVDC stated that it kept MKC informed, no records or minutes have been provided to evidence effective discussions or proper joint working. It was acknowledged by MKC at the Full Council Meeting on 23 Oct 2019 that a failure to cooperate had occurred. This breach of Government guidelines and national policy may affect the soundness of the plan. I therefore ask the Inspector to re- open the hearing sessions to allow AVDC to adequately respond.
2.1. This failure to cooperate is particularly concerning as the AVDC Local Plan fails to take into account the strategies stated in the MKC Local Plan, in particular in terms of MK's proposed development areas, infrastructure, accessibility and biodiversity aims. This casts serious doubt on the effectiveness of the AVDC Local Plan where it is not aligned with the MKC Local Plan.
2.2. Further issues arise in respect of the proposed distribution of S106 payments, or indeed the complete lack of discussion regarding CIL payments. All three proposed sites are located in immediate proximity of Milton Keynes. As a result, residents will primarily use MK's public services, in particular for healthcare, policing, ambulance, fire services, education etc. This was even acknowledged in the proposed modification MM076. Yet, the AVDC Local Plan fails to address or mitigate the respective strain on MK's infrastructure. In fact, there is a fundamental mismatch between the two local authorities' treatment of developer's contributions: Whilst MKC operates a tariff system under the CIL regime (with a guaranteed amount paid per dwelling), AVDC have not yet started preparing for the adoption of CIL; this is only expected to commence after the Local Plan is adopted. Instead, AVDC rely on the S106 method which is open to developer debate and challenge, therefore potentially delaying the Local Plan's delivery.
And yet, this discrepancy was not remedied by way of 'proper joint working'. I therefore ask the Inspector to re-open the hearing to allow for full discussion of the above points.
3. AVDC uses the Sustainability Appraisal (SA) as main evidence for its decision to favour Shenley Park over suitable alternatives at Eaton Leys and Salden Chase. However, it appears that the SA fails to adequately discuss and appraise some important aspects of Shenley Park in terms of landscape, traffic & highways and biodiversity, therefore casting serious doubt on the completeness and effectiveness of the document. Importantly, the document completely omits the importance of the North Bucks Way (Bridleway). This is not justified. Without duly considering the importance of this ancient landscape boundary, natural habitat and wildlife corridor, the report's soundness is seriously jeopardised, in particular its reasoning and conclusions regarding the sites' landscape and biodiversity aspects. I therefore urge the Inspector to re-open the hearing to be able to adequately discuss and assess the impact of interrupting the North Bucks Way by the proposed grid road extensions.