PARISH CENTRE REDEVELOPMENT
We are redeveloping our Parish Centre!
Here you will find the latest updates on our progress, as well as some FAQs and the opportunity to sign up to keep up to date with our news.
Thank you for your interest in this project!
Following the PCC decision last Easter, St Leonard’s were able to submit a Planning Appeal in June 2021. The public consultation took place during December 2021 as that was the month that the Planning Inspectorate appointed a Case Officer, Neil Devereux. All the relevant documents that were lodged by St Leonard’s, and by the Local Authority (Buckinghamshire Council) along with 3rd Party representations, can be found on the Planning Portal by following this link (relevant docs are from 30th June 2021 onwards).
It is important to note that the appeal is strictly based on all the information that was submitted for the Planning Application, and could not include any adaptations or revisions. This is the primary reason no further consultation was had with the Parish Council, or within the community – the plans had not changed from those presented to the community as part of the planning application. The Appeal process is to review whether the decision to refuse taken by the Local Authority Planning Committee in January 2021 was reasonable and should be upheld, or whether it was unreasonable and permission should be granted.
We are now waiting for a National Planning Inspector to be appointed to carry out a site visit and to make a final assessment of the appeal case. At present the timescale for this is not yet clear and could be several months away, so patience will continue to needed with the ongoing process. The outcome of the Inspector’s decision will obviously be key to how the project proceeds. Once we have further information, we will provide another update.
The PCC has decided overwhelmingly to appeal the planning decision made back in January. The Project manager and his team are progressing that appeal and it will be submitted before the deadline. This appeals the decision regarding the plans as submitted to the Local Authority and our responses to the reasons given for refusal. We will keep the community informed as to how this is progressing.
As we move towards Christmas, St Leonard’s are reflecting on just how much energy and focus has been given this year towards realising planning permission for the new Parish Centre project. Here are some of the key stages in relation to the planning process which we have been through, or which we anticipate before Christmas, one for each month of the year!
Final reports and drawing amendments made following the Open Community Event (3rd Nov 2019)
Full plans application completed and submitted with Chiltern District Council (10th Feb 2020)
1st Parish Council Extraordinary Meeting to review Planning Application (11th Mar 2020) – voted against
Chiltern District Council becomes part of Buckinghamshire Council (1st Apr 2020)
Formal positive feedback from Planning officers with some areas for further focus (parking/drainage/security)
St Leonard’s PCC agree the scope and budget for the further work needed from consultants
New additional information is prepared for landscaping, parking, drainage and security
Addendum information is formally submitted to Buckinghamshire Council (11th Aug 2020)
Neighbour and public consultation commenced on Addendum information (18th Sept 2020)
2nd Parish Council Extraordinary Meeting to review Addendum information (5th Oct 2020) – voted in favour
Final comments from Highways, Drainage and Security (Police) being reviewed and responded to
Potential month for Planning Committee (or it could slip into January 2021)
We were especially encouraged by the formal comments from the Urban Design Officer at the council, who said: “On a more personal note, I would observe the in the course of my local authority practice very few applications have ’stood out’ during over well over a decade of professional practice. All too often, the design process behind planning applications is rushed with the resultant design proposals poorly considered, half-hearted and indifferent to the places where they are proposed. This application is noticeably different. Considerable thought and effort has gone into developing the proposals so far with an impressive degree of effort expended on involving stakeholders. But this is potentially just the start. Subject to the application being approved, further careful thought and even greater effort has to be expended on the design details of these proposals (which in turn, needs to follow through to the construction and finishing stages). If the positive momentum is not lost a future Listed Building may well be in the making. Surely a new development such as this will serve to not only enhance a Conservation Area but keep it living and relevant to the community but also society as a whole. Conservation Areas cannot be kept as museum pieces – fixed and unchanging. They must be allowed to grow and change - sensitively and in a carefully considered way. I believe that the evidence presented in the planning application demonstrates this sensitivity and care. I therefore offer my support for this application."
Further to all the planning processes listed above, we have had the extra challenges of COVID-19 and lockdowns to contend with. We have seen some fantastic community response during the year and are grateful for all those within our church fellowship, and in the wider community, who have been involved with volunteering and supporting others through this difficult time. We hope that by Christmas, the planning committee will have been able to reach a decision about the project, and that it will be a favourable one. If so, we will be able to raise a glass of bubbly, in whatever ‘bubble’ we find ourselves, to celebrate what has been a long and meaningful process of design and collaboration towards what we believe will be a new Parish Centre fit for the 21st Century.
We are aware it has been many months since our last update and a lot has happened in the world! However, there has been little to provide update on prior to this point. We took on board the comments back from the formal consultation on the plans we submitted to the Local Authority in January this year, and we also noted the feedback in the many comments from the public on the planning portal. The main issues we needed to review were:
Parking numbers and concerns about site access, and impact of traffic on local streets;
Boundary treatment and security issues;
Site surface water drainage.
Our design team worked hard during the summer and we re-submitted further information in early-August. Due to some internal delays with the Planning Authority, Chiltern & South Bucks Council have only now sent our plans out for another round of consultation. You can view them as 11th August dated entries by clicking here.
St Leonard’s welcome your comments and hope that the changes fully address the issues raised. The ways these changes meet comments raised are explained in detail in our Planning Consultant’s covering letter on the portal (Fuller Long letter to Melanie Beech dated 6th August 2020). Public comments are open on the planning portal up until 8th October.
We are waiting to hear from our Planning Officer about a date for the application being determined at Planning Committee, but we expect it will not make October – more likely November.
Thanks for your patience and we hope things will move forward during October now that the process is moving again with the local authority.
The validated planning application is now available online here.
Through the planning portal facility you are able to view all the submitted plans and supporting information and lodge your own comments (you need to register online for this facility first – just follow the council website instructions under the ‘Comments’ tab).
St Leonard’s are excited to have reached this stage of the design and look forward to the determination of this application after all the creative thought, hard work and careful consideration that has been put into the project to date.
We highlight the words in the submitted Planning Report from our planning consultant Fuller Long, which provides a helpful summary:
“The proposal will create a much-needed Parish Centre that will benefit both the Church and the local community. The design team recognise the sensitive nature of the site and have worked hard to achieve an innovative design that allows flexibility for its use.
The principle of the development is acceptable, and the detailed design of both the Parish Centre and dwellings ensures that the buildings will complement the woodland setting of the site and not harm the significance of either the listed buildings or Conservation Area, or neighbouring amenity. The main hall is designed to house 275 visitors and much work has been undertaken to ensure there is sufficient parking to meet both Church and community related activities at the site.
The proposed development is considered to comply with the policy objectives set out in the Local Plan and the NPPF. The accompanying reports and plans demonstrate the proposals compliance with policy in further detail and sets out the justification of the benefits of the development. It is therefore respectfully requested that planning permission be granted.”
Thank you for all your interest and assistance in the design process so far.
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If you would like to contact us with questions or comments about our Parish Centre redevelopment project, please use the following dedicated email address:
Please click here to see our Vision Statement for the project.
Bishop Steven has also given us a clear vision in the Diocese of Oxford: ‘a vision to guide us to become more Christ like: contemplative, compassionate and courageous as we serve our fragmented world.’ We believe that our Parish Centre Site Redevelopment project enables us to engage with both the diocesan and our parish vision.
As you can see from our mission & vision statements and the Diocesan strapline above we are called to be more Christ-like, doing the ministry of Jesus the way he modelled to us. All that we do together is grounded in our identity in Christ and arises from His call to us in His Word and by His Spirit. This community enhancing project is exciting, and whilst challenging enables us to fulfil the long-held vision to bless and serve our parish. We hope the information on this page will help you see the intentions of this project, the facts about it and the opportunities it will give to the whole community.