Massive NO to Salden Chase housing plan near Milton Keynes

Councillors have delighted campaigners by rejecting the advice of their own officers to throw out a plan for road improvements on the Buckingham Road, near Bletchley.

The changes to Bottledump and Tattenhoe roundabouts are needed to open up the hotly contested Salden Chase development of 1,855 new homes on land between Bletchley and Newton Longville.

Salden Chase opponents at the council offices

Salden Chase opponents at the council offices

The controversial Salden Chase development, which sits across the border in Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC)’s area, will gain permission if that council concludes legal agreements.

Milton Keynes Council’s Development Control Committee was told by the developer’s agent that this could happen within days.

Objector Steve Heath, from Newton Longville, urged the council to check its traffic data, saying he had evidence that traffic levels had been “reduced”, which he claimed was the “equivalent of false accounting” and said this was “misrepresentation”.

Council traffic expert Nigel Weeks insisted that the data had been checked and found to be accurate. “I will have to agree to differ with Mr Heath,” he said.

Mr Weeks added that he sympathised over traffic levels on Buckingham Road. But he said the Government’s guidance is that mitigation plans do not take current levels of congestion into account. They only have to provide ways of coping with the amount of traffic that the scheme for 1,855 houses would add to the network.

Cllr Ian Whipp, of Newton Longville Parish Council, claimed that the extra traffic from Salden Chase, would have a “massive impact on the area” and cause “gridlock and worse” as well as increasing urban sprawl.

Milton Keynes Bletchley Park ward councillors also had their say. Allan Rankine (Cons) and Elaine Wales (Lab).

Cllr Rankine said there were “no possible mitigations” and traffic levels would “make life unbearable for residents.”.

And Cllr Wales said the new residents would put pressure on GP surgeries and use other services without paying into MK Council through their council tax. “You must give this the red light,” she said.

Cllr Ernie Thomas, vice-chairman of West Bletchley Council, said it would cause “untold problems”, and put services under strain.

“We do not wish to gave another Blakelands debacle on our hands,” he added, referring to a giant warehouse that was granted near to residents elsewhere in MK.

“We will do our utmost to protect our residents from a neighbouring, although not neighbourly, council,” he added

Speaking on behalf of the developers, the SWMK Consortium, planning agent Mark Hyde said the development has been revised and now includes plans for 1,855 homes, parkland, sports pitches, a surgery for six GPs, and a primary and secondary school.

He said the plans had been scrutinised by officers at AVDC, Milton Keynes Council, and Buckinghamshire County Council, and all had supported it.

“It protects the route for a Bletchley Southern Bypass and gives a contribution to MK Hospital, as well as traffic calming at Newton Longville and Whaddon, and affordable housing.

“Agreement with AVDC is expected in two or three working days, in the very near future.”

And Steph Howard, a traffic advisor for the developers, said last minute traffic information from objectors contained “nothing new”.

“The impacts are not severe and not an impediment to giving permission,” she said, to sounds of derision from the public gallery.

Cllr Keith McLean (Cons, Olney) said a £1.9 million health payment to MK Council would not be enough. But he was advised that the issue of payments was not the issue at hand.

Tracy Darke, the council’s director of growth, economy and culture said the issue of so called section 106 payments had been “robustly debated” with AVDC.

“We have been in strong negotiations to get a hospital contribution. AVDC did not want to give a contribution,” she said.

Cllr Ric Brackenbury (Lib Dem, Campbell Park & Old Woughton) said: “This is a great deal for Aylesbury Vale.” He wondered if it was time for the boundary to change so that the Salden Chase area becomes part of Milton Keynes.

After rejecting a motion to approve the plan, councillors voted to reject it, with Cllr Anthony Brown (Lab, Tattenhoe) adding: “Now we have to think of a reason why.”

Proposing a 10 minute adjournment to find some reasons, he added: “I don’t want to approve anything which shafts Milton Keynes.”

Tracy Darke suggested that councillors had concerns with the impact of the access into Milton Keynes, and the impact on local services. Councillors then went into a huddle with their officers.

After they re-emerged, Cllr Andrew Geary (Cons, Newport North & Hanslope) proposed rejection on the grounds of “insufficient evidence to mitigate traffic on the highway network, and specifically Standing Way and Buckingham Road.”

This was carried, to the cheers of campaigners.