HITCHAM AND TAPLOW
N E W S L E T T E R N0. 5
The Rt. Hon. The Viscount Astor
Mr. Victor Williams, J.P., C.C.
Mr. E. F. J. Perkins
Mr. J. Martineau
Mr. A. J. Page, M.P.
Lt. Col. B. Morton, O.B.E., J.P.
Dr. M. A. T. Rogers, Ph.D.
Mrs. L. Miall
Mr. R. C. F. Besch
Mr. W. J. Garrard
Dr. H. Jaques
Miss E. V. Matthews
Mr. J. Morrison
Mr. A. J. C. Paines
Mr. J. M. Taylor
Mr. A. Wallis
All communications should be addressed to:-
The Hon. Secretary:
Mrs . L . Miall,
RELATIONS WITH THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES.
On July 9th your Committee entertained Mr. Harrison, the recently appointed Clerk to the Eton R.D.G., and Mrs. Harrison to tea. Afterwards we took them on a short tour of the area, showing them both the eyesores and threatened places, as well as the parts which we are most anxious to. preserve.
It is a great pleasure to record the sympathetic and appreciative interest shown by Mr. Harrison. Not unnaturally there is nothing specific which we can report to our members, but we are confident that we have a good friend in the Council Offices, who appreciates what this Society is working for.
POPLAR FARM GRAVEL.
The promised day for the completion of the working has been given to
us at various times and with varying degrees of authority as July 1960, September 1960, November 1960 the end of 1960, February 1961 (termination of formal planning permissions, March 1961 and July 1961. We are glad to be able to report that several of the. earth movers have at last been taken away, and at the time of writing top soil is being imported and a bulldozer and one earth mover are the only major machines operating on the site. (At one stage hoggin was actually being brought back as filling material!)
As soon as it became apparent that the contractors were about to re—spread the top soil, the Committee invited a Surveyor to express his opinion (1) whether there was a reasonable prospect that the maximum permitted depth of 10 ft. below the original level was likely to be exceeded, and (2) whether the top soil, then in the heap to the north of the site, would give an all—over spread of at least 6 in. In his report the Surveyor told us that he had been assured that where the depth was greater than —10 ft., material would be imported to bring it up to the permitted level, and he thought there was a reasonable prospect of a minimum 6 in. of top soil. Considerable progress has undoubtedly been made in the general réstoration work, but we are not very happy about the top soil situation, despite the considerable amount now being imported by lorry. From a distance it appears that most of the site is well covered, but upon
closer inspection this is not so. we are of the opinion that a great deal of filling material and top soil is still required — especially at the Western side of” the site. Nevertheless, as we have said, considerable progress has been made since the time we issued News Letter No. 4.
Although it is, of course, imposaible to say whether this situation is a result of our activities, our own View is that, without our persistent representations to the local authorities, supported, as we have been, by the Press; the restoration would not have reached the stage it has.
It has been claimed that the operation was justified because the gravel from this site was cheaper than that available from planned sources. But the enormous cost of the restoration of the Poplar Farm site leads one to question whether it would not have been cheaper in the long run to have operated from planned sources. Remember, it has taken (so far) twice as long as it was stated at the outset, and this was certainly not wholly due to wet weather.
It is a relief to have the Planning Authority’s guarantee, that in § ture gravel for road construction in Bucks will only be taken from planned sites.
The Penn Country branch of the C.P.R.E. has asked the County Council to write to the owner of the Hitcham tithe barn to ask him what he intends mite do about it as a result of the confirmation of the Preservation Order last summer. The County Council has received no answer to their letter.
Since the owner ignores correspondence it would seem that it is his intention to is more the Preservation Order and let the barn fall down, but safely, as he has put wire netting under the eaves to protect passers—by.
AMEY’S, BATH ROAD.
Amey’s erected this unattractive plant for the preparation of bitumen beside the Bath Road without having made planning application, It was claimed by Amey’ s that they did not know planning application was needed. A retrospective application was granted in March on the understanding that the occupation was to terminate at the end of July, We have accepted this situation, because it was clear that surfacing material was needed for the by—pass. However, we. have collaborated with the Maidenhead Civic Trust in trying (with slight effect) to get the site tidied up.
We now learn, not unexpectedly, that Amey’s have asked for extension of the planning permission until the end of August because work was delayed by fire. (The Society will oppose further extension strongly). The surfacing of the by—pass and associated roads is now virtually complete, and there seems to be no reason why Amey’ s should be permitted to remain on this site. Furthermore, in our view it is important that firms should not be permitted to believe that, once having established themselves on a site, the planning permission will be more or less automatically renewed – and this applied with particular force in this case where the Council’s hand was forced in the first place by what one might describe as “squatters’ rights”.
Every month the Register of Building Applications is inspected by a member of the Committee at the Council Offices in Slough, and on a number of occasions we have written to the Planning Committee objecting to an application which we have seen on the Register. Oh no occasion so far has the Planning Committee allowed an application which we have opposed. We have been careful not to oppose without good grounds, but we have occasionally asked the Local Authority to consider small amendments to the plan; for example, it seemed to us that the new Wimpey Estate on the William Wood site was to be allowed to go rather too close to the existing houses in Eastfield Road. In the revised plan which has been agreed, the new buildings are set 10 ft. back.
At the time of writing we are opposing an application to build 22 units and 22 garages on the Stockwells site. Our objection is based on the grounds that we have been promised a village plan by the County Council, and it would be wholly wrong to develop the village piecemeal before this plan is available. Incidentally, this village plan was suggested by the County Planning Officer himself (Mr. Pooley) at our 1960 Annual General Meeting, but we learn that work on it has not yet begun.
THE CHALK PIT CASE.
Members may have seen in the national press the story of Major Buxton and the chalk pit case. Your Committee attaches the utmost importance to this matter; as we made clear in our last News Letter, our objective in opposing development is firstly to persuade the Local Authority to reject the application, and secondly, if that fails, to seek a public enquiry. It has been widely believed that the Minister will, as a matter of course, in the absence of compelling reasons to the contrary, accept the findings of the Inspector. It is disturbing to see that the Minister will, on occasion, reverse the findings of the Inspector without giving his reasons. Although the matter has officially been closed by the Government, we know that the Council on Tribunals is not regarding it in the same light, and is continuing to question the principle underlying the Minister’s decision.
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING – PROVISIONAL DATE.
The meeting will, we hope, take place on November 24th. Details will be sent to you in due course.