***BREAKING NEWS***

An appeal was submitted last Thursday (14th May) against the refusal by Milton Keynes Council of Salden Chase, the so called "South West Milton Keynes" planning application. The parish council will be considering the application at a special (online) meeting at 3 pm on Friday 22nd May and agree the action to be taken. There is likely to be a significant cost in defending the appeal. Details of how the public may participate in the meeting is on the agenda.

If the application goes ahead it would have meant 1,855 houses on the edge of Newton Longville and West Bletchley, but little put forward by the developers to deal with the resulting traffic issues in Newton Longville and Milton Keynes as well as insufficient provision for infrastructure generally in Milton Keynes.

Newton Longville Parish Council (NLPC) is currently working with West Bletchley Council (WBC), Milton Keynes Council and others to defend the refusal decision.

Steve Heath is again working through the large pile of paperwork identifying flaws in their case. As well as our lawyers we are likely to be engaging specialist Highways Consultants to assist.

We are working on a FAQ which will be published shortly to try to answer questions on the application and the appeal. We welcome further questions but cannot undertake to reply individually, we will add further points as time goes on.

On 7th November 2019 we were able to celebrate a victory in a long running battle on the “Salden Chase” - the so-called “South West Milton Keynes” planning application - and thank the councillors on Milton Keynes Council for finally calling a halt to what had become a fiasco and the sort of thing that give the planning system a bad name. Despite officer recommendations to approve the application, the councillors were persuaded that the highways evidence we presented, very ably led by Steve Heath, was far more believable than what the applicants had put forward. Our news story from the time may be read at: https://newton-longville.com/news/9-salden-chase

We were not complacent though and were aware the applicant had a right to appeal. By law they had six months from the decision in which to appeal.

The formal decision notice was issued by Milton Keynes Council (MKC) on 15th November 2019 saying: “That in the opinion of the Local Planning Authority there is insufficient evidence to mitigate the harm of this development in terms of increased traffic flow and impact on the highway and Grid Road network, with specific reference to Standing Way and Buckingham Road, thus this will be in contravention of Policies CT1 and CT2 (A1) of Plan:MK.”

The appeal

On Thursday 14th May (so just within six months) their appeal was submitted. As the refusal was based on highways grounds, the appeal concentrates on this. Although appeals are meant to be based on what was before the decision maker, the applicants have submitted many new documents – what can rightly be described as a “paper chase” – in total they have submitted over 4,000 pages taking up around 130 Mb in space – many at a scale making it next to impossible to read.

We consider that what has been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate (and MKC) is a bit of a mess - such as lots of documents often without numbered pages or paragraphs and as well as those at too small a scale to read on a normal screen/A3 print. This is in breach of the guidance on submitting appeals and we are in the process of making this point to the Planning Inspectorate.

The documents as submitted to MKC may be viewed on the MKC website at: https://bit.ly/MKCSaldenChase (however these are not all clearly titled or easy to download/view other than on a one by one basis). A more accurate detailed listing of all the documents submitted is currently being prepared and this page will be updated with this when available.

It is very likely that the appeal will be considered at a public inquiry, this is the process requested by the applicants and so far is supported by the Planning Inspectorate (PINS). A decision on the process and who the Planning Inspector will be is expected from PINS in the next few days. A public inquiry is a formal process with all parties to the appeal represented by barristers. Both NLPC and WBC are considering asking to be given “Rule 6” status which means we become parties to the appeal and are able to ask questions of the applicants and planning authority.  

Background

After an earlier failed attempt between 2008 and 2010 with a planning application for a larger “Salden Chase”, identical planning applications were submitted on 30th January 2015 by the so-called “South West Milton Keynes” (SWMK) Consortium for what had become known as Salden Chase, but they were now calling “South West Milton Keynes” designed to give the impression the housing would be in Milton Keynes when it was not.

The SWMK Consortium is made up of: Taylor Wimpey UK Ltd, Hallam Land Management Ltd, William Davis Ltd, Bellcross Ltd and Connolly Homes plc. As far as is known none of the companies own any of the land, but it is assumed they have options on parts of the overall application site.

The application site is mainly within the Aylesbury Vale (and so Newton Longville) area but includes land needed for highway access within the Milton Keynes area (and so West Bletchley Council area). Most of the site is currently farmland.

As this is a “cross boundary” application with part of the overall site within the administrative areas of Milton Keynes Council (MKC) and Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC) – not Buckinghamshire Council (BC). Given the size of the development it required an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and so an Environmental Statement (ES) having to be produced. The government give guidance in their Planning Policy Guidance on EIA and cross-boundary applications should be dealt with. So far, neither AVDC or Milton Keynes Council have fully complied with the rules on cross-boundary or EIA applications.

The applicants, SWMK Consortium, are mainly represented by Mark Hyde of Carter Jonas (formerly Januarys) as agent and planning consultant and Martin Paddle of WSP (formerly Mouchel) as highway consultant. That both former companies have been bought out by others indicates just how long this application has been “under consideration”. The target set by the government for planning authorities to decide such large “EIA” applications is 16 weeks, so far AVDC have had the application for over 275 weeks without making a decision. Indeed, it has been outstanding so long from 1st April 2020 AVDC has now been replaced by the new Buckinghamshire Council.

As is shown in the extract below from an email from the applicant’s agent on 1st February 2015 to both AVDC and MKC the description for the application was:

“Outline planning application with all matters reserved except for access for a mixed use sustainable urban extension on land to the south west of Milton Keynes to provide up to 1,885 mixed tenure dwellings; an employment area (B1); a neighbourhood centre including retail (A1/A2/A3/A4/A5), community (D1/D2) and residential (C3) uses; a primary and a secondary school; a grid road reserve; multi-functional green space; a sustainable drainage system; and associated access, drainage and public transport infrastructure.”

It was acknowledged by the applicant’s agent that “there will clearly have to be some consistency in the description of the application” used by both AVDC and MKC. However this did not actually happen.

SaldenChaseDescriptionEmail

Application to Milton Keynes Council

On the pretext of what was later admitted to “make it easier”, MKC invented a different description and location: “Land at Buckingham Road, Tattenhoe Roundabout Standing Way To Bottle Dump Roundabout Milton Keynes. For: Outline permission for 2 x junction improvements and a new access onto A421 (priority left in/left out) (associated with Aylesbury Vale District Council planning application 15/00314/AOP)”

Eventually after being asked to produce the application form for such an application MKC had to admit there was no such application. We have pointed this error out several times but MKC continued to use a misleading description and incorrectly advise their councillors and others the application was “only for highway access” ignoring the whole issue of a cross-boundary application and the need to comply with the Environmental Impact Regulations.

By the time of the MKC Committee meeting in November 2019 various changes had been made including changing the in/out junction off A421 H8 Standing Way to in only – it appears the only justification being to provide in/out would be too expensive for them. MKC then used a description of: “Outline planning application for physical improvements to the Bottledump roundabout and a new access onto the A421 (priority left in only) to accommodate the development of land in Aylesbury Vale District reference 15/00314/AOP”

Application to Buckinghamshire Council (originally AVDC)

The first time AVDC considered the application at their Strategic Development Management Committee was on 17th June 2017 (two and a half years after it was submitted to them). As well as speakers from Newton Longville Council and West Bletchley Council, Iain Stewart MP for MK South and the chair of the Milton Keynes Council Development Control Committee attended and spoke against it.

The documents for the AVDC (Buckinghamshire Council) application are at: https://bit.ly/SaldenChase - however nothing new has been posted here since April 2019, apart from two in November 2019: a draft Section 106 agreement; and a letter from Bucks County Council Highways as result of the work done by Steve on the now refused Gladman application for land off Drayton Road. (As a result of the Transport Assessment submitted on the Gladman application Steve Heath demonstrated flaws in the Salden Chase application) which by now Bucks Highways accepted were valid.