More than 100 objections have been lodged within days of plans for 975 homes on Green Belt at Chalfont St Peter going public.
The Epilepsy Society has submitted outline plans for the homes, 40 per cent of them affordable, along with a 75-bed care home, a primary school, retail and employment space and new sports pitches, landscaping and car parking on 78 hectares of Skippings Farm it owns next to its Chalfont Centre in Chesham Lane.
The society has posted a deficit in each of the last three years and its business case for the development forecasts it will run out of money in 2029/30. In its planning statement, produced by Deloitte and BNP Parabas, the society states: “Utilising the society’s estate and remaining within Chalfont St Peter is the only feasible option to achieve its charitable and long-term objectives.”
In one objection, Cllr Isobel Darby, who represents Chalfont Common for Chalfont St Peter Parish Council, said: “This is a significant development on Green Belt land, larger than anything in recent times in Chalfont St Peter, which would require exceptional circumstances to be proven in any event.
“It will have far reaching effects on the existing community in terms of traffic generation and demand for all services and requires a debate in the public arena.”
The society owns 121 hectares in total, bequeathed to it by its founders.
But Kevin Bourner, director of land and estates for the society, told Thames Tap the Charity Commission requires it to make best use of the land and that the society is not currently financially sustainable in the long term which, he said, risks its medical services and the homes it provides for 93 people with complex problems.
He went on: “We are asking to develop just 40 per cent of our land holding which would not only secure the future of the charity in Chalfont St Peter for generations to come but would also allow us to push forward the boundaries of epilepsy research and offer our medical expertise to an extra 11,650 patients every year.
“There are 600,000 people in the UK with epilepsy and, for one third of them, their seizures do not respond to current treatment options. It is wrong of us to sit on land with dilapidated buildings and leaking pipes when it could be used to provide life transforming diagnosis and treatment for people who need it most.
“Epilepsy can blight people’s lives. If a young mother has uncontrolled seizures, she will not be able to be left alone with her baby for fear of the consequences during a seizure. People with epilepsy often lead isolated lives for fear of going out and having a seizure as they cross the road or while waiting for a train. And 1,200 people lose their lives to epilepsy every year – many of them young people.
“This is why we feel the loss of part of the Green Belt is a small price to pay in order to offer hope to these people and particularly to children growing up today with epilepsy.
“We must offer them a better future. We have been very mindful in our plans of the need to preserve and create green open spaces for the local community that can be accessible to, and enjoyed by, everyone, including those with disabilities.
“The alternative is to close our site in Chalfont St Peter and, of course, the site would most likely be sold to a developer. Sadly, then, everyone would lose out.”
© Thames Tap (powered by ukpropertyforums.com).
Sign up to receive your free weekly Thames Tap journal here.