The battle to encourage Chiltern District Council, the nuns and the developer to produce a suitable plan for our village has been an unnecessarily bitter and unjust affair.
Our residents simply wanted a balanced and well planned development in the heart of our community, yet we have been failed and misrepresented at every juncture.
The Grange Manor has origins in the 13th Century and despite having being altered over the years, was a much cherished heritage asset which is now lost forever.
Legally in planning terms, The Holy Cross was a designated educational site, as such a alternative suitable educational use should have been sought before it was deemed no longer viable and could therefore achieve extremely valuable residential status. Indeed many offers were made to continue running the school, but were turned down by the sisters. Chiltern District Council should have enforced policy and insisted that a school should use at least a part of the site.
The chief planning officer at the time, Carol Castle, stated that a land swap deal with the school was far too complicated, yet our Parish Council proved her wrong by lining up an alternative developer 'Arrowcroft'. An award winning construction business who offered to build a replacement school for the oversubscribed C of E Academy alongside a mixed use scheme that would include a better retail offer for our ailing high street.
Thanks to a poorly run, underfunded and biased planning department, we have now lost the wonderful opportunity to implement a really decent structure to our village, which would have balanced housing, community facilities, infrastructure and retail, instead it has all been given over to residential. We have also lost one of the most important buildings in our village, this to add to the many that we have already lost over the years.