Congratulations to Jed and Mick for the stewardship of yourChesham over a considerable number of years and well done for handing this very important community asset, over to Cliff and Mick to future proof it for many editions to come.

Chesham Masterplan – where have we got to?

As a Director of Chesham Renaissance Community Interest Company (CRCIC) and as we move into 2023, I thought I might summarise where we have got to. Some contributors to yourChesham (not many) make claims about the intentions of the Directors. These claims have remained unchallenged. The Directors, all locally based for a considerable number of years, have put a plan to the community with extensive public consultation, all self-financed and subsequently adopted by Chesham Town Council. No public money has been paid for this thinking and any subsequent gains will accrue for the community, a feature of a Community Interest Company. Detractors might like to correspond directly with CRCIC or refer to our website if they don’t understand this constitutional and governance framework.

CRCIC remains independent from Buckinghamshire Council and Chesham Town Council, we are working closely together on a Regeneration Plan for Chesham (although not the surrounding villages due to political boundaries, with further discussion we can embrace this matter).

We need to agree as a community if we are going to increase our economic vibrancy in Chesham and provide new development and opportunities. Infrastructure investment needs to be at the heart of this.

We need to consider the height and density of development always having in mind that we do not want to lose elements of the Green Belt. Another consideration and a major part in our thinking is how we can reconnect Lowndes Park back with the Town, without having to contend with St Mary’s Way it remains a big challenge, we have a number of ideas and options to be shared and considered simply put over, under, or through

Chesham has several brownfield sites, most in public ownership. CRCIC have conversations going on with the owners of these sites, and developers who might develop them with sympathetic consideration for our history and heritage. Sizable flat sites (carparks mainly) remain in the ownership of Buckinghamshire Council. They have managed to build a new leisure centre in Amersham and a new multideck car park. Perhaps now it is Chesham’s turn

The town has some urgent priorities, our High Street and the need to develop housing units within the price range of younger people and indeed some of our silver generation wanting to downsize.

I am personally looking forward to reading the report from Create Streets commissioned by Chesham Town Council who have been consulting widely at Peace in the Park in September 2022, Christmas in Chesham November 2022 and some more focused workshops in the second week of January 2023.

We cannot hope or expect central Government money to be invested in Chesham they have more urgent priorities. Although well done to the Town Council securing £200 000 to have another think about what we might do to consider the future shape of Chesham. Although we don’t want to fall into the trap of paralysis by analysis.

Infrastructure improvement will need to be financed by development, which will need private sector money rather than relying on the state. There are many who would like to invest in Chesham. Why not? What a great place! The local authorities must provide the plans and permissions to enable this to happen. The investment can be found.

Looking forward to opportunities. Chesham is a great place to invest in, both personally and financially. Over many years we have witnessed ‘housing land availability assessments’, withdrawn very expensive Local Plans, the ongoing development of a Neighbourhood Plan since 2019 and now a New Local Plan due in 2024/5 from Buckinghamshire Council.

We mustn’t neglect our town. Regeneration must be a priority. Let’s get on with it. Let’s break new ground.

Andy Garnett
Chesham Renaissance Community Interest Company