The article from Andrew Ketteringham in last month’s edition certainly generated much interest and responses on our website and social media and that is what we wanted.
The ‘we’ is Chesham Renaissance Community Interest Company – a small group of local people who recognise that the regeneration of Chesham and particularly the High Street is urgent and someone has to get the process going. We are not in business to make profits and any surpluses will be invested into the Chesham community.
It is the same people who produced the Chesham Masterplan and ran a Consultation a few years ago. Since then, we have been developing ideas and endeavouring to work with Councils. The former Chiltern District Council failed to adopt an acceptable Plan and the new Buckinghamshire Authority is several years away from producing their Local Plan. We are promised a Neighbourhood Plan by the Town Council but it is yet to see the light of day.
Why are we doing this? Because we have watched our town decline for long enough. The High Street is in urgent need of a new lease of life and when the centre of the town is regenerated it will reinvigorate the rest of the town.
We know that we need to provide more dwellings and from the earlier Consultation it is clear that most people do not want more building on the Green Belt. Building on brownfield land within the town is more acceptable and reduces the need to use cars.
Any plan to regenerate the High Street must bring people into the town centre to live, work, shop and enjoy their leisure time. Attracting people to live in the centre can be made easy if we provide good homes, within walking distance of all the shops, the station, cafes and leisure facilities.
Star Yard seemed an obvious place to start. It is a very inefficient car park and offers an opportunity to make a major contribution to regeneration.
We knew it would be controversial. Apartments in blocks of four, five or even six floors would be seen as too high. But would the impact be acceptable if the slopes of the hills behind the High Steet were still visible and gaps between the blocks provide a vision splay through to the High Street? We have not completely lost a great view and the car park and the A416 is not particularly attractive to look at from Lowndes Park.
There is no intention to reduce parking available for shoppers and also we should provide spaces for the occupiers of the new residential units.
Building over St. Mary’s Way is also controversial. The road will still be at ground level and the carriageways would be up to current standards.
There are some mixed views about the pond in Lowndes Park. Many know that the pond needs substantial maintenance but the majority want to see it retained.
There has been very little capital investment in the Chesham Infrastructure for many years. Schools, roads, drainage, health facilities etc. are all inadequate. A new plan from Buckinghamshire Council will eventually allocate funds for investment in infrastructure but if the community does not say what it wants the decisions will be made by officers in Aylesbury.
We have put forward one proposal and the arguments for it were well set out in the last edition of yourChesham. This proposal represents a concept which can be changed and adapted in response to local opinion.
You can go to our website www.cheshammasterplan.org to read that article again, look at the pictures and please complete the questionnaire so that we have a good idea of how we can best progress. Alternatively contact us by email – email@example.com – or Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/CheshamMasterplan
Chesham deserves a good regeneration plan and one small group cannot produce it alone.