Here we have a brief look at what is happening locally in the area newswise.
Planning permissions and local talking points are all here.
“Olney is a Safe Place to Live’
This is according to the police at tonight's meeting at the Olney Centre regarding the spate of burglaries in our town.
Concerns were raised about the distance Olney is from MK for when a burglary is in action. Being situated on the edge of the Thames Valley area and on the border of Northants and Bedfordshire is always going to be a problem for the residents of Olney.
Reassurance was given that the Police were instigating patrols at night and the chances of catching a burglar in the act would be greatly helped by assistance from the public. Some concerns were raised about the role of social media. On the one hand it is good that people can be quickly notified of problems in our town. After all its by social media and word of mouth that there was good attendance at this meeting. But also we must work together with the Police and tell them of any concerns of suspicious behaviour. However reporting of things too early on social media can be detrimental to a police investigation and spread disinformation. So to confirm tell the Police first!
50 Dwellings Rejected
The reasons for the rejection are not known as yet. When they are publicised we will report back.
Reference: 16/00142/FUL which was submitted to convert Westlands Care Home in Olney High Street into ten residential apartments.
A similar application was made in June Last year with concerns expressed at the time about resident and visitor parking.
Note: Alongside this an enforcement action was also started against the owner for its alleged use as a House in Multiple Occupancy.
The occupants of Westlands have now left, therefore we believe no action will be necessary.
Surprise vote annoys many in the town
Many locals were confused over Milton Keynes Council’s decision to reject planning for a Sainsbury superstore in Olney. With over 80% of the town showing an interest in the development. MKC rejected the offer.
The plans for a new supermarket and petrol station were heard at MKC’s Development Control Committee in February. Although the application had more support throughout the town and neighbouring villages than those against, the application was refused with the Chairman’s casting vote used to decide the reasons for refusal.
We expect an appeal to be lodged and another planning application submitted.
Some young people approached Olney Town Council late last year to ask for further amenities for young people. Rugby, Football and other sports have been very successful in our town and for those young people that do not play these sports suggestions such as further Basketball provision and a skate park were proposed. Skate is a growing sport (some call an art) with more and more women taking it up and proposals to have in the Olympic Games for 2020. Many Councils within the UK have created a skate site or are considering creating one.
For the past 5 or so months the Olney Community Skate/BMX Park & Multi Use Games Area (MUGA) group have worked with the Olney community posting ideas on the Olney Noticeboard Facebook page, promoting a SurveyMonkey questionnaire, discussed with Milton Keynes Council and Olney Town Council as well as sports users / clubs at the Recreation Ground. Proposed site will be smallish measuring approximately 22M x 12M.
Sites within Olney owned by the Council that have been looked at include Johnsons Field, Youth Club, Recreation Ground, and Barnfield. The use of scoring and consultation has prioritised a number of possible sites within the recreation ground where there are toilets, sites are away from residential boundaries (skate parks in the main are sited in recreation areas), a good footfall to keep our young people safe.
As well as the skate element, the MUGA at the recreation ground will also be refurbished at a joint cost of £75k. It is hoped that as well as 5 a side football and Basketball being played, netball and hockey could also be accommodated with a new surface and appropriate lining.
We are starting to raise funds for this work and have applied to Sport England (National Lottery) in the first instance for some of the funds needed. As a community initiative for our young people we welcome input from you, young or old. If you have any skills in fund raising or project managing or would like to be on the committee please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have ever thought about getting involved in your local community and standing as a parish councillor this may well be your opportunity.
Olney and the following parishes will be electing councillors in May:
Lavender, Clifton Reynes & Newton Blossomville, Weston Underwood and Ravenstone.
If you are interested in standing for election then email pan Loose at MKC, email@example.com or contact the parish clerk directly.
Milton Keynes Council has issued a public consultation on Strategic Development Options which will run from 13th January to 6th April. There are four options: increase housing density within the urban areas of Milton Keynes; expand to the south and west; expand to the east; and finally to create “satellite settlements” of between 5,000 and 10,000 houses in the rural part of MK, which means predominantly the north of the borough. To put the size in perspective, 10,000 houses is the size of a new town with a population of around 25,000 people, or almost twice that of Bletchley.
Olney Town Council, along with more than 20 rural parish councils challenged MK Council by “calling in” the decision to issue the consultation. We asked MKC to withdraw the consultation because we believe there were serious flaws in the process. After a series of meetings over 2 months, MK Council rejected our demands and went ahead and issued the consultation document in January. This resulted in Olney TC, with support from other local parishes, issuing a formal legal challenge to the consultation. We are still waiting for MKC to respond to this.
The consultation can be seen at www.milton-keynes.gov.uk/PlanMK or at the Civic Offices and at all MK libraries. Responses can be made online through Milton Keynes Council’s consultation portal at http://miltonkeynes-consult.objective.co.uk or you can send them by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to: Development Plans Team, Milton Keynes Council, Civic Offices, 1 Saxon Gate East, Central Milton Keynes MK9 3EJ.
It is very important that you respond to this consultation by 5pm on 6th April.
Please don’t be complacent because this will affect YOU. If you are worried about the plan but don’t bother to object, we could end up losing our rural identity and the facilities we have worked so hard to create and maintain if we are swallowed up in a huge new urban area and become just another estate on the fringes of Milton Keynes. Although I have concentrated on Olney Town Council because that’s my council, the consultation impacts all of MK so the comments here are applicable to all parish councils.
Here are some points to bear in mind when you respond to the consultation.
● This whole consultation is meaningless without a projection of how the population will grow. Whether and where houses are built in practice depends on how many of them are actually necessary to meet population demand. No evidence-based housing demand exists beyond 2031 and there has not been any MKC debate or decision. Half of new UK housing demand originates from immigration but whatever government is in office or whether or not the UK remains in the EU, it is highly likely that levels of immigration will be reduced, with a consequent reduction in housing demand.
● A doubling of the size of Milton Keynes is totally contrary to current central Government plans to re-balance population and economy between the North and the South. The South-East of England is already the most densely populated territory in Europe, with exception of Malta, and our infrastructure is struggling to cope even with the current population levels.
● The urban part of MK was designed for a population of 250,000. The urban infrastructure will need to be expanded if the population is going to increase significantly above this level, regardless of whether or not the additional population is located within the existing urban boundary, as residents will inevitably use facilities within the urban area. In particular, the existing grid road infrastructure has been reported (by MKC Highways) as only having capacity for about 15% more traffic. Another obvious candidate would be expansion of the hospital and perhaps the railway station since a large number of residents commute out and another large number commutes in.
● From a purely financial perspective, the Head of Finance at MKC has said that for every 1,750 houses built (the current annual housing target), MKC faces a net increase in cost of £1million. While there will be offsetting economic benefits, this will be outside the MKC budget i.e. in the private sector or in public services not administered by MKC such as the NHS. This begs the question of how the increase in population can be financed.
● Development to the south and west also has a number of benefits mainly because Aylesbury Vale Council also wishes to develop there on adjacent land. The benefits of scale from the two authorities working together in terms of road infrastructure (e.g. link dualling the A421) would be significant though, again, protection must be offered to existing villages such as Whaddon, Nash, and Beachampton by a green belt. Another benefit of developing on this route will be proximity to the new East-West railway between Oxford and Cambridge.
● In the case of potential rural satellite settlements, the plan does not offer a green belt around the existing villages, leading to a complete loss of identity. The parishes would be transformed from rural villages into urban estates. The size of the proposed settlements is disproportionate – together with existing villages, it would make the new settlements twice as big as the largest existing parish in MK. It would compromise the unique character of MK with its mix of city, market town and rural village.
● The A509 would certainly have to be dualled which would impact Emberton, Clifton Reynes, Weston Underwood and more. In addition, the Olney bypass would have to be built as the town could not accommodate the traffic from an additional 10,000 houses. While some may welcome a bypass it would have a major impact on the open country whichever side of Olney it was built on. The M1 is a serious barrier to the flow of traffic to and from MK so additional bridges would have to be built. The cost of roads to service the proposed new town is very high.
● It is also worth considering the construction phase. It would be essential that the new roads were built before housing development starts. This is because a satellite settlement is unlikely to build at more than a rate of 1,000 houses a year and even that is probably ambitious. The impact for existing villages of construction traffic using the existing inadequate roads for an extended period of 10-20 years is totally unreasonable and unacceptable.
If you need any more information please look up the Olney Town Council page on Facebook or contact me directly on 07941 499698 or Jeremy@careyway.co.uk I have a template letter which you just have to complete and send in to MK Council. This will be available on the Olney Town Council Facebook page and I am happy to email it to you. I’m happy to engage with parishioners from other councils.
Jeremy Rawlings, Olney Town Council