Arc Options Final Part – Buckinghamshire

This is the final part of my series where I look at potential strategic options for the Ox-Cam arc.

Here I cover the area of the new Buckinghamshire Authority, previously having looked at options around Milton Keynes.

I will briefly cover South Buckinghamshire and the former Wycombe area, because options are are restricted by AONB. South Bucks though needs to consider the overspill from Slough which cant meet all of its own needs and there needs to be consultation on a North of Slough extension. Failure to consider this caused a DTC fail on the old district local plan.

There also needs to be consideration of the areas to the immediate West of Heathrow which is a mess. There is a strong case for a masterplan led radical look at options here, taking advantage of the two new rails links planned for this area.

Turning to the ‘Vale’ part of Bucks north of the Chilterns there is potential for growth around Haddenham which has a station on the Chiltern Line. This needs to be coordinated with growth at Thame (in Oxfordshire) which has potential for growth around a restored station on a restored Wycombe railway to Oxford. Potentially with growth west of Aylesbury the A419 may need improvement.

Around Aylesbury itself it has been a mess. It has never been masterplanned. A bypass was proposed by government then abandoned in the 1980s. Individual projects were promoted by developers at a time the then district was taking the opportunities of the Localism Act reforms to drastically reduce growth and withdraw its local plan. Subsequently planning around Aylesbury became a game of what urban extension could wind at appeal or be just enough to scrape by the numbers, accessed by ‘distributor roads’ straight though the middle of each extension, rather than defining the puter edge. The design of each area, even the area developed next to the new Parkway station to the North of Aylesbury, Berryfields, where you have to cross the A41 to get to the Station, is one of the best examples in Britain of bad planning and bad urban design. Green Infrastructure is hacked one, no transit orientation, badly designed car orientated sprawl, it is heartbreaking.

Looking to the future for directions of growth, we have already looked at to the West, where the potential is a few miles away. To the South there is some potential around RAF Halton which is being decommissioned, a site with an amazing potential nestled at the foot of the Chilterns.

To the north of Aylesbury there is the unfinished business of the Fleet Marston urban extension. Arguably by far the best masterplanned new community around Aylesbury it failed because of objections by English Heritage to the setting of the Grade II* St Mays Church, they wanted to maintain it rural setting. This was spectacular shortsightedness by them as it could have been a major landmark in the new community.

Ill deal with the Quainton and Calvery Areas in the last section.

The main area with growth potential around Aylesbury is the section East of Aylesbury to Cheddington, where there could be several zero carbon communities along a restored railway line connecting to the WCML at Cheddington. This I suggest is a tram train, the A418 follows the route of the old line in part, simple at this point street running connecting top the Chiltern Line station, which the old Aylesbury to Cheddington Line never did. With HS2 the WCML can take much more frequent services leading to potential for major growth in Cheddington.

Turning to Calvert, where the East West Rail and HS2 will cross. We have covered this area many times. Debates have raged in consultancies around whether to build a ‘big Calvert’ or ‘small Calvert’. This I don’t think is the right way to look at it. You need to see it as several potential ‘nodes’ around stations and intersected by major areas of green infrastructure around the woods, river valleys and National Trust land you cant develop.

The potential nodes are around Quanton Street, Calvert, Westcott, Verney Junction, Wilmslow, and Steeple Claydon new Stations.

In terms of extending along the former Great Central Route parallel of the HS2 route to create a commuter pathway to London the issue has been finding sufficient terminal space in London, in terms of a new station on HS2 intersecting with a new station for East West Rail at Calvert, the previous objections on the basis of 18 trains an hour leading to not enough h=Headway have all gone away with the increased Headway forn HS2. Passing loops, interleaved services etc, could provide sufficient capacity. We need to learn a lesson from the Japanese where commuter services and associated land vlaue capture create 25% of revenue streams for Shinkansen.

These other nodes do not need to be part of one super city, they will have there own character and identity in a connected city region sharing jobs and services. This should be the transit oirentaed future zero carbon model. There is a particular opportunity at Westcott to recreate the chord linking the Great Central and Chiltern lines.

A key problem with this series of potential nodes is the complete lack of strategic road links in this area, necessitating a new road from Aylesbury and branching to Bicester and MK.

Ministers Undecided on Third “Regeneration’ Category of Zoning

As we have stated on here many times regeneration is a description of past land use, not future land use or quantum, so is unnecessary. What they could state in a clause would be ‘local planning authorities shall consider previously developed land suitable for regeneration for designation as growth areas.’