We can’t cope with demand from new developments like Gomm Valley, says Thames Water

IN A  bombshell statement Thames Water says there is no way the existing water network can cope if the proposed Gomm Valley housing development goes ahead in its present form.

The company says the water infrastructure for the area, which includes Penn and Tylers Green, has capacity for just 49 additional dwellings.

Developer Taylor Wimpey wants to build 544 houses, a new school and employment buildings in the valley between Cock Lane and Hammersley Lane, Tylers Green.

In addition, a planning application is due imminently from another developer to build 109 homes on the fields by Ashwells, Tylers Green, adjacent to the Gomm Valley.

Thames Water told the public inquiry examining the Gomm Valley plan that it’s obvious major work to increase the capacity of water supply and its treatment will be needed before a brick can be laid.

If that doesn’t happen, it warns, water pressure in our area could reduce considerably or, even worse, taps could run dry.

The heavily indebted water company is in talks with Taylor Wimpey about what’s required and who’ll pay for it, but in the meantime it is urging the Government planning inspector Matthew Woodward not to approve anything until both Thames Water and Buckinghamshire Council are happy with water supply and treatment arrangements.

Ironically, perhaps, the Buckinghamshire Flooding Authority continues to be in talks about preventing flooding if the development goes ahead.

They have concerns that new roads and houses on the steep sided valley, plus significant building at the bottom end of the valley, could lead to future flooding, particularly if the wet winters we have been experiencing continue. 

The inquiry in Wycombe Town Hall has finished taking evidence and is hearing submissions on the  planning  conditions that should be imposed if permission is granted.  It’s anticipated the inquiry will close on 21 May with a decision in late summer.

Hidden in plain sight – special competition to mark 40 years of Penn and Tylers Green Super Fun Run day

The Fun Run organisers are hoping for more fancy dress entries to mark the event’s 40th anniversary. Picture: Penn and Tylers Green Residents’ Society.

A SPECIAL family fun competition has been arranged to mark the 40th anniversary celebrations of our Super Fun Run Day next month.

Local photographers have spent weeks covering the fun run route to Hazlemere and back taking pictures of landmarks on the route from unusual angles.

The pictures are contained in a booklet, called Hidden in Plain Sight, which invites entrants to identify the landmarks.  The winner will receive or share a big cash prize – probably £500 – and profits will go to the Lewy Body dementia charity, in memory of the fun run’s most consistent runner, Elaine Cullip, of Ashley Drive, who died last year. 

The competition will last for several weeks throughout the summer, with details in the next Village Voice and next month’s blog.

Meanwhile entries for the Penn Seven and the Fun Run are now open. Don’t forget it’s better and easier to sign up to enter the races before the event on the common on Saturday 15 June

You can do so on this link:

Local band Black Sheep will again headline the Party by the Pond after the Penn 7 and Fun Run. Picture:Kimble Tech

Entries for the mini marathons for five, six and seven year olds can be made on the day. Full details, plus info on the Party By The Pond, which starts after the races finish, can be found on the fun run website

From centre stage to backstage

A new role for the empty music shop in Elm Road?

RAYNERS Penn Ltd, the company that wants to convert the former Penn School into a luxury hotel complex, is seeking to convert a former music shop in Elm Road, a 100 metres away, into a “back office” dealing with the hotel’s administration.

The grade 2 listed building in the Penn and Tylers Green Conservation Area has been empty for a year since it was used as a music shop called Strings.

The hotel company says its plan will preserve “and in some cases enhance” the building’s special architectural and historic character.

The building is around 200 years old and has been a grocer’s,  a draper’s and an antique shop in the past.

Rayners Penn Ltd. is a company formed specifically to convert the former Rayners Estate and Victorian buildings into a 33 bedroom luxury hotel with restored grounds and gardens (see December 2023 blog). Details lodged with Companies House show the directors are local businessman Peter Kelly, chief executive officer Duncan Ball and commercial director Elvio De Freitas.

Buckinghamshire councillors are expected to decide on the hotel planning application in the next few weeks. 

*A survey of ponds on the Rayners site has confirmed they are the home of the rare and internationally protected Great Crested Newt. If planning permission is given a special licence will be required and special measures taken to ensure the amphibians and their habitat are either undisturbed and/or specially catered for.

Local news

Picture: Penn and Tylers Green Football Club

Cup heroes (Updated) – Penn and Tylers Green Football Club’s under-17s, pictured above, are celebrating after winning three trophies this season, a rare achievement.  They won the Surrey County Cup, the Berks County Cup and the Berkshire League.

The club’s men’s first team finished comfortably mid-table in division one of the Cherry Records Combined Football League while the reserves finished top of division two of the Thames Valley Premier League.

Fingers crossed – The Penn to Hazlemere road will reopen for two way traffic this month after Buckinghamshire Council decided to adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach to the subsidence by the Curzon Avenue junction (see last blog). The gaps under the road will be filled and the land stabilised but the area will be regularly monitored to check its stability.

MP’s alarm – Wycombe (and Tylers Green) MP Steve Baker pressed his personal  SOS alarm to contact police after being persistently challenged by a Palestinian activist in the street which he felt “verged on harassment”. The 19 minute exchange can be viewed on Mr Baker’s YouTube channel. 

Speed limit extended The 30mph speed limit on the Penn Road to and from Beaconsfield is to be extended. It will begin at Clay Street – known locally as Saucy Corner – in  Knotty Green.

Camp site – Penn Meadow Farm is seeking permission to use an area of the farmland as a seasonal campsite with parking for 15 cars for a further three years and retain a dwelling on the site. Penn parish councillors are objecting because they claim previous conditions have not  been met.

Main road crashThe Hazlemere to Amersham Road was closed following a three vehicle crash on 16 April in which two women were taken to hospital. The emergency services released no further details. 

New plan – A redesigned plan to build a three bedroom house at the bottom of the back common in Tylers Green has been submitted after a previous scheme was rejected for being out of character with the surrounding conservation area. The new scheme still entails the demolition of the existing property, Gorse Glade.

Burial numbersThe Penn Road cemetery near Hazlemere Crossroads accommodated 140 burials in the first six months since its opening last summer, many from the Muslim community attracted by the provision of concrete burial chambers which enable burials within 24 hours of death.

Inter-school sport – For the first time children from Tylers Green Middle School and Manor Farm Junior School are taking part in inter-school cricket and athletics tournaments this term.

Family day Thames Valley Air Ambulance is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a family day at the Penn House Estate on Saturday 22 June. Highlights include fairground rides, a circus show and motor display. Tickets and details on

Open gardens – The annual Penn and Tylers Green Open Gardens tour, in aid of Village Care, will be held on Sunday 9 June. Tickets and maps can be obtained from outside the village hall from 1pm.

Penn MP’s expenses raise eyebrows and  create headlines

The Sunday Times story of 21 April. Copyright: The Sunday Times

THE LIBERAL Democrats have had to defend Penn MP Sarah Green’s Parliamentary expenses  after the Sunday Times reported she had claimed 12 times what the average MP spends on outsourcing to third-party contractors.

Figures published by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) show that since she won the Chesham and Amersham by-election in 2021 Ms Green has claimed just over £120,000 in expenses  for fees paid to an Aylesbury based company Midas Training for consultancy services.

The company, the Sunday Times reported, is owned and operated by Liberal Democrat party officials. 

There is no suggestion Ms Green has broken any rules but the newspaper said the amount “raises questions about whether this is a proper use of taxpayers’ money”. MPs expenses are scrutinised and paid out of the public purse by IPSA.

A Lib Dem spokesman told the Sunday Times that Ms Green had been ”fully transparent and reported her staffing costs…in the normal and correct way.” She had always acted “entirely within IPSA’s rules.”

He added that Midas Training provided services including casework support, ‘onboarding’, recruitment, consultancy, training, away days, email inbox management, workflow reviews, speech writing, communications and research.

First time unlucky…

TALKING politics,  Frank Field (Baron Field of Birkenhead), a Labour MP for 40 years who died last month, first tried for a Parliamentary seat in South Buckinghamshire in the 1966 general election. The 24 year old teacher was well beaten of course, but did gain second place with 17,005 votes.  

Sixteen years later Tony Blair, then a 29 year old barrister, had his first go at becoming an MP when he stood in a by-election in the constituency, by then renamed Beaconsfield. He came a miserable third taking just 3,886 votes.

Both good examples though of “if at first you don’t succeed…”

Ron’s prostate cancer walks reach £40,000 mark

Ron’s wife Pat with former England blower Gladstone Small at Kent’s county cricket ground. Picture: Ron Hedley.

TYLERS Green prostate cancer sufferer Ron Hedley, who is organising a series of sponsored walks across the country with fellow cricket enthusiasts as part of the Bob Willis Fund, has now raised more than £40,000 for prostate cancer research.

Ron and his wife Pat, of Old Kiln Road, began their 2024 campaign with a walk based at Kent Cricket Club’s Canterbury ground, followed by a walk in Gloucestershire and then Edgbaston, Birmingham as guests of Warwickshire Cricket Club. 

Then it was off to Devon for a walk with the senior team of South Devon Cricket Club, followed, at the end of April, by joining a second walk for the cause organised by Surrey cricketers. Along the way they were interviewed by both the BBC and Sky, all helping to publicise the campaign.

You can donate to Ron’s March at Details of the walks, if you would like to join them, are on 

Penn Festival just one of many festivals to pull the plug this year

Craig David attracted thousands at the 2022 Penn Festival. Last year Noel Gallagher headlined. Picture: Martin Shaw Photography.

PENN FESTIVAL is one of scores of music festivals in the UK that have cancelled its event this year, citing increasing costs and disappointing advance ticket sales as the reason.

Paul Weller, Jess Glynne, Richard Ashcroft, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Gok Wan were among the headline acts due to appear at the three day festival in Penn Street in July.

The festival organisers say they plan to be back next year and are urging those who have already bought tickets for this year to hold onto them for then. However, they are offering a full refund to those who want them.

The Association of Independent Festivals estimate over 100 music festivals will disappear this year compared to 36 that were cancelled last year.

In a statement the organisation said: “Without having had a single steady season since the pandemic  in which to recover, the country’s festivals are under more financial strain than ever.”  The group has launched a campaign urging the Government reduce VAT on festival tickets from 20 per cent to five per cent.

The magazine Music Festival Wizard commented: “The pandemic may be over but supply chain issues, skyrocketing tour costs and inflation have all made it a difficult market to navigate.”

Pennfest began 12 years ago and has attracted thousands of festival-goers. Its Facebook announcement attracted over 700 tearful emojis and over 500  sympathetic comments.

*Earlier this year the organisers of the Let’s Rock The Moor festival at Cookham announced this year’s event would not take place, blaming “organisational and scheduling  issues.”

New name, new brand for the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

The Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has acquired a new brand to go with its new name, the Chilterns National Landscape.

The protected land includes most of Penn,  its boundary running on the eastern side of the B474 from Hazlemere to the Red Lion and then both sides of the road to Beaconsfield.

It also includes the land on the east side of Hammersley Lane, though not the Gomm Valley which lies on the west side.

The land is protected from big developments to save its views and openness. 

Next year the Government quango Natural England is expected to announce plans to expand the boundaries of the Chilterns National Landscape. The Government has so far rejected calls to further protect the Chilterns by upgrading the National Landscape into a National Park.

Regional news

A film version of Wicked, starring Ariana Grande, is being shot in Buckinghamshire and will be released at the end of the year. Picture: People magazine.

Big earner – At least 90 film and tv productions were shot in Buckinghamshire on land or property owned by the council last year, earning the authority £798,000. Inquiries for filming this summer are up sharply following the end of the strike by film-makers and actors in Hollywood.

Charging hubs – Buckinghamshire is set to agree next month to the establishment of super fast electric vehicle charging hubs at various points on the county’s main roads over the next few years.

Sarge saved -The sergeants’ mess building at RAF Halton has been given Grade 2 listed status to add to two barracks on the site which were listed some years ago. It means they should be protected from demolition when the RAF leave the base and it is converted to a housing development in three years time.

River warningSamples of the River Thames taken from Bourne End found  high levels of pollution, including an “extraordinarily high” level of norovirus. Naturalist Steve Backshall, who lives in Cookham, advised people not to go in the water until the river has had a chance to clear itself.

Legoland expansion – A woodland holiday village comprising 130 lodges and 20 “glamping barrels”, plus clubhouse, restaurant and mini-theatre, opens at Windsor’s Legoland this month. 

Lords titleFormer Wycombe MP Paul Goodman, who was made a life peer by the Prime Minister for political services in March, has taken the title Baron Goodman of Wycombe. 

Lake closed – Eton College, which owns the 2012 Olympic rowing venue Dorney Lake, has closed the area to the public until September in an attempt to stop the vandalism and anti-social behaviour that has occurred in previous summers.

Library changesBuckinghamshire councillors are to look at ways to save money in its library service by considering, among other issues, “greater community involvement”, likely to include the use of volunteers. 

Shops close – WH Smith has quit Slough because of an increase in shop rent. It also means the loss of the high street post office in the town which was located in the store.

Ukrainian refugeesBuckinghamshire Council has bought a block of flats in Chesham to house nine Ukrainian refugee families who were on the verge of being made homeless. When the families return to Ukraine the block will be used as temporary accommodation for other homeless people. 

Miracle egg – A third century chicken’s egg, found intact and containing “liquid” at an archaeological site near Aylesbury, has now been safely installed at the British Museum.

Dr Challoner’s school choir and school band perform at St George’s Chapel. Picture: Dr Challoner’s Grammar School

School celebrates – Pupils and staff of Dr Challoner’s Grammar School in Amersham celebrated the school’s 400th anniversary with a commemoration service at St George’s Chapel, Windsor. 

80 years ago this month: How our canine friends eased the tension as thousands of soldiers left local woodland for the world’s biggest sea invasion

Continuing our monthly look at what was happening here in 1944.

May 1944

Waiting for D-Day under cover of woodland. Picture: The D-Day Story, Portsmouth

AT THE beginning of May 1944 there were thousands of soldiers and thousands of military vehicles ensconced in wooded areas around this area. Before the month was out, they were all gone.

British troops had been in Nissen huts and under canvas in Penn Wood for some time, training in an area stretching from the entrance to the wood in New Road, Penn Street, behind Penn Street Common up to Penn Street church.

There were American military and Scottish Borderers at Pipers Wood, near Little Missenden; British troops at Rectory Wood near Great Missenden; Polish troops at Hodgemoor Wood near Seer Green and combined forces in woodland in Little Chalfont and Chalfont St Giles.

In addition there were an incredible 19,000 military vehicles, from tanks to lorries to armoured cars, hiding under tree cover in Burnham Beeches and anywhere else they could be secured undetected from the air, including places like Amersham’s big bus garage.

An illegally taken photograph showing D-Day convoys on the move through an English town. Picture: Chronicle of the Second World War

As the month wore on this enormous armada made its way to new bases on the south coast ready for the invasion of Europe. When they set off the troops didn’t know where they were going or that their eventual destination, in just a few weeks, would be the beaches of Normandy.

It was a memorable sight. Schoolboy Malcolm Hutton later recalled he had to wait over half an hour to cross the road to his home in Little Chalfont because the army convoy on the move was so long. Another schoolboy, David Woodridge, told Amersham Museum: “I remember the tanks tearing up the road surface as they went up the streets, quite terrifying as a little lad.”

Yet, unless you had seen or heard the evacuation yourself, you would not have known. There wasn’t a word in the newspapers or on the radio. An even bigger secret was that on 6 May the first troops that were to land in Normandy were holding a full rehearsal on the beaches of Littlehampton, Bracklesham Bay, Hayling Island and Slapton Sands. On 15 May Generals Eisenhower and Montgomery briefed the king and Winston Churchill on the D-Day details, with just three weeks to go.

So what did Penn and Tylers Green do during this period, described in the Daily Mail as “tense while everybody waits for the balloon to go up”? The villagers had a big get-together of course.

Penn and Tylers Green ‘salutes the solider’

Folk had been planning for weeks to celebrate Salute the Soldier week in the run up to the Whitsuntide holiday at the end of May.  The aim was to raise £35,000 to buy to buy war bonds and other savings bonds, equivalent to 12 armoured cars. In the event the community raised nearly £50,000.

There was something for everyone – George Bernard Shaw’s play Arms and the Man at the village hall; a boys boxing competition at Rayners; a baby show at Wight (now White) House; open gardens at Watercroft, The Beacon and Hedgerows (if anyone knows where the latter was, please tell.)

On the common “Miss Partridge and other lady cricketers of outstanding ability” invited people to try and bowl them out, while youngsters from the Air Training Corps held a horseback musical ride.

At the cricket club a “comic dog show” featured categories for the prettiest dog, the quaintest dog, the dog with the longest tail, the dog with the most soulful expression, the best dog in fancy dress and even the fattest dog. Artists from the American forces based in High Wycombe put on a variety show and there were whist drives, photographic displays,  social evenings, dance class exhibitions and a big garden fete at Rayners.

Over 1,300 girl guides held a rally in High Wycombe in May 1944 attended by the Chief Guide,Lady Baden-Powell. She told them guides were doing important work in the war because the guiding movement had taught them to be “honourable, upright and courageous.” In Penn and Tylers Green the guides were very active, collecting waste paper, pictured above in 1940 in Church Road, and cotton reels, learning morse code and first aid and making clothes.  Pictured below – a guide parade in School Road, Tylers Green also in 1940.

There were not enough scout leaders to run a scout group in the village, so a number of village scouts joined the Hazlemere troop while others helped the Home Guard with duties such as fire-watching or helping on local farms.

Elsewhere in the area that May:

  • A big May Day rally on Wycombe’s Rye, organised by trade unions, involved speeches by a German refugee and a Yugoslav partisan.
  • A former head teacher of St David’s College in Amersham Hill was sent for trial accused of bigamy. He was later jailed for 18 months.
  • The Red Cross reported a surge in women joining its ranks. In the village the Red Cross branch sent parcels to prisoners of war; helped hospital patients and wounded military personnel with craftwork and other hobbies, and provided relief for refugees stranded locally.
  • There was a similar female surge in membership of St John Ambulance Brigade who said they were now able to offer a 24 hour service ferrying patients and being ready to help the injured during air raids.
  • A man found guilty of what was described as ‘gross indecency’ with a 19 year old man in local woodland was jailed for nine months. The 19 year old was sent to a mental institution.
  • News reached home that the hens kept by Wycombe butcher D.S. Littlewood on a landing craft off the Italian coast only produced one egg during the Battle of Anzio.The troops held a ballot and decided it should go to the First Lieutenant.

Meanwhile, on the very last day of May at ports along the south coast soldiers who were to be the first assault troops to land on Normandy’s beaches boarded their landing craft. Operation Overlord was about to begin. 

If you have any recollections of 1944 or any recorded family history of events and memories in this area during the build-up, the aftermath and during D-Day in June 1944, please get in touch.

You can contact this blog at The blog will be updated as necessary during May, but the next full update is on 1 June.