Gomm Valley Heritage News

On yer bike! Gomm Valley developers gamble on the public ditching their cars to prevent local gridlock

TAYLOR  Wimpey, the developers who want to build over 600 homes in the Gomm Valley, between Hammersley Lane and Cock Lane, say there will NOT be a severe impact on local roads PROVIDED  more of us quit our cars and start walking, cycling and using public transport.

In a 109 page transport briefing they conclude: ”A strategy of modal shift away from the car is key for the successful delivery of this site.”

They argue that the trend to less car use has already started since the pandemic. 

More people are working from home, staggering their work days/ starting times and cycling. They predict this trend will continue and increase.

If the trend doesn’t continue they admit that traffic at the junctions to the A40 from Penn and Tylers Green – already considered over-capacity at rush hours – will get even worse, probably with 10 per cent more vehicles.


Their planning application includes a number of schemes which they predict will encourage sufficient people to quit the car. These include:

  • Supplying a 17 seater mini-bus service  throughout the estate, with fixed bus stops plus the ability to simply hail a bus,  going directly to High Wycombe centre
  • Constructing a  network of segregated cycle tracks through the development with cycle racks for public bike parking and cycle parking for every property
  • Giving every new resident a travel voucher for bus services.
  • Providing safe walking routes, or ‘quietways” as they call them, to neighbouring areas with new crossings on Hammersley Lane, Cock Lane and Gomm Road
  • Offering each new resident a personal travel plan suggesting non-car travel alternatives and giving information on the number of walking steps and cycle time to local facilities and shops

Sceptical residents however have already complained in their scores, saying local roads simply won’t cope. 

It’s not only the impact of the Gomm Valley development that concerns many but the thousands of new homes that  are planned in the immediate area, including Hazlemere, Tylers Green, Holmer Green, Widmer End and Terriers.

There’s a special report on Taylor Wimpey’s plan for the  Gomm Valley at the end of this blog.

Penn Fest aims to be more family-friendly

Last year’s Penn Fest. Picture: Penn Fest

PENN FEST is encouraging more young families as it prepares for its 11th music festival at Penn Street on 22 and 23 July.

For the first time organisers are preparing a family camping zone, a secluded area away from the rest of the festival where little ones can be put to bed early. The family zone includes family loos and children’s entertainment, including a circus workshop,  on the Saturday morning. 

A bus service will run every 15 minutes to and from High Wycombe, via Hazlemere, at peak arrival and departure times. There’ll be a one-way system in operation near the site to prevent traffic hold-ups.

At least 25 music sets will be performed on the stages, with Clean Bandit and Jake Bugg headlining Friday night and Rudimental and Feeder the Saturday night.  There’re more info on

Customers fight for their coffee al fresco

The corner of common land requested for outdoor dining

MORE THAN 200 people have signed a petition in support of JJ’s Deli in School Road, Penn keeping a few tables and chairs on a small triangle of common land opposite.

During the Covid lockdown JJ’s obtained temporary permission from the common’s owners, Chepping Wycombe Parish Council,  to put tables on chairs on the common opposite next to the bus stop.  Permission was given because pandemic restrictions meant the cafe had to remove tables from inside and serve food and drink from the doorway.

The temporary permission has now come to an end but the move has proved so popular both JJ’s and its customers want it to continue. The council had, however, received a handful of complaints from some nearby residents. 

A legal agreement is now being drawn up to extend the permission which includes a clause not to cause “any nuisance or annoyance to local residents.” JJ’s will continue to provide litter bins and pay the council a monthly fee.

*The Shop on the Green general store next to JJ’s has a new management after current owner Nav Mann sold the shop at the end of June. 

Covid figures sneaking up again

THERE was a steady rise in the number of Covid cases in the area in June.

In the last week of June there were an average 44 cases a day in the Wycombe area, which is small compared to the 394 cases a day at the beginning of the year.  However the number has risen steadily since April.

Out of around 57,000 total cases in Wycombe – a third of the population – just under 3,000 are recorded as reinfections. Ninety one per cent of the local population has had one dose of vaccine; 89 per cent two doses and 75 per cent three doses… figures considered crucial in reducing symptoms compared to earlier in the pandemic. 

Nonetheless 65 patients were in Stoke Mandeville, Wycombe and Amersham Hospitals at the end of June with Covid-related illness. 

There were 22 cases in the Penn/Holmer Green area; 16 cases in Hazlemere and 15 in Tylers Green – all areas showing rises throughout June.  The actual number of cases is likely to be far higher because it’s assumed many people with Covid are not reporting it because the symptoms in their cases are relatively mild.

A glorious June sunset

We enjoyed some lovely sunsets in the village during a fairly dry and dusty June. This particularly evocative scene of dusk over Widmer Pond and the front common on the Jubilee weekend was typical.  Picture courtesy of the Red Lion.

Josey Harrow’s picture of dusk at the Jubilee gig on the common and published on the Penn, Tylers Green and Hazlemere Facebook page, shows the sky presenting a spectacular backdrop.

New stats reveal local crime ‘hotspots’

A  NEW breakdown of crime statistics enables residents to see where crime ‘hotspots’ are in their area.

For instance, of the six crimes reported in Penn in April, three were in Beacon Hill.  In Tylers Green three crimes were reported in or around the common, while in Hazlemere six crimes were reported  in or around the two petrol stations at Hazlemere Crossroads.

Overall, in the Chepping Wye area that includes Tylers Green and Hazlemere, there were 105 crimes reported in April, the same number as in March.  In the Chalfonts area, which includes Penn, there were 103 compared with 98 in March. 

The numbers need to be considered within context however. Compared to neighbouring areas, the amount of crime in Penn and Tylers Green is very low. 

In the Chepping Wye area, violence and sex offences were the top reported crimes followed by anti-social behaviour, criminal damage and  then theft. In the Chalfonts area violence and sex offending was also top, followed by theft, anti-social behaviour and then vehicle crime. 

Local news in brief

Longer school day – Parents at Tylers Green First and Middle Schools have overwhelming backed a plan to extend the school day to help children catch up with schooling missed during the pandemic. Both schools will extend their working day by 20 minutes – 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the afternoon – from September. 

The move will add two weeks extra schooling over a school year. It comes a year before the Government’s law comes into effect ensuring all schools are open for a minimum 32.5 hours a week.

The first school will start at 8.40 and finish at 3.10pm, whereas the middle school will start at 8.50 and finish at 3.20pm. The difference enables parents with children at both schools to have the time to pick up and drop off their children.

Show’s generosityOrganisers of the Penn and Tylers Green Village Show have scrapped entry fees this year and instead are asking entrants to make donations to the One Can Trust.

Debut billPenn’s MP Sarah Green, the Liberal Democrat who represents Chesham and Amersham, has presented her first bill to the House of Commons.  Her Chalk Streams (Protection) Bill will, if agreed, give specific protection to rare chalk streams in the Chilterns and elsewhere  from pollution and over-abstraction.

Gambling disaster – In a separate debate Ms Green told MPs that two of her constituents had lost £50,000 and life-savings of £13,000 after they invested in a gambling company called Football Index, which bought and sold “shares” in top footballers. The company later collapsed.

Bin chargeHouseholders in the former Wycombe council area – which includes Tylers Green and Hazlemere – will be charged £50 a year if they want their green rubbish bin collection to continue from 18 July. Householders in other parts of Buckinghamshire are already eligible for the charge. UPDATETHE COUNCIL HAS POSTPONED THE CHARGING DATE TO 26 SEPTEMBER BECAUSE OF PROBLEMS SURROUNDING THE NEW BIN COLLECTION ROUNDS.

House blaze – A house in Chacombe Place, Knotty Green, was severely damaged by fire on 23 June. No-one was injured and fire fighters successfully recovered two pet gerbils. 

GP surgeries ‘good’ -The Care Quality Commission conducted reviews of both the  Simpson Centre, which includes Penn Surgery,  and Highfield Surgery, Hazlemere, last month and concluded there was no evidence to carry out a new inspection.  Both practices’ ratings remain at “good”.

Car release The fire brigade were called to release a young girl accidently locked inside a car in Carter Walk, Tylers Green on 27 June.

Toddling back – The Penn and Tylers Green Parent and Toddler group will resume weekly meetings soon after its organisation was taken over by the Tylers Green Village Hall.  For details and to volunteer to help, please contact the hall. 

Charging up – Buckinghamshire aims to double the number of electric vehicle charging spaces in its car parks in the next two years as part of its plan to have more than 1,000 publicly-available spaces in the county by 2027.

Staying home – Buckinghamshire Council told The Times, following a Freedom of Information request, that  79 per cent of its office staff were still working from home.

Keep on running

Chris Filer, passing the Red Lion and on his way to winning this year’s Penn Seven…
…and with the trophy on the common. Chris, who lives in Penn, won the seven mile race in 39 minutes 55 seconds. He is a UK Athletics qualified coach who has completed a number of marathons and ultra-marathons and leads the Wycombe Phoenix Harriers training squad. Pictures: Simon Hart
Crowds enjoy the Penn 7 and Fun Run day on the common, raising money for the mental health charity Mind. Picture: Bucks Mind

Mystery still surrounds Mrs Penne of Penn

Picture: Holy Trinity Church, Penn

THE Channel 5 series on the history of Hampton Court last month featured one of Penn’s most significant women, Sybil Penne, whose ghost is said to haunt Hampton Court Palace.

She was born around 600 years ago as Sybil Hampden, a member of a  powerful local family who were good friends with the first Tudor monarch Henry VII. She married David Penne, the son of the local lord of the manor who lived where today’s Penn House is situated, and bore him five children.

By then Henry VIII was on the throne and when his son, the future Edward VI, was born in 1537, she was asked to be “dry” nurse (looking after the baby but not feeding him)  to the young Edward.  Even though she was in her 20s with five children of her own, it was an offer she could not refuse. She slept in the same room as the young prince every night for his first five years.

She served the royals for the rest of her life, only occasionally returning here to Penn.  When Edward died young, she served Henry’s daughter Mary I as Woman of the Queen’s Privy Chamber, a most personal and private role; and then may well have saved the life of young Princess Elizabeth, Mary’s sister,  later to become Elizabeth 1.  

In October 1562, at the age of 29, Elizabeth contracted smallpox and was so ill courtiers made urgent arrangements in the event of her death.  But Sybil, as a Lady of the Queen’s Bedchamber, spent hours by her bedside nursing her back to health. Elizabeth recovered, of course, but as a result of such close contact Sybil herself developed smallpox and died three weeks later.

Sybil and David received land, gifts  and fortune for their devoted service and Sybil was buried with great ceremony at Hampton Church, together with a life sized effigy which remains in the church to this day. David died two years later and is buried in the chancel at Penn Church.

Holy Trinity Church, Penn

The story doesn’t end there however.

Nearly 300 years later, in 1829,  Hampton Church was struck by lightning, demolished and rebuilt.  The details are vague but it seems the builders disturbed Sybil’s tomb and any contents were scattered. Within weeks there were stories of a ghost, looking strikingly like “Mrs Penn’s tall gaunt form” haunting the Hampton Court Palace apartments. Sightings continued into the last century.

The mystery continues: When he died, David Penne stipulated that his wife’s body should be removed from Hampton Church and her remains placed with his. There’s no record of this ever happening. However, the Hampton Church workman may not have been as disrespectful as first thought because an account at the time says her tomb only contained “a little yellow hair and a few hair-pins” when it was disturbed. 

So, was she moved?  Is she now buried in Penn? Or is she roaming the corridors at the home of her former charges at Hampton Court?

(Thanks to Miles Green for additional research, published in Penn parish magazine)

Not a sign of the times

It is six years ago this month since Penn School – a school for children with communication and hearing difficulties –  closed down. And yet two road signs are still in place, one of them still merrily flashing amber warning signs every weekday at  school arrival and departure time. Just how long does it take to remove what is now roadside clutter?

What’s on in July

Saturday 2 July – Penn and Tylers Green Village Show in the village hall from 2pm.

Saturday 2 July – Curzon School summer fete, Penn Street

Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd – The Bucks Country Show, Penn House estate, Penn Street

Sunday 3 July – Afternoon cream teas outside Holy Trinity, Penn Street today and every Sunday in July and August

Sunday 3 July – Pleyuel Ensemble play Mozart and Schubert. Jubilee Hall, Seer Green. Details:

Tuesday 5 July to Monday 11 July – Outdoor production of Romeo and Juliet at Hall Barn, Beaconsfield. Details:

Saturday 9 July – Cricket: Penn and Tylers Green 1st XI v Crowthorne and Crown Wood. From 1pm

Saturday 9 July – Cricket: Penn Street v Jordans Taverners on Penn Street Common from 1pm

Saturday 9 July – Summer music concert, Holy Trinity Church, Penn Street, 7pm to 9.30.

Sunday 10 July – Coach visit to Runnymede including river trip. Details from

Saturday 16 July – Charity stand up comedy with Tim Vine. King’s Church Amersham from 7.30. In aid of Ukranian appeal. Tickets from

Sunday 17 July – Tylers Green First School summer fete, noon to 3pm.

Sunday 17 July – Classic car show at Hazlemere Golf Club from noon

Sunday 17 July – Classical pianist Steven Osborne plays Debussy and Schubert. Jubilee Hall, Seer Green. Details:

Friday 22 July – Penn Fest with Clean Bandit and Jake Bugg headlining

Saturday 23 July – Penn Fest with Rudimental and Feeder headlining

Friday 29 July – Bingo at Hazlemere Community Centre. 7.30pm


What’s proposed…

TAYLOR Wimpey is applying to build 604 homes in total in the  part of Gomm Valley they own.

They have submitted a full planning application for 110 of those homes on land between Hammersley Lane and Gomm Road at the southern end of the valley, running parallel with the railway line and the A40.

They have submitted an outline application for the remaining 494 homes, plus a new primary school, offices/workshops and a community hall which will be mainly on the west side of the valley abutting Cock Lane/Pimms Grove and ending 200 metres from the Tylers Green Ashwells estate. 

Separately, Buckinghamshire Council is liaising with another developer to build 109 homes on fields adjoining Ashwells, Tylers Green at the northern end of the Gomm Valley.  Permission for this development has already been given and initial groundwork is expected to start later this summer. Building will begin early next year once building designs have been agreed.

Proposed phase 1 of the development. The bottom end of Hammersley Lane, before the railway bridge, is on the right.

The numbers…

THE PLAN  envisages a total of 81 one-bedroom properties; 187 two bed; 247 three bed; 69 four bed and 20 five bed.  

Taylor Wimpey say 291 will be considered ‘affordable”, providing homes for households currently on the council’s Wycombe housing list. They will be available via the First Homes scheme, shared ownership and affordable rented accommodation.

It’s anticipated the development will contain a population of 1,431 people.

The environment…

THE GOMM Valley is a sensitive environmental site which contains Ancient Woodland (ie woodland that has existed undisturbed for at least 400 years), a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a nature reserve/Local Wildlife Site.

Taylor Wimpey say 62 per cent of the valley will remain undeveloped, plus

  • There will be a 15 metre “buffer” around the Ancient Woodland and there will be no buildings within 50 metres of the SSSI.  
  • They say there will be additional grassland planting around the Local Wildlife Site, although a third of a hectare of the existing site will be lost. 
  • They add that landscaped public open space and parkland will be created in the centre part of the valley.
  • They say they will retain as many trees and existing hedgerows as possible and plant a mile of new hedgerow and several new trees. A “drainage strategy” will enable them to create wetland habitats.
  • Woodland orchards and community gardens are also planned as part of the development.

“The objective,” says Taylor Wimpey, “is to create a publicly accessible country park…helped by the creation of circulation routes and improved connection to the public footpath network.”

Will the pipistrelle bat hang around if there’s more light, noise and human activity near its home? Picture: Alan Roe, Wildlife Trusts

The company admits however, that there will be losses of habitats.  To compensate they intend providing new areas for wildlife habitats and funding a scheme to “ensure the biodiversity  (of the site) is protected and enhanced in the future”.

The calcareous grassland and woodland in the valley supports a variety of wildlife. Ecologists employed by the company says recent surveys have identified 40 species of birds, eight species of bats, a wide variety of butterflies plus badgers, lizards and slow worms living and breeding within the chalk and limestone downland.

Although they expect wildlife to be adversely affected during construction they insist that at the end of the day the proposed enhancements will improve biodiversity in the valley.

The access…

THERE ARE four proposed  vehicle access points to the development:

  • Gomm Road – The opening up of the existing Gomm Road cut-de sac which joins the A40 by B&Q and Aldi supermarkets. The Gomm Road will become a spine road for the whole development and join Cock Lane near the existing communication mast.
  • Cock Lane – The Cock Lane access point is not intended to encourage through traffic from Penn and Tylers Green to the A40 and vice versa, say the developers. The spine road will contain speed humps and other restrictions to dissuade through traffic. However, the section of Cock Lane from the start of the current narrow section in Tylers Green to the first passing point by the communication mast will be widened.
  • Two access points off Hammersley Lane near the Robinson Road junction opposite. One of the junctions, north of Robinson Road, will access just 13 properties. The main access will involve the widening of Hammersley Lane in that area and the reworking of the Robinson Road junction to enable safer right-during for traffic coming up the hill.  A separate shared cycleway/footway is also envisaged.

In addition there will be pedestrian and cycle access points to and from Pimms Grove and Pimms Close.

The traffic measures… 

THE SPINE road, or primary avenue as it is called, will have various traffic humps, a couple of 320 degree U bends, a 20mph speed limit and other traffic calming measures to deter through traffic.

A turning point for buses at the northern end of the development will be provided, several hundred metres away from the proposed Cock Lane junction.

The traffic planners at Buckinghamshire Council have yet to comment on the plans. However, as there have been several discussions between them and Taylor Wimpey over the past few months it its likely they will approve them. What we await, however, are their recommendations for roads leading to the development for which the council is responsible. 

For the previous application by another developer  for 1000 homes, for instance, council traffic experts recommended the introduction of chicanes and road humps in New Road, Tylers Green to deter through traffic and reduce speeding.

They also wanted increased road safety measures outside Tylers Green Middle School in Cock Lane and improvements at Barnes Corner (the Cock Lane, St John’s Road, New Road, Church Road crossroads), with the possible introduction of traffic lights. 

Council traffic planners have long argued that at some time in the future the whole of the  narrow section of Cock Lane will have to be widened, but this has been strongly opposed locally. 

The road lighting…

ONE OF the most sensitive and potentially controversial issues in the plan is the provision of lighting.

Tylers Green has no street lights and lighting on Cock Lane and Hammersley Lane is minimal. Consequently Gomm Valley is presently a dark area, ideal for the bats and other nocturnal animals that live in the valley. The plan proposes low level lighting and the creation of “dark corridors for bats” but admits that other lighting mitigation may have to be introduced. 

The housing design…

Artist impression of phase 1 development. Illustration: Taylor Wimpey

THE planning application states the homes will be orientated in such a way as to gain as much benefit as possible from solar power. They will have extra insulation to reduce heat loss.

They say that “generally” the homes shall not exceed 2.5 storeys and will blend in with the geography of the valley.

The impact on schools…

A ONE form entry, 230 pupil primary school is proposed at the bottom end of the valley on the flattest ground in order to allow playing fields.

The school will employ 30 full-time staff and is being designed to discourage children being dropped off/picked up by car. Walking and cycling to and from school will be prioritised.

A 26 place nursery is also planned alongside the school.

The planners note that at present Tylers Green Middle School is over capacity by 14 pupils and Tylers Green First School and Manor Farm Junior School are each just two pupils under capacity.

The impact of health facilities…

THE developer’s consultants took figures from 11 GP practices in Wycombe (though not Penn Surgery) and conclude that just two – the Priory Surgery and Desborough Surgery in central High Wycombe – were under capacity when considered against the desirable norm of one GP per 1,800 patients.

The nearest surgery, Kingswood, is currently operating at one GP per 2,194 patients. This is a problem that will have to be addressed by the council and  health authorities, whileTaylor Wimpey expect to make a financial contribution towards the provision of improved GP services.

The consultants found that 13 of 18 dental practices in the High Wycombe area were accepting new NHS patients.

The impact on community identity…

THIS IS  the biggest single housing development to impact Penn and Tylers Green for 50 years. 

In the 1970s the 1,141 homes that comprise the Manor Farm Estate were built. That development in effect merged Tylers Green with Hazlemere and there is a strong desire among local councillors and community groups in Penn and Tylers Green that the same merging does not occur in the Gomm Valley. 

Otherwise, they feel, the distinct community identify of Penn and Tylers Green will eventually disappear into one urban sprawl. 

Talks have been underway for months between the council and Taylor Wimpey and as a result the developers have made concessions: they have reduced the number of homes they originally intended from 800 to 604 and they have abandoned plans to develop the the area closest to Tylers Green, leaving it as open fields and a potential woodland orchard.

Nonetheless, it will only leave a undeveloped gap of 200 metres – the length of two football pitches – between the last house in Tylers Green and the first house in High Wycombe. And even this will have an a access road to Cock Lane passing through one corner. 

In its planning statement Taylor Wimpey says this will “establish an appropriate relationship to the urban edge to High Wycombe and Tylers Green and avoid the coalescence of the two settlements.” They will also plant a tree belt.  “The sense of leaving one settlement and arriving at the next will be achieved,” they maintain. This is likely to be disputed.

What happens now?

THERE IS no way to prevent development in the Gomm Valley altogether. 

Its fate was sealed 50 years ago when the council, in the face of much public opposition, decided not to place the valley in the Green Belt, but instead keep it as a reserve site so that one day it could be used for housing.  

Now that day has arrived. The council is committed under Government policy to provide land for housing and the Gomm Valley is the last reserve site left in the Wycombe area.

The details of the planning application can be argued and debated however, and undoubtedly will. Further changes are probably likely.

If permission for phase 1 of the development – the 110 homes off Hammersley Lane – is granted Taylor Wimpey would begin building next year.  At the moment the company is anticipating construction of phase 2 – the 494 homes on the Cock Lane side of the valley – will begin in 2024 and take up to eight years to complete.

You can view the full plans and illustrations on and typing in 22/06485/OUTEA in the reference number box.

If you want to make a comment you can then do so by clicking on the “Comment” box. 

The application is vast and not particularly user friendly – there are 245 planning documents in the application. If you read the document “Planning Statement”, that summarises in relative detail what’s proposed, although that’a a chunky 83 pages.  

The deadline for comments is 23 July.

The council envisages making a decision on the phase 1 full planning application and the phase 2 outline planning application in late September, but such is the complexity it is likely that date will slip.

There will be a round-up of the comments for and against these plans in next month’s blog.

You can contact this blog at The next scheduled blog will be published on 1 August.