Future of Penn’s oldest pub hangs in the balance as owners have second go at expansion

THE COMPANY that owns  Penn’s 400 year old inn, The Crown, has submitted new plans to expand and upgrade the pub two years after its first attempt was rejected.

This time Greene King says it has scaled down the extent of the proposed extensions and taken on board the factors that resulted in the initial planning permission being refused.

However, it says if the company is not allowed to provide facilities dining customers expect these days the pub will not be viable and will close.

The iconic pub is Grade 2 listed and within the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Green Belt and the Penn and Tylers Green Conservation Area.

Greene King says it will spend £2m completely renovating and improving the pub without spoiling its historic atmosphere and ambience by:

  • Providing a garden room extension at the back with disabled toilet and access to the gardens, plus the provision of two family “dining pods” at the rear.
  • Modernising and increasing the kitchen to deliver “a significantly enhanced and higher-quality food offer”. Greene King says it will upgrade the pub from its current Chef and Brewer brand (average food spend £15) to its top range brand “Crafted pub” (average food spend £22.)
  • Improving outdoor seating areas which “facilitate al fresco dining through the provision of covered outdoor structures”
  • Repairing and enhancing the listed building, improving access arrangements for customers with mobility difficulties; extending and improving the rear car park from 54 spaces to 70 and providing electric vehicle charging points.
  • Landscaping the garden providing new paths, ramped access and “patio islands”

Plans to put new buildings along the pub’s boundary with the old people’s flats, Penn Mead, next door – a major objection last time because of potential disturbance to residents – have now been dropped and replaced with a new fence and the planting of additional trees.

Buckinghamshire Council is expected to consider the plan next month.

Joe Windall: villagers gather to remember a brave victim of the Afghan conflict

Marine Joe Windall. Picture: Ministry of Defence

Story updated 10 November

THE LIFE of a Royal Marine from Penn and Tylers Green who died in the Afghanistan conflict 17 years ago was celebrated at the annual Remembrance ceremony on the front common this year.

Joe Windall was just 22 and a communications specialist with the Special Boat Service when the plane he was travelling in caught fire and crashed during mid air refuelling in September, 2006.

He and 13 military colleagues perished in what was the British forces’ worst single death toll in action since the Falklands War.

Joe lived for many years in New Road,Tylers Green and  attended Holmer Green Senior School.  He is buried in Cock Lane cemetery and his name is commemorated on the Hazlemere war memorial.

Children from the Tylers Green First School were  among those gathering on the common for the Remembrance ceremony which was brought forward by one day to Friday, 10 November so they could attend.

A special memorial, pictured above, was in place from 3 November until Sunday 12 November and included a tribute to Joe, who would have been 40 next year, from his friend Will Smith. 

A lament, sung by one of his former teachers, featured in the memorial service, which was also attended by a number of his former schoolfriends and over 200 members of the public.

Joe has a sister Marie while his mum Phillippa lives in Hazlemere.  His dad, also Joe, was a member of the former Residents’ Association committee in the village.  His uncle, Hugh Jones, is a former Olympic marathon runner who won the London Marathon in 1982.

The service was  conducted by the Rev Samuel Thorp, the vicar of Penn and Tylers Green. A two minute silence  – impeccably observed by the young children present – was held to remember all those from Penn and Tylers Green, including 91 in the first and second world wars inscribed on the war memorials, who  lost their lives performing active service for their country.

The full version of the tribute on the memorial plaque is published at the end of this blog.

Gomm Valley housing proposals present a flood risk says flooding authority

Gomm Valley Nature Reserve. Picture: Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust

BUCKINGHAMSHIRE’S Local Flood Authority has told councillors considering whether to approve a 604 home planning application in the Gomm Valley  that if the plan is approved as proposed it will increase the risk of flooding. 

In  a complex and detailed response to Taylor Wimpey’s application, the authority calls for much more detailed work to be done on drainage and water flow issues. It wants to be fully satisfied that ways of dealing with surface water drainage comply with national requirements.

The Gomm Valley is located between Hammersley Lane and Cock Lane, Tylers Green. Buckinghamshire Council’s planning department has received more than 120 objections so far to the plan (for details of the plan see the last blog).

Taylor Wimpey’s engineers intend to “reprofile” the contours of the steep sided valley so that the natural flow of surface water will not be impeded and will run into an infiltration basin at the lower end of the valley. 

However, the  flooding authority is unconvinced  the basin is sufficient to cope with run-off rainwater from both the newly built areas on one side of the valley and the greenfield sites on the other.

Objectors also include the governors of Tylers Green Middle School in Cock Lane, particularly concerned they have not been provided with an assessment of the type and volume of traffic that is expected to pass in front of the school if both the Gomm Valley and the adjacent Ashwells housing developments go ahead.

The Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust says that key information on biodiversity gain, required in law, has not been provided, while the Penn and Tylers Green Residents’ Society lists 19 reasons why the application should be refused, not least that it exceeds the council’s original development brief. It says Taylor Wimpey’s application is “a classic example of greenwashing.”

Supporters of the application seem few and far between but local MP Steve Baker, although not commenting on this specific application, has told a constituent that he supports the principle of building on the land. 

All the comments will now need to be discussed and addressed by planners and Taylor Wimpey before councillors make a final decision.

UPDATE (15 November): Councillors will not, after all, make the final decision. The issue will be settled at a planning inquiry. More details in the December blog.

Tylers Green garden flooded with raw sewage for the third time this year

Raw sewage swamps the lovely garden of Dell Cottage – a regular entrant in the village’s Open Gardens charity event. Picture published in the Bucks Free Press.

RESIDENTS are furious after raw sewage flooded their gardens in Church Road, Tylers Green for the third time this year.

Thames Water only completed repairs to a broken sewer pipe in the area in August, but within days a sink hole reappeared in the Horse and Jockey car park where a previous one emerged.

By the end of October another sink hole appeared a few metres away in the garden of Dell Cottage, this time flooding the entire garden – one of the prettiest in the village and a regular entrant in the Open Gardens charity event – with foul-smelling sewage.

Other nearby gardens were also affected. 

Local councillor Katrina Wood said the main sewage pipe running from the car park had been damaged and it was likely that pressure from the damaged pipe had cracked the concrete soakaway surrounding it. 

Thames Water  brought in fleets of tankers to ensure the sewage system in the entire area remained in operation while  repairs to the pipe and soakaway are completed.

The company again apologised for the distress caused and admitted that damage to one of its waste pipes caused the sinkhole. But, as before, there are arguments between Thames Water and Buckinghamshire Council as to who takes responsibility for repairing the sinkholes.

Thames Water took responsibility for the site so that repairs could be undertaken as quickly as possible, but the work is not likely to be completed before the end of this month.  A company representative told the Bucks Free Press (BFP): “We are working…to determine responsibility of the sinkhole and steps which can be taken to resolve the problem.”

Patrick Frizoni, who lives in Dell Cottage with his wife Jane, told the BFP this was the third time this year his garden had been damaged. 

“There’s sewage floating around, a really bad smell and it’s now coming up close to getting in the house.  It’s absolutely dire. It’s a disaster and it just keeps getting worse,” he told the newspaper.

Councillors dither over Penn and Tylers Green yellow lines decision

Traffic congestion outside Tylers Green First School at school-leaving time.

KEY COUNCILLORS have delayed for a third time making a decision on imposing more double yellow lines on Penn and Tylers Green roads. 

A public consultation concluded in March and councillors initially said a decision would be announced in August after public views were considered. The announcement was delayed until September, and then October.

Now Steve Broadbent, Buckinghamshire Council’s cabinet member for transport, says decisions should be made before the end of the year.

The proposals are mainly aimed at stopping parking near Tylers Green First and Middle Schools and by Penn Surgery in Elm Road. They also propose parking restrictions by some of the Ashley Drive and Coppice Farm Road junctions (see March 2023 blog).

Public response however has ranged from “over the top” to “not stringent enough” while many wonder how new parking restrictions will be enforced.

Some want the school yellow lines to be effective only at school arrival and departure times while others fear additional parking restrictions will have a detrimental effect on local businesses. Others say imposing yellow lines will only move the parking problem into nearby roads and side-streets where there are currently no restrictions.

A Buckinghamshire Council spokesman apologised for the delay in decision-making.

Local news

Carols on the Common is this year on 21 December. Picture: Scott A.Barrett.

Christmas events – The annual Christmas tree festival at Holy Trinity, Penn will be held on Saturday and Sunday, 2 and 3 December. Carols on the Common will be on Thursday 21 December on the front common by the Christmas tree beginning at 7.45 pm. A touring pantomime, Robin Hood, will perform at Tylers Green Village Hall on 22 December.

Scouts deliver cards Penn and Tylers Green Scouts will be delivering Christmas cards for free in the local area in return for a donation to scout funds. The delivery area includes Penn and Tylers Green and the Manor Farm estate. Post boxes will be located in the village from 2 December and the last date for posting is 16 December.

Back to the future – Tylers Green Middle School will be holding its first Virtual Reality Day this month with pupils immersing themselves in ground-breaking technology using AI (artificial intelligence) brought into school by a specialist company. Year groups 4,5 and 6 will explore ancient Egypt, the Vikings and rainforests. Parents have had to give specific permission for their children to take part.

Ceasefire callPenn’s MP Sarah Green has added her name to a House of Commons Early Day motion calling on the Government to press for a humanitarian ceasefire in the Isreal-Gaza conflict.

Gym equipment – A new air skier – an outdoor piece of gym equipment for adults – is to be installed in Ashley Drive recreation ground, Tylers Green, this month.

Too wetPenn parish councillors were told it wasn’t possible to dredge Wash Pond in Beacon Hill this summer because the weather hadn’t been dry enough. They are hoping to get the job done next summer. Potters Cross pond can be dredged this winter however because pumps can transfer the water into the adjacent ditch.

Ministry team – Linnea Thorp, the Swedish wife of new Penn and Tylers Green vicar Samuel Thorp, has joined the Holy Trinity, Penn and St Margaret’s, Tylers Green ministry team as a licensed lay minister. The team, pictured in St Margaret’s, shows, left to right, David Carter (lay minister), Rev. Graham Summers, Rev Samuel Thorp, Mary Lee (lay minister) and Linnea Thorp (lay minister). Picture: Holy Trinity & St Margaret’s.

Keep calm and carry on

PENN’S PARISH councillors got together the other week to have a good old moan: roadside hedges aren’t being cut meaning road signs are hidden; white lines  on the roads are fading and not being repainted; gullies aren’t being cleared leading to more flooding;  footpath repair work is well behind schedule, while too many road surfaces are still in a poor state of repair with winter approaching.

Meantime local schemes that were planned have been put on the back burner because Buckinghamshire Council simply doesn’t have the cash.

That includes a pedestrian crossing on the B474 in Penn and parking lay-bys by the recreation ground in Ashley Drive. The local community boards, introduced a few years ago as a  supposed driver of local  community projects, have proved a damp squib, largely because they’ve been starved of funds.

And, sadly, the outlook ain’t good. Usually, Bucks council leader Martin Tett – an accountant by profession – is, outwardly at least, a chirpy chappie, but he put on his soberest face last month to  warn councillors the council faces a “very significant financial problem” in the next financial year. 

Major increases in costs in providing children’s services, adult social care and temporary accommodation – areas where savings cannot easily be made – are in the pipeline with little or no extra Government help. How long before the council reproduces that old wartime poster? Keep calm and carry on.

Don’t bank on hubs

DISCUSSIONS that Penn’s MP Sarah Green had with the Treasury about establishing banking hubs in post offices in her Chesham and Amersham constituency are not likely to amount to anything in our immediate area.

The hubs mean that a representative of all the banks visits a local post office a day or two a week to enable members of  the public to conduct banking business face to face.

However, the criteria for establishing such hubs is restrictive. For instance, Chalfont St Peter, which is bigger than us, was assessed for a banking hub in the summer but failed because it didn’t meet the criteria.

So if you want to do banking face to face, it looks like a trip to High Wycombe for the foreseeable future

Penn before urbanisation…

Anthony Mealing, a regular contributor to the Facebook page High Wycombe Now and Then, last month posted this lovely watercolour of Penn, painted in 1926 by Sutton Palmer, one of a series of county scenes in Buckinghamshire. We think that’s Puttenham Farm (behind the Red Lion) tucked in the gully, but if anyone has a better idea please let us know.

…and Cock Lane before the motor car

And while we are in the past, here’s a picture of Cock Lane 100 years ago in 1923 and its entrance today, below.  The bends at the beginning of the lane were straightened out when Tylers Green Middle School was built.  Goodness knows what it will look like 100 years from now!

Regional news

Olympic torch – The Olympic torch for next year’s Paralympic Games in France will be lit at Stoke Mandeville, the birthplace of a paralympic movement, and be relayed by 1,000 people to its destination in Paris for the opening paralympic ceremony on 28 August. The route is yet to be published, but it should pass near Penn and Tylers Green.

Traffic camerasBuckinghamshire Council is planning to install traffic cameras on the A40 from High Wycombe to Loudwater in an attempt to stop mis-use of the bus lanes.

Major housing plan for Hazlemere – Plans to build 346 houses on the former Tralee Farm and Orchard End Farm sites off the Amersham Road at Hazlemere have  been given outline planning permission despite hundreds of objections from local residents concerned that development on the former Green Belt land would put undue pressure on local public services and roads. The farms form the last effective greenfield gap between Hazlemere and Holmer Green. 

Cops criticisedThames Valley Police’s vetting procedures were criticised in a report by the Police Inspectorate following the jailing of an Amersham based constable, Luke Horner, for a child sex offence. Roy Wilsher, the Inspector of Constabulary, said it was “very clear” that Horner was “not suited to be a police officer.” Deputy chief constable Ben Snuggs  said Thames Valley was following vetting processes consistent with national practice at the time, but a review was underway and changes would be made. 

Squarking invaders – Harvesting at Woodfine Wine’s Seer Green vineyard had to be completed in double quick time last month after a flock of around 50 parakeets suddenly descended and started ravaging the crop.

Bridge illuminationsPlans to light up Henley’s historic bridge over the Thames at night have been put forward. The grade 1 listed bridge is 238 years old.

Maternity concerns – An inspection by the Care Quality Commission found that maternity services at Stoke Mandeville Hospital ‘required improvement’ after inspectors learned of staff shortages, equipment shortages and medicines incorrectly managed. The Bucks NHS Trust said it was addressing the concerns raised.

Restaurant and brewery close Gilbey’s restaurant in Old Amersham High Street closes this month after 35 years following the retirement of owners Michael and Lin Gilbey. The 17th century building was once part of Dr Challoner’s School, which celebrates its 400th anniversary in the town next year.  The Prestwood-based micro brewery Malt The Brewery is also closing this month after 11 years due to increased costs and “unsurmountable challenges.”

Michael Portillo in his element at Bekonscot. Picture: BBC

Little big man – Famous train enthusiast Michael Portillo opened a new part of Bekonscot model village and railway in Beaconsfield. The new High Shrunkham Junction is a special museum where visitors find themselves surrounded by railway props, so they can imagine themselves as one of the tiny figures featured in the model village. 

A tribute to Joe

THE following words are on the temporary Remembrance memorial on Tylers Green Common:

“Joe had the biggest ear to ear smile,” recalls his friend Will Smith. Image published with permission from Phillippa Young.

Marine Joseph “Joe” David Windall 18 April 1984 – 2 September 2006 

Ever since he was a little boy playing here on Tylers Green Common Joe Windall wanted to be a soldier. 

His family lived in New Road and from an early age Joe learnt to rise to challenges when he was diagnosed with dyspraxia – a co-ordination disorder. 

His infant and junior school years were spent at Crown House School in High Wycombe – much of which, his family freely admit, he hated. But he always tried to be positive with a winning smile and warm and friendly manner – characteristics he perfected in later life. 

At Holmer Green Upper School Joe was a prefect who excelled in art and drama and was a member of the school basketball team. He had but one ambition: to be a Royal Marine. 

That ambition became a reality when he joined the Royal Marines in November 2002, successfully completing his training by June the following year. He then completed a Signaller Class 3 course at a base in Plymouth enabling him to be employed as a communicator in all parts of the Corps. He travelled the world taking part in operational tours and training exercises. 

Such was Joe’s determination that he successfully passed the gruelling and demanding selection process to become a member of the Special Boat Service, the elite maritime counterterrorism unit of the Royal Navy. 

In 2006 he was in Afghanistan working with NATO and Afghan army forces in conflict with Taliban fighters. On 2 September he was on board an RAF Nimrod along with 12 members of the RAF and a paratrooper taking part in a reconnaissance mission near Kandahar. 

Tragically the plane caught fire during mid-air refuelling and crashed, taking the lives of all on board. It was the biggest single loss of life suffered by the British Military since the Falklands War in 1982. Following subsequent inquiries and legal proceedings the Ministry of Defence admitted the plane had not been airworthy. Joe was 22 years old. 

The community of Penn and Tylers Green remembers Joe and his sacrifice with pride and with thankfulness. We send our love and support to his parents, his sister and all members of his family. 

Here, Will Smith, one of Joe’s many friends, offers his own tribute: 

Joe grew up in Tylers Green before moving to Hazlemere. From an early age he was seen as an incredibly confident, polite, and enthusiastic kid who always had the biggest smile on his face around the village. He went to Holmer Green Secondary School, and he caught the bus which was located directly outside his home on New Road. 

He was immensely popular and showed great enthusiasm at school, particularly taking part in drama and dance shows where his personality shone through. He grew confident and made great friendships with many people of all ages at the school and was held in the highest respect of many teachers. 

As Joe matured, it was clear he had the perfect characteristics to excel in the Royal Marines. Intuitive, determined, unbelievably intelligent and mature, he carried on studying for A-levels whilst constantly researching in his spare time about the elite forces. This developed into huge admiration of the Royal Marines at a young age. The ambition and drive were set and, coupled with his huge charismatic personality, meant he went on to pass the vigorous training for the Royal Marines. A dream come true, for sure. 

Whether it was in between training or in between operational tours, he regularly came back home to Hazlemere, and visited his friends’ houses in and around Tylers Green. This often meant a good catch up with a few drinks at the local village pubs too. 

His stories and unbelievable experiences he shared amazed everyone and certainly made people around him proud to know him. 

Often people say Joe’s smile is the first thing they think of when remembering him, and it’s so true. Joe always had the biggest, ear to ear smile that had such a positive effect on everyone he met and knew throughout his life. No matter what the situation, Joe could light up a room in an instant without saying anything. He was an incredibly popular and intelligent individual that is and will always be sorely missed. 

Joe rests at Cock Lane Cemetery in Tylers Green. Always remembered and never forgotten. 

You can contact this blog at  It will be updated as necessary this month but the next new blog will be on 1 December.