A £90MILLION transformation of the former Penn School into a five star hotel complex will bring an enormous economic boost to Penn and Tylers Green says the company behind the project.
A detailed planning application was submitted to Buckinghamshire Council last month by Rayners Penn Ltd, the local company formed to bring a new lease of life to the former Victorian mansion turned former special school.
If approved it will be the biggest single business investment in Penn and Tylers Green since the former St John’s Road industrial estate was built 75 years ago.
The company says the hotel, which, if approved, will be called Rayners Penn, will:
- Employ 149 full time staff as well as boosting local supply chains and smaller local companies
- Provide 33 bedrooms, including 17 ‘high quality’ bedrooms in the main block
- Include a ‘fine dining’ restaurant, bistro and cookery school, all of which will be available for use by residents and visitors
- Create a Wellness Spa with four spa bedroom suites for guests plus garden suites and villas
- Work with local colleges to create apprenticeships in areas such as horticulture, hospitality, events and catering, and source food locally as far as possible
If approved it’s estimated the conversion will take three years to complete. It will involve a major restoration of the grounds, adding a new boathouse to a reformed boating lake and re-creating the original pleasure gardens.
The provision of a second entry point for guests off Hammersley Lane has been dropped following concerns about extra traffic expressed at a public consultation in the summer.
You can view the application in detail on this link https://publicaccess.wycombe.gov.uk/idoxpa-web/simpleSearchResults.do?action=firstPage
Royal support for Ron’s charity walks
WHAT a year it has been for Tylers Green charity walker Ron Hedley.
Five years ago Ron, of Old Kiln Road, was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Once his initial treatment was over life-long cricketer Ron and his wife Pat thought they would raise some funds for Prostate Cancer UK with a local sponsored walk and lunch with fellow members of Bucks Cricket Club’s over 60s and 70s.
But one thing led to another and by the end of last year that one-off walk had ballooned into 10 sponsored walks starting and finishing from cricket grounds in Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Middlesex, attracting more and more supporters en route.
Things really took off when Ron and Pat met with charity organisers from the Bob Willis Fund, which works with Prostate Cancer UK to raise money to fund research and hopefully provide a nationally accessible, accurate screening programme which could save the lives of thousands of men. Prostate cancer affects one in eight men in the UK and Bob, a former England cricket captain, died of the disease four years ago this month.
Ron’s walks spread nationwide. This year he led walks from cricket grounds in Surrey, Norfolk, Monmouthshire, Hertfordshire, Lincolnshire, Derbyshire, Hampshire, Cornwall and Somerset as well as more Bucks and Berks grounds.
In June he was featured in Sky TV’s coverage of the Ashes test at Warwickshire’s Edgbaston ground. And in September at Southampton’s Ageas Bowl he met Sir Tim Laurence, the husband of the Princess Royal, who was only too pleased to offer his support.
So far Ron’s amazing efforts have raised over £32,000 for the Bob Willis Fund and he’s spending Christmas planning further walks for next year, hopefully culminating at Lord’s next September to coincide with his 75th birthday. You can learn more, and donate on www.bobwillisfund.org/ronsmarch
Farewell to our ‘wheelbarrow lady’ and fun run legend
ELAINE CULLIP, passionate gardener and fun run legend, died last month in her care home near Beaconsfield.
Elaine would have spent every day from dawn to dusk gardening if she could, not only tending her own beautiful garden in Ashley Drive but looking after a number of other gardens in the village too, including helping at the first school and the former Penn School gardens, as well as attending to her allotment.
She was seen so often marching through the village with her trusty wheelbarrow, chatting to all and sundry, she was known to hundreds of children as “the wheelbarrow lady.”
She supported the village fun run from the off, running the very first event in 1984 when it was a half marathon. In fact she continued to run every half marathon (later Penn Seven) followed by every fun run for over 20 years, the only person ever to do so.
She never won but always enjoyed the camaraderie of taking part. She continued running the fun run until 2019, in her 78th year and with “dodgy knees”, and would no doubt have carried on had Covid not stopped the run for a couple of years.
When Bill Sadler organised his memorable charity run from the Olympic Stadium to Tylers Green Village Hall in 2012 which involved runners from the village completing one mile relays between the two venues, it was only right that Elaine should run the final mile to the finishing line. She did it with a flourish.
Elaine’s husband Brian died some years ago. She was a loving mum to Dominque and Adam and gran to their children. She’ll be missed by them and by us all.
More yellow lines on village roads approved
BUCKINGHAMSHIRE Council has agreed to impose more yellow lines in Penn and Tylers Green following a public consultation.
The new restrictions, which will take effect next year, are in some cases extensions to yellow lines already in place and are a further attempt to prevent parking near Tylers Green First and Middle Schools and Penn Surgery.
Yellow lines at the junction of Ashley Drive and New Road,Tylers Green, and Ashley Drive and The Lawns; are also being introduced to help traffic flow, as are an extension of restrictions in Coppice Farm Road.
The locations are:
- Single yellow line preventing parking between 8am and 5pm Monday to Friday in School Road on the common side opposite the first school:
- Double yellow lines on both sides of Cock Lane from the Barnes Corner crossroads (St John’s Road/School Road/Cock Lane/New Road) to the entrance of the car park opposite the middle school. The yellow lines will continue for some metres along both sides of New Road, Church Road and St John’s Road from the junction.
- In Elm Road from Bank Road (on the common) to Church Road,Tylers Green, with “permit holders only” parking in the parking bay in front of Victoria Cottages between 10am and 4pm. Additional yellow lines in Elm Road, in effect stretching on both sides from Bank Road to Potters Cross crossroads.
- Double yellow lines around the junction in front of the St Margaret’s parish rooms in Church Road and opposite in front of Zenopa recruitment offices and continuing some way on the common side of School Road towards the first school.
- Double yellow lines at the junction of Ashley Drive and New Road; and the junction of Ashley Drive and The Lawns.
- Double yellow line on the north side of Coppice Farm Road from its junction with the Hazlemere Road (B471) to just past junction with Chilton Close. Yellow lines on the south side in part from the Hazlemere Road junction to just past the Chilton Close junction.
Fun Run date – Next year’s Penn Seven and Fun Run, followed by live music, will be on Saturday, 15 June. It will be the 40th anniversary of the event, the biggest community gathering in the village. The organisers have yet to pick a charity to benefit from the day’s activities and are asking for nominations. Email Chris Sadler on firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions. If you are able to offer any help on the day please use the same email.
PennFest extended – Penn Festival will run for an extra day next year, starting on Friday 19 July and ending on Sunday 21 July. UPDATE 6 DEC: Richard Ashcroft, Jess Glynne and Paul Weller named the headline acts over the three nights.
Butcher landlords thwarted – The landlords of Joe Gleeson’s butchers failed in their bid to change the planning rules over the property at 34 Hazlemere Road, Penn. They wanted the shop and the living accommodation to be regarded as two separate units in planning terms – a move some saw as a threat to the business. Joe, backed by the parish council and the residents’ society, was able to prove the building had “mixed use” in planning terms for more than 10 years and should be classed as such. Buckinghamshire Council agreed.
Monarch’s advisor – Wycombe (and Tylers Green) MP Steve Baker was sworn in as a new member of the Privy Council last month at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace overseen by King Charles. Privy Councillors act as advisors to the monarch. It means he will be referred to in the House of Commons as “the Right Honourable” as opposed to his previous “Honourable” title.
Top athlete visits – Emma Nwofor, a member of the Great Britain hurdling team, gave children at Manor Farm Junior School an “inspirational” assembly last month before then hosting PE lessons with all of the classes.
Back common objections – A planning application to demolish the house Gorse Glade at the bottom of the back common in Tylers Green and replace it with a three bedroom house in neo-Georgian style has drawn objections from Chepping Wycombe Parish Council and the Penn and Tylers Green Residents’ Society. They say the proposal is over-development in terms of size and scale and inappropriate for a village green setting.
Drugs find – A house in Stretton Close, Tylers Green was used as a safe house for a west London drugs gang a court was told. When Met police raided the property they found £40,000 worth of class A drugs, a high value Rolex watch plus other incriminating equipment. The two ring-leaders were jailed for 16 years for drug offences and modern slavery – they had groomed a 15 year old boy to act as a drugs runner.
Eighteen year old Reuban Logan, who lives in Penn with his parents Kenny and Gabby, says he’ll play for the England senior rugby team if he’s selected, even though his dad is a former Scottish rugby international and his TV presenter mum a former Welsh international gymnast. Six foot five inch Reuban is already part of the England-under 18 squad and plays professionally for Northampton Saints.
Footpath row – The owner of Penn Grove in Witheridge Lane, Penn has been told she will need to submit a planning application if she wants to convert an agricultural field in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (now called Natural Landscape) into a private recreation area with swimming pool and running track. Walkers reacted with fury when a long established path running through the field was blocked off and are trying to get the path established as a Right of Way. The owner, Sara Agar, recently bought the field from a neighbour and wants to convert it to private use and surround it with a two metre hedge.
Nature reserve extended – Penn Jubilee Wood, a 60 acre nature reserve between Beacon Hill and Gatemoor Lane, is being extended by 17 acres following a gift to the wood’s owners The Chiltern Society of adjoining land at the end of Beacon Hill, opposite Town Farm. The society, has plans to extend the existing reserve’s wildflower meadow and introduce a herd of conservation grazing cattle.
Boo! Hiss! Taylor Wimpey pulls a fast one and turns the Gomm Valley saga into a pantomime
IT IS probably just as well we are in the festive season because that rapacious house builder Taylor Wimpey has decided to play the pantomime villain.
In a move that has blind-sided and angered councillors and their planners, plus a substantial number of local objectors, the company has launched a manoeuvre enabling it to by-pass the views of locally elected councillors in pursuit of plans to build 544 houses and other facilities in the Gomm Valley, between Hammersley Lane and Cock Lane, Tylers Green.
Taylor Wimpey has opted to follow what it hopes will be a fast-track route to achieving its aims by successfully appealing directly to the Government’s Planning Inspectorate. Now the application will be decided by a Government-appointed planning inspector at what is expected to be an 11 day public hearing in March.
The move is legal, if irregular, but it’s completely smashed the trust and collaborative vibes Buckinghamshire Council thought they had built up with the company.
Just a quick recap:
- First, it’s worth remembering that as part of the Government’s desire to get housing applications dealt with as quickly as possible local councils have 16 weeks to decide on major applications like this one.
- In August last year, Taylor Wimpey applied to build 604 houses plus a school and other facilities in the Gomm Valley, which is a particularly sensitive environmental area containing protected wildlife sites
- Unsurprisingly, the plans drew hundreds of objections from people concerned about the additional pressure on local health and education facilities, traffic, pollution and the environment.
- The site is also complex, with steep wooded sides abutting the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (now called the Chilterns National Landscape) and flooding issues. Previous attempts to develop it failed to materialise.
- Taylor Wimpey, its consultants and the council planners sat down to try and find ways round the objections and it soon became obvious there was no way things could be settled with a 16 week deadline. But Taylor Wimpey were relaxed. They agreed with the council not to worry about deadlines and took their time preparing a new, amended application. In fact they took many months before submitting a new application in August this year which reduced the number of homes requested to 544.
Enter the big bad wolf
It didn’t take long for the Mr Nice Guy act to end. Taylor Wimpey took just six weeks to appeal to the Government to step in on the dubious basis that the council hadn’t decided the application in time. In fact, it was Taylor Wimpey who had spent months dilly-dallying before submitting their amended plan.
A long planning inquiry is just what the council doesn’t want. It is facing its biggest financial crisis in years and will now have to employ lawyers and consultants to put its case. Council officers and planners will have to drop other work to concentrate on this because of the tight deadlines.
They, and local residents and voluntary groups, have until 18 December to put their evidence in to the Planning Inspectorate – an unwanted and unnecessary distraction in the run-up to Christmas. (In fairness, those who have already sent in their comments to the council will have those comments automatically passed on to the planning inspector, unless they wish to appeal directly to the inspector).
Spending money, of course, is not much of a concern for Taylor Wimpey ( total profits last year £923.4 million, nearly twice the entire budget of Buckinghamshire Council).
At the inquiry it will line up the best that money can buy to prove its point knowing that it’s going to be a brave planning inspector who holds out against the Government’s (and the Opposition’s) constant demands to build as many houses as possible as soon as possible with – in many people’s opinion – only secondary consideration to the location.
In a panto of course the good fairy would descend and with a wave of a magic wand dispel the baddies and we’d all live happily ever after. This, however, is not a fairy tale. It’s ugly reality.
(In a statement to this blog Taylor Wimpey said:“Following recent discussions with the council in which they advised their anticipated timescale for giving a decision on our application, we made the decision to submit an appeal against non-determination to ensure a more timely outcome. The application will therefore now be determined by the Planning Inspectorate and we will continue to work closely with the council should this be approved.”)
Stinking sinkholes and unanswered questions
MEANWHILE another TW – Thames Water – is involved in a pantomime of its own making.
It was back in the spring when a sinkhole appeared the Horse and Jockey pub car park in Church Road, Tylers Green. No-one appeared particularly bothered or seemingly did much about it – it transpired that Thames Water, Buckinghamshire Council and the pub owners were squabbling behind the scenes over whose responsibility it was.
Then in July raw sewage began oozing out of the sinkhole and invading neighbouring gardens. Thames Water, responsible for the broken leaking sewage pipe, leapt into action.
They closed down the pumping station at the end of New Road and put in a place a fleet of tankers, working 24/7, to keep the local sewage system working while their engineers repaired the pipe.
But did they? In August the engineers completed the work, apologised all round and no doubt moved on to their next crisis.
Within weeks however, the sinkhole was back again in exactly the same place. By October sewage was escaping in even larger quantities than before, completely devastating the neighbouring garden at Dell Cottage. Back came the lorries, sealing off the entire Horse and Jockey car park this time, together with the apologies.
The question is though: did Thames Water simply screw up the first job or is there a more fundamental problem with the sewage system in that area (there have been sewer collapses around there before)?
Local councillor Katrina Wood is in no doubt. “Thames Water didn’t fill the hole properly last time as they didn’t fill it underneath, hence the sewer has collapsed again,” she said on Facebook.
Thames Water isn’t saying. Despite requests to find out exactly what happened and why, it returns only the following statement:
“We are sorry to residents in Tylers Green who have experienced sewer flooding.
“Our teams have investigated and identified damage to one of our waste pipes caused by a sink hole nearby. Repairs started on Tuesday 21 November and are expected to take between 4-6 weeks.
“We are sorry to residents in the area and would like them to know our engineers are working to make the repairs as quickly and safely as possible.”
Don’t the residents and the pub, whose business has no doubt taken a hit, deserve a better explanation than that?
Our political survivors
OUR local politicians are proving survivors in the merry-go-round of Westminster reshuffles.
Wycombe MP Steve Baker retained his Minister of State for Northern Ireland role following Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s changing of the guard last month, while Beaconsfield MP Joy Morrisey was actually promoted from an assistant government whip to a more senior government whip – quite an achievement for her considering she was a Boris Johnson loyalist and his Parliamentary Private Secretary when he was prime minister.
Biggest survivor of all though is Earl Howe, of Penn House, who is by far the longest serving continuous front bench spokesman in Parliament.
John Major appointed him an Agriculture Minister in 1991 while in 2015 David Cameron, then prime minister, appointed him deputy leader in the House of Lords, a position he retains after the latest reshuffle. It means, of course, he can show the House of Lords ropes to the newly appointed Lord Cameron and make him feel welcome.
River sinks – Another sinkhole appeared in the Chilterns last month following drilling by one of HS2’s tunnel boring machines directly underneath. This time a large hole appeared in a bridleway at Hyde Heath near Little Missenden. In June a sinkhole appeared in a field near Great Missenden 32 metres above where a tunnelling machine was operating. The railway is investigating both collapses.
Meanwhile, Freedom of Information requests by environmental campaigners has revealed that the level of the River Misbourne dropped dramatically in May while HS2’s tunnelling machines were in the vicinity. It has not yet been established if the machines contributed to what appears to have been a rupture in the river bed.
Museum plans – The Roald Dahl museum in Great Missenden will close for up to 18 months if it receives planning permission for a big expansion following the purchase of the building next door in the high street.
Drugs seized – Thames Valley Police made 12 arrests in south Buckinghamshire in connection with drugs offences in October, Inspector James Ellis told a local police forum. They seized 400 wraps and 300 grammes of crack cocaine; 193 wraps and 39 grammes of heroin, 90 grammes of cocaine plus 16 cannabis plants in addition to cannabis resin. They also confiscated 16 phones, seven imitation firearms, a selection of knives, a baseball bat and £13,000 in cash.
Fire concerns – Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue service needs to make urgent improvements says a report by the fire service’s inspectorate, which found the service ‘requires improvement’ in nine out of 11 areas. The head of the inspectorate, Roy Wilsher, said he had concerns about the performance of the service in keeping the county safe and secure from fire and other risks.
Police concerns – Thames Valley Police says it is taking “significant steps” to improve its performance in child neglect and abuse cases after an official report by the police watchdog found that half of the investigations it undertook were “inadequate”.
Updated: Christmas in Penn and Tylers Green
Season’s greetings to all our readers. You can contact this blog at email@example.com. It will be next fully updated on 1 January 2024.