Analysis Gomm Valley News

Gomm Valley: developer reduces housing numbers…but protests still mount

HOUSING developer Taylor Wimpey has reduced the number of homes it wants to build in the Gomm Valley, between Cock Lane and Hammersley Lane, Tylers Green,  by ten per cent following significant public protest and pressure from council planning officials.

In an amended planning application it now wants to build up to 544 homes instead of the 604 it envisaged in its initial plan last year.

It has also reduced the area of land it intends to build on, leaving 69 per cent of the 65 hectare site undeveloped compared 62 per cent in its first plan.

Virtually all of the planned housing will be on the western side of the valley, alongside Cock Lane, and the southern end alongside the railway line and the London Road.

The climbdown comes after the company digested scores of protests from local people mainly worried about the additional pressure on local facilities, roads and the environment.

It also comes after a year of intense meetings and negotiations with Buckinghamshire Council planning officials.

Taylor Wimpey says the 544 homes are “much needed” in the area. Nearly half of them will fall into the “affordable homes” category, including provision for shared ownership, “affordable” rents and the Government’s First Homes initiative. 

Taylor Wimpey illustration of plans for the bottom end of the valley

However, considerable opposition is already mounting against the revised plan.

The valley is a sensitive environmental area adjacent to the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and within a few miles of other new housing developments providing thousands of homes. 

The NHS organisation representing doctors’ surgeries said GP practices in the area are already at full capacity. It says if the scheme goes ahead it would need at least half a million pounds from Taylor Wimpey in order to expand GP centres, probably including Penn Surgery.

For further details of the revised plan, see the special report at the end of this blog.

Ashwells Field: developer tries to ease Middle School traffic problem…but will it be enough?

Ashwells Field site, with the Gomm Valley in the background

EXTENSIVE alterations are to be made to Cock Lane, Tylers Green in an effort to improve road safety in and around Tylers Green Middle School.

The changes are clarified in the latest plans for the the extension of Ashwells, known as Ashwells Field, a development of 109 homes all in the near vicinity of the school. 

However, many families of present and future pupils remain concerned that the extra traffic generated by the new homes,  together with the nearby Gomm Valley development, will bring added dangers.

Outside the Middle School signs urge people to park sensibly. The small car park can be seen in the background.

Two years ago a nine year old pupil broke her leg after being hit by a car in Cock Lane as she was walking home after school.  There is often traffic chaos and near misses at school arrival and leaving times despite constant efforts by the school to persuade people not to park nearby.

Under plans proposed by the Hill Group, developing the Ashwells Field estate, the following is proposed:

  • A central crossing island for pedestrians leading from the limited car park on the opposite side of the road to the school
  • A lay-by, diagonally opposite the entrance to the car park intended as a point for drivers to drop off pupils.
  • Traffic calming measures in both New Road, leading into Cock Lane, and in Cock Lane itself near the new entrance to the Ashwells estate
  • Car park flow to be simplified with one entrance and one exit.
  • The widening of Cock Lane for a few metres where a new entrance to the estate will be located, around 300 metres south of the school and 170 metres south of the existing Ashwells entrance. 

In a separate move,  Steve Broadbent,  Buckinghamshire Council’s cabinet member for transport, is expected to give the go-ahead early this month for double yellow lines to be painted on both sides of Cock Lane from the car park to the New Road/Cock Lane/St John’s Road/Church Road junction – known as Barnes Corner. The yellow lines will continue for some distance in New Road, St John’s Road and Church Road.

The car park opposite the school has capacity for around 15 to 20 vehicles.

Critics are already saying the lay by and car park will be overwhelmed at school arrival and departure times and excess school traffic will park in side roads away from the yellow lines, spreading the traffic problem to a wider area. 

The Hill Group expects to submit an outline planning application for the Ashwells Field development later this month or next, when the public will have an opportunity to formally comment. 

How NOT to hold a public consultation

THERE’S DISMAY and frustration in the village over what many see as woeful attempts at public participation in both the Ashwells and Gomm Valley proposals.

A public exhibition and question and answer session in Tylers Green Village Hall on the Ashwells development on 21 September passed by without most people realising it was on.

Developers, the Hill Group, told the residents’ society they posted a thousand leaflets informing people of the exhibition but many living nearby say they didn’t receive anything. 

There was no mention of the event on Buckinghamshire Council’s website, the relevant parish council website, the local community board social media page or the residents’ society website. 

Neither Village Voice, the village magazine, nor the Bucks Free Press, the local newspaper, had details of the event digitally or in print. Three of the four generic Facebook sites covering Penn and Tylers Green had no mention of it and the one that did only managed to post information two hours before the event started.  None of the advertising booklets that are delivered through every letterbox locally had mention of it and no posters were placed on public notice boards.

Consequently less than 100 people attended the exhibition. 

It is possible to  view online the information boards used at the exhibition and send in any comments you may have until 15 October. Use this link

Meanwhile, Taylor Wimpey’s amended Gomm Valley proposals were submitted to Buckinghamshire Council in late August but not published for public perusal by the council until 15 September.

The deadline for comments is 15 October giving members of the public just a month to consider and comment on a mass of complex documents and maps – see details in the analysis at the end of this blog. Normally the time frame for public consultations on major proposals is at least six to 10 weeks. 

{UPDATE (11 Oct) : The council says it will now accept comments up to 22 October.}

In a letter to those who commented on the first Gomm Valley proposal, the council’s development management officer Faye Mesgian said: “I am sorry if this does not give you as much time as you might wish, but the council has a responsibility to decide applications as quickly as possible.”

This has gone down like a lead balloon. Typical was a response from Tony Malone who wrote: “Given the 300 plus documents that have been resubmitted and the ridiculous short period to review and comment, I must strongly object to being bullied into a response before 15 October”.

Dr Martin Reed also decried the “impossible timescale” giving people less than 30 days to study and respond to over 300 new documents.

Personally, I think it shows the pressure council planning departments are now being put under by both politicians and the construction industry to “just get on with it” and regard public participation in the process as an irrelevant nuisance instead of a helpful intervention. 

Local news

Making an entrance – This magnificent new gate into Penn’s Holy Trinity churchyard from Paul’s Hill has been unveiled. It was made by the renowned High Wycombe furniture maker Stewart Linford and paid for by the local charity Penn Trust and the Heal family whose ancestor Sir Ambrose Heal, the celebrated furniture designer and owner of Heal’s furniture store in Tottenham Court Road, is buried in the churchyard. The gate is dedicated to the memory of Ambrose ‘Bam’ Heal, another member of the family. It’s an exact copy of the gate it replaced, which had been in place since early last century.

Back common restrictions Chepping Wycombe Parish Council, which owns and is responsible for the maintenance of the front and back commons in Tylers Green, is planning to create a bund on the edge of the back common to prevent vehicles parking on the grass. The move comes after a few travellers’ caravans pitched on the back common in August. They were moved on after the council obtained an eviction order. 

Free porridge – Sir William Ramsay School in Rose Avenue is offering a free bowl of porridge to every pupil before school starts to try and ensure they have a decent breakfast.

Movie show Tylers Green Village Hall is hosting a free movie afternoon on the second Tuesday of every month, starting this month. The event is sponsored by Penn and Tylers Green Village Care. Details on the hall website,

Increased speeding – Volunteers manning the machines measuring the speed of traffic in the village have reported an increase in vehicles exceeding the speed limit in Hammersley Lane, Tylers Green.

Debut album – Will Finch, the assistant manager and regular singer at the Horse and Jockey, Tylers Green, had a debut album, In My Head, published last month.

Business awardZenopa, the Tylers Green based medical recruitment company, was named as runner-up in the Apprentice and Young Person Employer of the Year category at last month’s Buckinghamshire Business Awards.

Church help – Holy Trinity, Penn and St Margaret’s, Tylers Green have launched a dementia support group to help dementia sufferers and their carers. 

Hedges uncut Hazlemere Parish Council was told that some residents who used to cut hedges alongside public footpaths are now no longer doing so because they do not wish to pay the recent charge imposed for emptying green waste bins. 

House flood – Firefighters were called after water leaking from a bathroom radiator caused internal flooding at a house in Finch End, Tylers Green. 

Forest school Tylers Green First School is launching a forest school where children will have outside lessons in the woodland at the back of the school and learn about the countryside and wildlife through play.

PE call – Penn’s MP Sarah Green has signed an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons calling on the Government to ensure that school pupils have access to two hours of PE every week.

Schools competeTylers Green Middle School  in Cock Lane and Manor Farm Junior School in Rose Avenue have agreed, for the first time, to hold competitions in the same age groups against each other in football, hockey, cricket and athletics. 

On the homes front  -Three directors from the Penn-based estate agents Kingshills on Brighton’s sea front celebrating their completion of the London to Brighton bike ride last month. Stephen Grace, James Charlton and Steve James raised £3,795 for Action Against Cancer from their sponsors and backers.

Tribute to Sir Oliver

A ROOM  at the Queen’s Gallery, near Buckingham Palace, has been named The Millar Learning Room as a tribute to Sir Oliver Millar, who lived with his wife Delia in Penn and then Tylers Green for many years.

He was responsible for the care and maintenance  of the Royal Family’s priceless collection of paintings and pictures for 16 years, taking over as Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures at a difficult time in 1972 when the former occupant, Anthony Blunt, was exposed as a Soviet spy.

A citation at the entrance to the room – which was part of the gallery’s summer exhibition on Georgian fashion this summer – says Sir Oliver was involved in the foundation of the gallery in 1962.

It adds: “His scholarly catalogues of the collection remain standard works, alongside numerous other publications, chiefly on arts in Britain in the 17th century.  The room also honours the contributions of Delia, Lady Millar, whose catalogue of the Victorian drawings and watercolours in the Royal Collection was based on 25 years of research.”

The couple lived in Yonder Lodge, Penn for many years before downsizing to a cottage on the back common.  Lady Millar died in 2004 and Sir Oliver in 2007.

Both played an active part in village life and when the Millar family donated the woodland opposite Yonder Lodge in Elm Road to the Penn and Tylers Green Residents’ Society, the woodland was named Millar Wood.

A keen historian, Sir Oliver jumped at the chance to play 18th century local politician Edmund Burke in a local historical production. Picture: Beaconsfield Historical Society

Regional news

Service station – Councillors have approved the construction of a Welcome Break service station on the M25 at Iver Heath between the M40 and M4 junctions. They rejected a plan for a service station on the same motorway between the M40 and Amersham junctions near Chalfont St Peter.

Not that bad A survey in this area showed that although burglary was the biggest public concern – 53 per cent placed it as their biggest worry – burglaries account for just six per cent of crime reported to the police. Similarly while 40 per cent of people think that drug taking and drug related offences in the area are major concerns, just two per cent of crime reported to local police is linked with drugs. The survey was carried out in July by the Chiltern and South Bucks Policing Issue Forum.

Slough of despond – Slough Council, which is being overseen by Government appointed commissioners since it declared itself effectively bankrupt 18 months ago, has sold, or is in the process of selling, £312m worth of its property and land assets. It still needs to sell as much again to clear its debts and has been told by the Government to speed up the process. The council raised council tax by 10 per cent this year, nearly twice the national average.

Farming sunshineA vast solar farm, which the developers say could provide clean electricity for a quarter of the homes in Buckinghamshire, is being proposed for an area north of Aylesbury, where HS2 and East/West rail links – both under construction – meet. A public consultation is being held this month. Plans for a solar farm covering seven fields at Dinton, west of Aylesbury, were withdrawn last year after local people protested. They said the plan would cause “irremediable damage to the landscape.”

Health delays – Industrial action by hospital consultants, junior doctors and radiographers resulted in 20,000 cancelled appointments in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and west Berkshire said the chief executive of the area’s NHS integrated care board. That didn’t include further action in September. In addition, said chief executive Nick Broughton, the action has had “significant financial implications, moral injury, created tension between staff groups, increased fatigue and resulted in episodes of abuse towards administrative teams in the (local NHS) trust.”

Ukraine update – Latest figures show 1,700 Ukrainians are living in Buckinghamshire as refugees from the war in their country. Forty two per cent of those able to work have found jobs and a quarter are in private rented accommodation after staying as guests of local families.

Egg past its sell-by  – Archaeologists working on a site to be developed for housing near Aylesbury found shoes, a basket and pottery dating from the third century, plus an egg, thought to be a chicken egg, which, when scanned, was found to be full of liquid and an air bubble.

Teaching the teachers…

EVER since computers and mobile phones entered the scene it’s been common practice in most families for the children to teach their parents and grandparents the finer arts of using them. Now it’s the same at school. 

Tylers Green Middle School is introducing the concept of “digital leaders” in its years 4,5 and 6 this year where a delegated tekkie  pupil will not only give out and collect iPads in class and “support teachers in using ICT (information and communications technologies)  in the classroom” but also “share their skills and expertise with other pupils, classes and teachers…”

The revised plans for the Gomm Valley housing development  – special report

You can comment and see full details of Taylor Wimpey’s revised planning application on Buckinghamshire Council’s website – and entering the application number 22/06485/OUTEA in the search box. There are scores of detailed documents, but if you search for Environmental Statement – Non-technical summary, it gives you a resume of what’s requested.

Alternatively you can email  comments to or post them to the Planning Office, Buckinghamshire Council, Walton Street, Aylesbury HP20 1UA.  The official deadline for comments is 15 October, although local councillors are trying to get the date extended.

UPDATE (11 October). The council says it will accept comments up to 22 October.

The area for development. Cock Lane on the left; Hammersley Lane on the right; London Road at the bottom and Tylers Green at the top

The basic plan

TAYLOR Wimpey want to build a mix of apartments, one, two, three and four bedroom houses, some semis, some detached, plus a new primary school and nursery, a “community floorspace” (probably a community centre) and some commercial units, comprising offices, research and development workshops and small industrial spaces.  

Most of the smaller properties, the apartments, the school, the community centre and the commercial units will be at the southern end of the valley running alongside the A40 between Cock Lane, Gomm Road and Hammersley Lane.

Traffic and access

Main access to the new homes will be from Gomm Road and from Hammersley Lane, just past the railway bridge in the direction of Tylers Green. 

Controversially there will also be access from the Tylers Green end of Cock Lane from a new junction near where the first passing place is currently situated, and around 50 metres from the proposed new entrance to the Ashwells Field estate.

It is envisaged that the part of Cock Lane near the new junction will be widened. In Hammersley Lane the junction with Robinson Road, virtually opposite the other new junction, will be significantly altered and widened. 

A spine road will run through the new development from Cock Lane to Gomm Road, but the developers say this will contain many sharp bends and road obstacles to slow down vehicles and deter through traffic. 

New cycle paths and footpaths will run through the whole site.


The Gomm Valley contains two ancient woodlands (Little Gomm Wood and Pimms Grove woodland), a Site of Special Scientific Importance (SSSI) and Local Wildlife Sites in addition to rich arable land.

Little Gomm Wood. Picture: Wycombe Wildlife Group

Surveys conducted this spring discovered nine species of bats, 24 types of bird, most of them nesting, and significant numbers of badgers, lizards and slow-worms. An ecology survey found a vast variety of grasses and plants attracting numerous butterflies.

Taylor Wimpey admit that some habitats will be destroyed by the building work and that during the three or four year construction period some of the wildlife will avoid the area. 

However, they say they will restore the existing wildlife areas and add to them by planting new trees and hedges on the arable land not being developed. They say the SSSI and ancient woodlands will remain untouched and enhanced.

In addition they are proposing a long term management plan to maintain and enhance the countryside areas “funded by an appropriate mechanism.”

They say they will increase the tree canopy cover over the whole site from 17 per cent to 35 per cent “to support climate resilience.”

Other points

  • Taylor Wimpey maintains that its modelling shows that the impact on air quality, noise disruption and traffic numbers will be “minimal” or “negligible”. This is because it intends to encourage walking and cycling and will introduce a new bus route to High Wycombe running through the estate. Low speed limits will also be enforced.
  • Unlike the streets of Penn and Tylers Green, the roads in the new development will be lit at night. Taylor Wimpey say light pollution will be insignificant because low level lighting will be used, facing downwards. 
  • The company says it will make a contribution via the Community Infrastructure Levy to enable the local  medical authorities to provide facilities to ease extra pressure on doctors’ surgeries, dental services etc.
  • The northern boundary of the Gomm Valley site lies just 50 metres from the boundary of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) here in Penn and Tylers Green. Objectors point out that the valley as it currently exists is an important setting for the AONB, particularly as the AONB boundary is likely to be extended shortly. Taylor Wimpey insist the landscape view from Tylers Green will remain largely similar to present once the development is complete.
  • On a similar point, the company says additional hedge and tree planting at the Tylers Green end of the development will ensure that the village will maintain its separation from the urban sprawl of High Wycombe even though the distance between the first house in the Gomm Valley development and the last house in the Ashwells development in Tylers Green will be around 200 metres, the equivalent of two football pitches.
  • A new pond will be established in the centre of the site as part of the drainage system and a new pumping station built near Hammersley Lane. 
Picture: Hands Off Gomm Valley group


Public comments on the amended plan are invited until 15 October. (Update 11 October – date now changed to 22 October) You can try and send them later, but they may not be officially accepted.

If the company is granted permission by Buckinghamshire Council’s Strategic Sites committee it would hope to start work next year and complete the development in three  building phrases by 2028.

This revised plan is the latest in a long saga:

  • In the 1970s a campaign to include the Gomm Valley in Green Belt failed and the council placed the area as one reserved for future housing development.
  • In 2008 the valley’s fate was sealed when a Government planning inspector ruled that it must be used for housing, advising that between 520 and 720 houses could be built in the Gomm Valley and Ashwells, Tylers Green, combined. Work on building 109 homes in Ashwells is expected to begin next year. 
  • In 2014 Wycombe Council, in the face of Government imposed targets to build new homes, agreed to officially release the land for housing, sparking the interest of developers.
  • In 2019 a plan to build up to 1,000 houses in the valley was proposed by a group acting for the then owners of the land, the Aviva insurance group.
  • In May 2021 that scheme was withdrawn when Aviva sold the land to Taylor Wimpey.
  • In May 2022 Taylor Wimpy proposed their first plan for up to 604 homes.
  • September 2023 – New plans published for up to 544 homes.

This blog may be further updated during October.

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