Gomm Valley Heritage HS2 News

End of an era as two of Penn’s famous shops set to be converted into homes

TWO OF Penn’s oldest shops are likely to be converted into housing after their separate owners applied for planning permission.


Strings, the music shop in Elm Road, pictured above, is the last remaining store in the section of the road that used to be Penn village’s high street.

The former Cottage Bookshop, next door but one,  was converted into residential accommodation a couple of years ago.

In a letter to Buckinghamshire Council, architect Richard Clark says: “The current owners and occupiers of the property have found during and post Covid the demand for their goods has fallen dramatically.  Agents’ advice has been sought and there is no realistic prospect of reletting the shop in the immediate future.

Planning agent Duncan Gibson adds: “Strings is a specialist shop selling musical instruments and sheet music and hence is a very low-key user which generates little foot-fall and provides little benefit in terms of service provision to its immediate neighbours.

“The changing nature of retailing for these items is such that it no longer requires specific retail floorspace…there is no longer any demand for any form of commercial space at this location.

The building is Grade 2 listed and within the Penn Conservation Area. Inside and to its rear it has a 17th century timber frames.

It was remodelled in the 1880s for use as a grocery and draper’s shop and then just after the First World War became Baddeley’s general store. In the 1960s it became an antique shop until the music shop opened in 2006.

Baddeley’s general store in 1928
The shop’s business card showing its wide range of supplies.

Dolls House

THE Dolls House on the corner of Church Road and Elm Road has been an empty estate agents office for some time.  Here, too, the agents say they have been unable to obtain any interest from anyone willing to continue running it as a shop. 

For many years it was a village butcher’s – first Clarke’s and then Streeters – and although it is in the Penn Conservation Area, the building is not listed. 

The courtyard adjoining it contained the former slaughterhouse. The plan is to convert the shop into a two bedroom property.

Clarke’s the butchers in 1926. The horse and cart delivered meat around the village.

Architects say that both Strings and the Dolls House will appear the same externally once the conversions are complete. The planning applications are due to are considered by the council next month.

Gomm Valley development could put local patients at risk say under-pressure doctors…

LOCAL doctors say patients will be at risk if the proposed plan to build 600 houses in the Gomm Valley, between Hammersley Lane and Cock Lane, goes ahead without specific extra support for GP surgeries.

In a letter to councillors considering the Taylor Wimpey planning application,  the Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which represents GP surgeries in the area, says the addition of 1,200 new patients expected to live in the development would impact on surgeries in the immediate area, including Penn Surgery.

Simon Kearey, head of delivery and development for the CGC, said: “Further development in the Wycombe area will definitely create more pressure on GP services and put existing patients at risk if the current GPs are unable to cope with any additional workload.”

He adds: “In the light of existing pressures already in place,  Buckinghamshire CCG would be concerned about the pressure to local health services of such a large development in this area.” 

He said doctors would be looking for “appropriate” financial contributions from the developers to support health infrastructure.

…while the police raise crime concerns about the development’s design

THERE were 212 objections to Taylor Wimpey’s planning application by the end of July, with just three in support.

Most are from individuals  concerned about the increase in traffic, the loss of open countryside with damage to wildlife, the pressure on services such as schools and health, and the “unimaginative” proposed designs.

Some claim the proposed development ignores earlier agreements made in the council’s development plan for the area. 

Thames Water and the Bucks flooding authority want to see more details on arrangements for handling potential flooding before giving  approval, while Network Rail, whose track runs alongside the development near the A40, wants reassurances on safety fencing and earthworks.

Thames Valley Police, whilst not objecting to the development, say “there are some aspects of the design and layout which could be problematic in terms of crime and anti-social behaviour”.

Proposed designs ‘unimaginative’ say residents; ‘problematic’ say police

They are asking for discussions with Taylor Wimpey to ensure lobbies to communal buildings are secure and there are better arrangements for people in these buildings receiving mail from delivery drivers. 

They also want to ensure residential access controls and visitor entry systems are adequate. 

The deadline for comments on the application has been extended to 12 August. The plans are due to be considered by Buckinghamshire councillors next month.

Local news in brief

Blame Putin – The war in Ukraine is being blamed for the indifferent repair of the Penn to Beaconsfield Road near The Crown pub. There’s been complaints from motorists and councillors about the quality of the road surfacing. Penn Parish Council was told that “unsuitable materials” had been used for the repair because bitumen, which is usually used, is mainly sourced in eastern Europe and the Russian invasion of Ukraine had disrupted supplies.

Pub shortlisted – The Old Queen’s Head in Hammersley Lane, Tylers Green, has been shortlisted in the Best Country/Rural Pub category of the Great British Pub Awards, organised by the drinks trade newspaper the Morning Advertiser. The pub will be judged against five  other pubs in the final in October.

Phew !It’s likely that Penn and Tylers Green’s highest ever recorded temperature was reached on Monday and Tuesday 18 and 19 July with car thermometers in the village  clocking 37.5C (99.5 F). Sir William Ramsay School in Rose Avenue closed for two days because of the heat. Affinity Water, which supplies much of the village, said its reservoir levels had dropped by a third in July.

Expensive entertaining Wycombe (and Tylers Green) MP Steve Baker has declared receiving a gift worth £700 from the English Football League for two free tickets “with hospitality” to watch Wycombe Wanderers in the Division 1 play-off final at Wembley in the latest MPs declarations of interest. He also declared a donation worth £2,000 from a private donor for a ticket to the Conservative Summer Party at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Farewell Paddy -Tributes from the world of motor sport have been paid to Paddy Hopkirk, MBE, who lived near Paul’s Hill, Penn and who died on 21 July aged 89. Paddy was a world class rally driver who sprung to fame after winning the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally in his Mini Cooper. His victory against more powerful  yet less adaptable cars inspired the movie The Italian Job, starring Michael Caine. He lived in Penn for a number of years with his wife Jenny, a former high sheriff of Buckinghamshire. They have three children, Katie, Patrick and William. 

New league, new manager – Penn and Tylers Green Football Club’s men’s first team begin their new season in a new league with a new manager.  The team finished mid-table in division one of the Spartan South Midlands League last season but it meant extra travelling to away games to places like Northampton, Wellingborough and Buckingham. Now the team, which plays in the tenth level, step six of English football,  are in the Combined Counties League, division one,  which includes opposition nearer home, including Hillingdon, Langley and British Airways. New manager is former player Darren Jones. The club elected a new chairman, Nigel Miller, in June.

Cup competitors Meanwhile,Penn and Tylers Green FC’s senior women’s team has been admitted into the Women’s FA Cup competition this season after they won the Berks and Bucks Women’s Trophy last season.

Assisted dying Penn’s MP Sarah Green spoke strongly in favour of permitting assisted dying in Britain when MPs debated the issue last month.

Rocking, raving…and romance

Amid all the rocking and the raving, a quiet moment to propose marriage.  David Madeley and Rachel Hewlett first met at a Penn Festival, so it seemed only right that at this year’s Penn Fest last month David should go down on one knee and propose. Picture: PennFest.

Scouts present Christmas post cheque

Two members of Penn and Tylers Green Scout Group presented a cheque for £775 to Thames Valley Air Ambulance, raised from their Christmas post delivery in the village.  Next year sees the 100th anniversary of scouting in the village and plans are underway to celebrate the centenary.

Daphne recalls the past

I’VE had a lovely email from Daphne Barnes, now Mrs Daphne Ford, who appeared as a child in fancy dress on the front cover of the Penn and Tylers Green in 1952 booklet, published by the residents’ society as part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

She writes: “I was delighted to see my photo on the cover of the Penn and Tylers Green 1952 issue. My friend Janine James and her mum Evelyn are there too. So is half of my Auntie Dorothy Barnes holding my cousin Julia’s raincoat. 

“I lived on the back common in a bungalow called Franwill  – long gone now –  and my address was “Franwill” Back Common. It would now be Rays Lane. My great great grandfather was Frank Barnes and he  married Betsie Ray, Moses Ray’s daughter. So I feel as if I belong. 

“Life was very different then, we had no electricity, no gas, no water supply, it was really primitive. Electricity was laid round the common when I was about 11 and that made a big difference.

It was wonderful when we were rehoused by the council in Coppice Farm Road. At last a bathroom and flush toilet!

“When my brother Bob and I were children we used to walk to Hazlemere, up by the allotments at the back of New Road, past Kite Wood and across the fields of Manor Farm – all built on now –  and on to the farm at Hazlemere.

“When I tell my young friends’ children that I used to play in the fields their house is built on they are amazed. So am I.” 

Copies of the booklet are still available at a cost of £3 to cover the printing. Contact me if you would like one.

Batting against prostate cancer

AFTER raising nearly £9,000 for the charity Prostate Cancer UK this year, cricketer Ron Hedley and his wife Pat, of Old Kiln Road, Tylers Green, were invited to a fund raising dinner by the widow of Bob Willis, the former England captain and fast bowler who died of the disease in 2019.

The Buckinghamshire Cricket Club’s over 60s and 70s, of which Ron is a member, have raised the money with a series of sponsored walks and the Just Giving page is still open if you would like to contribute.

In the picture, from the left, is former England batsman Allan Lamb,  former England bowler Geoff Miller, Bob Willis’ widow Lauren Clark and Ron.  Allan, Geoff and Ron are currently being treated for prostate cancer.

August Bank Holiday events

To be updated throughout the month, so check back for the latest…

Saturday 27 August

Beaconsfield Farmers’ Market, 9am to noon. 

Bekonscot model village – Birds of prey demonstrations Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Cricket – Penn and Tylers Green 2nd XI v Fulmer CC at French Meadow from 1pm

Henley Country Craft Show at Stonor Park, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Vintage steamer cruises on the Thames (Saturday and Sunday), Bourne End Marina.

Great Missenden Food Festival, Saturday, Sunday and Monday at Great Missenden show ground.

Sunday 28 August

Classic car show, Hazlemere Golf Club, noon to 5pm in aid of Thames Hospice

Cricket – Penn Street v Fiddlers CC on Penn Street Common from 1pm

Live music at the Old Queen’s Head, Penn from 5pm with James Henton and Lily Beck

Monday 29 August

Hazlemere Fete at Hazlemere Community Centre, Rose Avenue noon to 5pm

Dahlia Festival at Chenies Manor House

Craft Fair at Hazlemere Community Centre noon to 4pm

Classic car rally at Bucks Railway Centre, Quainton

Beaconsfield Country Fayre,Windsor End, Beaconsfield 11am to 4pm

Regional news

Golfing prize – Beaconsfield golfer Luke Donald, who developed his game at Hazlemere Golf Club and went on to become the world number one, has been appointed the new European Ryder Cup team captain. 

Population leapsBuckinghamshire population rose by 9.5 per cent between 2011 and 2021, from 505,000 to 553,000, according to the first results of the 2021 census.  This doesn’t include Milton Keynes. The increase is higher than the national average (6.6 per cent) and the average for the south east (7.5 per cent) . It makes Bucks the fifth highest population local authority in England, up two places from a decade ago

Fighting fund – Beaconsfield residents have raised nearly £40,000 so their objections at a planning inquiry can be represented by a QC. Portman Estates want to build up to 500 houses on Green Belt off the Amersham Road, Beaconsfield. The council has turned down the plan but the developers have appealed and taken the issue to a planning inquiry.

Funding cut In an attempt to save money Buckinghamshire Council has virtually halved its funding to  community boards who help finance local projects.

Red kite warning – The National Trust has issued warning notices by the children’s picnic area at Cliveden warning of potential attacks by red kites. So many people have been feeding the birds, against official advice, that the kites think it is ok to swoop in and help themselves. 

HS2 news

Work is now well underway to build Britain’s longest rail viaduct, a two mile span across the Colne Valley Regional Park in Denham. Picture: Keith Hoffmeister.

Moveable bridges – Footbridges over HS2 will be built of a revolutionary adjustable steel so they don’t vibrate from the pressure created by trains travelling at 220 mph beneath them. Those also acting as bridleways will have a non-slip rubber decking and sound and light baffles to prevent horses panicking. Eleven footbridges/bridleways will cross the railway in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Northants.

Design agreement After five years of wrangling, the council, HS2 and its contractor  and an independent design panel have reached agreement on the design of the vent shaft head house on the Hazlemere Road near Amersham. The vent shaft is within the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the industrial style design first presented raised considerable objection.

Roads row – Relations between HS2 and Buckinghamshire Council have sunk to a new low in a row over the roads HS2 can use for its lorries to shift thousands of tons of earth from its construction sites. The council initially refused HS2 permission to use a number of roads on environmental grounds. The company appealed  to the Government planning inspectors and won but then the council appealed to the courts for a judicial review on the appeal decision. Last month the council lost that appeal at a cost of tens of thousands of pounds in legal fees to council taxpayers. 

Walkers blockedHikers and walking groups complained when HS2 contractor EKFB closed one of the  area’s main long distance paths, the Chiltern Way, without  consultation and without placing diversion signs, contrary to previous agreements. Security guards blocked the path, turning hikers away. The path was reopened a few days later without an apology being offered. 

Water concern – There’s increasing concern about the thousands of gallons of water the HS2 construction sites and tunnelling machines use each day during the summer dry spell. Contractors say they have stopped wheel-washing construction lorries and are damping down dust with recycled water.

Facts without flannel – Keith Hoffmeister from the Chiltern Society has produced an hour long video on YouTube which gives an unbiased and factual update on the progress of HS2 across the Chilterns.  If you are interested in an independent detailed look at the project without the propaganda and PR from those both for and against, it is well worth a look.

This blog is due to be next updated on 1 September. To contact this blog email