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Older Items - General News - Report - Aug 2021
Notwithstanding the restrictions to our social and working life the members of your executive have remained active on your behalf and, I hope, for the benefit of everyone who lives in Marlow and our surrounding parishes. Our usual programme of talks and walks had to be suspended. We are now heading back to normality. Two very interesting talks were given in July via Zoom and Geoff Wood has recommenced the guided walks programme. Meanwhile our historians have fielded the wide range of questions that arrive via the internet. We are planning to return in 2022 to our traditional format of talks in Liston Hall and organised visits to local historic places.
I think that you will agree with me that the recent refurbishment of the stable courtyard of Liston Court has been executed to a high standard and the café Satollo seems to be the “in place” to meet. In contrast, the garden area to the rear has been sadly neglected and damaged not least by Thames Water. The land, which many of us remember was gift to the people of Marlow by Nesta Liston, is 'owned' now by the Bucks Council. Our Town Council is responsible for the day to day maintenance. I have been engaged for months with both organisations in an attempt to agree a programme of refurbishment and the formal establishment of rights of way across the area. Progress has been slow. I intend to take a proposal to County during the next month that incorporates useful ideas offered by local residents on how this can be changed from an eyesore to a credit to the town.
The members of your executive have been spending time examining the proposals of Dido Property Ltd for a Marlow Studio Project on green belt land to the east of our bypass. More details are given on page 14. It is early days now but rest assured we will be back to you when the whole story is revealed. I will need feedback from Members before formulating our response to the planning application expected in March next year.
We follow all new planning applications, focussing on the conservation area, and respond accordingly. I was very pleased to learn that the application by Red Kite to build four houses on the garage site off Marefield Road was turned down primarily because of the potential impact on surrounding roads of displaced parking. Bucks Highways Development did not object. Notwithstanding the planning officer’s recommendation to approve the application the planning committee concluded that the proposed redevelopment would remove the parking use from this land thereby resulting in displaced parking on to the highway in an area that is already subject to intensive onstreet parking. As a consequence, the development was likely to lead to the loss of amenity for local residents and danger and inconvenience to users of the highway. Full marks to the planning committee. Every day the verges of Queens Road and Dean Street suffer from verge parking but the experts took no notice of this as it does not fit in with their methods of analysis. The planning committee needs our ongoing support when considering new builds that have inadequate on-site parking. This issue will become increasingly obvious as offices in central Marlow are converted to dwellings without the need for full planning scrutiny and permission.
In past years the Society has had representation on the Local Area Forum (LAF) organised by Buckinghamshire County Council. This allowed us to influence how the limited funding available to improve our community was allocated. An example of this was the introduction of speed limits on the A4155 by Danesfield School. The LAF has now been replaced by our participation in the new South West Chilterns Community Board and its four working groups namely Transport / Highways, Environment & Climate Change, Economic Recovery & Development and Community Engagement. A total 2021-22 budget of £300k has been allocated and my colleagues will do their best to see that this is done wisely. Please tell me if you have any 'quick wins' that could be swiftly implemented for the benefit of the town and its surroundings. Can we improve our town centre environment with enhanced traffic management? Could our open spaces have their environmental benefits enhanced? Your thoughts please.
As of August 1st 2021 owners of commercial property have a virtually free hand to convert shops and offices into dwellings. You will have seen that the conversion of Regal House on Station Road is nearly complete. Sorbon now plan to create 12 dwellings in Regatta House in the High St. The planning notice shows no provision for parking to the required scale. The face of Marlow is changing. The number of closed shops is selfevident and the demand for office space in the centre is obviously waning. The Bucks Council Economic Recovery & Development Action Group and our Chamber of Trade and Commerce are doing all they can to revive the commercial heart of Marlow. If shops close permanently and the retail opportunities reduce our town will soon begin to lose its attraction as a visitor centre. Please do all you can to support local businesses, many of which are operated with passion by their owners who are fellow Marlovians.
The Society has supported the Bucks County and Marlow Town Council’s initiative on introducing an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in central Marlow. Regrettably, the initiatives so far have not had much effect. Day after day I see cars parked with the engine running and the driver interacting with a phone. Lines of stationary traffic in Chapel St and the High St caused by congestion often associated with road works and illegal parking in Spittal St result in all of us breathing in high level of pollution. The peak levels are in Chapel St and at the crossing into the Rookery. These are significantly above the required national standards. The interim Marlow Low Emission Zone Study – Air Quality Baseline contains much information on measured vehicle movements. You may find this extract interesting:
'A source apportionment assessment was conducted to determine the contribution of vehicle type to NOx emissions with the results showing that light duty vehicles (LDVs), i.e. cars and vans make up more than 95% of the fleet and between 75% to 95% of NOx emissions. Of these, it is the diesel cars that make the largest contribution of up to 50%, with diesel vans contributing around 1/3 of emissions. Of the heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs); buses contribute up to 14% of NOx emissions and rigid heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) contribute up to 6%.'
I will provide you with more information when the full report becomes available.
Finally I express my hope that the ongoing risks associated with Covid 19 pass you by and that you enjoy the remainder of the summer whilst taking sensible precautions for the benefit of the whole community.