Saving Spencers Farm

We’re aware of leaflets circulating ‘alternative facts’ around Spencers Farm and its inclusion in RBWM’s Borough Local Plan (BLP), so we thought we’d provide residents with a detailed timeline of our involvement. Where possible, we have included links so that you can check the facts for yourselves.

Furze Platt councillors Catherine del Campo and Joshua Reynolds at Spencers Farm

2012: The council started consulting on sites for the Borough Local Plan. A key outcome of that consultation was that “Overall, most respondents objected to the development of Spencers Farm for housing.” Despite this, the site remained under consideration.

Fact check this statement by visiting the RBWM “Earlier Consultations” page and selecting the January 2014 Consultation Statement.

2016: Spencers Farm (HA21) added to the “Regulation 18” Borough Local Plan (BLP) by Conservative council as suitable for removing from the Green Belt and being developed. A consultation was held over the 2016–2017 Christmas and New Year period.

Learn more: Visit RBWM’s Regulation 18 page and see which sites were included in the plan.

19 June 2017: Conservatives voted to approve the “Regulation 19” Borough Local Plan, which included Spencers Farm. Only one of the three former Conservative Furze Platt councillors, Derek Sharp, attended this meeting.

See for yourself: Read the minutes to see who attended this meeting and representations made on behalf of Furze Platt residents.

June – Sept 2017: “Regulation 19” consultation. Catherine del Campo made a number of representations to this consultation on sustainability, transport and business/housing mix. 

Regulation 19 consultation: Read the draft BLP here, which still included Spencers Farm, and search the comments to see who contributed.

June 2018: Stage 1 examinations were held with an independent inspector.

November 2018: Due to concerns raised by the inspector about soundness of the plan, the examination entered a pause period, so those concerns could be addressed.

October 2019: A number of changes were proposed to the BLP to address concerns raised by the inspector. These included splitting the original Spencers Farm site (HA21) in two to reflect the fact that the eastern portion of the site was in the flood plain. HA21 was replaced with AL25 (western part) and AL28 (eastern part), but Spencers Farm was never removed from the BLP.

Check out a summary of the changes: Visit RBWM’s “Proposed changes” page. To see what happened to Spencers Farm, click on BLPSV-PC-004 BLPSV-PC Main Proposed Changes Table, pages 39, 45 and 80.

October 2019: New Furze Platt councillors Catherine and Josh attended Full Council and spoke against the draft BLP, with Catherine making specific and detailed reference to the numerous issues with the Spencers Farm site.

See for yourself: Read the minutes to see who attended this meeting and representations made on behalf of Furze Platt residents, with particular reference to Spencers Farm.

November 2019: Joshua and Catherine organised and hosted a BLP information session for residents in the Desborough Theatre, which gave them the opportunity to pose questions to the then lead member for Planning.

17 December 2019: Catherine brought a motion to council to bring 766 homes in the borough back into use and allow sites like Spencers Farm to be removed from the BLP. The motion was unanimously voted down by the administration.

Read the minutes here.

August 2020: Catherine made a detailed written submission to the public inquiry, offering new evidence in the form of updated flooding maps from the government. Based on these maps, the inspector requested the sequential testing for the site to be repeated and a detailed Flood Risk Analysis at the planning stage.

August 2021: Catherine, Joshua and residents attended online “consultation” events run by the developer, posing a number of important questions. Riverside councillors attended but did not participate.

July–Sept 2021: Consultation on main modifications to the BLP. Catherine made detailed representations on why the BLP was not sound, and raised the issue that viability might be used as an excuse not to deliver affordable housing (because of the flood mitigations required).

See who else commented: Click ‘representations received’ on RBWM’s Main Modifications page.

November 2021: Catherine and Josh started the “Friends of Spencers Farm” campaign group to share information and help residents coordinate their activities.

February 2022: Catherine and Josh worked with residents to put together questions for lead members, and both spoke passionately against development on Spencers Farm. Sadly, once again, the BLP was passed by Conservatives despite compelling evidence presented again by them and residents.

Read the minutes: See what Josh and Catherine had to say, and read the excellent questions from Furze Platt residents.

Now: Lib Dems continue to work with residents to oppose the outline planning application, offering detailed evidence of why the land is unsuitable for development.

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