The Chesham Society: Celebrating 65 Years


Plans emerged in 1984 to redevelop the former Co-Op store at the northern end of the High Street. The applicant was Safeway which wanted a superstore with parking on the roof of the building and with The Backs realigned to accommodate the larger footprint. The Chesham Society was against allowing a third large supermarket into the High Street; Safeway might not have been of a similar quality as the already incumbent Waitrose and Sainsbury’s but its sheer scale might have driven out of town the two existing retailers. The application didn’t succeed.

A second outline application was submitted the following year and this time it was Waitrose itself that was seeking to build a new store with access from the Backs and parking on the opposite side of it. The Applicant kindly supplied the Society with a full set of plans of the proposal, our only real concern being that there would be no direct access to the store from the High Street itself. The side walkway was something of a compromise, though the Society liked the new row of shop premises facing the High Street. In 2016 the Post Office became the newest resident.

The Society always had an issue with the brutalist facade of the former Waitrose building and, when the Partnership vacated it, it was suggested to the planners that it should be given brick cladding, a partly pitched roof and that the cantilevered first floor display window should be demolished. Depending on one’s views on modern architecture, the fact that these changes never took place may have been a curse or a blessing.