09:00AM, Friday 20 January 2017
‘Unsustainable and inappropriate’ sites have been chosen for the thousands of homes outlined in the latest draft of the Borough Local Plan, it has been claimed.
The latest round of consultation on the new draft of the Borough Local Plan has ended with worries about the impact of increasing the number of houses in Maidenhead by 45 per cent by 2032.
In its response to the Royal Borough, Maidenhead Civic Society concedes the need for growth is ‘inevitable and necessary’.
However, it also expresses concerns about where almost 10,000 houses planned for the town will go and the form they will take.
It adds that more public debate is needed to reach a compromise on the use of greenfield sites.
Bob Dulson, chairman of Maidenhead Civic Society, said: “I don’t want to criticise the council too much, but it’s difficult to ask people to comment on the number of houses when two important documents [the Infrastructure Development Plan and the Transport Strategy] aren’t complete yet.
“It makes the consultation process not quite pointless, but certainly more difficult for people.
“Plus, they chose to do the consultation over the Christmas period, which didn’t really give people much time to consider the amount of information they had to.”
The version of the planning document put up for examination, which the council expects to have been accepted by Government and implemented by the end of the year, makes allocation for the construction of more than 14,000 homes.
Of these, about 70 per cent will be built in Maidenhead.
The society said it would rather see this requirement spread more evenly across the borough, but the council has had to take into account comments by the Planning Inspectorate when its previous local plan was rejected, which recommended the bulk of development takes place in Maidenhead.
Of particular concern was the effect this could have on public spaces, flooding and infrastructure, as well as the ‘apparent removal of restrictions on the height and location of tall buildings in the town centre’.
A response from the Maidenhead Waterways Restoration Group, which is nearing the completion of its first phase in the regeneration of York Stream, said the project was the ‘only realistic opportunity of reconciling’ the competing need for homes and additional public space.
However, it also criticised the current plan for failing to incorporate the scheme and its ‘long-term role in the future of Maidenhead’.
Visit www.rbwm.gov.uk to find out more about the plan.
About 7,000 replies were received in response to the council’s latest local plan consultation – less than a quarter of what was expected.
Speaking at a public meeting shortly before the end of the process, Cllr Derek Wilson (Con, Oldfield ), cabinet member for planning, said he anticipated between 30,000 and 35,000 replies.
Speaking after the end of the survey, he said: “Originally we did think it was going to be about 30,000-35,000 responses on the basis that Guildford had done a similar proposal with similar sites.
“However, 7,000 is still a significant number in itself.”
He added that he thought it would be enough to accurately reflect views across the Royal Borough.
And he also said it could reflect the views of more people than just the number of responses, due to business, households and other groups with multiple members.
All replies will now be processed by the council’s planning policy team.
These submissions will be used to inform updates to the plan, which is expected to be put to a further round of public consultation by the end of April, after which it will be handed over to the Government for inspection.
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