Leading councillor says greenbelt sites will be built on

Leading councillor says greenbelt sites will be built on

Reporter:

Simon Meechan

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A senior councillor has said the Royal Borough has no option but to offer up areas of protected greenbelt land to housebuilders.

The council has released a list of 23 greenbelt locations as potential build sites which would go towards meeting its Government-set target of providing 12,627 new households before 2030.

The list has been whittled down from the original 53 locations and covers Windsor, Ascot and Maidenhead.

It includes land in Dedworth, Old Windsor and Wraysbury.

A public consultation on the issue was due to be approved at a cabinet meeting last night (Thursday) (Dec12).

Cabinet member for planning and property, Cllr MJ Saunders (Con, Bisham and Cookham) said: "It's important for residents to be informed about these issues and participate in this discussion in a meaningful way.

"It is highly likely that some of the 23 previously undeveloped greenbelt sites will go forward for development, in order that we can present to the inspector a level of supply that does not fall short of the requirement.

"It is clear that some of them will be developed on."

The proposals are part of the draft Borough Local Plan, a 15-year planning outline set to be adopted next year.

When complete the document will become the main policy planning applications are judged against, guiding where and how development will happen over the next 15 years.

The council has said only 7,415 houses can be built on unrestricted land, and with 85 per cent of the borough in the greenbelt, houses will need to be built on untouched land to meet the targets.

Government planning inspectors could reject the local plan if the borough is unable to prove it will meet its housing target.

But Cllr Saunders said without an approved plan, developers would have more freedom to build where they like.

This is because in an appeal the council would be unable to prove that it has a blueprint for where it wants, and does not want, development.

A local plan will also qualify the Royal Borough for Community Infrastructure Payments, where money is collected from developers to fund roads, schools, parks and public space improvements.

Cllr Saunders warned that if the public think none of the sites are suitable then the council will 'pick out sites where greenbelt criteria is lowest'.

He pointed out that one of the sites, Stafferton Way in Maidenhead, does not have the characteristics most people associated with greenbelt sites.

He added: "Public consultation is a vital part of the process."

After consultation a final draft of the plan will be prepared.

The public will have their chance to have a say on that in the summer.

Visit www.rbwm.gov.uk for details.

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