Oldfield campaigners question council's greenbelt policy

Oldfield campaigners question council's greenbelt policy

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Nicola Hine

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Oldfield campaigners question council's greenbelt policy

Campaigners have called for consistency in the council's greenbelt policy after plans for one school rebuild on protected land in Maidenhead were blocked - while another looks set to go ahead.

Villagers pledged to fight a Royal Borough agreement to rebuild Oldfield Primary School on greenbelt land in Bray Road when it was made in May.

But they were left baffled last week when councillors unanimously backed a motion to preserve the existing greenbelt, shooting down plans to rebuild Furze Platt Senior School on it.

Doctor Barrie Mair, chairman of the Fisheries Residents Association in Oldfield, said people opposing the primary school plan had been left at 'a bit of a loss' by the move.

He added the council had clearly ignored the greenbelt issue when it came to drafting its own plans.

"They seem to have rules they've created themselves that we don't know about," he said.

But Cllr Christine Bateson (Con, Sunningdale), cabinet member for planning and partnerships, denied the borough would be contradicting itself by continuing with the Oldfield plans.

"There isn't any inconsistency at all," she said.

The difference between the two projects, she explained, lies in the fact the Furze Platt scheme had a housing development attached to it.

She added the Oldfield scheme satisfies the 'very special circumstances' needed for any building on greenbelt land.

The £9m project to move the popular school from Chiltern Road to land just south of Chalgrove Close came about because it needs to double in size to meet demands for places.

It is opposed for reasons including the increase in traffic and the potential flood risk.

Doctor Mair said there are 'a whole raft of issues' involved with the plans which the council needs to consider.

"We hope they are consistent in their approach to Oldfield," he added.

The school will be subject to the same planning procedures as any other development in the borough.

A formal planning application does not exist yet.

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