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Century-old shooting club makes 'last hurrah' plea for relocation in Holyport

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

Maidenhead Target Shooting Club is appealing to save its shooting range after an application to relocate to greenbelt land was rejected by the council.

The club, founded in 1906, was located at Braywick Park for more than 50 years. However, due to plans to develop the new home for Forest Bridge School on this site, the club had to move.

It is now looking to set up on Stroud Farm field, west of Oak Tree Farm in Gays Lane – land which is on the greenbelt.

Plans include a car park, clubhouse, toilets and shooting stands with access via Green Lane.

The club made the application in December 2018, which was refused in October 2019.

It has now launched an appeal against the Royal Borough’s decision, to be heard at a virtual hearing on November 25.

When the club first made its planning application, it was opposed by members of the community and parish councillors.

One objection was that the number of parking spaces the club is looking to include will not be sufficient to accommodate the club’s number of members.

However, chairman Martin Bicknell insisted the club has proved that the proposed car park would be more than large enough, pointing out that its members ‘do not descend all at once’.

He also rebutted concerns about the disturbance to horses in the area, being close to a bridle path.

He said that, during an acoustic survey of the site, an attending member of the council commented that she could hear bird song above the sound of the rifles.

“When we were in Braywick Park, many people didn’t even know we were there. We’re not an intrusive club,” Mr Bicknell said.

The club claims to have looked carefully at all the issues surrounding the proposed move, running traffic surveys and hiring its own planning consultants.

According to Mr Bicknell, the consultants agreed with the view that an outdoor sporting club is ‘an appropriate change of use’ for greenbelt land.

The clubhouse, for example, would be ‘no taller than the barn’ and shooting activities would be shielded by hedges, the club claims.

“There’s a limited amount of land available – we’ve looked long and hard,” said Mr Bicknell.

“There’s nothing much left to save the club. This is our last hurrah. If it doesn’t work out, Maidenhead will lose an old institution.”

In addition to the club, Bray Parish Council will be represented at the virtual hearing in November, in opposition to the appeal.

“We don't foresee our view will change because as a parish council we are committed to protecting the greenbelt,” said parish councillor Louvaine Kneen.

The deadline for comments on the appeal is October 29.

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