03:10PM, Wednesday 10 August 2016
Proposals to build houses at the Poundfield site have been soundly rejected by Cookham Parish Council.
Plans for a 28 home development were put to the council's planning committee on Tuesday evening, which unanimously agreed to recommend the scheme for refusal.
In a packed room at Cookham Library, in High Road, which saw more than 100 supporters of the Save Poundfield campaign turn out as well, representatives from applicant Berkeley Homes faced a grilling from members of the public and councillors.
The submission followed a public exhibition held in February, in which proposals for 31 houses were put on display along with an invitation for comments to be made.
In response, the number of units was reduced by three, but protestors remain adamant that they wish to see no development on the site, between Terrys Lane and Poundfield Lane, at all.
With the floor opened to the public, comments included a desire to protect an area of land cited by famous Cookham artist Sir Stanley Spencer as a key inspiration as well as maintaining a 'green wedge' in the centre of the village.
At one point, feelings were running so high the committee's chairman, Cllr MJ Saunders, even felt the need to step in to calm proceedings, saying: "This is a democratic meeting, not a rabble rousing opportunity."
Cllr Andrew Nye said the proposal had 'taken great effort to rubbish' the latest draft of the Royal Borough's local plan, which has designated the area a 'local green space' - although, in response to this, a representative from Berkeley said there was no guarantee this would be retained once the final draft was submitted to the government.
Cllr Christine-Ann Jannetta also raised concerns about congestion and added the Cookham Village Design Statement had been 'ridiculed' in the submission.
Summing up, Cllr Saunders, who is also the Royal Borough's cabinet member for Finance, said: "The borough has a clear strategy for how housing strategy will be met - it does not include the sacrifice of local green space such as this.
"I have no hesitation in echoing the views of this room that we recommend that this application be rejected out of hand."
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