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Claires Court principal hits back at 'sob story' claims over plans

Shoppers had the chance find out more about plans for a £36 million campus for Claires Court School.

Applications were submitted in January for the development at Ridgeway, off Cannon Lane, as well as 157 residential properties and a hockey club.

The independent school’s existing sites in College Avenue and Ray Mill Road would also be redeveloped by Berkeley Homes, providing 53 and 11 homes respectively.

The school set up in the Nicolsons Centre on Friday and Saturday inviting questions and comments from the public.

Principal at Claires Court Hugh Wilding said: “It is quite clear the public has an interest in our scheme and it is a scheme which deserves to be promoted.”

He said the stall had received responses from people in favour for and against the plans.

The plans have faced fierce opposition from campaign group Cox Green Says No.

One of the group’s founders, Phil Haseler, told the Advertiser last month he believed the school was ‘playing on a bit of a sob story’ about buildings falling into disrepair and the need to relocate.

“The other aspect of meeting here publicly is when people give us their view we can agree to disagree without being disagreeable,” Mr Wilding added.

“Those who are against our proposals on Cannon Lane have had an unpleasant tone and have been disagreeable.

“We aren’t benefiting financially from this and it is not the case that the school is going to close tomorrow – It is not a sob story.

To people who don’t agree with the plans Mr Wilding asked that they keep an open mind and ‘look again at the benefits of the proposals’.

He said: “With more than 14,000 homes to be built in Maidenhead by 2030, not everyone will want a private school place, but there will be many who do.

“We are providing the quality school places that the government expects our sector to provide.

“How can we do so if we are working with inappropriate buildings?”


The planning application has received hundreds of comments objecting to and in support of the plans.

Campaign group Cox Green Says No was started in response to the plans, and dozens of members have given their reasons why they are against the plans.

A ‘strong objection’ to the plans was also submitted to the Royal Borough by White Waltham Parish Council on Tuesday.

A statement said: “Our residents in White Waltham parish are extremely concerned of the impact on local roads if this proposal were approved.

“Already they are struggling with severe disruptions and delays on small local journeys just to get to work or their children to schools locally.

“We would also mention that our residents in Littlewick Green would be severely affected with light pollution by the proposed 15m high floodlights at the Hockey Club which would also be detrimental to the rural village atmosphere.”

Other responses object on the grounds of overdevelopment and increased traffic.

One objection, also submitted on Monday, said: “The traffic generated by 157 new homes is too awful to contemplate in an area already gridlocked during rush hour periods.”

Public consultation on the outline planning application closes on Friday.

It can be found by searching 18/00130/OUT on the borough’s planning website.

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  • Juana Magrina-Sena

    22:10, 14 February 2018

    The only unpleasant and disagreeable actions have been those taken by a private business who believe they can purchase agricultural land at a knock down price, then do whatever they want with it in total disregard of both planning and green belt policy, solely for the benefit of the business and its two shareholders.

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    • Jules

      08:08, 16 February 2018

      Your comments above are not a true representation of the Wilding brothers, James and Hugh. As a parent of Claires Court for a number of years I know that it has taken many years of careful planning to ensure that they meet with both the planning and green belt policies. They have certainly not disregarded these policies like you have suggested. Despite what you may believe, whilst Claires Court is a business, I know that the Wilding brothers priority is not profit making but the education they provide to their students and the environment in which their students are taught.

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      • bobbennington

        09:09, 16 February 2018

        Q: Did Claire's Court purchase greenbelt agricultural land at a price far below that of land designated for housing/development? Answer: Yes. Q: Did Claire's Court always intend to submit this development request? Answer: Yes. Q: Did Claire's Court decline opportunities to develop on brownfield sites? Answer: Yes. Q: Is the land still within the greenbelt, and therefore not eligible for development except in extra special circumstances? Answer: Yes Q: Is the land assessed as being suitable for development by RBWM Local Plan? Answer: No. The Wilding's priorities, as you state them, are laudable and have never been in question. What is being fought, by hundreds upon hundreds of local residents, is the selection of this specific site.

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  • haseler1

    15:03, 14 February 2018

    I have always backed up our objections, by using RBWM policy, Green Belt Policy and evidence of traffic generation and other infrastructure issues. This has been done objectively, constructively and in a professional manner. I am not responsible for the actions and comments of individual members of the community. The Cox Green Says NO community group have conducted themselves impeccably, im sure many other campaign groups would have been far less restrained. i could say a lot more but I will remain diplomatic, the truth hurts!

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    • TJL0915

      09:09, 15 February 2018

      I was at the stall for a good hour or two on saturday morning seeing how the proposed development would affect my family and I, and the only rudeness and discourtesy came from the those people opposing the development. They approach the stand in a hostile manner and continued this throughout their stay. The people on the stand on many occasions weren't given the opportunity to speak and were simply told they were "wrong" at which the opposing force fled. They weren't arrogant, they were only trying to explain to the people concerned how they are trying to deal with the issues made by those in the borough However, the opposing force had bone ideal views (displayed extremely aggressively) which wouldn't be changed. At this point the representatives from Claires Court, Maidenhead Hockey Club and Berkeley Group were considerate and let individuals have their opinion. Not once did I hear the words "no you are wrong" or similar from the mouths of the men and women on the stand.

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      • paulshrimpton

        10:10, 01 March 2018

        Maybe because the people on the stand knew that the people hey were talking to weren't wrong? That their points raised about the immense detrimental impact these proposals would wreak on the local community and environment were completely justified and correct? and that they really didn't have any answer? Just a thought...

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  • Traceybee77

    13:01, 14 February 2018

    When residents were met with rudeness and disdain at their Nicholson centre stall, it highlighted the regard by which they hold the local community. The fact they didn't attend the recent meeting with Cllrs Ross McWilliams nor have seemingly entered into any debate with local residents, again shows how much they actually care. From what I can see, the Cox GREEN says No group has only highlighted the parts of the development that goes against planning policy which there are many. It's a shame that they feel the need to be unpleasant themselves.

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