Viewpoint: Reflections on Maidenhead housing projects

Email Viewpoint letters to jamesp@baylismedia.co.uk or write to Viewpoint, Maidenhead Advertiser, Newspaper House, 48 Bell Street, Maidenhead, SL6 1HX.


Take pride in buildings and flowerbeds

Whilst I have no connection with Jolyon Burgess, I welcome his letter to Viewpoint (June 16) ‘Concern over the look of new blocks of flats’.

Whether it be in terms of hard concrete or soft planting, RBWM Property Company and Countryside do need to take a really good look at how the landscape by the town hall looks and agree with us both and indeed the wider community that the town deserves so much better.

It’s true of course that we need building of substance, but we don’t need ones that have so little to commend themselves architecturally.

The adjacent ‘embarrassing’ mess of plants that Countryside were responsible for (reported in the same edition, p8) follows on from last summer’s extraordinary tribute of bindweed and dandelions that the town hall, adjacent library and amphitheatre were required to enjoy, courtesy then, we were told, to Tivoli’s rewilding efforts.

And of course, our previously beautiful flower troughs and baskets throughout the town are now little more than collectors of garbage and weeds.

In Braywick Heath garden centre you have a remarkable community-centred provider of thousands of beautiful flowers.

Surely to goodness, at least even now, Tivoli and Countrywide, motivated by their paymaster, RBWM council, could do something to make us feel proud of our town hall and environs once more.

JAMES WILDING

Academic principal & head of senior boys

Claires Court


Does sewage threat add a vibrant edge?

I would suggest that the Maidenhead Advertiser could change its name to Maidenhead Development News.

Last week there were no less than SIX reports of proposed developments.

Page one led with news that Spencer’s Farm will be a ‘healthy place for people and nature’ with a vibrant community, pollen rich gardens and open spaces.

Sounds so much better than a miserable old farm, doesn’t it. Who needs a farm when you can have pollen rich gardens?

But there is a problem apparently.

The ever so appropriately named planning consultancy, Santec, said there was a ‘low risk’ of sewer flooding.

Would you like to live with a ‘low risk’ of sewer flooding? Me, I’m fussy and prefer the good old ‘no risk’ option.

Maybe they’re all talking c**p?

Something all these developers seem to be very good at.

They claim the pedestrian-friendly streets of this low-risk nirvana will make it a safe place from which residents can travel to work and school.

That is as long as they can make it along Cookham Road in the rush hour.

Although they can always turn left down Ray Mill Road East I suppose and meet the thousands of drivers struggling along it coming from Shanly Town (another vibrant community).

But that’s another story.

Reading all this stuff every week I have compiled a list of developer buzz words.

They are, in no particular order: Vibrant, Biodiversity, 40 per cent Affordable, Buffer, Green Links, Green Corridor and of course our old friend, The Green Spine.

But all is not lost!

The council have engaged a very affable looking chap called Barnaby Briggs – sounds a bit like a Tolkien character I think.

He is set to become The Lord of the Greens in Maidenhead.

Barnaby is to be part of what is to be known as The Climate Partnership – with a big brief to combat climate change.

You know, that horrible problem that is exacerbated by building far too many houses on boring old farms and golf courses – even if the communities are vibrant.

Well good luck with that, Barnaby.

MALCOLM STRETTEN

Boulters Lane

Maidenhead


If the bees go, so will the human beings

It is of deep concern for me that the number of insects and bugs: bees, dragonflies, butterflies, ladybirds etc, have declined over the years – even in my garden lately I have noticed a significant lack of these vital pollinating visitors.

In Maidenhead, it seem the council are more concerned with building even more houses and apartments in greenbelt areas – rather than aiming to increase and sustain the insect and wild animal population of the town.

I urge the council and all of us (who have garden spaces) to create more ‘wild’ areas for these creatures to inhabit.

Stop strimming and chopping down all the grass verges (where it’s safe to do so), and let’s let the flowers and the grasses grow and get the diversity of nature back.

Without insects there is no pollination and, if the bees go, so do we.

Let’s act now, and BEE HAPPY!

MIRANDA CANN

Simpson Close

Maidenhead


Curb the enthusiasm for reckless parking

Many motorists believe that the pavements are there for them to park on.

Pinkneys Road is typical.

Often, they park so far on the pavement that you have to walk out into the road to get past.

This is particularly hazardous if you are pushing babies or trying to hold a toddler’s hand.

Over the past several years, the problem has worsened, especially as cars have got bigger.

Despite having written many times to Simon Werner, our local Lib Dem councillor, nothing has been done.

Councils have the power to fine motorists for this illegal action.

They have ignored the problem and this potential source of revenue.

The Lib Dems have just sent out a survey asking residents to state their concerns.

This is a totally pointless exercise if they do not act to improve the situation for residents.

Come on Simon, DO SOMETHING!

SAL PINTO

Pinkneys Road

Maidenhead


Tories trying to build on meadow fiasco

I was interested to read Cllr Coppinger’s letter in last week’s Advertiser, ‘Making the most of nature at meadow’.

It’s good news for people and wildlife that CALA Homes withdrew their planning application for the Deerswood site – after it had been called in by the Secretary of State.

But let’s not forget that our council voted the planning application through, despite recommendation by the planning officer not to approve.

CALA Homes is also RBWM’s development partner for the golf course.

I’m waiting for the council to also change tack on plans to develop this publicly-owned parkland with over 2,000 new homes, destroying thousands of mature trees which are home to dozens of protected species.

Hopefully as Cllr Coppinger is keen to ‘drive to a greener future’ he will look upon this as a ‘positive suggestion’.

DEBBIE LUDFORD

Rushington Avenue

Maidenhead


View on Deerswood has been constant

After a long and successful fight to prevent Conservative-led RBWM and CALA Homes from building 80 residential units on the meadow we must all now turn our attention to its future.

I was delighted to read Cllr Coppinger’s (Con, Bray) remarks in your last edition, one of which was –

“So, I really want to make sure that every single person has an opportunity to say what it should be.”

RBWM Liberal Democrats have had a vision for Deerswood that has remained unchanged throughout.

That is:

  • A beautiful green oasis
  • A natural flood defence
  • A sanctuary for hard pressed wildlife
  • A treasure trove of biodiversity
  • A link in an active travel network for Maidenhead and Cookham.

This conforms almost exactly with the site-specific requirements for allocation AL27 (Deerswood Meadow sounds so much nicer!) in the Borough Local Plan.

After years of consultation and modification, that plan has now been adopted and is the policy of the Borough.

We look forward to assisting Cllr Coppinger in promptly delivering what has been promised.

We very much hope he will do so.

After all, it was his plan and it is therefore his vision too.

Cllr JOHN BALDWIN

Lib Dem, Belmont


Justification using 2012 housing figures

I was forwarded a copy of the Cox Green newsletter, written by Cllrs Haseler and McWilliams, who appear to oppose any development in their area, and are confirmed NIMBYs, yet they are quite happy to support and promote the development of 2,600 new homes on Maidenhead Golf Course (MGC).

In the newsletter they state that a Borough Local Plan (BLP) has to be up-to-date, presumably using up-to-date information.

This is certainly not the case with the RBWM BLP, since it uses out of date housing need figures from 2012, which must make the plan unsound and unlawful.

Since our councillors and ‘council spokespersons’ continue to trot out the same misleading statements, which are at best, economical with the truth, it is increasingly important to continue to challenge these statements by yet again presenting the facts.

The reason that the BLP uses housing need figures from 2012 is so that RBWM can justify the proposed development of MGC.

It is interesting to note that the Larchfield estate, which is roughly the same size as MGC, only consisted of 600 new homes when it was built in 1958.

The MGC proposals will mean extremely dense development, which makes a total mockery of the council’s claim that it will ‘open up to the public areas of green space’.

If this development goes ahead, there will be very little, if any, green space remaining.

If the up-to-date housing need figures for 2018 are used, which are half the number predicted in 2012, there is no need or justification to build a single new home on MGC.

The majority of the houses have already been built, or have planning permission, and the remaining houses required to be built by the end of the plan in 2033 can readily be accommodated on already identified brownfield sites.

Why then, is the council so desperate to develop MGC?

The reason has nothing at all to do with ‘much needed homes’, or any other reason as claimed by the council. The reason is purely financial, due to the council’s massive debt of £250 million, a result of many years of financial incompetence and mismanagement.

The development of MGC will result in payments to RBWM of some £225million from their development partner CALA Homes, almost clearing their huge debt.

This would be a short term solution to the council’s financial problems, but it would be the permanent loss to all future generations of Maidonians of a beautiful and much loved green space, the ‘green lungs of Maidenhead’, also known as ‘Maidenhead's Hyde Park’.

This proposed development would be a criminal act of environmental vandalism, and must not be allowed to go ahead.

An interesting statistic that the council do not publish, is that this proposed development alone would destroy roughly 48 per cent of Maidenhead's greenbelt.

The only ways that this can be prevented is via the legal challenge to the BLP, currently in progress, and also via the ballot box.

The SS RBWM Titanic, with Captain Andrew Johnson at the helm, is firmly on course for that huge iceberg directly ahead, the May 2023 local elections.

JOHN HUDSON

Rushington Avenue

Maidenhead


Mess is dangerous as well as an eyesore

I arrived at Thames Hospice early on Saturday morning (June 18) in a sunny mood and looking forward to marshalling on the course for our annual Sunflower Walk.

Families and relatives can walk 2.5k, 5k or 10k in memory of those that they have lost, and to raise funds for the Hospice.

My cheerful mood however changed to one of disbelief and disgust when I arrived at the gate at the back of the Hospice grounds on the edge of Bray Lake.

I was faced with a disgusting scene: empty beer and spirit bottles, cans, plastic water bottles full and empty, discarded clothes, cigarette packets, stubs and general litter.

Bloody tissues were strewn around, a result of someone having cut themselves on some of the broken beer bottles littering shore and lake - a health hazard to humans and dogs alike.

Bray Lake is officially open to the general public to enjoy wild swimming and other water sport activities via Bray Lake Water Sports.

Individuals were seen dropping young people off in the hospice car park in order that they could trespass, and climb the locked gate to the lakeshore.

There is no excuse to treat the area immediately adjacent to the Hospice with such disrespect.

We ask for the support of the local community and particularly those who regularly walk the lake circuit to help us prevent littering and abuse of the area.

JONATHAN JONES

Chair of Trustees

Thames Hospice


Show some sense when working on road

I enclose pictures of the signs closing the Pound, in Cookham, and the partly filled hole that needed to be excavated.

The road had been, I understand, closed since Friday, June 10 and remained closed at the time the photos were taken (15.05 on Monday, June 13).

Everybody was diverted to Maidenhead, locals with local knowledge used Terry’s Lane and Grange Road.

One caused major inconvenience and additional carbon emissions, the other route created traffic jams in Terry’s Lane.

Couldn’t some common sense have prevailed and the road left open for one vehicle width?

GEOFFREY COPAS

Copas Farms


Heathrow should be run with consideration

How about Heathrow is run with more consideration for the residents of Windsor?

Do we really have to have flights coming in past midnight?

At 00:19 and 00:28 two flights came in from Italy.

It was very clear that they would arrive after midnight.

They both raised 71 decibels in noise.

Previously the noise level had been 34 decibels.

Surely, Heathrow should be run without incidents like this?

ANDREW HALL

Windsor


Adding up the units under Boris Johnson

Six years ago today, a referendum delivered an extremely narrow majority to leave the European Union on the basis of a set of somewhat dubious claims.

Britain actually left on January 31, 2020.

Two-and-a half years on, countless numbers are still waiting to see a trace of the numerous promised benefits. Blue passports, imperial units, crown marks on beer-mugs, plus some vacuous slogans about ‘reclaiming sovereignty’?

Is that the best that Johnson’s team can deliver?

Here’s just some of the questions I’d like to see answered – but am still waiting:

1. What opportunities, rights and benefits are now available to British citizens that we did not enjoy when we were also citizens of the European Union?

2. What countries have offered us better trading agreements, with fewer strings, than Britain enjoyed as a member of the Single Market and Customs Union?

3. What companies have relocated here, or increased their investment and operations in Britain, because of Brexit? Why were they unable to do so before 2020?

4. How has Brexit increased our influence, respect and authority on the world stage, whether within Europe or elsewhere? What countries now regard Britain as a stronger, more important, more reliable or more trustworthy nation?

5. The fishing industry was a strong supporter of Brexit: in how many ways has it benefited them? Why are we not seeing photos of leading Brexiteers surrounded by happy fishermen?

6. How has ‘controlling our borders’ assisted the NHS, care homes, restaurants, hotels, pubs and agriculture (among other sectors), who are suffering an exodus of European staff? Or did that ‘control’ simply mean ‘keeping out Johnny Foreigner’, without thought for keeping IN the workers who played such an important role?

7. Above all, how has Brexit enhanced YOUR life, or that of your family and friends? How has it improved your working day, health, career prospects, leisure activities, finances, children’s education, travel, holidays or anything else? What’s actually improved for you?

These questions are, of course, largely rhetorical – Brexit has obviously delivered the exact opposite of what was promised, leaving our nation weaker, divided, less influential, poorer, and us British citizens with fewer rights, fewer opportunities and less hope.

I, and millions like me, will neither forget nor forgive those politicians whose deceit and self-deceit have caused such damage. Will they ever accept a scrap of responsibility? Somehow, I doubt it.

MARK PALMER

Berkshire for Europe


Emphasis needed on the single market

As we reach the sixth anniversary of the EU referendum I find that I care less and less about what stuff unscrupulous folk may take across the open Irish land border to contaminate the EU Single Market.

The EU and the Irish government have been offered collaborative solutions, not least by a former EU Commission Director-General and two professors of law, but they have rejected them out of hand.

So when I examine the UK government’s Bill to unilaterally disapply parts of the Irish protocol, and find that it only gives a nod towards protection of the EU Single Market, how much do I care about that?

In its Clause 15 ‘safeguarding the integrity of the EU single market’ is the seventh of nine ‘permitted purposes’ for which a minister may make regulations to disapply the protocol or withdrawal agreement.

While the first four specifically relate to Northern Ireland – its stability, its trade, its constitutional position within the UK – and are clearly intended to persuade the DUP to restore devolved government.

But little as I may care about the integrity of the EU Single Market, now that Dublin and Brussels have worn down my neighbourly goodwill, the UK Parliament has many members who do care about it.

Indeed it may be the case that taken across both houses a majority of parliamentarians feel greater loyalty to the EU than to the UK, and of course this bill will have to get past them to come into effect.

Therefore I am forced to hope that during its passage the bill will be amended to place greater and more obvious emphasis of protecting the EU Single Market, to help win over those EU sympathisers.

Dr D R COOPER

Belmont Park Avenue

Maidenhead


Ukrainians keen to have what we left

What a joy is was to read Phil Jones’ dissemination of EU free movement rules (Viewpoint, June 16).

Although these may have scant relevance to most UK citizens, it's good to read facts and not propaganda which some correspondents on the EU are happy to write.

So much of the referendum campaign of 2016 was based on emotions rather than facts; Michael Gove clearly had a point in his line ‘the people in this country have had enough of experts’.

So many were so flippant about the value of membership, so casual in tossing away carefully constructed associations.

The enthusiasm of Ukrainians to join the EU demonstrates the value of unity at a time when the new head of the British Army has said soldiers must prepare to fight in Europe again, assuredly as part of a European joint force should Vlad the Invader continue his evil work.

Putin’s joy when Leave achieved a small majority in 2016 must be somewhat diminished now he realises that for the most part, democratic Europe and Hungary are likely to stick together.

JAMES AIDAN

Sutton Road

Cookham


Lies, broken promises and a Priti old mess

RIP western democracy!

As if the debacle of Partygate, Boris’s lies, broken promises of money for the NHS, the rise in interest rates, and the cost of living crisis wasn’t enough, the announcement by Priti Patel of her approval of the extradition of Julian Assange signals the end of western democracy and the so called ‘Freedom of the Press’ worldwide.

The decision of our Government means that anybody could be extradited to the USA if they publish anything the USA does not agree with.

Our so-called special relationship with the USA appears to be one where the USA says ‘jump’ and we say ‘how high?’.

This is not democracy in action, it’s democracy inaction.

We are about to become a lot less free, and enter the new world order of dictatorship over anybody’s freedom of expression, human rights, and the right to speak truth to power.

If we let this happen, we are all at risk of the same persecution that has been metered out to Julian Assange.

We should get up and protest, while we still can.

ALISON HERSEY

Milton Close

Horton

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