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Greenbelt allocation under scrutiny at Borough Local Plan examination

Stephen Delahunty

Stephen Delahunty

The Royal Borough’s allocation of greenbelt land was heavily criticised during day three of the Borough Local Plan (BLP) examination on Thursday.

Legal representatives and planning consultants acting on behalf of private developers, landowners and villages lined up to poke holes in the council’s evidence base for designating the location of future settlements and their density.

The council was pressed on how the BLP, which will provide a blueprint for development in the Royal Borough until 2033, met National Policy Planning Framework (NPPF) guidelines.

Sebastian Tibenham, for Macdonald Hotels including the Compleat Angler in Marlow, said the council’s designation of villages like Bisham as greenbelt is effectively ‘washing [them] over’, thus excluding them from development plans.

He added: “Villages should be excluded from the greenbelt unless it contributes in a significant way to the openness of the greenbelt.

“The NPPF overall does seek to support thriving rural communities.”

Garry Thornton, representing the Royal Borough, said that the council wanted to focus development in Maidenhead town centre as it considered it to be more sustainable.

Steve Pickles, representing the Rayner Family Trust, and Roger Tustain from Nexus Planning, led a chorus of individuals who explained how their clients owned sites of previously developed land, some with existing planning permission, that had been excluded from the BLP for reasons which were not ‘completely clear’.

It was also felt that the land was not being maximised for sites that were included.

Council representatives maintained that the specific character of villages and the openness of the greenbelt could be lost if it allowed developments to go ahead in these settlements or if the density was increased.

On Tuesday more than a dozen legal representatives acting on behalf of individuals, community groups, parish councils, the Royal Borough and others debated the BLP’s legal compliance.

The Royal Borough’s duty to co-operate with other councils, the spatial strategy, greenbelt review and flood risk of the BLP were discussed.

The first stage of the public examination concluded on Thursday at Maidenhead Town Hall.

The second stage is anticipated to take place later this year, possibly late September or early October.

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