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Confusion over councillor's vote after panel apparently refuses permission for Vicus Way car park

Opponents of a proposed multi-storey car park toasted their campaigning success yesterday evening after the plans was refused planning permission – though confusion surrounds whether one councillor’s decision to refuse was intentional.

Residents near Stafferton Way have mobilised against the council’s application for the five-storey, 516-space development planned for Vicus Way, which would be used by commuters.

They said it would have affected their quality of life and risked exacerbating existing anti-social behaviour in the Stafferton Way car park.

The council has maintained it is acceptable in planning terms and would be locked late at night.

But members of the Maidenhead Development Management Panel voted by one to refuse permission – though confusion emerged this morning as to whether panel chairman Cllr Derek Wilson (Con, Oldfield) voted the way he had intended.

With the vote tied at three councillors for refusal, three against and one abstention, Cllr Wilson voted to refuse permission.

But this morning the Advertiser was told by council leader Cllr Simon Dudley that Cllr Wilson ‘might have mistaken how he was voting’ and had spoken to Royal Borough officers about it.

During yesterday evening’s debate at Maidenhead town hall, Cllr Claire Stretton (TBF, Boyn Hill) said she had ‘serious concerns’ about the plans, including her belief that they conflict with council planning documents and that it was of a ‘large bulk, mass and scale’.

She criticised the building as being of ‘poor design’ which would have an ‘overbearing impact’ on neighbouring homes.

“There is a history of antisocial behaviour in this locality,” she said.

“Most recently, a car meet on the evening of the 25th of November.”

Another car park is ‘likely to attract further anti-social behaviour of this type’ and potentially crime, she remarked.

But Cllr Philip Love (Con, Belmont) said it was ‘essential’ and would support employment in Maidenhead.

It would free up town centre car parks ‘for short stay use by shoppers and leisure visitors’, he added.

He had checked out concerns about the plans to his ‘satisfaction’, he said, and claimed that pollution was below the national air quality objective.

Patrols at the car park have reported no problems on Friday or Saturday evenings for three weeks, Cllr Love added - and said he would back the plans if a condition attached to continued patrols was applied.

Cllrs Maureen Hunt, Derek Sharp and Stretton voted for refusal, while Cllrs Richard Kellaway, Love and Adam Smith voted against refusing.

Cllr Leo Walters abstained and Cllr Wilson then cast the deciding vote for refusal.

But according to Cllr Dudley, Cllr Wilson had not intended to vote for refusal, which means the borough is scrambling to find what happens to correct the apparent mistake.

Cllr Dudley said the borough is going to see a ‘leading planning barrister in London’ who would determine what steps can be taken by the council.

“A planning decision isn’t made until the local planning authority issues a decision notice,” he told the Advertiser this morning.

“Based upon where we are now we will get the best legal advice to determine the appropriate next steps.”

It means residents who celebrated their apparent win in the pub following last night’s meeting could be facing a hangover.

Cllr Wilson was contacted for comment.

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  • the_dave_thomas_1

    17:05, 18 December 2018

    What are the rules about council leaders repeatedly interfering in planning meetings despite not being part of the panel in question?

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  • the_dave_thomas_1

    16:04, 18 December 2018

    What are the rules about council leaders repeatedly interfering in planning meetings despite not being part of the panel in question?

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  • the_dave_thomas_1

    16:04, 18 December 2018

    What are the rules about council leaders repeatedly interfering in planning meetings despite not being part of the panel in question?

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    • Cllr Claire Stretton

      12:12, 20 December 2018

      Members are supposed to make up their own minds based on the evidence in front of them, without any political or other pressure from developers, or individuals. In this application the Leader is both the political Leader of the Conservative Cllrs but also acting as 'the developer'. If it is deemed that there has been political interference then a case of 'maladministration' could be made.

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