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Concern over open space at Battlemead Common

A concerned member of the Maidenhead Civic Society has expressed fears that there will not be enough open space at the town’s new outdoor amenity.

The Royal Borough purchased 110 acres of land between Maidenhead and Cookham in December – to be called Battlemead Common – to safeguard the open green space there. The site features fields which had previously been used for farming as White Place Farm.

Ownership of the land, off Lower Cookham Road, will allow the council to reopen a missing link in the existing Millennium Walk route.

The walk, a 12.5km route from Hurley to Maidenhead Riverside, is a joint project between Maidenhead Civic Society (MCC) – which pro-vides feedback on planning matters – and East Berks Ramblers.

MCC projects co-ordinator Ann Darracott is to be a part of a new group – Friends of Battlemead Common – which will be set up in July to make decisions on managing the space.

Members of the group will represent a range of organisations with an interest in what the common can provide.

Issues addressed will include controlling the behaviour of dogs and keeping an eye on the safety of the pond.

However, Ann is concerned that some key decisions have already been taken by the council, such as the erection of fences to keep walkers away from falling trees.

“We are very grateful to the Royal Borough for buying White Place Farm, because it is a tremendous amenity for the people of Maidenhead, but we want to make sure there is as much open access as possible,” she said.

“It is regrettable that the fences are so far away from the [tree] boundary because it looks weird. It is health and safety gone mad.

“At the moment there is wetland on the common, and the conservation groups are concerned about the affects of people, and in particular dogs, on the birds. That is one of the problems that will have to be addressed by the Friends of Battlemead Common.”

Royal Borough leader Cllr Simon Dudley (Con, Riverside) said it is about ‘finding a balance’ between people and nature.

“There are areas of Battlemead Common that are very sensitive,” he said. “There is sensitive wildlife in there that needed to be protected immediately. It is about finding the balance between nature and humans.”

He added that experts are on site doing what they think is best for the common.

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