House of Lords report 'endorses' Maidenhead Golf Club development, says council leader

Shay Bottomley

A report from the House of Lords ‘endorses’ the council’s plans to build on Maidenhead Golf Course, the leader of the council has said, although campaigners against the development have rejected the claim.

Published on Monday, January 10, a report titled ‘Meeting Housing Demand’ by the Lords’ Built Environment Committee provided recommendations for meeting demand for homes.

One particular section, development around railway stations, caught the attention of council leader Andrew Johnson.

It states: “Residential development on land around railway stations close to major cities would help meet housing demand.

“The Government should consider pilot schemes to facilitate this development. This would include releasing some greenbelt or agricultural land for development, any release of greenbelt land could be offset through land swaps.”

It adds a ‘proposed solution is to permit development on undeveloped land close to train stations which provide a service to a major employment centre within a reasonable time – 45 minutes, for example’.

Speaking to the Advertiser, Cllr Johnson said: “I noted with interest the statement from the cross-party House of Lords committee that residential land close to railway stations, which offered fast connectivity into major employment and economic centres, was an appropriate place to consider high-quality residential development.

“This endorses our approach to the Maidenhead Golf Course site and is the reason why it was chosen as the ideal location for the delivery of the largest single allocation of housing within the Borough Local Plan.

“It is close to the centre of town, has highly sustainable transport links via Crossrail, and is large enough to support the delivery of a new school and health facilities on site.”

However, advocates of the Maidenhead Great Park campaign have questioned the report over concerns about climate change.

Debbie Ludford, on behalf of the Maidenhead Great Park group, said: “The point the House of Lords report on Meeting Housing Demand makes about facilitating development around railway stations doesn't take into account the fact that the golf course is publicly owned land around 40 per cent of which is woodland and home to a wide variety of wildlife, including many protected species.

“The climate crisis and threats to wildlife have to be balanced with providing new housing, especially in an area like the Thames Valley which is already overdeveloped.

“There are lots of London parks close to railway stations, but no one is talking about building on them.”

It comes as a response from the Government to a petition against development on greenbelt sites said that local authorities ‘should only consider releasing land from greenbelt only if it can fully evidence that it has explored all other reasonable options for meeting its development needs.’

It added: “The authority should be able to show that it has been using brownfield land as much as possible, optimising the density of development, and discussing with neighbouring authorities whether they could accommodate some of the development required.”

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