09:38AM, Thursday 03 August 2017
The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead's (RBWM) Borough Local Plan (BLP) was slammed as 'social cleansing' and 'a scam' at a Slough Borough Council (SBC) meeting last night (Wednesday).
SBC's planning committee met to discuss the council's official response to the submission version of the BLP, which lays out the Royal Borough's strategy for meeting its demand for housing up until 2033.
The submission version of the plan takes into account responses from its consultation stage.
At last night’s meeting, councillors criticised the Royal Borough for not specifying any affordable housing for rent in its plan.
Slough councillors have concerns this would mean more people would be priced out of the affluent Royal Borough, putting more pressure on Slough's ever-increasing housing demand.
They have also accused the Royal Borough of being uncooperative with their neighbouring councils.
Councillor James Swindlehurst (Lab, Cippenham Green) said: "This is a deliberate strategy of theirs that's been going on for the past 20 to 25 years.
"They know what they're doing. They know what their desired clientele is and who should live there."
He accused the Royal Borough of 'exporting the poor people'.
"It's offensive,” he added. “We would be derelict in our duty not to call them out on it."
Part of Slough Borough Council's response to the plan is to invite RBWM into a Memorandum of Understanding to help resolve any outstanding issues.
However Cllr Swindlehurst was sceptical, saying a Memorandum of Understanding 'isn't worth the paper that it's written on'.
He called the Royal Borough's housing strategy a 'scam' and said: "It's not fair that we're the only borough that's meeting all the affordable housing need."
Cllr Ted Plenty (Lab, Langley St Mary's) said: "This is the 21st century, we're supposed to be civilised," before calling RBMW's strategy 'some form of social cleansing'.
"The poor can go and do what they want but we're not having houses for them here," he quipped, referring to the Royal Borough.
It did, however, acknowledge the RBWM's concessions to release more of its own green belt land to meet its own housing needs.
The meeting took place at St Martins Place in Bath Road.
Senior Royal Borough councillors have responded to the comments made.
Cllr Simon Dudley (Con, Riverside), leader of the council, said: "I thought their comments were inflammatory, inaccurate and unhelpful. We are keen to cooperate with our neighbouring local authorities, and I am sure the inspector will carefully consider the merits of any Regulation 20 representations from Slough BC at examination of the emerging RBWM BLP".
Cllr Derek Wilson (Con, Oldfield) ,cabinet member for planning, said: “They are entitled to their opinion, the BLP is an emotive subject and everyone is entitled to their opinion.
“I am not interested in having a war of words with them. Our policy has allocated 30 per cent affordable housing and this will be delivered through tenures including shared ownership, key worker, and rental.
“It’s a bit rich for them to say that we have not engaged when they have been present at the meetings. We are continuing to engage and we will still engage with all the neighbouring authorities. It’s a long process.”
He said if Slough Borough Council was ‘aggrieved’ about the site in Austen Way it could put it forward in its representation to the Regulation 19 consultation.
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