Celebrity-backed Save Poundfield campaign boosted after parish council objects to planning application

James Harrison

James Harrison

The Save Poundfield campaign, which on Saturday added Aussie star Jason Donovan to its list of celebrity backers, scored a victory last night when plans to build on the site were recommended for refusal by Cookham Parish Council.

Controversial proposals to construct four homes were put to the council’s planning committee, which took minutes to register objections on the grounds of harm to the conservation area and greenbelt.

Such was the opposition to the scheme put forward by developer Oakford Homes that more than 60 objectors turned up to Cookham Library, in High Road, for the open forum section of the meeting.

Recent weeks have seen some high profile faces lend their support, with Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden tweeting a link to the Save Poundfield campaign’s website.

And on Saturday, former Neighbours actor Donovan was snapped at Cookham 80s festival Let’s Rock the Moor holding a poster in support of the group.

The application is seeking permission to build four homes on the Ponyfield section of the the site, which is bordered by Poundfield Lane on one side and Roman Lea on the other, next to Cookham Nursery School.

Addressing the gathering, Alistair Harris, of the Hedsor-based development firm, tried to reassure the room that concerns raised at a public consultation in June 2014 had been addressed and the plans amended.

This included reducing the number of homes proposed from seven to four.

He said: “The effect of reducing the number to four is a courtyard effect so the buildings sit lower.

“In discussions with the nursery, we’ve also come up with a proposal for seven parking spaces [next to Roman Lea] which are to de dedicated to staff of the nursery.

“This will take them off the public highway and will also act as visitor parking outside the nursery’s working hours.”

David Parker, an architect with the firm, also sought to allay concerns that the field’s historic views, which featured in the work of the late Cookham artist Stanley Spencer, would not be affected by the project.

The committee was unswayed by the arguments however, with Cllr Andrew Nye, filling in as chairman in the absence of Cllr MJ Saunders, saying he was not even convinced arguments for necessity of the development had been satisfied.

The campaign to protect the site has already seen significant support in the form of a petition signed by more than 1,500 people to have Poundfield designated a ‘local green space’ in the next Borough Local Plan.

The Save Poundfield campaign group is to host a pop-up tea shop at the disputed site on Sunday to raise awareness of the cause. 

The event, which is scheduled to run from 3-5pm, is expected to have a children’s nature trail and the new Mayor of Windsor and Maidenhead, Cllr Sayonara Luxton (Con, Sunningdale) has also been invited.

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