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Last chance to have your say on Borough Local Plan

The consultation into the Borough Local Plan closes tomorrow (Friday). It sets out the blueprint for development up until 2032. Grace Witherden and James Harrison report.

Grace Witherden and James Harrison

Last chance to have your say on Borough Local Plan

A councillor has urged residents to respond to the Borough Local Plan consultation, which closes at 5pm tomorrow (Friday).

The Royal Borough is expecting more than 30,000 responses to the consultation.

What is the Borough Local Plan (BLP)?

The BLP is a scheme which will run retrospectively from 2013 to 2032 and unites development policy for a range of areas, including housing, retail, employment and leisure.

A target of building 13,528 homes has been set, the equivalent of 712 per year, which comes from the council’s Objectively Assessed Need, determined by a Strategic Housing Market Assessment carried out last year.

Why you should respond?

Cllr Derek Wilson (Con, Oldfield), cabinet member for planning, said it is important residents respond to have their say on the sites chosen.

The responses will also get sent to the Planning Inspectorate.

He said: “The council will reply to every response and they will be published online; the Planning Inspectorate will also read them.

“In many cases, residents’ immediate reaction would be 'I don’t want this development’ because most people don’t want change, but the population is growing and people are living longer; we have to provide houses.”

What happens next?

Until Monday, April 10, all the responses will be reviewed by the council. An amended version, including infrastracture plans, will go out for further consultation from Wednesday, April 26 until Wednesday, June 7.

The borough is expecting to submit the final plan to the Planning Inspectorate on Monday, July 31. This will be by ‘examined in public’ during October.

A decision is expected in December and, if approved, the plan would be adopted before the end of 2017.

How to respond

Comments can be submitted online at www.consult.rbwm.gov.uk/portal/blp or a form can be downloaded from www.rbwm.gov.uk and emailed to blp@rbwm.gov.uk or posted to FREEPOST RBWM PLANNING POLICY. If you need assistance call 01628 683800.


How will area cope with 14,000 extra homes?

Concerns have been raised about how the area’s infrastructure will cope with an additional 14,000 homes.

Residents are being asked to submit their responses to the Borough Local Plan consultation, which does not go into detail about infrastructure plans.

Bob Dulson, chairman of Maidenhead Civic Society, said: “How do we deal with around 15,000 more vehicles that the new homes will bring or the estimated 40 percent increase in rail passengers brought by Crossrail?

“We don’t have the answers yet. So it is difficult to assess the impact without the accompanying strategies for infrastructure, transport and design, which are still being drawn up.”

Issues including the provision of roads, medical facilities and other services were also raised in a public meeting at Cox Green Community Centre, in Highfield Lane on Tuesday.

Cllr Derek Wilson (Con, Oldfield), cabinet member for planning, said infrastructure plans would be included in a later version of the plan.

“The reason why we had the deadline at this point is because there will be another opportunity to feed in any comments you have as part of that,” he said.

“But if you feel there’s a lack of GP surgeries within the area and that it would be appropriate to have more, then please specify that.

“We’ve been having meetings with the Clinical Commissioning Group and we’ve been saying that by the expected population growth there will be an increasing demand for health care, as well as demographic increases in the older generation.”

If the third runway goes ahead at Heathrow, the borough could be looking at building an additional 5,000 homes and the Borough Local Plan could be put in a five year review by the council.


School's plans to expand get angry response

Plans for a private school to be built on greenbelt land received an angry reception at a public meeting into the proposals.

The Cox Green Says No group, which is fighting a scheme by Claires Court School to expand its campus at Cannon Lane and build 157 new homes, met at Cox Green Community Centre, in Highfield Lane, on Tuesday evening.

Addressing the meeting, retired police officer Phil Haseler, who helped found the campaign in July, said: “We’ve been shot down with letters in the papers and we’ve been called NIMBYs, but everything we’ve brought up about these plans we can back up.

“The bottom line is that Cannon Lane is a single carriage road and is unsuitable for the amount of traffic the Claires Court development will bring into the area.”

He also claimed to have been contacted by parents of pupils at the school who oppose the plans, but don’t wish to do so publicly for fear of their children being ‘picked out’ for it.

Brothers Hugh and James Wilding, who run the school, denied this was the case and, although both briefly addressed the meeting, declined to talk about the plan in too much detail to avoid prejudicing it while it is still at the pre-application stage.

A petition started by the group has gained more than 2,000 signatures, guaranteeing it will be discussed by the Royal Borough at a full council meeting, and will run until Thursday, January 26.

Visit www.coxgreensaysno.com to find out more.


Key sites for new housing

A total of 48 sites have been identified in the latest draft of the local plan to build 8,489 homes. Below is a selection of some of the most significant sites:

  • Maidenhead Golf Course; land south of Harvest Hill Road and south of Manor Lane – 2,530 homes: The biggest single area in the scheme, Maidenhead Golf Course is further swelled by two extra sites allocated for development.
  • Saint-Cloud Way, Maidenhead, the Magnet Leisure Centre – 640 homes: This includes the intention to build a 'landmark building' at the corner of Saint-Cloud Way and Cookham Road.
  • York Road, Maidenhead – 320 homes: The Maidenhead Waterways project will form a key aspect, while accessibility to Maidenhead United Football Club will be improved.
  • Spencers Farm, north of Lutman Lane, Maidenhead – 300 homes: Plans for a four-form secondary school have also been included in the draft local plan.

Timeline of the Local Plan

1999 – Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Local Plan adopted.

2007 – New Borough Local Plan rejected by the Government’s Planning Inspectorate, which recommended that future development focus on Maidenhead.

April 2012 – Results of a consultation on the current local plan carried out during February and March of 2012 were released. Just 108 of 60,995 questionnaires sent were returned.

December 2012 – Another round of consultation on the local plan was extended to accommodate the Christmas period.

December 2013 – Cllr MJ Saunders, current cabinet member for finance but then cabinet member for planning, said the Royal Borough would be forced to offer up areas of greenbelt land in order to meet its housing need.

February 2014 – Another consultation was extended, this time to take account of disruption caused by flooding.

February 2015 – Proposals to tear down the Magnet Leisure Centre, in Holmanleaze, so the site could be added to local plan were raised.

June 2016 – Draft of the local plan targets building about 10,000 homes.

October 2016 – The Royal Borough confirmed submission of the plan to the Government would be delayed until 2017 after a legal review highlighted several issues.

November 2016 – Housing total allocated in the local plan increased to more than 14,000, mainly thanks to the late inclusion of the Maidenhead Golf Course site.

December 2016 – Latest round of consultation launched.

Tomorrow (Friday) – consultation closes.

 

Next steps for the plan:

From Monday to Monday, April 10 – All responses to the consultation reviewed by the council and local plan amended.

April 26 to June 7 – Consultation on the amended plan, including infrastructure proposals.

July 31 – Council submits final plan to planning inspectorate.

October – Examination in public.

December – Plan adopted by council if approved by planning inspectorate.

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