06:26PM, Friday 26 March 2021
A planning blueprint which will decide where thousands of homes could be built in Windsor and Maidenhead has moved a step closer to being agreed.
The Borough Local Plan (BLP) underwent examination during a second round of public hearings in October, November and December last year.
Today the Government-appointed independent inspector, Louise Phillips, released her stage two post-hearing letter outlining what changes need to be made to the plan before it undergoes another public consultation.
The inspector made comments on the following sites:
St Mary’s Walk, Maidenhead – The site is currently earmarked for 120 homes as part of a mixed-use residential scheme. The developer has questioned whether housing is viable on the site alongside the commercial units planned. The inspector’s letter said housing should not be considered ‘essential’ on the site.
Maidenhead Railway Station – Approximately 150 homes, 7,000sqm of employment space and small-scale retail are planned on land surrounding the railway station. Mrs Phillips said while no specific mention of building height has been mentioned, it is clear a building of up to 40m is envisaged. She said this would ‘utterly dominate’ and be incompatible with surrounding buildings.
Land at St Mark’s Hospital – Currently allocated for 54 homes but the council has raised concerns over whether these can be delivered without harming heritage assets on the site. The inspector’s letter said a housing development is achievable but the council’s proposal of building 40 to 50 homes there is a ‘reasonable precaution’.
Spencer’s Farm – The inspector has asked the council to provide more information on where the greenbelt boundary to the east of the site will be defined.
The next stage will be for the council to prepare a list of modifications under the guidance of the planning inspector before a further public consultation later this year.
Councillor David Coppinger, cabinet member for planning, said: “I’m very pleased to see the publication of the inspector’s post hearing letter which means we are a step closer to adopting the Borough Local Plan.
"Our current plan is now very dated, and the new plan will ensure that we can defend the borough against speculative development, regenerate our towns and meet the growing housing needs of our residents.”
Criticisms have been levelled at the council’s Borough Local Plan as the required changes will result in ‘more money and more resources’ being used on the project.
Last week, planning inspector Louise Phillips released her stage two post-hearing comments on the plan, which sets out where houses will be built in Windsor and Maidenhead for the next ten years.
Her comments include a number of ‘main modifications’ which must be made before the plan can be considered sound.
Councillor Lynne Jones (Ind, Old Windsor) said: “I was not surprised that there were a number of main modifications, it’s probably a few more than the borough really wanted.
“It wastes more money, more resources get put into it and if we look at other borough plans, this has gone on a long time.
“At the moment the plan is not sound, it won’t be until those modifications have been consulted on, put through and accepted, and the modifications are basically what we’ve been saying from the beginning.”
She added: “I’m really pleased that the inspector said that tall buildings should be ‘exceptional’ and fit in to the area.
“We have seen a number of tall buildings going up and they are increasing in height.”