Developer reveals why it withdrew Maidenhead 80-home plan

Developer reveals why it withdrew Maidenhead 80-home plan

Deerswood Meadow, Ray Mill Road East, Maidenhead

A developer has outlined why it withdrew an application for 80 homes on a Maidenhead flood zone near to Ray Mill Road East. 

CALA Homes wanted to construct the development on land known as Deerswood Meadow. 

The plans have proved controversial due to planning officers and the Environment Agency recommending them for refusal at three separate planning meetings over flooding fears.

The scheme was narrowly voted through at a meeting in November but were called in by the Secretary of State in April following lobbying by campaigners.

A public inquiry set for this year was looming, but it emerged this week that CALA Homes had withdrawn its application entirely on Monday, meaning no inquiry will take place.

In a statement, the developer said that it does not consider housing on Deerswood Meadow to be ‘compatible’ due to the adoption of the BLP in February, which allocated the land as a ‘pocket park’.

A spokeswoman said: “Following the Royal Borough’s planning committee resolving to grant planning permission in late 2021, the Secretary of State took the decision to call-in the application for his determination.

“As a result, [he] will consider the planning application against the newly adopted local plan, which was not in place when RBWM’s planning committee originally decided to resolve to grant planning permission.

“As the site is now allocated as part of the borough’s green infrastructure network within the newly adopted local plan, we have taken the decision to withdraw the application as we do not consider new housing is compatible with this new allocation.

“We wish RBWM every luck in delivering the site as new public open space for the town”.

Above: Campaigners celebrate the plans for 80 homes being withdrawn 

Campaigners against the development have included the Maidenhead Liberal Democrat group, who are now calling for Deerswood Meadow to be protected legally from any future developments.

They urged for agreements between the council and CALA Homes for the land to be rescinded, and a conservation plan to be funded for the meadow.

They also want a cabinet decision to be reversed from 2018, which appropriated the land for residential development.

Councillor John Baldwin (Lib Dem, Belmont) said: “This development was never viable in planning terms. All three applications were recommended for refusal.

“In February 2020, the Maidenhead panel turned it down. That should have been the end of it.

“How and why it has been so ruthlessly pursued, with all the consequent damage to RBWM’s reputation and the residents’ confidence in the impartiality of our decisions, needs to be explained and any lessons learned.”

A statement from the Lib Dem group added: “It will be a happy day when the fences come down and residents can once again freely and responsibly move across and around Deerswood. We can say no, we must say no and we will say no.”

A Royal Borough spokesman said: “In 2018 the RBWM Property Company entered into a development agreement with CALA Homes to develop this site for housing.

“At the time, the site was a proposed housing allocation in the submission version of the BLP.

“Since then, the plan has been revised and the site has been reallocated for ‘green infrastructure’ providing a local pocket park, a habitat area and flood attenuation.

“The site was removed as a housing allocation primarily due to flood risk and loss of urban open space.

“The BLP was adopted in February making this part of the development plan for the borough, giving it full weight when determining planning applications.

“Any future potential planning application for the site would be considered as all planning applications are - on its own merits, in line with planning policy, including the adopted BLP.

“The original development agreement is now effectively null and void as this was subject to planning consent being in place.”

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