03:58AM, Thursday 19 April 2012
The time is now for the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead to demonstrate its stance on schemes which threaten the greenbelt under new government planning guidelines.
This is the view of Maidenhead Civic Society (MCS), which has questioned the implications of the proposed Spencers Farm development.
A formal planning application for the scheme does not exist but it could see Furze Platt Senior School moved to North Town by 2015 and 700 new houses built.
The society is concerned the new National Planning Policy Framework could trigger 'an avalanche of 'sustainable' schemes' encroaching on protected land.
Commenting on Spencers Farm, MCS planning group chair Martin McNamee said: "This particular initiative is an early manifestation of the feared consequences of a pro-growth planning climate."
The planning guidelines, published in March, presume in favour of sustainable development.
Mr McNamee continued: "Of course there is a need for more housing and improved education facilities.
"But we also have to consider the character and environment of where we live."
This includes the impact on health services, water and waste and the wider infrastructure.
The school and Summerleaze's vision suggests 320 houses and sports facilities for Spencers Farm and 380 houses for the Furze Platt Road site.
They have requested the council include it in the Borough Local Plan.
The 'community campus' in North Town would sit less than a mile away from the Boulters Meadow development at Badnells Pit.
Access arrangements have not been revealed in detail.
Summerleaze says only half of the 20-hectare site at Spencers Farm will be built upon.
As the borough identified an additional 56 hectares of land for potential greenbelt designation in March 2009 - the firm says this means no 'net loss'.
The society fears the new planning framework could lead to regular trading of areas of greenbelt.
Mr McNamee warned this could leave 'swathes of the green buffer around the town under continual threat'.
COMMENT: What do you think of the plans? Tell us in the box below.