02:58AM, Wednesday 27 June 2012
Rallying calls to protect the greenbelt and block plans to move Furze Platt Senior School were made to the Royal Borough last night.
Hundreds packed into Maidenhead Town Hall where a petition against the scheme between the school and Summerleaze was discussed at a council meeting.
Containing 2,342 signatures, it was created by Maidenhead North Action Group.
Its chairman Irene Perrin addressed the council first to thunderous applause from the public gallery.
She reiterated the group's objections, which include the increase in urban sprawl and the impact on services and infrastructure.
The scheme involves a vision to build a new school and 320 houses at Spencers Farm, and to replace the current school buildings with 380 houses.
Mrs Perrin was backed by Furze Platt ward councillors Hari Sharma, Derek Sharp and Mohammed Ilyas, who also oppose the plans.
They argued that new buildings do not necessarily make a good school, citing Eton College as a prime example.
But in a controversial response Cllr Simon Dudley (Con, Riverside) countered that every child at Eton is gifted and talented - unlike at Furze Platt.
A passionate speech from Cllr David Evans (Con, Hurley and Walthams) followed, including a 'slip of the tongue' which saw him refer to 'Summersleaze'.
He stressed the importance of greenbelt preservation.
Lib Dem councillor Kathy Newbound (Pinkneys Green) reminded her Conservative counterparts of their manifesto promise to protect greenbelt land.
No formal planning application exists for the scheme yet, but councillors agreed it can be put forward for consideration for inclusion in the Borough Local Plan.
It will be subject to a public consultation, which will focus on the four wards most affected should it go ahead - Furze Platt, Pinkneys Green, Bisham and Cookham, and Riverside.
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