03:20PM, Thursday 12 May 2022
Bray Parish Council has recommended refusal of planning permission for 135 homes in Water Oakley – saying the developer did not listen to residents during its consultation meetings.
At a meeting of the parish council on Monday night (May 9), councillors discussed the outline application for the northern part of AL21, an area earmarked for homes in the Borough Local Plan.
Eventually, the aim is to build 450 homes, a special educational needs (SEN) school, event space, allotments, orchards, play spaces, a community hub and gardens, and an outdoor gym.
One of the issues raised with the site is flood risk. The local flood authority highlighted concerns that the north end was at risk of surface flooding.
Other concerns included access to the site, the impact on traffic and air pollution levels.
Martin Hall, chairman of Oakley Green & Fifield Residents Association (OGFRA) said that the lateness of the Royal Borough’s A308 corridor study – which looks at possible improvements from Bisham Roundabout to the M25 – was ‘inexcusable’, as it was
important for determining the traffic impact of such a development.
A consultation on the study began in September 2020. The report was shared with ward and parish councillors last month.
The Royal Borough said its findings ‘are being taken into account’ when reviewing proposed developments along the A308.
A further concern raised was over the protection of a non-designated heritage asset – the Willows Estate boundary wall which could disappear from public view.
Though Wates did consult with members of the public on its plans, the parish council and attending members of the public said they did not feel listened to.
Working group sessions ran between January and June with councillors, residents, organisations and Royal Borough officers.
“It was a tick box exercise,” said Nicola Marsh (BPC, Oakley Green & Fifield ward).
“They didn’t listen to what we had to say.”
A spokesman for Wates said:
“Whilst not every concern has been able to be resolved completely, Wates Developments have been able to support the creation of a much deeper boundary between the Cardinal Clinic and proposed SEN School, the retention of the veteran oak trees across the site and integration of an outdoor gym alongside the Ruddlesway path.
“Wates Developments continue to meet with residents to discuss their concerns and work towards resolving key issues including the retention of the non-designated heritage asset near to the Willows.
“The council’s heritage officer has visited the local neighbours and is very familiar with the area as a result of these concerns and will ensure the local heritage assets will be retained and enhanced where possible.
“Wates has also agreed to specific requests for additional landscape to address these concerns therefore is considered to have gone above and beyond to understand and address local concerns where possible.”
Bray Parish Council recommended the application for refusal.
They suggested that Wates reopen forums with the public, consulting on the positioning of its proposed open spaces, then resubmit the application.
An independent report into a Conservative councillor has found a breach of the Royal Borough’s code of conduct in a document seen by the Advertiser.