10:29AM, Thursday 06 August 2020
The council’s plans to build thousands of new homes over the next few years have not changed despite new statistics suggesting household growth will be lower than originally predicted.
The amended Borough Local Plan (BLP), which was voted through by councillors in November, outlines plans to build 14,240 homes in the Royal Borough between 2013 and 2033. That figure was based on ONS data from 2012, which projected that there would be a growth of 12,691 households in the borough between 2013 and 2033.
In June, however, ONS released its latest projections which predict that growth in households will be much lower – 6,382 in that period.
In a letter sent last month, planning inspector Louise Phillips asked the council to consider whether these new projections ‘represent a meaningful change in the housing situation’ and ‘whether the projected reduction in household growth affects the justification for the plan’s proposed greenbelt releases’.
She also acknowledged that the projections do not take into account all factors with the potential to affect household growth.
The ONS projections are not a forecast of how many houses should be built in the future but predict how many new households will form, based on demographic trends in population growth.
The letter has prompted campaigners pushing for a Maidenhead Great Park to be developed on land earmarked for housing at Maidenhead Golf Club to call for a change of policy from the borough.
It is proposing the 132-acre golf club be transformed into a public space, rather than the 2,000-home development it has been earmarked for in the BLP.
The campaign’s petition has 1,226 signatures at the time of writing.
L-R Tara Crist, Tina Quadrino and Margot Harris are campaigning to turn the golf course into a public park.
Speaking to the Advertiser on Tuesday, Cllr David Coppinger (Con, Bray), lead member for planning, said he had informed Ms Phillips that he does not feel the BLP should be changed.
He said: “We are on the right course. We always have to remember, none of us knows what the inspector (Ms Phillips) is going to propose. There’s no point in us taking any action until we hear from the planning inspector. She may ask us to make modifications, as is her right.”
In response to the Maidenhead Great Park campaign, Cllr Coppinger said: “The site is ideal for housing because of its proximity to the town and transport links.
“We want to put in green and blue infrastructure.
“It’s not public space at the moment but it will be a lot more of a public space in the future.”
Cllr Geoff Hill (TBF, Oldfield), a supporter of the park campaign, said going ahead with the BLP would be a ‘colossal error’.
He said: “The people want to see a park there.
“We can no longer count on Crossrail regenerating Maidenhead in the way we thought it would before.
“We run the risk of building homes on a future premise that people will flock to Maidenhead to commute to London.
“If they go ahead with the plan we will have a surplus of houses in the borough. In my view that would be a colossal error. The whole BLP and development strategy needs a rethink.”
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