Parish councils call for rethink of Borough's long-term development plan

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

Parish councils and a civic society have called on the Royal Borough to ‘pause and reflect’ on its plan for the future of the borough – citing fears over the impact on the greenbelt and traffic.

The Borough Local Plan (BLP) sets out a blueprint that will decide where thousands of homes can be built across the borough – with a view to build 14,240 new properties by 2033.

Following BLP examination hearings at the end of last year, an independent inspector advised the Borough of various ‘main modifications’ to make the plan sound.

The latest public consultation on proposed modifications finished on Sunday. Over the consultation period, parish councils and societies in the borough have raised red flags.

Bray Parish Council said it is ‘very concerned’ that the modifications ‘do not address in any meaningful way… several important changes’ in the planning regime and legislation.

It says the number of office-to-residential conversion applications in 2020 will lead to 'substantially increased' gains in housing, which should affect the borough’s decisions on whether to release greenbelt land for development.

It added that the planned development of Bray Film Studios – and the employment opportunities this brings – 'calls into further question the wisdom of losing 25.7 hectares of greenbelt for unspecified employment purposes'.

Bray Parish Council said it was 'potentially catastrophic' that 'little or no progress' has been made on the A308 Corridor Study, which focuses on improvements between Bisham Roundabout and the M25.

“It is entirely wrong that further development within this corridor route should be permitted via the BLP without the full consequences of such development being assessed,” councillors wrote.

Cookham Parish Council has also raised ‘major concerns’ over the BLP tall buildings proposals, which it believes fails to distinguish clearly between towns and villages.

“This suggests it would be OK to put up four-storey buildings in villages,” said Cookham parish councillor Bill Perry.

“That would be a catastrophe. You can ruin the ambience of a village by plonking a four-storey building in it.”

Maidenhead Civic Society (MCS) has said it is 'disappointed' that despite the modifications, 'lasting damage' will be done to Maidenhead town centre ‘which will take years to remedy.’

It says its overriding concern is the estimated 44 per cent increase of dwellings in the town.

“Today we’re looking at up to 5,000 new dwellings in the town centre,” MCS wrote.

“We are faced with an unnecessary and inappropriate high density of town centre housing, mostly flats, and inadequate parking.”

A spokesman for the Royal Borough said: “Public consultation comments are currently being collated to be sent to the inspector for her consideration and she will decide whether further modifications are necessary as a result of the comments made.

“The planning department is happy to speak with the parish councils if they are seeking clarification or explanation on detailed points of the plan.”

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