03:57PM, Thursday 03 March 2022
How the apartment blocks will look
Final plans to build 230 new homes on the site of Heatherwood Hospital in Ascot were narrowly voted through by councillors.
The proposals, put forward by developer Taylor Wimpey, seek to transform the hospital – which is set to be replaced by an adjacent new building this spring – into a mix of apartment blocks and family housing.
Plans for London Road have been in the pipeline for several years with a hybrid planning application submitted back in 2017 to develop the new hospital.
At that stage, the housing development was an outline application, meaning matters such as the scale, landscaping and design were to be brought back to the panel at a later date.
Councillors convened at Windsor’s York House on Wednesday night to discuss these final reserved matters only - although opinion was mixed.
Planning officers informed that the development would contain a good mix of housing types and sizes, with the apartment blocks set to rise to five storeys.
They praised the scheme’s ‘high quality design’ whilst adding the homes would meet the Royal Borough’s local plan policies.
A ‘sizeable’ contribution for affordable housing was also proposed, officers said, with an affordable housing contribution of £6.3million secured.
But opposition to the proposals included Sunninghill and Ascot Parish Council’s Cllr Robin Wood, who raised a number of concerns shared by the group.
These centred around parking, which he called ‘woefully inadequate’, raising fears that people with second and third cars would park their vehicles on busy nearby streets.
Cllr Wood also claimed that amenity space provided within the development was ‘substandard’.
These concerns were shared by ward councillor Julian Sharpe (Con, Ascot and Sunninghill), who blasted the development.
One of his concerns was around the lack of a cycling and walking route from the new estate to the town centre.
“The applicant says this was difficult to do because the [Ascot] racecourse owns the land,” Cllr Sharpe said. “I do not consider something like that to be difficult to achieve.
“Putting people on the moon is difficult, clearing President [Vladimir] Putin out of Ukraine is difficult.”
The new Heatherwood Hospital (pictured above) is set to open adjacent to the old site this spring.
He added that the design of the flats were ‘ordinary’ and would be better suited in a more urban location.
“They do not look like the sort we should be putting up on the entrance to a town like Ascot, where we have a world renowned racecourse,” Cllr Sharpe said.
The Conservative councillor finished his speech by saying that the council’s hands ‘were tied’ in relation to the development.
Head of planning Adrian Waite responded to concerns surrounding the lack of an active travel route, saying that this should have been considered at the 2017 meeting.
He added that a route could potentially be offered separately in future if feasible.
Representing the applicant, Sarah Isherwood – from consultancy firm Vail Williams, which is working with Taylor Wimpey and the NHS to bring the plans forward - defended the scheme.
She said that the residential development would help fund the new hospital site while also promising a new ‘green gateway’ into Ascot.
[“It will] deliver 230 high quality new homes on a sustainable brownfield site, delivering substantial economic and wider benefits,” Ms Isherwood said.
A motion to delegate the application to the head of planning to grant permission was put forward by Cllr John Bowden (Con, Eton and Castle), which was narrowly passed by four votes to three. Cllr Jon Davey (Ind, Clewer and Dedworth West) abstained.
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.