OGFRA Chairmans Report 2017
I am sure I don’t have to tell you that this past 12 months have been the most difficult and demanding year our Association has had to face for over 40 years.
Pressure gradually built up during the Summer of 2016 as the deadline for the publication of the Royal Borough’s new Local Plan grew nearer.
The original Plan had been refused by the Inspector and subsequent attempts to complete the Plan over the past 6 years or so, had failed. Realising that the deadline was fast approaching the latest Draft Local Plan ( Reg 18 ) was published in December of last year in a hurry. This meant that Residents had just 6 weeks over the Christmas and New Year period to respond.
We quickly got together and organised an Open Meeting on January 5th 2017 which most of you came to. Held in the Saxon Barn over 200 came to listen to an explanation of what was proposed in this Plan and Cllrs Wilson ( Lead Member for the BLP) and Coppinger ( Bray Ward Councillor and Deputy Leader ) attended to answer your questions.
We were the first, and then the only, organisation in the area to have meetings over what we considered to be a draft LP with many inaccuracies and failings. The loss of the Green Belt in Bray itself was overwhelming. In particular was the proposal to build 650 dwellings on area known as HA11 ( Land North and South of the A308 between Ruddlesway and Oakley green Road).
Other proposals to affect us were 100 dwellings in Monkey Island Lane, 100 or more at Bray Lake on A308 plus a new Hospice , Holyport 25 dwellings, and the land between A308M, A330and M4 ( The Triangle) 150 dwellings and commercial. Not to mention nearby 350 on land South of Harvest Hill Rd and Maidenhead Golf Course 1700 dwellings. There are also the already planned developments at Water Oakley and Bray Studios.
ALL of these sites would affect us all on a daily basis for ever. Imagine the A308 with another 1000+ houses feeding on to it!
In response to this Draft Local Plan we drafted a very sound argument why this was excessive, especially HA11, as our response.
We also commented on how we believed that the Borough had failed to Consult with local Residents and Organisations and also failed to produce reports on any Infrastructure or a Green Belt Review ( Required by Inspector ).
At this time we also produced a reply to the Government White Paper. This excellent report was drawn up by Martin Hall. I am not aware of many organisations in the Borough who did this.
Both of these submissions are on our website should you wish to read them.
A lot of publicity resulted from all of this, not only locally but nationally too when Pat and Ann appeared in the Times. Unrest in the Prime Ministers Constituency!
We have to take all this with the imminent opening of Crossrail ( Queen Elizabeth Line) to consider. There is the possibility of a large Hotel on the Windsor Racecourse as well. Please don’t even think of the possible third runway at Heathrow!!
This amended Draft Plan ( Reg 19) was presented to the full Council last Monday and after a very lively debate was passed by 33 votes to 10. At least two Councillors have resigned from the Conservative Party over this.
Recently, in order to get more clout we have joined up with the newly formed
( far too late in my opinion) RBWM Residents Action Group, consisting of Parish Councils and Neighbourhood Plan Groups across the Borough. We are the only fully active Residents Association involved in the area it would seem.
We now have the job of responding to this new Local Plan ( Reg 19)and prepare to make representations under Reg 20. We are deeply upset by the inclusion still of HA11. Only reduced from 650 to 450 dwellings because the Borough had the land ownership incorrectly drawn. We will probably lose our two garden centres and will continue to fight to protect the land around the Cardinal Clinic which is a very valuable community mental hospital nationally and locally.
I believe that we as a Residents Association have grown in status over the past few years and are recognised as a body with a lot of experience in local planning matters. We can be proud of ourselves as I stand down as Chairman after many years and prepare to hand over the reins to Martin Hall as an interim Chairman. I shall remain as Committee Member of course. Martin will bring a lot of expertise to the Association at a time we truly need it. My sincere thanks to my Committee for their dedication and very hard work.
I cannot sign off without mentioning the very sad passing only very recently of one of our loyal Committee Members, Paul Jennings. Paul brought an expertise in aviation to us and you may well remember his very clear descriptions of the workings of Air traffic Control at Heathrow and how this affects our lives living in this area. Paul used to look expertly after pilots like myself . How many times I must have spoken to him over the air!
We will miss him, his sense of humour and common sense. Our thoughts are with his Wife Lesley and their children at this time.
Finally, please consider joining us. We have a great team here and we work well together but another one or two new Members would be very very welcome. We work to protect and fight for our Green Belt and opennesss as much as we can. As you can tell it is under enormous pressure. This is a very valuable part of the local Green Belt and we must treasure it, not only for us, but particularly the future generations. Once lost it will never be regained.
Rod Ball ( Chairman ) June 2017