Borough Local Plan
There is not a great deal to report since the latest Consultation on Proposed Changes to the Borough Local Plan Submission Version (‘BLPSV-PC’) closed in December, and RBWM is still reviewing all the representations made. OGFRA argued that the Borough Local Plan had not been made sound by the proposed changes or additional consultation material provided and that the land allocations AL21 and AL22 should be removed from the Plan.
OGFRA’s submission can be found by clicking here.
As advised in our Guidance Notes on responding to the BLPSV-PC in December there is no precise timetable going forward, but it is anticipated that after reviewing all representations RBWM will make such further changes as required to the BLPSV-PC and submit these to the Inspector (expected Spring 2020). Examination could resume with further Hearings from late Spring 2020 onwards. If the Inspector determines that the BLPSV-PC can be made ‘sound’ subject to certain changes a further consultation would then take place on the overall changes to the original Submission Version of the Borough Local Plan (known as ‘Main Modifications’) which could ultimately lead to formal adoption of the Borough Local Plan by RBWM.
It is interesting to note that RBWM has strongly contested plans submitted by Beaulieu Homes for 150 dwellings on designated Green Belt land at Lodge Farm, Holyport. The site shares many of the characteristics of site AL21 (Green Belt land west of Windsor, north and south of the A308) and it is hard to understand how RBWM can promote sites AL21/22 whilst contesting development at Lodge Farm. For example Lodge Farm is considered to play an important role in preventing towns/settlements from merging into one another and in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment; sites AL21/22 perform a similar function and represent part of the much valued ‘Green Gap’ between Windsor and Maidenhead sought by local residents. RBWM’s decision was upheld on appeal, although Beaulieu Homes is now appealing that decision in the High Court.
It is unlikely that the Borough Local Plan in its current form will be adopted and residents should continue to make their views known to local councillors, and for its part OGFRA will be seeking to participate in the Hearings with the Inspector as and when these take place.
Squires Garden Centre
At the time of issuing our Guidance Notes in December the Windsor Area Development Management Panel had just voted unanimously to refuse the revised plans submitted by Bewley Homes and Square Bay (No 5) LLP for 37 dwellings at the Squires Garden Centre site (site AL22 in the BLPSV-PC). A formal Notice of Decision refusing permission was issued by RBWM earlier this month. The main reasons for refusal were:
- the proposal represented inappropriate development in the Green Belt, and no ‘very special circumstances’ had been demonstrated that could outweigh the harm to the Green Belt and any other harm; and
- by reason of its layout, scale, bulk, proximity of the proposed flats at plots 18-26 and 27-37 to Windsor Road and Maidenhead Road and lack of opportunity for landscaping, the proposal would result in a dense pattern of development that would appear overly dominant and cramped within the site and out of keeping with the character of the street scene and wider area. The proposal would not represent good design.
If the Borough Local Plan were to be adopted in its current form site AL22 (the Squires site) would be removed from the Green Belt, so only the density/design considerations would apply.
Aldi store at Wyevale Garden Centre
It was reported in the local press in December that the discount supermarket chain Aldi had agreed a deal to buy the bulk of the Wyevale garden centre site from Wates who acquired it in 2018 (the centre is currently being run by British Garden Centres). The site is part of the proposed AL21 allocation in the Borough Local Plan and under Wates plans they still intend to build 450 homes on the rest of the site in addition to the proposed retail store.
The site allocation in the draft Borough Local Plan does not make provision for retail use within the site, and this use would not be policy compliant – there is also an existing Tesco Superstore just 500m along the Dedworth Road. It is reported that Aldi intends to discuss its plans with RBWM before consulting with the local community and residents should make their views known to local councillors. Such additional development of the AL21 site would represent a significant intensification in use and compound existing concerns on matters such as traffic congestion and air quality.?
If AL21 remains in the local plan and Wates was able to proceed with its plans (which include a community facility, playing fields and 100s of dwellings on this southern part of the site) and Aldi was allowed to build a supermarket the result would be chaos – with all traffic generated having a single point of access/entry on a narrow stretch of the Dedworth Road.
Weight Limit on B3024 Oakley Green Road
RBWM published an Order under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 earlier this month introducing a 7.5 tonnes weight restriction on (a) the B3024 Oakley Green Road from its junction with the B3024 Forest Green Road to its junction with the A308 and (b) Fifield Lane for its entire length. The Order is effective from 20 January, but RBWM advise that due to the amount of signage required, including large new signs on the A308, there will be a slight delay in implementation. It is anticipated that the signage will be up within the next 6 weeks.
We welcome the introduction by RBWM of this limit in response to concerns expressed by residents and the Parish Council at the increasing volume of HGVs using these roads. Once the signage is in place we will need to monitor traffic movements to ensure that the weight restriction is being complied with.
A308 Corridor Study
OGFRA has previously expressed concern at RBWM’s failure to commence a traffic study on the A308 corridor since it was awarded £90,000 by central government towards the cost of the study in March 2018. The study is to be undertaken in conjunction with neighbouring authorities and will look at the A308 from Bisham Roundabout to Staines.
We understand that this study is now belatedly underway but are unclear as to what progress has been made. The study needs to address both existing problems and the effect of future developments/traffic growth, establish appropriate mitigation measures and set out specific proposals to be implemented before any further development is considered along the A308. The range and extent of additional developments along the A308 also gives rise to serious air quality concerns, and we will also be looking carefully at this issue.
31 January 2020