Chairman’s Report 2014
The past few years have seen a marked increase in our activity with last year probably the busiest on record. We must have had a least 10 Committee Meetings.
We as an Association are totally committed, amongst other things, to protecting this Green Belt area in which we live. This has meant that when the Royal Borough brought out the Local Plan Preferred Options Consultation naming 7 sites in our area, we knew we needed to react in a positive and constructive way. Two Public meetings were organised and around 200 residents attended. Cllr Saunders as Cabinet Member for Planning & Property Services addressed both meetings to explain why new housing was necessary in the Borough and also how the various sites were identified. 12,500 houses are needed.
Our submission to the Borough opposed very strongly, with good reasons, why development should not take place on these sites. That is, except for the derelict Water Oakley site. Working closely over more than two years with the developers we with the Down Place Residents Association we were able to influence those plans to what we and the local residents considered acceptable. This site had previously been developed and had become an eyesore and we identified this as a special case. At the Development Control Planning meeting I addressed the Councillors and stated that as far as I was concerned this was the first time in 45 years the Residents Association had spoken in support of an Application. The Outline Planning was passed unopposed. I believe that this was an important milestone when Developers came to our Association and sought our advice on a planning issue in our area. If there has to be development then let’s have an influence on it. THIS MUST BE THE WAY FORWARD FOR THE FUTURE.
Having submitted our response in detail to the Borough ( copy on website) we now find out that a further similar Consultation will be necessary later this year with a narrowed down and more precise number of proposed development sites. Look out for further meetings later in the year.
Some of us also attended some of the two day Appeal regarding the Travellers Site on Forest Green Road. The Inspector has until 24th September to submit his decision. A further new Travellers site at Datchet is looking more positive I am told. However, we are keeping up our pressure on the Borough to solve this problem urgently. On the same tack the “travellers Site” on Brayfield farm on the A308 comes up for renewal next year. We are urging the Borough to refuse any extension very strongly.
Other matters that we have been and still are dealing with include:
- Heathrow possible expansion and aircraft noise.
- The use of Lawful Development Certificates to circumvent planning regulations in Green Belt areas such as this. I had hoped to get this onto the agenda for the National Meeting of Residents Associations but it would appear very few other RAs in the Country suffer from this as much as we do!!
- Legoland traffic re routing through Oakley Green
- New housing in Fifield
- War Memorial for Oakley Green. We have been asked to help with this worthwhile project and we are very pleased to do so.
- Bray Parish Neighbourhood Plan / Borough Local Plan
David Coppinger, our local Borough Councillor and Lead Member Adult Services, Health & Sustainability, addressed our Autumn Meeting on 7th November and answered questions on many of the above matters and others.
Finally, after this exhausting year I would like to thank all of my Committee ( 9 of them ) for all their support and very hard work over the past year, especially at the time of the successful public meetings when we printed all the leaflets and made up the display boards etc.
The next 12 months looks just as exhausting though, and again we will be asking you as Residents for your support. This area is constantly under threat and there are likely to be enormous changes in the future not least because of Crossrail. We shall be constantly monitoring the situation on your behalf.
Please support us as much as you can.
Rod Ball, Chairman OGFRA www.ogfra.org
6th June 2014