Application 17/04018, 04026, 18/00130 - Claires Court Campus

Comments on Applications 17/04018 - Claires Court Campus, 17/04026 - Sports Pavilion / Hockey Club / Sports Pitches, 18/00130 - 157 dwellings by Berkeley Homes - all off Cannon Lane Maidenhead.

Whatever the merits or otherwise of these three applications they are essentially to be determined on the issue of proposed development within the Green Belt. The protection of the Green Belt has always been a focus of Maidenhead Civic Society's assessment of planning proposals. Recently, we were against the construction of Oldfield School within the Green Belt ( and flood plain ) on Bray Road. We are unhappy with current proposals for the development of Spencers Farm within the Green Belt between Maidenhead and Cookham. However, the Spencers Farm site is earmarked for potential residential development within the emerging Borough Local Plan.

The highly visible and sensitive area of Green Belt to the west of Cannon Lane on which these developments are proposed is not identified for residential development within the Borough Local Plan. Consequently, "Very Special Circumstances" must be proven to permit development of this protected site.

There are merits in the proposals, especially the consolidation of the three existing school sites onto one purpose built campus up at Ridgeway. Currently, there are considerable cross town car and mini bus journeys created by the triple locations. We believe that this aspect of the application should have been supported by a transport survey. Furthermore, the narrow exit and entry onto the Ray Mill Road East site is not suitable for the multiple bus and coach activity at the start and end of the school day. A single purpose built site will be more efficient to operate, and the facilities will be more extensive and up to date. The improvement in sports facilities will be considerable, with the introduction of all weather pitches and a purpose built pavilion. This will also serve as a new home for Maidenhead Hockey Club which will serve the wider community.

Conversely, the relatively remote setting of Ridgeway and the likely profile of Claires Court parents will result in a high level of private car vehicular activity, which will add to the traffic pressures that already exist on Cannon Lane. There will be considerable light pollution created by the night time use of the sports facilities. Being located on the western fringes of Maidenhead this will be detrimental to the rural character of the area lying to the north and west, which includes Maidenhead Thicket and National Trust lands.

In addition to the applications for the school campus and the sports facilities and pavilion there is the third application for 157 residential dwellings to be constructed by Berkeley Homes. These are an integral aspect of the whole scheme, and providing a large element of the financial funding of the entire scheme. For that reason we are reviewing these three applications as a whole, as they are inter-dependent. The applications for 53 dwellings at College Avenue and 11 houses at Ray Mill Road East are dependent on the entire Ridgeway Scheme going ahead. The latter applications are covered separately as they are at different locations.

The residential application includes a mix of dwellings totalling 47 units of affordable housing, which is to be welcomed. However, the total number of dwellings will generate a figure of at least 250 cars ( at 1.5 vehicles per dwelling ). The number of cumulative vehicle movements resulting from the three applications will exert severe pressure on local roads.

As previously stated, this Green Belt site was not identified for residential development within the BLP. If the planning authorities were in favour of this scheme, then it was incumbent on them to include it within the BLP. The applications include a statement to support the "Very Special Circumstances" which are required to take this area of land out of the protection of the Green Belt. It remains to be seen whether so called VSC can be established in this case. The designation of the site is within the decision sphere of the Royal Borough. As a decision was made to omit the site from other Green Belt sites identified within the BLP it can only be assumed that the Royal Borough do not support the proposals.