Applications 22/01537/OUT and 22/01540/FULL - Land at Spencer's Farm

Comments on Applications 22/01537/OUT and 22/01540/FULL - Land at Spencers Farm

Outline application for access to residential development of up to 330 homes, a primary school of up to three form entry with associated landscaping, car parking, drainage and earthworks to facilitate surface drainage, with a full application for enabling works.

It is accepted that this Green Belt site has been identified for residential development within the local Borough Plan. However, our concerns about the site (as highlighted in our BLP consultation comments of December 2019) continue in three main areas: the vulnerability of the site to flooding, the unsatisfactory location of the single access to the site and the proposed scale of development on the site.

Firstly, the flood risk associated with the site is well recognised and the proposed earthworks, attenuating ponds and additional drainage outlined in 22/01450 are evidence of the effort which is required to mitigate against flood issues. The development will be concentrated towards the west of the site on higher ground and the application refers to the provision of surface drainage. However, the eastern section of the site is prone to ground water flooding which will only be exacerbated by the eastwards flow of surface water off the built up areas to the west. We await further assessment of the proposals from the Environment Agency who are statutory consultees in such matters.

Our second concern relates to access. It is proposed to have only one access point from Gardner Road / Cookham Road near Aldebury Road - within 100 metres of the hump backed railway bridge to the west. Visibility over the bridge when approaching from the west is very restricted. There is a proposed second access point for emergency vehicles via Westmead. However, it is evident that the provision of only one poorly sited access point to service 330 homes and a three form entry primary school will create road safety issues and parking congestion especially during school drop off and pick up times. A development of this magnitude requires a second access - even to the west onto Maidenhead Road - although this is complicated by the railway line.  It is noted that the planning application refers to the site address as Summerleaze Road, but the location is presumably too far removed for an access from the southeast.

The scale of the development is our third concern. 330 homes is excessive and there are too many flats within the proposal. It is accepted that a number of flats will be required to deliver affordable homes (which we welcome) but with the oversupply of flats in the town centre it is felt that the provision of yet more open market flats is undesirable in this location. The choice of this site to provide a three form entry primary school is illogical. It will be situated to the north east extremity of the town, and will be far larger than is required to serve the families of the nearby new homes. There will be many school run journeys by parents living to the south with a great deal additional mileage and parking congestion. This is especially the case during afternoon pick up - which requires parents to park up for longer - rather than just drop off as in the mornings. It is noteworthy that the afternoon school run traffic movements are not recorded in the Traffic Analysis submitted with the application because they occur outside "rush hour". It should also be noted that this will be the only three form entry primary school in the Royal Borough with up to 600 pupils and staff in a geographically remote location, with difficult access and parking. Is a school of this size required in NE Maidenhead when another is proposed as part of the SW Maidenhead 2000 plus dwellings development of the Golf Course?

It is noted that this site is a missing link of the Millennium Walk and consideration should be given to incorporating this footpath in the landscaping and layout of the site.

If "Extraordinary Special Circumstances" have been proved to include this Green Belt site within the BLP then the scale of the residential development including the mix of flats, the provision of a second road access and the size of the primary school should be reviewed.