Oakley Green, Fifield and District Community Association Ltd
Borough Local Plan/Garden Centre sites
Planning update 26 - 24.01.2021 - Borough Local Plan/Garden Centre sites
Examination of the Borough Local Plan resumed last October with ‘virtual’ Stage 2 hearings conducted over 15 days concluding in December. The Inspector’s Matters, Issues and Questions (MIQs) formed the basis of the Hearings and these covered a wide range of issues. OGFRA participated in these Hearings either directly or through representation on behalf of the 13 organisations that comprise the RBWM Residents Action Group (RRAG). OGFRA’s direct participation focussed on sites AL21 (land west of Windsor north and south of the A308) and AL22 (Squires Garden Centre site). We argued that (a) AL21 should remain in the Green Belt and that the Council has sufficient ‘buffer’ in terms of proposed housing numbers that development of AL21 is not required and (b) that any development of AL22 would need to be at much lower density and less visually intrusive and in keeping with its setting. We noted our surprise and disappointment that the proposed Aldi superstore on the former Wyevale Garden Centre site had been approved by the RBWM Development Management Panel in October, but the Inspector indicated that as approval had already been granted it was outside the scope of her consideration of the wider AL21 site.

In her concluding remarks the Inspector advised that she would be submitting an interim letter of advice to the Council in the coming weeks and it is anticipated that she will be working with the Council to agree a schedule of further modifications (‘Main Modifications’) to the BLP to resolve soundness and legal compliance issues. These Main Modifications would then need to go out for (another) public consultation. A final Report would then be issued by the Inspector, which could enable the Council to formally adopt the BLP (perhaps later this year, but there are no fixed timescales).

The BLP has introduced a new requirement for Stakeholder Masterplans to be produced for major new developments of 100+ new dwellings – so this includes AL21 with its planned 450 dwellings, Special Educational Needs School and other facilities. Wates in conjunction with RBWM has invited the local community to join a Working Group to review and develop core elements of the Stakeholder Masterplan for the AL21 site and an introductory ‘virtual’ meeting was held last week. A website has been set up www.landwestofwindsor.co.uk where information will be posted; for now it just has the ‘Kick-off booklet’ from last week’s introductory meeting. The next Working Group session will be held this coming Tuesday 26 January at 17.00 and the key theme for this session will be ‘distinctive places’. We have asked that papers be circulated in advance to make sessions more productive, although papers for Tuesday 26 will not be available until Monday 25.

Concerns have been expressed that it is premature to be progressing a Stakeholder Masterplan before the Inspector has set out what issues she has with the draft BLP (which could include modifications to the AL21 allocation). However, RBWM’s position is that it hopes that the AL21 allocation remains and supports Wates moving forward with the Stakeholder Masterplan, but on the basis that it is at Wates’ cost and risk should the AL21 allocation be removed. Participation in the Working Group does not imply support for the allocation, but it should give an opportunity for residents and other interested groups to see what is planned and provide some input. If the AL21 allocation does remain Wates is likely to submit a planning application at the earliest opportunity. In evidence given to the Inspector Wates anticipated that construction could commence by mid-late 2022 and that separate applications would be made for land to the north and south of the A308 which would enable development to take place concurrently on the two parcels of land (with annual delivery of up to 100 new homes).

Update from OGFRA Oakley Green & Fifield Residents Association.