|Office plan rejected|
Monday 12 June 2000
The major Castlemore application to build offices on the Henley's site, and a 2-star hotel down Stafferton Way, was blocked by the Borough-wide Planning Panel today.
Members argued it was very poor, only getting 30 flats on 3 sites jointly submitted (King St market, Henley's site and a site further down Stafferton Way behind the sorting office) on ideal brownfield land (not greenbelt). And all the flats were on the smallest site (King St market) squeezed in above retail units next to a new market place.
The panel voted in favour of the King St redevelopment, but against the Henley's and hotel.
This application (market, Henley's and Stafferton Way) was referred up to a Borough-wide panel before the May elections, because it was outside the Town Centre boundary and it needed the wider committee approval.
This had been opposed by the Conservatives on the grounds that two ideal brownfield sites (Henley's and Stafferton Way Highways Depot) would be used for very profitable activities by Castlemore, and they were only offering 30 (tiny) flats on the King St site plus a contribution to local projects.
Cllr Walters said that these brownfield sites should be used for housing. The office application in particular was in direct contravention of the Local Plan.
Cllr Langdown moved approval of all three sites, seconded by Cllr Howes, who spoke to it and said that all the brown/green arguments had been resolved at the earlier committee and that offices would have less traffic impact than flats.
Cllr Lawrence said that the benefits were not sufficient to make a bad plan acceptable.
Cllr Burbage expressed concern that brownfield sites of this size only came up very rarely and this was too good an opportunity to meet housing needs with only 30 flats - we could certainly do better. Maidenhead has an affordable housing shortage - it needs employees more than employers.
Cllr Bruton expressed his support for the plan on the grounds that it was a good all-round deal and the King St development was much needed, and that if the panel rejected it then the whole scheme for the market improvement would fall apart.
The motion to accept the King St plans was approved 9-0. The motions to accept the Henley's and Stafferton Way sites were rejected 5-4. Motions to refuse those 2 applications for non-compliance with the Local Plan and Structure Plan were then approved 5-4.
[The Local Plan Policy E8 says that no office developments over 300sq m will be approved outside designated areas. The Henley's site was not one of them. The Structure Plan calls for more housing to be built across Berkshire over the coming years, including the RBWM. This development was not seen to contribute sufficiently towards that].
Story credit: David Burbage.