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Saturday 2nd February 2013
Renworth Homes' two planning applications to build on land in the heart of the Furze Platt Conservation Area had already both been refused by RBWM. Now the developer's subsequent appeals have both been dismissed by The Planning Inspectorate.
The inspector concluded "...the height, bulk and solidity of the new built development in both schemes would substantially reduce the value of this area as a green and open element of the area’s established character. This would be the case irrespective of the extent to which the design, detailing and materials of the proposed houses reflect or respect that of others in this locality."
It is primarily on the above grounds that I find both proposals would have significant and unacceptable impacts in terms of character and appearance...
You can read the full determination here: DECISION.pdf
The whole process has taken over two years to reach this point. The Linden Avenue Neighbourhood Group is immensely grateful to everyone who has contributed to fighting the proposals. For giving your time, providing specialist expertise, signing petitions, attending hearings. This has been a splendid example of localism in action.
Has this just been a case of NIMBYism? We don't think so.
The planning gain from this project would have been entirely one-sided, accruing to the developers and the four landowners. The nine other households directly adjacent to the boundary, some of whom have lived in the community for decades, would have suffered overpowering intrusion with NO compensation of any sort. And once the "...valuable green space..." and the associated habitats were lost, there was to be no compensation to the environment.
This was never about stopping all development. It may be anomalous that Tesco can set up in the Conservation Area without needing any planning consent, but the Group has been supportive of other appropriate small-scale developments.
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Here are links to RBWM's website to view the second detailed planning application. The links open within the frame below (other than the PDF file, which opens separately).
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The main changes made are:
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There was tremendous opposition to the previous proposals, and we hope that there will be similar response to this second attempt. If there are any questions you have, we'll do our best to answer them. In the first instance, please contact us via this email address: email@example.com
To formally register an objection you need to write to the planning department at RBWM. When writing, it is essential that you include the planning application reference: 12/00866/FULL. Provide your name and address, otherwise the objection cannot be registered.
Emails can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd greatly appreciate it if you copied us in: email@example.com.
Letters should be sent to:Planning Services
Please sign the RBWM e-petition. You only need to leave your name and an address in the borough.
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I am now writing to thank you for your comments and to let you know that they were taken into account by the Council when considering this application.
The Council also took into account all other relevant factors, including the policies in the Development Plan, and in this case the proposed development was considered unacceptable. The application was therefore refused on 22 December 2011 for the following reasons:
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Here are links to RBWM's website to view the original detailed planning application. The links open within the frame below (other than the PDF file, which opens separately).
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The plan is to open a new road entrance on Linden Avenue between Numbers 10 and 12, and without removing existing trees (just to the right of the yellow house in the photograph below-left). The new road would be almost opposite the Medical Centre entrance. Particularly during school-run peak times, Linden Avenue is a busy road, and is usually lined on one side by parked vehicles. The proposed junction is not expected to have adequate sight-lines for emerging vehicles and is likely to further disrupt the traffic flow.
The developers have employed a consultancy to analyse the traffic situation. Download the Transportation Statement from the RBWM website.
We believe their analysis is flawed. The traffic statistics were collected outside the peak hours (between 10:00 and 12:00) on a dry day with full spring daylight. Their photographs show no traffic and no parked vehicles. The methodology for judging sight-lines does not account for parked vehicles, and is assessed from the curb rather than the driver's likely position.
We undertook our own survey two weeks previously. This tells a very different story, which you can read here. Our focus was on recording traffic volumes and turning manoeuvres, both of which are risk factors. The photographs below show typical mornings, winter and summer, at the proposed access road entrance.
We have prepared a detailed analysis of the traffic situation for submission to RBWM: Traffic and Pedestrian Safety. WARNING: Large filesize (2.0Mb).
Linden Avenue leads to the school crossing patrol on Courthouse Road for the Furze Platt schools. Numerous parents with young children walk and cross Linden Avenue at a time when parked cars line the road and congestion restricts visibility. The photograph (right) shows a parent attempting to cross at the end of the alleyway adjacent to the Medical Centre. The new road would be opposite.
The footway is proposed to be raised by 18cm in the area of the new road crossing, in order to protect tree roots. This is likely to present some challenges to pushchairs.
The Council has published a proposal to declare the Furze Platt Triangle a Conservation Area, to which local residents have contributed the description of the houses, historical background and photographs. There has been some debate for and against in the Maidenhead Advertiser but the threat from this major housing scheme is precisely why the Conservation Area proposal is so important.
You can visit the consultation page on the RBWM website here (opens in a new tab). Click here for the Consultation Document. The closing date for comments was 31st October 2011, so we're now awaiting the Council's determination.
We have re-used some of the materials when making our Heritage submission to RBWM: Heritage Report. WARNING: Large filesize (1.7Mb).
We were pleased to host a walkabout of the proposed Conservation Area by Rt. Hon. Theresa May, MP for Maidenhead on 11th November. Following the visit, Mrs May kindly wrote a letter of support to Mr Ian Trenholm, Chief Executive of RBWM, which you can read here (opens in a new tab).
Above: Mrs May is seen here with local resident Harry Wale and Councillor Hari Sharma inspecting gargoyles on a Linden Avenue roof.
Below: Local resident Piers Alington discusses the Conservation Area with Mrs May and Leader of the Council, Councillor David Burbage.
Furze Platt is an open community. We think it is divisive to embed gated enclaves, as this is planned to be, in such an area. The access road will be private and you will certainly have to pass through a pedestrian gate to approach a house; visitors will have no vehicular access. As has been observed in other infill developments, the parking of visitors' vehicles usually spills out onto the public street.
A wheelie-bin store is to be provided, but on the 'private' side of the gates. Communal bins are often poorly maintained and encourage vermin. Council refuse vehicles will not access the site and householders will be expected to deliver their two or three bins to the bin store for the weekly collection. This will inevitably lead to increased congestion on Linden Avenue each Monday as the three refuse trucks wait for five bins to be transported from and returned to the bin store. It is also questionable how convenient the communal bins will be for the householders themselves.
The road access would be 4.1m wide, with a narrow turning space. It then narrows to under 3m to pass the bin store. Narrow roads and time lost opening the entry gates creates a potentially-unacceptable risk to neighbouring properties.
The green space at the heart of the Furze Platt Triangle is an important habitat. Most of the mature trees on the development plot were destroyed in January 2011 as a pre-emptive measure (photograph below-left). Soon afterwards (July 12th), RBWM imposed a Tree Preservation Order on the public trees on Linden Avenue.
The large development site is set within a larger network of connected gardens, with this wider green area being enclosed by Linden Avenue, Courthouse Road and Camden Road. Together, these gardens provide a large habitat, important to biodiversity in its own right. The gardens serve as an important green corridor between other adjacent habitats important for biodiversity. This wider green area plays host to a rich mix of fauna, including some protected and/or UKBAP (UK Biodiversity Action Plan) priority species. Many of the gardens provide suitable habitats in the form of large undisturbed compost heaps, ponds and wild areas.
Bats, a European protected species, are regularly seen flying around the neighbourhood, including across the proposed development site. In addition, slow worms - Anguis fragilis - (photograph below-centre), another protected species, have been seen in many of the gardens, including on at least one part of the development site. Many other creatures have been seen in the wider area, including, hedgehogs, stag beetles, newts, toads, frogs and many varieties of birds and insects.
Housing developments on garden sites not only reduce important urban habitats by directly removing areas for foraging and nesting, but also fragment existing networks of gardens and other green spaces. This fragmentation can lead to the isolation of small groups of animals, preventing migration and genetic exchange and, ultimately, local extinctions. The decline in rural habitats has meant that urban green areas have become more important for wildlife. Indeed, a higher proportion of certain species can now be found in urban gardens than in more ‘natural’ environments.
For these reasons, housing developments on garden sites, of the sort proposed in Linden Avenue, must be opposed if we are to preserve the biodiversity of this country. The developer claims that the proposed development site has no or low ecological value yet, despite claims in the Advertiser that they always carry out ecological surveys, none were submitted with the planning application.
Here is our ecology submission to RBWM: Ecology Report. WARNING: Large filesize (0.7Mb).
Ardingly is one of the most outstanding Edwardian houses in Maidenhead (photograph above-right). Its existing garage would be removed to make way for the access road, and replaced by three uncovered parking spaces. We previously communicated an earlier proposal in which Ardingly would have been demolished, but it seems that the developers have changed their minds as this was unlikely to get planning consent. But the lack of garaging provision for Ardingly is a worrying sign. The house will be hard to sell without garaging and such a small residual garden. Are the developers likely to return with a second proposal to convert Ardingly into apartments? If so, the remaining rump of garden would be a likely sacrifice to meet the required numbers of car-parking spaces for maybe-five apartments.
The development is bordered by no fewer than eight neighbouring properties. Indeed, one of them will lose half of their existing garden, which is currently rented from one of the scheme participants. Most of the affected householders have quite small gardens, so they will be severely impacted by general neighbour noise, visual intrusion and loss of privacy. The proposed houses are also taller than their neighbours, with Plots 2, 3 and 4 able to look directly down onto and into existing houses and gardens.
The proposed gardens are also small, typically 8-10m long. So they are likely to be fully used for social gatherings e.g. summer barbeques. Three existing houses are within 7m of the boundaries, and one is just 3m. Of course, that would seem quite generous to many people, but there is no compensation to these householders for the loss of amenity that they currently enjoy.
The developer is: Renworth Homes, George V Place, WINDSOR. Berkshire SL4 1QP. TELEPHONE: 01753 251251 FACSIMILE: 01753 856569. E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.renworth.com
Lambourne Gate in Burnham is a similar Renworth Homes development to that proposed in Linden Avenue, which is now nearly complete. Click here to see the before-and-after details.
We have a selection of current and historical maps and plans of the area which may interest you. Go to Maps page.
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Furze Platt Triangle was designated on 15th December 2011 as Maidenhead's newest Conservation Area.
List of Conservation Areas (opens in a new tab)
Furze Platt Triangle proposal (PDF file)