Since December 2011, when a Planning Application was made to create a Gateway between Holyport Road and the adjacent Green Belt field, some residents of Holyport Road have tried to assess public feeling about this and other matters.
For the gateway, many residents joined with those immediately concerned and strenuously objected. Also a petition against the gateway was created and submitted.
The Bray Parish Council rejected the gateway plans, and the Maidenhead Development Control Panel of RBWM Councillors also rejected the plans.
The Applicant appealed against the RBWM decision; and Central Government, through their Bristol based Planning Inspectorate, permitted the gateway on appeal.
During the interim period between the RBWM rejection and the Planning Inspectorate's acceptance, a developer held local meetings, proposing to build on that same land. His plans included creating a connecting road between Holyport Road from the position of the proposed gateway to the Ascot Road (A330).
In March 2013, we noted that the hedge adjoining the field - (which customarily has been trimmed by the farmer who previously cultivated the land on behalf of the land-owner) had not been trimmed.
The same hedge extends to the North-East to bound Aysgarth Park. That section has been trimmed by the same farmer, the work having been paid for by the Bray Parish Council.
A condition of the Government's Planning Inspectors approval is that the access cannot be used for any purpose other than in connection with the agricultural use of the land.
A further area of concern emerged, this being the Government's introduction of Neighbourhood Planning. A disconcerting aspect of Neighbourhood Planning is that the law enables a Neighbourhood Plan to promote more development than that promoted by the Local Authority’s Local Plan, but does not allow it to require less development.
After completion of a Neighbourhood Plan, residents have to be consulted as to whether or not they will approve the Neighbourhood Plan. Sad to say, however, that the response rate to such referenda or consultations is usually very low - of the order of 4% of those polled. Thus the Neighbourhood Plan could be approved or rejected by only 2% of residents. We need 100% of Holyport residents to vote for or against the Neighbourhood Plan - when it is presented for the vote.
It seems clear from the way Government has set this up, that their intention is to enable more development, and the well known tendency for people to respond to consultations at the very low 4% rate contributes to such development being enabled.
Central Government's action in making it easier for landowners or developers to gain planning permission, as shown by the recent action of the Government’s Planning Inspector in overturning our Local Authority’s ruling on the field gateway, gives us great concern that Government has no respect for residents views.
Another problem then appeared, this being the proposal by Doctor Phillip Lee MP of Bracknell, and Theresa May MP, to have a new hospital built near M4 Junction 8/9. It is obvious to residents of this area that the amount of traffic here, due to a great extent to the existence of M4 Motorway Junction 8/9 would prevent urgent access to and from any hospital in this area. Further, the increased traffic that would result if the proposals become reality, would be a disaster for this area. We appreciate greatly that RBWM Bray Ward Councillors David Burbage, David Coppinger and Leo Walters have objected against the Hospital being located here, saying amongst other things "We would point out the A308/A330 roads are already overloaded particularly at peak times."
Of late, we have another problem on the horizon, this being the proposed creation of Holyport College at the Junction of Forest Green Road and the A330, with its entrance on the busy A330. Whereas it can be appreciated that schools are essential, it seems from the plans presented that insufficient care has been taken on traffic. The traffic chaos that would result from this College is a factor in Bray Parish Council's non-approval of the plans on 4th March 2013. RBWM has now permitted the development to go ahead.
Due to the persistent attacks on life in Holyport; attacks which it seems have become more and more frequent; and due to the seeming failure of individual and small groups of Holyport Residents to do enough to prevent the onslaught of change; it seems essential that a Holyport Resident's Association be established.
It is hoped that the Association will develop so as to be truly representative of the opinions of the people of Holyport, and that by our combined efforts we will be able to resist developers and promotors of unwanted change, who it seems have been given encouragement by Central Government's Localism and Neighbourhood Planning legislation.