Agenda item

Public Questions

The deadline for receipt of public questions (which must relate directly to an item on the agenda) is 9am Monday 21 October 2019.

 

(A Member responding to a question shall be allowed up to five minutes to reply to the initial question and up to two minutes to reply to a supplementary question. The questioner shall be allowed up to one minute to put the supplementary question)

Minutes:

a)    Tim Veale of Bisham and Cookham ward asked the following question of Councillor Coppinger, Lead Member for Planning and Maidenhead:

 

Why has Lower Mount Farm greenbelt been included in the plan and the farm itself not been considered instead as this is already used for industrial purposes?

 

A written response was provided:

 

The plan has to be based on evidence, this includes requirements to meet the Borough’s need for housing, employment and other uses. The proposed allocation site (AL37) was assessed as making only a moderate contribution to green belt purposes. The farm itself provides important employment floor space.

 

By way of a supplementary question, Mr Veale asked what qualified as a modest contribution to the Green Belt and how this was assessed?

 

Councillor Coppinger agreed to respond in writing as this was a technical question.

 

Councillor Werner commented that Members needed to hear the answers to the supplementary questions. The Managing Director explained that the public questions did not form part of the report on the Borough Local Plan. It would be wrong to try to give a detailed answer to a supplementary questions that the council had not previously seen; this would be just as risky to do so in terms of decision-making. Members of the public would have the opportunity to provide feedback in the consultation, if the report were approved.

 

b)   The Mayor, on behalf of Andrew Hill of Boyn Hill ward, asked the following question of Councillor Coppinger, Lead Member for Planning and Maidenhead

 

Paragraph 3.4.6 notes access to hospitals and GP's is often "...a cause for concern in public consultations". Yet the revised plan adds 100+ residences on King Edward & St Marks Hospital sites. With thousands of new residents planned for, and a move away from cars, why is RBWM promoting a plan that reduces the best accessible land for hospital expansion?

 

A written response was provided:

 

The PCT and CCG are responsible for planning for healthcare needs. The Council has worked closely with both organisations in the development of the BLP. The PCT/CCG has provided the following information in reply to your question:

 

For St Marks: ‘The part disposal of site will allow the current Health & Social Care activity to be reconfigured and expanded, therefore creating additional jobs in line with the national increase of care.

It is planned to retain and expand the current Health & Care activity on a retained part of the site, serving the community, providing jobs and releasing space to reinvest in fit of purpose modern healthcare facilities.

 

For King Edward: ‘The part disposal of site will allow the current Health & Social Care activity to be reconfigured and expanded, therefore creating additional jobs in line with the national increase of care. The service transformation plans should mean that health and social care services are considerably enhanced’

 

By way of a supplementary question, the Mayor asked the following question on behalf of Andrew hill:

 

The same paragraph (3.4.6) also points out that there is no A&E service in the Borough. With such a large increase in population planned, why is there no pressure to add this vital infrastructure locally, and as we are encouraging residents to abandon their cars, why are the travel times to access the 4 hospitals outside the Borough only given as “by car”?

 

Councillor Carroll responded that A&E services were the responsibility of NHS England in coordination with the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). Plans were being developed as part of the NHS long term plan for an Integrated System of Care. A&E services would be under constant review in terms of locality and response times. He would be happy to discuss the issue again with the CCG but ultimately it would be a decision of NHS England.

 

 

c)    Lisa Hughes of Furze Platt ward asked the following question of Councillor Coppinger, Lead Member for Planning and Maidenhead:

 

BLP Policy HO2(1c) suggests 5% of homes on larger developments should be Accessible and Adaptable. This only provides around 400 homes vs the forecast of 32,000 disabled residents, not nearly enough!  What data sources and methodology were used to develop this policy and fulfil RBWM’s duty to assess and plan for the housing needs of residents with disabilities?

A written response was provided:

 

We recognise the point, could I please encourage you to respond to the consultation with the evidence that you have so it can be considered.  I agree that we want a flexible housing stock that will help meet the wide range of accommodation needs including being accessible, adaptable and age friendly supporting the changing needs of individuals and families at different stages of life.

 

The policy expects that a proportion of new housing should meet the higher accessibility standards of Requirement M4(2) of the Building Regulations on sites of over 20 units having regard to townscape, design and amenity. Provision to meet the higher wheelchair user standards M4(3) will be encouraged where it is practicable and viable to do so.

 

The balance is that development has to be viable otherwise it will not come forward. The viability work highlighted a risk to development if the policy seeks to achieve higher proportions.

 

By way of a supplementary question, Ms Hughes stated that the evidence the council encouraged people to submit was broadly similar as that which was submitted in the last consultation, therefore why would it make a difference this time?

 

Councillor Coppinger responded that time had passed and there was a greater understanding of the issues and concerns.

 

d)   Edward Farish of Bisham and Cookham ward asked the following question of Councillor Coppinger, Lead Member for Planning and Maidenhead:

 

How does the council plan to accommodate 270 more vehicles, additional traffic, when entry to Cookham at Ferry Lane and Maidenhead Road, both have single one way give way roads under a railway bridge, over the Thames River? Presently, parking in Cookham High Road is almost impossible, due to weekday commuters parking in the village from Marlow and Bourne End.

 

A written response was provided:

 

A strategic transport assessment accompanies the BLP which considers a reasonable worst case of the potential transport impacts on the highway network across the borough as a result of the development in the local plan as well as development taking place in neighbouring authorities. The assessment shows for Cookham that whilst there will be some increase in traffic, the key junctions are expected to still operate within an acceptable level of service. The BLP encourages the use of sustainable modes of transport, such as walking, cycling and using public transport. Great Western Railway is at an advanced stage of developing a scheme to improve the points at Bourne End. When implemented, this will enable two trains per hour between Marlow and Maidenhead without the need for Marlow passengers to change trains at Bourne End as they do now.

 

This will make the branch line service more attractive for commuters and will help to reduce pressure on parking in Cookham Rise. The scheme has already secured funding from the Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership and has provisionally secured additional funds from Thames Valley Berkshire LEP subject to production of a satisfactory business case.

 

Mr Farish conformed he did not wish to ask a supplementary question.

 

e)    The Mayor, on behalf of Liz Kwantes of Bisham and Cookham ward, asked the following question of Councillor Coppinger, Lead Member for Planning and Maidenhead:

 

I understand that the Plan includes a plan to build houses close to the Strande in Cookham. I understood this area is in the flood plain, are you planning to build houses in the flood plain? 

 

A written response was provided:

 

The plan includes an allocation for residential development east of Strande Park. Only a very small proportion of the site (6.4%) is affected by flooding and none of the site is in the functional floodplain. All 20 dwellings would need to be built in the areas of the site at lowest risk of flooding.

 

Ms Kwantes had not submitted a supplementary question.

 

f)     Liz Kwantes of Bisham and Cookham ward asked the following question of Councillor Coppinger, Lead Member for Planning and Maidenhead:

The site of the old gas works off Whyteladyes Lane is also the site of an arboretum of 40 native British trees given to Cookham by British Gas. Is it planned to keep these trees? They are actually planted around the edge of the site. The arboretum was opened by Timmy Mallett along with executives of British Gas.

A written response was provided:

 

Thank you for bringing the presence of this important biodiversity asset to our attention. I would encourage you to respond to the consultation. The policy for this allocation (AL36) requires the developer to retain mature trees and hedgerows on the site where possible. It does not specifically require this arboretum to be retained

 

Ms Kwantes had not submitted a supplementary question.

 

g)   Jan Stannard of St Mary’s Ward asked the following question of Councillor Coppinger, Lead Member for Planning and Maidenhead:

 

Our Borough has lost species like water voles and turtle doves. Others like yellowhammers are at risk of local extinction. The lack of any Borough-wide approach to the support of species population growth is a serious oversight arising from the notable absence of a Biodiversity Action Plan. Can the Council explain how Borough-wide action will be taken to cover this?

 

A written response was provided:

 

The Council’s firm intention is to address biodiversity as an urgent priority, although no decisions have yet been made on the precise mechanisms for achieving this. A Cross Party Climate Change Group has been established. This group will develop the corporate policy that will address climate change issues in the Borough. However this is progressed, we will be working closely with the relevant interest groups in order to benchmark what our biodiversity looks like now, and what we want it to look like in the future, water voles and turtle doves included

 

By way of a supplementary question, Ms Stannard thanked Councillor Coppinger for the answer that no decisions had yet been made on precise mechanisms but Wild Maidenhead observed that surrounding councils used biodiversity action plans as their mechanism so she asked why this was not the obvious answer to give?

 

Councillor Coppinger responded that the cross party working group was due to look at the issue and it may be that the suggestion was what the council decided to follow.

 

h)   Deborah Mason of Riverside wardasked the following question of Councillor Coppinger, Lead Member for Planning and Maidenhead:

 

Mitigation for net biodiversity gain on individual development sites may produce an insufficient variety of habitats which would have an impact upon species, and this would only become apparent with strategic oversight. Where in the Plan is the Borough-wise monitoring of mitigation habitats?

 

A written response was provided:

 

The proposed revisions to the BLP include a greater emphasis on protecting and enhancing biodiversity. Development proposals will be required to avoid the loss of biodiversity and to identify where there are opportunities for biodiversity to be improved. The plan includes a monitoring framework, including amount of priority habitat lost and gained and also percentage of development with biodiversity net gain. The level of detail being requested is not proportionate for a high level land use plan.

 

By way of a supplementary question, Ms Mason asked whether the council would agree to put in borough-wide oversight to ensure sufficient habitat for a wide variety of species?

 

Councillor Coppinger responded that there would be a detailed biodiversity action plan which should pick up all the points raised.

 

i)     Deborah Mason of Riverside wardasked the following question of Councillor Coppinger, Lead Member for Planning and Maidenhead:

 

Why, in modelling transport times to hospitals, are no figures given for sustainable transport options: bus, bike, walk? Given a move to sustainable transport is part of the overall plan strategy?”

 

A written response was provided:

 

The council has an adopted Local Transport Plan which has as one of its objectives to improve access to key local services through sustainable modes.

All the main hospitals in the area, including Heatherwood, St Marks, King Edward VII and Wexham Park, are well served by buses, but there are some particular journeys that do not have a direct service, such as Maidenhead to Heatherwood. We also have the People to Places service and several voluntary transport services that do hospital runs, and the South Central Ambulance Service provides non-emergency ambulance transport. Walking and cycling are less relevant for patient transport, but may be relevant to staff travel. The hospitals are all served by footways and have good crossings on main roads.Cycle networks are less well developed, but RBWM is committed to delivering the Cycling Action Plan, including a number of improvements that would improve access to hospitals.

 

By way of a supplementary question, Ms Mason commented that the plan identified that transport to hospitals was an important need and that there had been a deterioration. She asked what were the plans, not policies, to provide disabled transport to hospitals?

 

Councillor Coppinger responded that part of the work to be done was to look at transport for all needs. There was a lack of buses; this would be looked at in more detail as the plan period progressed.

 

j)     Fiona Hewer of Bisham and Cookham ward asked the following question of Councillor Coppinger, Lead Member for Planning and Maidenhead:

 

This Plan proposes only piecemeal mitigation of harm to biodiversity for its approximately 300 hectares of new development on greenfield sites, and does not plan strategically for the cumulative impact on biodiversity. Will the Council agree to create a new nature reserve to fill this strategic gap in provision?

 

A written response was provided:

 

The Council’s firm intention is to address biodiversity as an urgent priority, although no decisions have yet been made on the precise mechanisms for achieving this. A Cross Party Climate Change Group has been established. This group will develop the corporate policy that will address climate change issues in the Borough. As this work is at an early stage, it is too soon to commit to the provision of a nature reserve. There is about 200 hectares of new development proposed on greenfield sites in the proposed changes and a greater emphasis on protecting and enhancing biodiversity. Every site allocation, including the many that are not greenfield, will need to bring forward biodiversity improvements – Policy QP2. The Council is proposing 3 sites that are specifically being allocated for green infrastructure and managed for biodiversity enhancement, as well as other functions. Outside of the plan making process, and further demonstrating its commitment to biodiversity, the Council has recently introduced Battlemead Common into the public domain and it is to be managed for biodiversity, amongst other functions.

 

By way of a supplementary question, Ms Hewer commented that it was hugely disappointing to Wild Maidenhead that the Plan was not able to recommend a new nature reserve to compensate for losses due to housing development. The Plan did however recognise the importance of local wildlife sites and conservation of species. Many of the local wildlife sites were deteriorating due to lack of conservation management. She therefore asked what action the council would take to ensure local wildlife sites had conservation management plans and that those plans were implemented?

 

Councillor Coppinger responded that this would be a main objective for the cross party working group. He pointed out the council had already done this for Battlemead Common, which was a step forward.

 

k)    Maria Evans, on behalf of Sarah Bowden of Boyn Hill ward, asked the following question of Councillor Coppinger, Lead Member for Planning and Maidenhead:

 

To the best of my knowledge, the Sustainability Appraisal was made available to the public and Councillors late on Friday evening (18th of October), only three working days before this meeting. Could you please advise us if this report has, as recommended by the Local Government Association, been integral to the plan making process?

 

A written response was provided:

 

I can confirm that sustainability appraisal is an iterative process and the work has been integral to plan making. The accompanying SA report to the proposed changes could only be finalised once all of the other work is completed and the proposed changes also finalised: the report documenting the work was uploaded on Friday.

 

By way of a supplementary question, Ms Evans commented that she was pleased to hear the SA was integral to the development of the plan but the NPPF stated that the main purpose of planning was to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development. The SA said the plan would result in a 1% increase in emissions which would exacerbate the impact of climate change. It was a plan that did not offer adequate mitigation or address the climate emergency the council had already declared. This was a plan without a plan. Given that councillors had just received the SA with little time to consider it, how could they be certain the plan was sustainable and sound?

 

Councillor Coppinger responded that he acknowledged that the document was updated quite late. The cross party working group would be looking at the issues raised.

 

l)     Harriet Pleming of Bisham and Cookham ward asked the following question of Councillor Stimson, Lead Member for Environmental Services Climate Change, Sustainability, Parks and Countryside:

 

The BLP states Climate Change is “inevitable”. It focuses on adaption leaving developers responsible for proposing piecemeal mitigation measures. The trend to 2033 each person will generate 86kg, equivalent to the average man’s weight, per week of CO2 and with this plan you will not keep the climate change emergency commitment. The plan does not acknowledge nor address this, why?

 

A written response was provided:

 

The proposed changes to the BLP include a much greater emphasis on climate change mitigation and adaptation along with other corporate initiatives, the BLP as amended will help to deliver the Council’s climate change emergency declaration. A Cross Party Climate Change Group has been established. This group will develop the corporate policy that will address climate change issues in the Borough.

 

By way of a supplementary question, Ms Pleming commented that policy N47 of the SA stated that the Plan would lead to an increase in emissions of 22.5% and that planning policies and site allocations were not expected to mitigate the adverse effects on the climate. There were no plans for renewable energy development, no plans to transport shifts, no plans to do anything to address climate change yet the council believed its residents would instinctively choose to reduce environmental impacts. Ms Pleming asked if the council agreed that without targets and actions at the heart of the plan, the council was abdicating its emergency responsibilities and that the revised plan could not be approved?

 

Councillor Stimson responded that she had yet to lead a meeting of the cross party working group as she had just taken on her Lead Member role. She welcomed the questions and assured the public that she would do everything she could to get to the 2050 target of zero carbon emissions. The Plan increased emissions because it included new development, therefore mitigation was needed. The council would look at sustainability and biodiversity and identify everything it could to reduce the carbon footprint. The sooner the Plan was approved the sooner the work could start.

 

m) Rachel Cook of Boyn Hill ward asked the following question of Councillor Coppinger, Lead Member for Planning and Maidenhead:

 

Where does the Borough Local Plan ensure that developer mitigations are sustainable, e.g. that wildflower areas don't fail after a few years, trees die or ponds silt up?

 

A written response was provided:

 

The BLP as amended contains a more detailed and demanding set of requirements for development proposals, including the provision of green and blue infrastructure. At the planning application stage, conditions can be attached to ensure that these measures are maintained in the longer term.

 

By way of a supplementary question, Ms Cook commented that housing infrastructure could be greened for wildlife and there was a responsibility to ensure that there was not a loss of biodiversity. Conditions in planning were very important and she welcomed the response of the council. She asked who would monitor and enforce the obligations on developers after they had built the housing to ensure there was not a net loss of biodiversity?

 

Councillor Coppinger responded that residents were brilliant at telling the council when someone had not done what they should.

 

n)     The Mayor, on behalf of Katherine Price of Bisham and Cookham, ward asked the following question of Councillor Coppinger, Lead Member for Planning and Maidenhead:

 

270 homes are planned for Cookham and 750 are planned for the Hedsor site Bourne End. What is the exact infrastructure plan for Cookham to support up to 2,000 extra cars locally, specifically at The Pound, Cookham Bridge and Maidenhead Road railway bridge, which are all single lane or close to?

 

A written response was provided:

 

A strategic transport assessment accompanies the BLP which considers a reasonable worst case of the potential transport impacts on the highway network across the borough as a result of the development in the local plan as well as development taking place in neighbouring authorities. The assessment shows for Cookham that whilst there will be some increase in traffic, the key junctions are expected to still operate within an acceptable level of service. The BLP encourages the use of sustainable modes of transport, such as walking, cycling and using public transport.

 

Ms Price had not submitted a supplementary question.

 

o)     The Mayor, on behalf of Katherine Price of Bisham and Cookham ward asked the following question of Councillor Coppinger, Lead Member for Planning and Maidenhead:

 

Our Cookham schools are all full, so what is the exact provision for primary school places within the Cookham Rise catchment where all the housing is planned for? In addition, how many extra school places are planned for Furze Platt Seniors?

 

A written response was provided:

 

Children's Services carried out an assessment of the likely impact of the Borough Local Plan on demand for school places. The housing planned for the Bisham and Cookham area could result in a maximum additional demand of 22 children at Reception. Whilst the three Cookham primary schools are currently full, many children attending the schools (about 36%) live outside the Cookham villages. There is, therefore, capacity within those schools to accommodate the additional demand through the normal operation of the school admissions rules. The Infrastructure Delivery Plan sets out proposed expansion plans that would accommodate additional demand across the whole Borough. In addition, the Council is currently carrying out more detailed feasibility work to identify the potential for expansion at all 60 (state) schools in the borough. The outcome of this will be reported to Cabinet in early 2020. Furze Platt Senior School has recently been expanded by 60 places per year group.

 

Ms Price had not submitted a supplementary question.

 

p)     Holly Milburn of Bisham and Cookham ward asked the following question of Councillor Coppinger, Lead Member for Planning and Maidenhead:

 

Given the passage of time since the last consultation on the Plan, please confirm that the six week consultation period (2019) will allow/take into account representations from residents regarding the entire Plan for submission to the Inspector and not just the more recent proposed changes (letters dated 26 July and 7 October 2019 from Ms Jackson and Ms Phillips respectively)?

 

A written response was provided:

 

The forthcoming consultation, if approved by Council, will allow residents and others to comment on the proposed changes to the plan. Through the Examination process the Inspector will consider the BLP in its entirety and will take previous representations made into account.

 

By way of a supplementary question, Ms Milburn commented that she was aware the next consultation phase was in relation to the proposed changes only. However, having not got the Plan correct the first time around in terms of legality and in the interests of fairness with the significant changes now being discussed, she asked would the Council not consider it prudent to essentially re-run a Regulation 19 style consultation in order for representations to be made in the context of the entire revised proposed Plan to avoid legal challenge later on?

 

Councillor Coppinger responded that the Plan was currently in a period of examination. The Inspector had not requested a full re-run therefore the council had not considered one. The Inspector would look at everything if the plan was approved later in the meeting.

 

q)     Holly Milburn of Bisham and Cookham ward asked the following question of Councillor Coppinger, Lead Member for Planning and Maidenhead:

 

We remain concerned about the Plan’s lack of up to date information/evidence relating to delivery, viability (effectiveness) and consistency with national policy. Councils are encouraged in government guidance to conduct a self-assessment relating to “soundness”. If one has been undertaken, will it be made publicly available; if one has not been completed, what is the justification for this?

 

A written response was provided:

 

At each stage of plan making a viability assessment has been completed and published on the Council website. New evidence has been prepared to inform the work requested by the Inspector. This is published on our website. Soundness of the plan, including consistency with national policy, is now a matter for the Inspector appointed to examine the plan and is the purpose of the examination stage.

 

By way of a supplementary question, Ms Milburn commented that whilst she appreciated the soundness was a matter for the Inspector, would the council now undertake a self-assessment prior to submission to the Inspector, as she understood this was separate to a viability assessment?

 

Councillor Coppinger responded that he would provide a written response to the question.

 

r) Adam Bermange of Boyn Hill ward asked the following question of Councillor Coppinger, Lead Member for Planning and Maidenhead:

 

The National Planning Policy Framework states; "The preparation and review of all policies should be underpinned by relevant and up-to-date evidence...." Could the Lead Member please explain, in the absence of a Biodiversity Action Plan, what evidence the Borough has used to form the basis of conserving and enhancing biodiversity in the Borough Local Plan incorporating current Proposed Changes?

 

A written response was provided:

 

The Council’s firm intention is to address biodiversity as an urgent priority, although no decisions have yet been made on the precise mechanisms for achieving this. However this is progressed, we will be working closely with community and environmental groups in order to benchmark what our biodiversity looks like now, and what we want it to look like in the future.

 

In developing the policies on Nature Conservation, the council has used national guidance and planning practice, extensive information held on our GIS system and in-house expert advice, as well as consulting Natural England and the Environment Agency. The NPPF requires the production of an adequate and proportionate evidence base to underpin Local Plans. A Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) is not an essential evidence document for the BLP.

 

By way of a supplementary question, Mr Bermange commented that he had been encouraged by the earlier answers about a biodiversity action plan and the cross party group. In relation to the SA that had been published the previous evening, he noticed that 30 out of 40 allocation sites had adverse impacts on biodiversity. He realised that policy NP2 was strongly positive about biodiversity but if there was a conflict between NP2 and allocated sites, he asked what was the balance to ensure biodiversity had a proper place in the planning process?

 

Councillor Coppinger responded that the council would be able to make that appraisal when detailed planning applications were received. He assured Mr Bermange it would be top of the list.

 

s)  Adam Bermangeof Boyn Hill ward asked the following question of Councillor Coppinger, Lead Member for Planning and Maidenhead:

 

Would the Lead Member please explain why Historic Environment Policy HE3 has been removed as part of the Proposed Changes and can he state whether the Council remains committed to bringing forward a Borough-wide Local List of Non-Designated Heritage Assets?

 

A written response was provided:

 

Policy HE3 is proposed to be deleted as HE1 has been amended to incorporate the requirement to conserve and enhance non designated as well as designated heritage assets. The Council does not have the capacity and resources to produce a Borough wide local list at this time. However, a borough wide Heritage Strategy using Government funding is to be prepared shortly. This will include wide engagement with many stakeholders.

 

By way of a supplementary question, Mr Bermange commented that he had seen the excellent work undertaken by the Windsor and Eton Society to create a list of non-designated heritage assets, however this would not cover the whole of the borough. Policy HE1 asked for protection of such assets; he asked how this could be done if there was not a local list?

 

Councillor Coppinger commented that the council did not currently have the resource to do so at the moment but it would have the resource in future.

 

t)   Tim Veale, on behalf of Kate Veale of Bisham and Cookham ward, asked the following question of Councillor Coppinger, Lead Member for Planning and Maidenhead:

 

What infrastructure actions will be guaranteed for Cookham / Cookham Rise's future to cope with increased traffic?

 

A written response was provided:

 

A strategic transport assessment accompanies the BLP which considers a reasonable worst case of the potential transport impacts on the highway network across the borough as a result of the development in the local plan as well as development taking place in neighbouring authorities. The assessment shows for Cookham that whilst there will be some increase in traffic and delays, the key junctions are expected to still operate within an acceptable level of service. The BLP encourages the use of sustainable modes of transport, such as walking, cycling and using public transport. Detailed mitigation of the traffic impacts for the proposed allocations in Cookham will be dealt with at the planning application stage.

 

By way of a supplementary question, Mr Veale commented that he would like to understand the detail behind the response ‘some increase in traffic and delays’ at key pinch points. It could take up to 30 minutes at bad peak times to get from Cookham over to Bourne End. He asked if there was anything that was going to happen to help Cookham if development was going to take place in the area?

 

Councillor Coppinger explained that the modelling had taken account of the worst case scenario. It took no account of the moves the cross party working group would make for example in relation to sustainable transport and buses. When a planning application came in it would be measured against what had been achieved.

 

u)  Paul Strzelecki of Bisham and Cookham ward asked the following question of Councillor Coppinger, Lead Member for Planning and Maidenhead:

 

Two years ago, I represented the BLP was ‘unsound’ regarding site allocations placing 260, now 270, 90% greenbelt homes in Cookham. Still not addressed, the BLPRV remains ‘unsound’ in justification let alone breaching related ‘duty to cooperate’ “grounds.  Will you agree and remove these allocations?

 

A written response was provided:

 

As I have explained the plan is evidence led: the site selection process which the Council has now undertaken in response to a request from the Inspector is a robust and independent process which properly considers flood risk and sequential selection of sites. The resulting proposed allocations are considered to represent a sound approach. The two Green Belt sites (AL37 and AL38) make a moderate and low contribution to Green Belt purposes respectively. Please note that 270 dwellings on sites in Cookham represents only 3% of the total number of dwellings allocated in the plan, which is in accordance with the Spatial Strategy. I suggest that your view is a matter which you might wish to raise through the consultation, if this is agreed by Council.

 

By way of a supplementary question, Mr Strzelecki commented that he did not believe the response answered his question or those in his submission 18 months previously. The Cookham proposals would be catastrophic in all aspects of sustainability including green belt, flood plan, grid lock and overloaded services, not to mention the proposals on the Wycombe side of the bridge. The proposals would affect the historic context of Cookham. Given that the Deputy Head of Planning at the council had conceded in writing a month previously that they had not used best practice in a planning decision he asked if the council agreed this was another example of not best planning practice?

 

Councillor Coppinger responded that the Plan was evidence-led; although he knew that Mr Strzelecki disagreed with the evidence. Changes would come through as a result of the cross-party working group and the situation could be reviewed in light of planning applications that came in down the line.

 

v)  Paul Strzelecki of Bisham and Cookham ward asked the following question of Councillor Clark, Lead Member for Highways and Transport:

 

There is a 2175 dwelling (15%) over identification to target (16435v14260) not present in the original BLP, leading to unknown Borough spatial deployment results. Has a range of viable road and infrastructure scenarios been developed to validate various combinations of optional site developments and if so, why was that report not made available? If not, why not?

 

A written response was provided:

 

In the proposed plan we have undertaken to meet in full our identified housing need. There are also enhanced quality of place policies in the plan, it is a challenge to meet both requirements over the plan period. It is better to have a buffer rather than a shortfall in potential housing delivery. The sites selected meet the criteria set out in the site selection methodology. The impacts of this scale of development have been considered through a variety of evidence studies, including transport modelling, with detailed modelling of certain junctions which need modifying to cope with the increased traffic generated, water quality impacts, SA and SEA, sequential and where needed exception testing for flooding, impacts on a variety of infrastructure including schools. The viability report tests a series of typologies and different underlying assumptions.

 

By way of a supplementary question, Mr Strzelecki stated that the Plan had a plus 2000 dwelling over-identification target. Were there scenarios built in the transport plan so that a range of possibilities using the over-identification had been modelled to lead to the most sustainable plan possible?

 

Councillor Coppinger responded that the numbers quoted were 100% correct. The council had to have a 10% safety margin on top; the council had gone 5% on top of that.

 

Councillor Clark responded that the written answer clearly identified the transport modelling that had been undertaken used a worst case scenario. As planning applications came through, the utmost care would be taken to consider transport and sustainability issues.

 

w)    Callista Gormallyof Bisham and Cookham ward asked the following question of Councillor Coppinger, Lead Member for Planning and Maidenhead:

Are the 20 proposed residential units on Strande Lane going to be mobile homes or houses?

A written response was provided:

 

The Land east of Strande Park was a BLPSV allocation and, following the site review, has been confirmed again as a sound allocation site. The plan is concerned with proposed site allocations: any proposals would need to be the subject of a planning application in future – in terms of mobile homes or dwellings there is no distinction in the term ‘units’ ... this is a level of detail which is not a matter for plan making.

 

Ms Gormally confirmed she did not wish to ask a supplementary question.

 

x)     Callista Gormallyof Bisham and Cookham ward asked the following question of Councillor Coppinger, Lead Member for Planning and Maidenhead:

Development proposals for land on the east side of Strande Park have not been successful previously, why has it been this time? 

A written response was provided:

 

Land to the east of Strande Park was a proposed allocation in the submission version of the plan which was approved by this Council in June 2017 for submission to the Secretary of State. Following the review of site allocations, there is no change to this part of the plan proposed at this stage: so it will be for the Inspector to consider it through the Examination Process.

 

Ms Gormally confirmed she did not wish to ask a supplementary question.

y)        Ann Taylor of Clewer and Dedworth West ward asked the following question of Councillor Coppinger, Lead Member for Planning and Maidenhead:

 

Given the permanent state of gridlock on the A308 at peak times and other, how can the Borough justify conceding that a further 1000 vehicles or more could pour onto this road from a single location, i.e. HA11(L21, 22), Green Belt land on the edge of Windsor, with the resultant catastrophic effects, particularly on air quality from stationary traffic?

 

A written response was provided:

 

A strategic transport assessment accompanies the BLP which considers a reasonable worst case of the potential transport impacts on the highway network across the borough as well as development taking place in neighbouring authorities. This has identified some strategic interventions along the A308 to support the development associated with the local plan

 

By way of a supplementary question, Ms Taylor commented that there was a permanent state of gridlock on the A308 and the proposal was to add more than 1000 vehicles. The response referred to ‘strategic interventions’; Ms Taylor wanted to know what these were. The policy section on environmental protection and air pollution said that appropriate mitigation must be in place for increases in air pollution. She asked how this would help people sitting in gridlock at peak time breathing in fumes?

 

Councillor Coppinger commented that this was reasonably theoretical at this stage. Details would be clearer when planning applications were received. Work was about to start on the A308 which would hopefully provide some of the answers Ms Taylor was looking for.

 

z)         Ann Taylor of Clewer and Dedworth West ward asked the following question of Councillor Coppinger, Lead Member for Planning and Maidenhead:

 

The Borough has £90,000 to fund an A308 traffic study, which is fundamental in ensuring the soundness of decisions regarding site selection. When completed, will the results of this study be taken into account in this respect? West Windsor is already an Air Quality Management Area as is Holyport/M4 area?

 

A written response was provided:

 

The proposed A308 study will build on the work of the BLP and seek to identify a preferred package of measures to support a wide range of objectives that go beyond just mitigating the impacts of development. Through the study there will be wide engagement with key stakeholders and the outcomes are expected to be incorporated into the council’s Infrastructure Delivery Plan. The A308 corridor study does not relate to site selection and that was not its purpose or intent.

 

By way of a supplementary question, Ms Taylor asked if Councillor Coppinger thought that simple measures would be effective; was the real solution not completely new infrastructure?

 

Councillor Coppinger responded that the Infrastructure Development Plan was a live document and would take into account if new roads were required. Everything was done on a worst case scenario at the moment.

 

aa)  Julia Greens of Bisham and Cookham ward asked the following question of Councillor Coppinger, Lead Member for Planning and Maidenhead:

To allow the planned  “Growth for Education”, can the Council please detail their intensions of how this can be achieved without the additional  use  of further virgin  or loss of School sports grounds. In particularly in Cookham, school expansion is most likely to have to result in expanding into and over Alfred Manor Recreation Ground?

A written response was provided:

 

Children's Services carried out an assessment of the likely impact of the Borough Local Plan on demand for school places. The housing planned for the Bisham and Cookham area could result in a maximum additional demand of 22 children at Reception.

 

The Infrastructure Delivery Plan sets out proposed expansion plans that would accommodate additional demand across the whole Borough. In addition, the Council is currently carrying out more detailed feasibility work to identify the potential for expansion at all 60 (state) schools in the borough. The outcome of this will be reported to Cabinet in early 2020.

 

By way of a supplementary question, Ms Greens commented that 22 reception places was woefully underestimated because schools in Cookham took in children from Furze Platt, Riverside and elsewhere. In the past when there were expansion plans in Cookham, Holy Trinity had had to expand into the green fields. She could only see this happening again at Cookham Rise; would the Councillor agree?

 

Councillor Carroll responded the council was undertaking initial assessments to look at the future demand for places required. The council was liaising with the DfE about what would potentially be required if the Plan was passed. It was the responsibility for the DfE to ensure they supported the borough with funding if the number of places increased. Councillor Carroll stated that he would be happy to meet to go into detail if this was requested.

 

bb)Julia Greens of Bisham and Cookham ward asked the following question of Councillor Coppinger, Lead Member for Planning and Maidenhead:

With a clear directive insisting absolutely everything is done to use previously developed land and avoid the use of Greenbelt and virgin land how can the RBWM justify including land at Lower Mount Farm and Strand Park, both in a high flood risk areas with a natural spring above that once built on prevents future natural drainage through virgin soil?

A written response was provided:

 

In order to deliver the housing to meet the identified housing need the BLP seeks to provide the correct balance between limited Green Belt release and using previously developed land. Lower Mount Farm is completely in flood zone 1 (low risk) and only a very small proportion (2%) of the land east of Strand Park site is in a high risk flood zone.

 

By way of a supplementary question, Ms Greens commented that the Broxtowe letter said councils should do all they could to use previously developed land. Why in the revised Plan had brownfield sites been removed but Green Belt had been included?

Councillor Coppinger responded that Environment Agency flood rules meant some brownfield sites in flood Zones 2 and 3 had to be taken out.

cc)  Katherine Else representing European Property Ventures asked the following question of the Lead Member for Planning and Maidenhead:

 

Why were the advantages of ‘Site HA41 North of Churchmead School’ not considered through the Exception Test given its ability to contribute to the School facilities, highly sustainable location and the provision of a link road that would avoid Datchet town centre congestion?

 

A written response was provided:

 

In accordance with the housing site selection methodology explained in the Housing Topic Paper, sites with less than 50% in flood zone 1 were rejected as being not suitable for allocation. Nearly all of this site is within Flood Zone 2 (68%) or Flood Zone 3a (32%) with less than 1% in flood zone 1.

 

By way of a supplementary question, Ms Else commented that her client had been disappointed with the assessment because it had been based solely on residential development when it was a mixed use allocation therefore the percentages given in relation to flood zones were incorrect. She asked why the site had been assessed in that way and why had the adjacent site with an equivalent flood risk been retained?

 

Councillor Coppinger responded that agricultural land was class 1. He suggested the comments should be submitted in the consultation for the Inspector to consider.

 

dd)     Katherine Else representing European Property Ventures asked the following question of the Lead Member for Planning and Maidenhead:

 

Why did the Council not consider engaging with us to remove higher risk Flood Zone areas from residential analysis of Site HA41, so areas affected by higher flood risk could be used for open space, employment given the mixed-use allocation?  

 

A written response was provided:

 

The Environment Agency has expressed concerns in relation to flood risk on this site and informally indicated that it supports the removal of the site as an allocation. Under the terms of the Statement of Common Ground agreed with the Environment Agency in October 2018, the Council is using the latest published data for the BLP.

 

By way of a supplementary question, Ms Else asked why closed discussions were held with the EA when their opinion affected consideration of the site? Her company had been undertaking ongoing modelling and advising the council. She commented that this was surely not in the public interest?

 

Councillor Coppinger advised Ms Else to raise the issues of process with the Inspector; the council had followed due process.

 

 

Supporting documents: