June/July Bracknell District News Update 2
In Part 2: planning approvals are granted in Bracknell borough’s ‘countryside next door’
Green Belt lost to ….. homes
A 12-dwelling residential development has been approved for the site of a four-wheel drive vehicle servicing business in Maidens Green, Winkfield. Although Bracknell Forest Council previously identified this area of Green Belt as particularly vulnerable to encroachment, the proposal was deemed by the planning department to have no more impact on the openness of the Green Belt than the current use. Councillors mounted a spirited defence, including a forensic analysis of the built-volume figures, detailed criticism of visual impact, and discussion of urbanisation, impact on landscape and character, and poor location in terms of services and facilities (there was little they didn’t find to object to). It was voted through by a narrow margin. Costs of a possible appeal figured in the discussions, sadly.
From garden centre to …. more homes
Twenty homes were also approved for a former Wyevale garden centre in countryside beyond the Binfield village boundary. While the proposal includes restoring the redbrick wall around the site, which used to enclose a walled garden associated with Binfield Hall, Councillors showed fierce opposition. They cited dislocation from the village and facilities, impact on trees, and, most forcefully, lack of any affordable homes. Unfortunately, national policy aimed at increasing use of previously developed land meant the developer was not obliged to provide affordable homes, and did not choose to offer any. This proposal was also narrowly approved.
A countryside for all
Although these decisions were disappointing, it was heartening to hear Councillors from around the borough speak in defence of the Green Belt and countryside, including some from Bracknell Town whose entire electorate lives in Bracknell’s urban area. Bracknell Forest is proud of its green spaces and being one of the most tree-filled boroughs in the country. It has been apparent to all of us during ‘lockdown’ that increasing numbers of people everywhere are seeking out green spaces and countryside. If Councillors are speaking up for them and all of us, we need to engage with them and give our support.