WARFIELD EXPANSION OPTIONS DISCUSSED WITH OFFICERS
We circulated a newsletter last month summarising the results of the consultation we carried out last September. You indicated that you wanted the highest level of development on the basis that it provided the most funds to upgrade the utilities and provide the other benefits.
Armed with your views, we entered into a Pre-Application Consultation with the planning officers at Bracknell Forest District Council, culminating in a meeting last month. We put on the table all the options, but the subsequent response has been somewhat negative.
The officers are of the view that all the expansion options would not be supported as the benefits would not outweigh the harm that they perceive the development would do in terms of the character and appearance of the countryside, a Local Wildlife Site, an Area of Local Landscape Importance, and some protected trees. In addition, the expansion (like the existing home park) falls outside the settlement boundary (countryside). Although the council would consider infill development, the expansion of the community centre and the infrastructure improvements were considered acceptable in principle. However, the latter cannot be paid for by the money raised from a few infill plots.
The officers’ views are not a surprise, as the proposed development would take place on land which has not been designated for park homes development. However, officers seem to be ignoring their own Core Strategy which requires the Council to plan for all types of housing, including park homes. In the subsequent Site Allocations Development Plan Document the council did not plan for any park homes, therefore they can only go on sites which have not been allocated for that purpose!
Nevertheless, the council’s landscape officer does appear to accept that the proposed expansion of some areas, in particular South Field at Chavey Farm, were not as sensitive in landscape terms as the other areas.
The park needs to evolve in order to meet the pressing demand for park homes and to raise capital in order to carry out much needed utility upgrades. If we are not able to expand, we face a huge dilemma: do we allow the utilities to deteriorate further, or do we seek funding to carry out the enhancements and then pass the cost on to the residents in pitch fees?
The Localism Act was passed to enable local communities to have more of a say in planning decisions, and there is no doubt here that the community wants, needs, this expansion so that it can continue to enjoy the environment and amenities it has for the past decades.
We feel Warfield Park should be considered an exceptional case, and we are going to make a strong case to the members of the council, who do not have to follow the officers’ recommendation and can make the decision on the basis that the needs of the local community for additional park homes and improvements to the park utilities outweigh the policy protections relating to the extension site if they feel it is appropriate.
As such, we will be pushing ahead with a planning application, addressing all the concerns raised including impacts on trees, wildlife, and local roads. It is unlikely that we will be able to satisfy officers, but in an attempt to address as many of the matters raised as possible we will need to reduce the number of park homes requested to minimise the environmental impact of the proposals. Details of the application will be concluded next month and we aim to have a further exhibition to get your final views before submitting. Further details will be made available in a newsletter next month.
Calor Gas caused alarm in December when letters announcing price rises were received by several residents. Calor was contacted by us and numerous concerned residents, but it was found that the letters had been sent in error. Calor did confirm that it is set to announce its annual price rises in March anyway, and letters would be sent to customers in due course.
CONSULTATION LAUNCHED AT WARFIELD PARK
September 30, 2013
Proposals to expand Warfield Park in Bracknell by up to 177 park homes over the next 10 to 15 years have been announced.
The 510-home site, which has been in the town for more than 60 years, has consulted park residents and neighbours through an exhibition in the Community Hall last weekend on the plans. There are three options ranging from 115 to 176 new homes, which include both infill within the existing park, and new development around the periphery of the park, including some parts of the fields of the adjoining Chavey Down Farm to the east of the park.
Funds raised from the new development are intended to be used to upgrade the existing utilities on the park, including replacing an antiquated overhead electricity network and installing a new natural gas network, to replace the existing Calor gas system.
Other benefits may also include an extension to the Warfield Park Community Hall, the resurfacing and enhancement of Long Hill Drive, a new green open space at Chavey Down Farm, a more regular daily bus service through the park and the provision of allotments. The open space would be accessible to all members of the public, not just park residents. The allotments would also be available to all local parish members subject to a waiting list administered by the Parish Council.
Barry Sumner, managing director of Warfield Park Limited, and a resident of the park, said: “Warfield Park has come a long way since it was purchased by Archie MacLaren, one of England’s most famous cricketers and team captains, in around 1934.
“His son, Ian MacLaren, subsequently developed the park as it is known today in the post war years, creating the road network and implementing a tree planting programme on the 92 acres of what was then quite open land. The park has grown organically over the years, giving it its unique and charming character with the lanes winding between well-established hedges and mature trees, making it one of the most beautiful home parks in the country.”
“The park continues to evolve, and has reached a stage where it needs to make some important decisions. The park’s utilities need investment to modernise them, and this has to be financed. In particular, the overhead electricity network – the only one of its kind serving a park home estate remaining in the UK – needs replacement.”
“There is a housing need in Bracknell for affordable low cost homes, especially for young families wanting to get on the housing ladder, and older residents, or ‘empty nesters’, who want to downsize to something more manageable now that the family has moved out. Warfield Park is ideal to meet some of those needs.”
Over 250 local residents attended the exhibition at the weekend. Anyone who was unable to attend the exhibition and would like to view the proposals and the options, and give their views can still do so online at www.planningconsultation.net/warfield-park.
Notes to editors:
- More information about Warfield Park can be found on its website: www.warfieldparkhomes.co.uk.
- More details about the proposed development and options can be found at: www.planningconsultation.net/warfield-park
For further information please contact: