11:38AM, Thursday 19 August 2021
A debate over building 80 homes in Ray Mill Road East was due to be heard yesterday (Wednesday), but plans were withdrawn, leaving many angry
There was frustration at a Maidenhead planning meeting yesterday as a major application to build 80 new homes in the town was withdrawn at late notice.
Councillors - and a busy public gallery - had convened at the town hall in St Ives Road last night (Wednesday) to discuss controversial plans to develop on Ray Mill Road East.
The applicant - a 'T Bingham', on behalf of CALA Homes - wanted to construct 16 one-bedroom, 19 two-bedroom, 17 three-bedroom and 28 four-bedroom homes, along with bin storage, landscaping and parking, a new access route from Ray Mill Road East, and public open space.
The site is a contentious one after previous plans to build on here were rejected in February 2020. Proposals were then revised and resubmitted by developers in January this year, and were due to be debated yesterday.
However, councillors and members of the public were left bemused when panel administrator Shilpa Manek announced that the application had been withdrawn, and would not be debated.
The announcement was met with visible confusion from the onlooking public gallery, with many people getting up to leave in frustration.
One member of the public announced on her way out that she had returned from a holiday to speak on this particular item.
Meeting chairman Councillor Phil Haseler (Con, Cox Green) said that it was the applicant that had withdrawn the application.
"Everyone who is here for the Ray Mill Road East application is free to leave, that item will not be heard and debated tonight," Cllr Haseler said.
"That will be rescheduled in due course through the planning officers."
In response to the resident's remark, Cllr Haseler added: "This is the applicant that has withdrawn it [the application]. It is not really my power, so that is all I am going to say."
It is not known why the applicant withdrew the application, and why there was no communication of this before the meeting took place.
Frustration was compounded by the start of the meeting being delayed, with members of the public and the press awaiting the start of the livestream, with Cllr Haseler apologising and putting this down to 'technical' and 'constitutional' issues.
Plans were recommended for refusal by planning officers, because of fears over whether legal agreements to secure affordable housing and open space could be provided.
A Royal Borough spokesman said: “The applicant’s appointed representative approached council officers at the start of the development management committee meeting, and advised that they wished to formally withdraw the application.
“Residents were advised as soon as the application was withdrawn. The applicant did not provide reasons for its decision.”
Residents can watch the meeting back on the RBWM YouTube channel.
CALA Homes has been contacted for comment.
Also discussed at the meeting were plans for new flats above Poundstretcher in Maidenhead High Street. Read how that application got on by clicking here.
New images have been released showing how Slough High Street could look if the redevelopment of the Queensmere Shopping Centre goes ahead.