01:04PM, Friday 24 June 2022
The council’s cabinet was asked how the town will cope with the extra strain on doctors’ surgeries created by the plan to redevelop Maidenhead Golf course at a meeting on Thursday.
It was also asked about bus routes – and the logic behind proposals to reroute existing routes at the cost of those living elsewhere in the borough.
A draft supplementary planning document (SPD) for the area came before the cabinet, outlining some guidance as to what the development could feature.
It also examines some key issues, such as the impact of more residents on already stretched doctor’s surgeries – and highlights priorities such as preserving Rushington Copse bordering the golf course.
The draft SPD is now set for public consultation across six weeks.
Councillor Geoffrey Hill (the Borough First, Oldfield), said the consultation period was ‘very stark’ as ‘residents have been trying to build on these plans for five or six years.’
“If you’re going to take residents’ views on board, then you shouldn’t be developing the golf club or the land south of Harvest Hill,” he said. “That’s the view of the overwhelming majority.”
He also cast doubt that it would be possible for the Borough to reach its legal requirement to generate a biodiversity net gain of 10 per cent, what with the necessary destruction of trees to make way for development.
Member of the public Andrew Hill said:
“You know that we’re short of doctors in Maidenhead and your solution is you want to relocate existing doctors onto the golf club site.
“Whose doctors’ surgeries are you planning to close, centralise or relocate – which residents are losing the surgery that they can currently walk to, if you centralise this elsewhere?”
He added: “You want to reroute existing bus routes and get residents across the rest of the borough to subsidize cheaper bus fares ‘for the routes through the sites.’
“Why aren’t all residents in the borough getting cheaper bus fares and routes? Why is the policy focused solely towards the CALA homes site?”
Cllr Phil Haseler, the cabinet member who presented the paper, responded only on Mr Hill’s points to say that the council would not be moving any medical facilities.
“The only thing I am going to say on this is that the NHS have approached us to discuss the NHS health facility that may be on that site,” he said.
Cllr Helen Price (tBF, Clewer & Dedworth East) raised concerns that 25 per cent of the infrastructure costs would need to be found elsewhere.
“That took me aback because I had assumed that this land and the developers would actually fund all of the infrastructure, but it looks like the residents elsewhere in the borough are going to have to pay somehow,” she said.
Leader of the council Andrew Johnson replied:
“I don’t think it’s any dissimilar to taxpayers paying for large infrastructure projects nationally or borough-wide.
“The intention is that the majority or a significant chunk of that funding will come from individual developers.
“We will have to top that up from other funding, as has always been the case for authorities seeking to deliver large-scale infrastructure.”
Chris Joyce, head of infrastructure, sustainability and economic growth, added:
“It’s not necessarily that residents will be paying for the remaining infrastructure, there will be a range of other sources.”
He gave the example of the planned new secondary school.
About half of all students would come from the new development, so about 50 per cent of the funding for the school will come from the developer.
The remainder would come from more ‘broad’ school expansion funding sources, such as from Government grants, Mr Joyce said.
Towards the end of the discussion on the SPD, Cllr David Coppinger (Con, Bray) said that the meeting was a chance to ‘add value’ to the conversation around the South West Maidenhead site – but ‘unfortunately, the questions I have heard have not done any of that.’
“[The questions] have gone back to pre-adoption of the Borough Local Plan,” he said. “I’m really disappointed that no one has actually added any value and talked about this paper.”
The cabinet unanimously voted to publish the draft SPD for public consultation.