How land is used is vital to maintaining economic and social well being and, achieving commitments to reduce climate change and species extinction. RBWM’s Borough Local Plan sets out the Council’s proposals for land use. Cllr Wisdom Da Costa and the WWRA’s Chair, Richard Endacott respond to the latest consultation prompted by the Inspector’s pointed remarks.
We have the opportunity to create a plan which, based on evidence and research from scientists and experts, can help us create a plan which creates more well being spaces in our urban environment, greening new developments, and retrofitting existing stock to create a continuum of flora and fauna allowing carbon capture, breathing space for UK species threatened with extinction (which is most) and, allowing greater levels of mental well being and fitness whilst continuing to develop economically.
Sadly, the Council’s Borough Local Plan submissions are far from such an idyllic, comprehensive or holistic vision but, rather, we maintain that it is little more than a developers charter, to build with scant regard to the needs of people (fair cost housing), providing adequate roads or schools, reducing pollution or congestion or, with regard to our carbon reduction obligations for our children and future generations.
Cllr Wisdom Da Costa and WWRA Chair, Richard Endacott, penned a joint submission on the latest “consutation” of RBWM’s key planning document, the Borough Local Plan.
For more information about the consultation, which ended on Sunday 15 december 2019, click here.
15 December 2019
FAO the Inspector of RBWM’s ‘Borough Local Plan (2013-2033) Submission Version Incorporating Proposed Changes, October 2019’
Representations on the ‘Borough Local Plan (2013-2033) Submission Version Incorporating Proposed Changes, October 2019’
Submittors’ and qualifications
This submission is being made by Cllr Wisdom Da Costa and also, Richard Endacott, Chair, West Windsor Residents Association
Cllr Wisdom Da Costa is writing based on his experience as;
- Councillor of Clewer and Dedworth West (preciously Clewer North since 2014)
- a long standing representative of residents on the West Windsor Residents Association (since 2012),
- a planning panel member with 4 years experience and,
- Deputy Chair of RBWM’s Climate Change Panel.
Richard Endacott is currently Chair of the west Windsor Residents Association and also, CEO of the Windsor Town Council steering group.
The West Windsor Residents Association (WWRA) is an organisation with 1,000 member households, whose aim is to promote the interests and well being of West Windsor residents whom we have been serving for more than 50 years.
Membership of the WWRA is on a household basis and is open to all residents of
Clewer & Dedworth in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, that lie to the west of the main trunk route, A332/B3173/B3022, that link Junction 6 on the M4 with LEGOLAND, which includes the area in which AL21 & AL22 exist..
RBWM’s Planning Department have advised me that the plan under inspection is based upon the 2012 NPPF so, I have based my comments fundamentally on that document; clearly, the recent 2019 version of the NPPF contains clauses that are much more forceful especially with regard to Climate Change and Biodiversity.
However, it seems that RBWM’s recent inclusion of a policy relating to Blue and Green Infrastructure should fall under the expectations of the 2019 NPPF so, my comments in this section will relate to more up to date planning regulations and more current climate change expectations E.g. COP25 Madrid
For the record, I would like to state that;
- I would be happy provide oral and physical evidence at any hearings that might be held and,
- I would like the Inspector to see the full version of my submission.
- I would expressly like to present information in relation to the 2019 version of the NPPF
I have fundamental concerns about both the soundness of the plan, as framed by the four points from the 2012 NPPF, and also, the legality of the plan based on Section 33A of the Localism Act.
My concerns about the legality of the plan relate to a lack of effective cooperation, education and consultation not just with local residents associations but also members of the local authority and, in particular, members who are not part of the ruling administration. Let me explain.
The West Windsor Residents Association (WWRA), of whom I am a long standing member, serves some 1,000 member households in the West of Windsor.
We understand that the WWRA has not received any communications or invitations to discuss, or be led through, any versions of RBWM’s Borough Local Plan (2013-2033).
Also, as a Member, I am aware that the process of plan making is complex, tortuous but necessary as it forms the blue print for land use and the paramenters of developments which will shape and constrain the lives and well being of residents, businesses and also our local biological ecosystem for decades to come.
If done well it will be a liberation.
If done badly, it will impose increasingly intolerable living conditions on all living things in and around our Borough, both human and non-human.
It will effect our ability to manage traffic, housing, well being, health and vitality of businesses, services and, most importantly people for generations to come – this is a factor born out by the latest genetic studies.
As such, at the very least, Councillors should be well versed and educated in the process and implications of plan making, its effects on the future and, best practice in other boroughs around the UK and also overseas.
No such education has ever been given to either influential residents groupings, such as the WWRA or, indeed diligent members such as myself.
As such, we consider that RBWM have not fulfilled its legal obligations to consult under, inter alia, Section 33A of the Localism Act.
As a consequence, all our comments are made in the dark, ignorant of the factors that you, as the Inspector, will consider most highly.
This is all made more complex by the Climate Change Crisis we are facing, which can not be ignored in this examination, and also the impact land use will have on our extinction rates in the UK. Yes, the State of Nature Report notes that some 25% of UK mammals and 50% of UK birdlife is at risk.
Soundness: Positively prepared
We do not believe that the plan is positively prepared because of;
- The lack of education and consultation
- The lack of consideration of alternative sites such as RBWM’s assets in the Poyle Industrial Estate which, could be made available for
- Lack of challenge of the Objectively Assessed Need given RBWM’s unique geography bound by the River Thames, Greenbelt land and, the Crown Estate
- Inadequate consideration has been given to reducing traffic and pollution by promoting an integrated, low cost green, regional public transport network with neighbouring local authorities through say the auspices of the Local Enterprise Partnership.
- A number of AQMAs exist in Windsor and no provisions been included to reduce the negative impact on air quality of development in Windsor and in particular AL21 & AL22 “The January 2018 study found that, although the BLP would result in increases in air pollution levels in some parts of the five Air Quality Management Areas(AQMAs) in RBWM,” Ricardo Air Quality Preliminary Assessment Letter
We do not believe that the plan is justified as plan makers have not explored fully alternative sites such as RBWM’s assets in the Poyle Industrial Estate or compulsory purchase of Crown Estate land
Soundness: consistent with NPPF (2012)
We do not believe that the plan is consistent with the NPPF 2019 and, in particular, in relation to NPPF (2012);
- We are deeply concerned that the inclusion of the sites of the two garden centres at Squires (AL22) and Wyevales (AL21) in Windsor. These popular garden centres provided much needed respite and facilities for young parents and older people and those with mental health and other well being needs. To cater for an ageing population and the armed forces stationed nearby, more such facilities are needed as the population of Windsor grows. Inclusion of these sites fall foul of clause S70 of the NPPF and RBWM have failed to “plan positively for the provision and use of shared space, community facilities”
- Windsor is separated from Bray and Oakley Green by the green belt along the A308 but, recent planning consents has been given to develop sites along the A308. Inclusion of AL21 and AL22 will cause these towns to merge with West Windsor and so, flout the purpose of S80 of the BPPF 2012
- to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas
- to prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another
- No work has been done to thoroughly ascertain the range of species using the green belt to the west of Windsor or, to understand the nature of the soil structure and whether, the use of this land will remove species bridges or species stepping stones and so weaken the ability of local species and the complex interdependent web of biodiversity, to draw sustenance from the green belt. As such, Inclusion of AL21 and AL22 will fall foul of S109 of NPPF 2012
- protecting and enhancing valued landscapes, geological conservation interests and soils
- recognising the wider benefits of ecosystem services
- minimising impacts on biodiversity and providing net gains in biodiversity where possible, contributing to the Government’s commitment to halt the overall decline in biodiversity, including by establishing coherent ecological networks that are more resilient to current and future pressures
- preventing both new and existing development from contributing to or being put at unacceptable risk from, or being adversely affected by unacceptable levels of soil, air, water or noise pollution or land instability
- Also, inclusion of AL21 and AL22 will also fall foul of S117 of NPPF 2012
- To minimise impacts on biodiversity and geodiversity, planning policies should:
- plan for biodiversity at a landscape-scale across local authority boundaries
- NB We would be happy to discuss this with you and Professors or Ecology and Biodiversity from the University of Reading
- Traffic and congestion, and so loss of time as an amenity and the increase of air pollution from traffic congestion are on the increase with the growth in the population of RBWM and Bracknell using the A308 as a route through the Borough and as a diversion to the M4. Inclusion of AL21 and AL22 will therefore, fall foul of S123 of BPPF 2012, and fail to “avoid noise from giving rise to significant adverse impacts4on health and quality of life as a result of new development”
- Inclusion of the sites AL21 & AL22 will create levels of noise and disturbance which will put the well being of residents and users of the Cardinal Clinic at risk of morbidity and commercial risk. As such this is not in keeping with S69 and 76 of NPPF 2012
Given the existential crisis you and I and our children face, I believe that the plan must be halted and redone immediately to incorporate the urgent requirements and, increased learning relating to climate change and biodiversity. See https://bit.ly/367kL3g
Also, some protection must be put in place to ensure that opportunist developers can not drive a coach and horses through the plans we currently have in place.
We would appreciate confirmation of receipt from the Inspector.
Further evidence can be supplied upon request.
Cllr Wisdom Da Costa Richard Endacott
WWRA, Clewer & Dedworth West, Chair, West Windsor
Windsor Residents Association