During the elections, Wisdom & I decided our main election pledge was to do what we could to save Wyevale’s.
We ask some logical questions in the video below and are now being proactive in building rapport with the people that matter. Because we won our seats, every week on social media we are asked by those that lost, what are you doing about Wyevale… so we decided the best way to address this was to create a page on our website that addresses any questions and provides a place for us to add updates as they happen.
We are obviously restricted in any major actions we can take because, as yet, we are not the ruling party. Independents / Lib Dems saw a huge increase in their numbers during the election to 18, against 23 Conservatives, which means they currently control the council and budgetary spend.
Right OK Wisdom, how you doing buddy? Doing well mate, doing well! Good good.
Are we ready for this? We’re ready for this… Absolutely, yeah! Feels good doesn’t it, it feels good…
So we’ve put out our main flyer which had a whole bunch of points in it. We then concentrated that down to three main bullet points. The first one is really about building communities. Yep and then we put out this one about three bullet points… just a summary.
Absolutely, three key points and really top of our list is Wyevales isn’t it?
I think absolutely, protecting the environment and Wyevale is obviously an integral part of that in terms of well-being not just for the environment but for people. Yeah so I mean, you know, questions come at you then…
How are you going to fund it? You know, 5 million pounds Wyevales, how’s that going to work?
Great question, yeah I think I’d look at it is slightly bigger picture and say well actually we really need to keep Wyevales as a garden centre not because it’s a garden centre but rather because it’s a, it’s a multi-purpose, multi-use facility. We had discussion with Claire Milne from the Windsor Neighbourhood Plan and we looked around the area and said actually there are only three sites in Windsor where you can actually have some facility which has got:
• sufficient parking
• sufficient green aspect for the well-being of people
• a restaurant where people can obviously fill their tummies as well as their souls
• a play area
• a number of other areas, retail areas
• a pet shop
• a beautiful fish area (sorry I’m not a fish keeper as you can tell by that comment! You get lots of tropical and not tropical fishes)
Basically enough space there’s only three areas:
1. (Wyevale – not mentioned but assumed)
2. Tesco and Tesco’s are not selling.
3. The other one is Squires
Sadly because of the way in which the Conservatives have put together by the Borough Local Plan, the future one which is still in abeyance of the inspector who has not approved it yet. That’s given the mandate to the owners to sell the gardens centres, the site to Wates I believe.
But of course there’s nothing they can do about it because the old Borough Local Plan is still in force which says it’s green belt. Green belt means you can do nothing with it and I think this is one of the reasons why I believe Wates would have withdrawn their application for Squires because it’s green belt and the only way you can get it through is if you’ve got a very special circumstance and how?
That’s usually, tends to be around providing something for the community. Well hold on, I’m just taking away the key community asset, what can I put in its place? I’ll give you lots of houses and car parks & cars! So they would never, they are never going to get that through.
So in my view and maybe you can criticise me and say you’re wrong but when you look at Wyevales and the whole of that site HA11, as well as Squires it’s still under the current local plan which says it’s green belt.
You can’t do anything with it, you’re going nowhere because there’s no way you’re going to be able to build something on that as well as put in place an asset of sufficient value for the community because you’re taking away the lungs of the area. So for me it’s a case of you can’t do anything with it so you’ve got this big tract of land.
Right, if you’re a landlord, or an owner of the property and you have a lump of land you can’t do any building on, what you going to do with it?
Well you might sit on it and say, you know what, sod you lot in Windsor I’m going to just sit on it and let it rot. You’ve seen that approach taken by some developers and I’m sure that the current developers and current owners aren’t that sort, insensitive to the needs of people.
So the option then is say well you can’t do anything with it. The Borough Local Plan doesn’t look as if it’s going anywhere.
If we get in with the Borough first, Lib Dems and the Old Windsor’s Residents Association then we will go back and review that local plan and we’ll make sure that it caters for the needs of residents and protects the clean green belt, as well as looking with the well-being of people.
It’s going to be sophisticated in that sense it’s not like the Neanderthal version we’ve got at the moment. So I’d go back to the owners and say look you’ve got a huge piece of land you can’t do anything with it, let us buy that from you?
Let the council spend some money, buy it from you and they will keep the, the actual Squires (obviously meant Wyevales) and keep that whole area in community use.
We could do what we did down at the at the at the Swan where we slapped on an asset of community value. We worked with Will Calvert, Richard and that’s a possibility to try and make sure that it’s protected to be for the people.
And we can also, I mean one of the things that other people are doing, people are looking, this is not new. You know, we always think that it’s new because we have not encountered it before. But people around the world are looking at multi-purpose community hubs and so my view would be we could even enhance the Wyevale site, it’s got tons of parking, fabulous, it’s got lots of plurality of use there which is good…
Get the young people involved. Get them doing things, learning thing, developing their skills…
Absolutely, make it a green eco centre if you like, where we can enhance and help people, train people and why not put in a GP surgery there… right… there are other things we only do, in addition, to make it even better.
Brilliant so you know what you need to do? You know what you need to do tomorrow? You need to vote for WWRA. You need to vote for West Windsor Residents Association. You need to vote for Borough first. You need to vote for Old Windsor Residents Association. Who else do they need to vote for?
I would say down in Clewer East, two fabulous ladies who I’ve worked with, both the baby bank.
Also with Plastic Free Windsor are Amy Tisi and Karen Davies.
Right, obviously we need David Knowles-Leak who’s Labour over on the Riverside to make a bit of space there? Need a change over that direction don’t we?
Apparently I’m not allowed to comment because I’m sure I’ll get into trouble with somebody somewhere… Brilliant… code of conduct 😉
Put it there Wisdom, put it there… cheers mate… thanks Windsor.
Then Tuesday 25th June we got an email from our contact at Wates to say…
Following our meeting and your subsequent email the following is a quote on behalf of Wates Developments:
‘After a meeting with WWRA, Wates has confirmed that Wyevale is at present occupying the Windsor site on a rent free basis with a flexible notice period. This is enabling Wyevale to maintain continuity of employment and occupancy of the site, including facilities such as a coffee shop. In the coming years, a more certain future solution is necessary. Wates is committed to constructive engagement with local community groups and key stakeholders in the formation of future proposals to meet local needs within the HA11 proposed housing development allocation.’
We’ll add the latest news as we have it below and use this page as a running report on our conversations with the Wates and Wyevale teams.