Campaigners may block Blue Mountain housing plansBy Hugh Fort
October 20, 2011
Housing campaigners in Binfield have uncovered a crucial document they say gives them a reason to legally challenge plans to build houses on a popular local golf course.
Members of the Northern Arc Action Group (NAAG) have received paperwork following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to Bracknell Forest Council for details on the planning process back in 1990 when the Blue Mountain Golf Course in Wood Lane was given permission.
They say the response has given them hope they can prevent building on the course, which the council has earmarked to take 400 homes.
NAAG’s FOI request has uncovered a section 52 document, seen by The Bracknell Forest Standard, signed by Berkshire County Council and the council, which states: “Not to use the golf course land for anything other than a golf course or other sporting or other recreational facilities or as open space and not to construct any buildings on the golf course land other than as reasonably required in connection with any of the uses mentioned in this paragraph.”
The campaigners believe this agreement is still legally binding and could give them an opportunity to take legal action against the council, should it continue with its plans.
NAAG Chairman Nigel Rennie said: “It’s a very interesting discovery. We believe it gives us the chance to force a judicial review if the council proceeds with its plans.”
The members of the group were out in force on Monday when they turned up to a meeting of the council’s ruling Conservative group to protest against the plans.
The 25-strong group took the opportunity to speak with the Tory councillors as they made their way into the civic offices at Easthampstead Park.
Mr Rennie added: “We were very impressed with Councillor Dorothy Hayes, who spoke very eloquently and sensibly to us. Others we weren’t so impressed with but we think we’ve got our message across.”
The protesters are keen the council looks at putting more homes on the large amounts of empty office space around the town centre, rather than in the countryside.
They are also pushing the council to delay its housing plans until the Government’s new planning laws are passed, as these may have a huge impact on decisions.
The council confirmed in September it has been looking into the option during the preparation of its latest planning document, which should go out to public consultation next month.
A public meeting was also held on Friday, where the village’s MP, Windsor’s Adam Afriyie, was the special guest.
He said afterwards: “There continues to be a great strength of feeling against the scale of the housing plans for the area – and rightly so.”
People in the village say the area will be swamped by the council’s plans which include 400 homes on the golf course and another 400 on land at Amen corner, where there are already 725 homes permitted.
This is in addition to another 2,000 homes proposed for land in Warfield under council plans to meet national housing building targets.
The campaigners say if you combine the 1,500 home development in Jennett’s Park, the plans across the A329 in Wokingham for another 1,500 homes and other projects in the two boroughs it will lead to more than 10,000 new homes surrounding the village.
The council said the section 52 could be varied under planning law.