There is a famous comedy sketch featuring Morecambe and Wise, and an increasingly frustrated André Previn as Eric says he is going to play Grieg’s Piano Concerto. As the sketch progresses Previn accuses Eric of playing all the wrong notes, and Eric comes back saying that he is playing all the right notes, just not necessarily in the right order. The planning phasing for the Garrison development is getting a bit like that.
Several weeks ago we were contacted by a resident of Badgers Mount about the work that was going on in the fields between Sheerlands Road and the A327. Whilst the plans have always shown the Nine Mile Ride extension being built early in the plan with some housing development either side of the new road, the phasing plan had shown that the areas closest to the existing houses would be developed much later on, leaving the most controversial and contentious parts of the development that would most affect existing residents until last. The resident was concerned because the work was going on in the field right up to the boundary close to the existing houses.
Contacting Crest Nicholson, both ourselves and Gary Cowan our local councillor were told that it was merely archeological work, something all developers have to do before undertaking a significant development, and it made sense to do the whole field in one go rather than just do the part to be developed now and come back and do another round of investigation later on. The resident has continued to keep in contact with Gary, and has contacted us again following a worrying email they have received.
I am writing to make you aware of the change in phasing for the Arborfield development. The houses due to be built in the adjacent fields in 2020 are now being proposed for development in a few months’ time. Planning permission will be sought by Crest Nicholson soon and they will be highlighting the changes in the meeting at Henry Street on Mon 22nd Feb (7.00pm). The Nine Mile Ride Extension will be cut through to the A327 first and falls just the other side of the hedge of the nearest field. They then propose to build houses north of that road and closest to us. I have asked if they could first build the southern side of the road retaining our semi-rural aspect for as long as possible, a benefit that I’m sure you appreciate and new households will too. I asked the reasons to why the phasing was brought forward via Gary Cowan and this is the reply he received. I fully understand the houses will come however the district centre hasn’t moved, the NMRE road was always going to be built first so there is no reason to alter from the phasing they consulted us on. They have changed their plans using the school inappropriately as their excuse. If you are in agreement then please raise your concerns so we have a stronger voice and can retain the 2020 phasing we were promised and consulted on.PS They do say the will honour the 30m buffer between our gardens and the new development.
This highlights an ongoing concern we’ve heard from local residents. Back when the outline planning application went into the council, Crest Nicholson included a phasing plan, but that phasing plan seemed to go out of the window with the very first bit of development which was in an area over by the lake on Biggs Lane. There are some broad directions that are being followed, driven by the need to have better access to the school for example, but as this resident has highlighted they are proposing to build all the houses alongside the Nine Mile Ride extension rather than the two phased approach that was originally proposed. As they only have outline planning permission, Crest Nicholson have to go through a reserved matters planning application to fill in the detail, which they will do shortly, and at that point residents are able to make their concerns about the changes known. However even between answering the question on the archeological work and today things appear to have changed.
As the local resident highlights, Crest Nicholson will be presenting the changes to their plan at the Arborfield Community Forum on Monday night, so this will be a good opportunity to ask them why they are changing around from their original phasing plan. If you wish to attend the meeting is being held at the Henry Street Garden Centre, and will commence at 7pm. Representatives of Crest Nicholson will be presenting at the meeting along with council officers and representatives from the Bohunt Educational Trust talking about progress on the school.
Also published on Medium.