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Politics in the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead

  • About David Burbage

    David Burbage MBE was Leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council from 2007-2016. This blog : Promoted by Geoff Hill on behalf of David Burbage and all other Windsor and Maidenhead Conservative candidates, all of 2 Castle End Farm, Ruscombe, Berkshire RG10 9XQ
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Some poor planning

Posted by davidburbage on April 12, 2007

I did something yesterday that I’ve not felt the need to do in my 7 years on the Council – I walked out.

This was at last night’s long development control meeting, which was interesting in a number of ways.

My protest was simply that the Chairman was refusing to allow Members to speak, preferring to allow officers to interrupt Members to carry on and make their point whilst the Member (who had just begun to make a point) were not only interrupted – by the Chair or officers – but had their mikes switched off by the uber-powered Chairman.

The application in question is not particularly important in of itself, but the principles of the housing restraint policy underlying whether or not the Council should have given it its approval are very relevant and still a matter of great concern to residents as well as Councillors. Suffice to say that Government Inspectors rulings are not consistent, the Council’s policy has not been consistent (because the old H5 policy expired) and although we received legal advice the rules for determining such new dwelling applications are far from clear because of diverse opinions on the status of policy.

These matters were all relevant to the application I had originally called to panel, but relevant discussion was cut down by the Chair who wanted to simply take a vote. Unable to contribute to the debate, I walked out. So much for freedom of speech, let alone democracy.

Cllr Wilson got into ‘trouble’ because he said that a planning officer had not visited a site. Consternation and angry words. However, as was obvious from his remarks which I’d heard correctly, but clearly the Chair and officers had not, he was reporting what the applicant had told him. This all got cleared up, but not without a great deal of pointless and unnecessary brickbats unrelated to the merits of the application.

It’s also OK, apparently, to have a four storey office block to be built at the bottom of your garden, as was approved on Bridge Avenue imposing on Forlease Rd properties.

It’s also OK to have more than 30 sqm of non-floodable building in the flood plain, so long as it’s not too much over the limit. The policy does not say ’30sqm or thereabouts’, it says ’30 sqm’.

It’s also OK to build garages that don’t meet the minimum standards for size, rendering them liable to be ‘converted’ as extensions in future.

Three councillors definitely departing all took part in the meeting – Jeremy Hyde, who came to speak to a Tree Preservation Order (he wanted the tree to go) – nobody else did, so he leaves the council on a losing note. Peter Herlinger and Mike Bruton also were voting for the last time.

All in all, a messy and unsatisfactory end to the current panel. What is ironic is that this last messy panel will be replaced by a new panel with a number of Members that have never experienced a planning meeting before. I was there once..

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