HUNDREDS of environmental activists gathered at the town hall to voice their opposition to the “insane” development that will “destroy” Maidenhead’s green lung.
Up to 500 people from Maidenhead Great Park braved the cold winter night to peacefully protest outside the town hall on Tuesday, November 23, urging councillors to vote against the borough local plan (BLP) 2013-2033 when it comes to full council.
The BLP sets out where thousands of homes will be placed across the Royal Borough. It has earmarked the Maidenhead golf course, a 132-acre green space near the town centre, to developed into over 2,000 homes, which opposition councillors and the protesters vehemently oppose.
Golf club members overwhelmingly voted in favour to accept the council’s £15.95m offer to surrender their lease of the land.
Campaigners have slammed the BLP as “not fit for purpose” and “out of date,” saying the original housing need in the borough, which was about 14,000 homes, has now almost halved and Cross Rail will no longer terminate in Maidenhead.
This makes building on the golf course “inappropriate,” and campaigners suggested brownfield sites should be developed over “easy and profitable and ultimately harmful greenfield development.”
With the council declaring a climate emergency in 2019, protesters have said it was “insane” that the council wants to build over 2,000 homes on green space and meet its, and the UK’s, climate targets.
Campaign organiser Tina Quadrino, who spoke emotionally outside the town hall, said: “We need a borough local plan that puts the environment front and centre of everything that we do.
“A borough local plan that protects our natural resources and recognises the real value of green space in terms of its benefit to our health, our wellbeing as well as to climate change.
“We don’t want hundreds of supplementary documents that correct all the problems with this plan.
“We want a plan that is right from the start and that reflects a different future, a future that we want. A future where our planet is more important than money or the career development for the few to the detriment of the many.
“If we do not put the environment front and centre of everything that we do how can we look our children in the eye when they inherit a broken planet? When they inherit all the problems that we have failed to address now.”
Councillor David Coppinger (Con: Bray), lead member for planning and Maidenhead, has previously said the golf course is “the most sustainable site” within the borough and the council would have to release greenbelt in the countryside if they scrapped the golf course.
He also said it was “totally incorrect” to say the future housing project has halved as the BLP’s inspector “challenged” the borough’s housing need and found it “sound”.