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Planning and Parking - Nov 2017
There may be a shortage of housing in Marlow but week after week planning applications are lodged for new builds, extensions and changes of use. All create additional pressure on parking due to the inadequacy of the required provision for on-site spaces as laid down by the Bucks CC. When the Churchill apartments in Dean Street are fully occupied watch the residents add to the congestion in the adjoining roads which are themselves fully occupied for most of the time.
I attended a planning meeting in October and opposed an application to build on the parking space behind the NatWest Bank off Liston Road. If permitted it would have displaced 13 cars into the surrounding roads. Several councillors saw no problem in this because of the "availability" of space in the adjoining Liston Road car park. Fortunately, Cllr Neil Marshall took an opposite view and persuaded the Planning Committer to reject the Bucks CC endorsement of the application and insisted on a proper analysis of the true impact of the proposed development.
I spoke recently with a lady who works in Sew & Sew and who drives into Marlow on each working day. She explained that paying the daily parking charge of £5.50 was a noticeable slice out of her wages which is why she, along with many others, seeks free on road parking each morning. When we add the conversion for Mrs Kerridge of 3 Institute Road into three apartments that have no off road parking and the approval of the Ivy Restaurant and the Crown Hotel, again with no parking provision, it is little wonder that the town's roads are semi permanently blocked.
The big planning issue during the last 4 months has been the completion of the New Local Plan 2013-33. I have watched its evolution over the last 5 years. I can assure you that the WDC planning team have produced an excellent document and a vital agreement with adjoining Districts to take the WDC's allocation of numbers imposed by central government that cannot be accommodated locally due to the constraints of the green belt and AONB. The impact on our town is minimal. Some concern has recently arisen due to a speculative proposal by IM Land to build off Berwick and Seymour Park Roads. Such attempts were expected. I am confident that the Local Plan is strong enough to resist these and other late proposals for change. I have responded to the WDC call for comments on behalf of the Society supporting the Plan and asked for the right to speak against any speculative proposals should they reach the Inspector. I hope that the plan will be fully endorsed by late 2018.
We opposed the Bellwood Homes design of 4 town houses next to the Brewery site on Pound Lane. The incongruous upper level detracts from this highly visible location and obscures the skyline of the heritage buildings to its rear. The decision to approve is another of the subjective judgements made by the experts that are difficult, for amateurs in the planning business, to understand.
New Court is to be converted into flats. I have sent few minor criticisms to the WDC mostly seeking clarifications where the proposals lack detail. We have opposed the boathouse plan for Gossmore. This seems to be lacking in justification. I am surprised that the local councils have taken up an early supporting position without any public consultation on the proposed enclosure of public land. There is no justification given for a building of such a size and I have an assurance from Longridge that there is adequate space there to accommodate school rowing. I believe that we should support and develop this wonderful sports centre, one that has been operating for 70 years.
I am sorry to see the drawn out saga of the new pavilion proposed for the Marlow Sports Club on Pound Lane. The past efforts to secure and enhance this treasured facility have been a testament to the loyalty of so many Marlovians to the character of our town. There is strong local opposition based on inadequate parking provision, noise and the flooding issues.
Our town is about to come under even more pressure when Portlands, Windsor House and Cromwell's Peel House flats are fully occupied. I see the Society's role in speaking up for the preservation of the character of Marlow becoming even more demanding in the next years. If you agree please offer a little help to our busy Executive Committee. We do need it.
One note of praise goes to Sorbon Estates, the developer of Windsor House. I was apprehensive when the site development began as there were a few "inconveniences" to those of us whose walk to the town centre passes the site. The work settled down and since then, touch wood, progress has been achieved in an efficient and well managed manner. Well done and thank you.
Another thank you goes to Clearview Homes whose development on Station Approach has settled in well. We are grateful for the funding they provided for the information board, soon to be installed, which will chart the history of our railway station.
We can be certain of death and taxes. To these, in 2018, we can surely add planning applications and a shortage of parking spaces.
MB - chair TMS Planning Group