STERN warnings were given by the Royal Borough leader, revealing the council will do “whatever they have to do” if the Maidenhead golf course site becomes a “showstopper” to major housing plans.

Senior councillors met at the local authority’s first face-to-face cabinet meeting since lockdown gripped the UK in March 2020 on Thursday, May 27 to put up the planning inspector’s modifications to the borough local plan (BLP) for public consultation.

BLP’s set out the vision for future development in a borough and are used as a local guide to help decide on planning applications and other planning-related decisions.

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The lead member for planning, councillor David Coppinger (Con: Bray) presented the report, saying no “showstoppers” issues have been raised by the inspector – but has asked for the allocation of housing next to the Maidenhead railway station to be removed.

The controversial Maidenhead golf course is part of the BLP, which is earmarked to deliver more than 2,000 homes, including 30 per cent affordable housing, new schools, public open space, and a community hub.

The conservative-run council has been under pressure to convert the golf course into a great park in order to preserve the green open space and biodiversity – but rejected these pleas at a full council meeting in March 2021.

Site layout of Maidenhead golf club

Site layout of Maidenhead golf club

During the cabinet meeting, Maidenhead resident Andrew Hill said this development could potentially be a “showstopper” to the BLP as members of the golf course are considering voiding the agreement they had with the council.

This is because of a letter sent to the council accusing them of “distorting information” to confirm to the inspector their land is available.

However, the leader of the council, councillor Andrew Johnson (Con: Hurley & Walthams), denied this posed a “risk” to the BLP.

He also said they have replied to that letter refuting their accusations that the Royal Borough haven’t engaged with them and upholding their agreement both parties signed up for.

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However, Cllr Johnson warned the local authority is prepared to issue a compulsory purchase order, which forces landowners to sell up if it obstructs a regeneration project, if the agreement is broken.

He said: “[We] also made clear, and this has been made clear to the inspector as well, that we will do whatever we have to do to deliver that golf course site, including the use of compulsory purchase powers.”

Cllr Johnson added: “We are confident we have a borough local plan that is sound, that will meet all the required tests, and will be in a state we can adopt it – when it is ready – later this year.”