CLIMATE change should be a “green thread” in everything the Royal Borough does, a leading opposition councillor said.

Members on the corporate overview and scrutiny met on Monday, October 11, to discuss the council’s draft corporate plan, which sets out its aspirations for the next five years, and provide feedback and recommendations to cabinet.

Following a public survey, officers have separated what residents want into five categories, including housing, climate and environment, communities, infrastructure, and consultation.

Over 490 responses were received, 12 of which were from voluntary and community groups, with the climate change emergency topping the agenda.

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The plan proposes 53 aims in the document that sets out a blueprint of the council’s priorities and core values.

Some of these proposals include decreasing the borough and council’s to be carbon neutral by 2050, increase recycling to 50 per cent by 2025, grant planning applications to build 3,000 by 2026 of which at least 1,000 will be a mixed tenure of affordable housing, eradicate rough sleeping, “empower” communities, residents, and businesses, and increase cycling by 50 per cent by 2025.

Speaking at the meeting, the leader of the opposing Liberal Democrats, Cllr Simon Werner (Pinkneys Green) said climate change should be a “green thread” going through everything the council wants to do.

He said: “To have a thriving community, you need to have good wellbeing amongst the population. Climate change has an effect on that.

Maidenhead town hall

Maidenhead town hall

“Having biodiversity, green spaces, all these things is so important, and I don’t quite see enough of that in this document.”

Cllr Werner also called for better bus services in suburban areas, such as in his ward, and for “truly affordable homes” such as social rent as well as eco-homes to be built within the borough with “vigorous” targets.

Cllr Julian Sharpe (Con: Ascot & Sunninghill) added the council’s planning policies should require developers to add eco-friendly materials, equipment, and boilers, fearing homeowners may have to retrofit their homes if new legislation comes about.

However, Adrian Waite, head of planning, said enforcing all new developments to be carbon neutral would be “setting yourself up to fail” as the council can only urge developers to do this rather than “insist” due to national planning policies.

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Meanwhile, the leader of the independent, Cllr Lynne Jones (Old Windsor), advocated for 15-minute neighbourhoods for residents to walk to and access vital services, reducing the need for car travel.

She said: “That’s exactly the kind of thing we should be looking at for communities where services are accessible in the community and not having to travel to major central areas – but I literally could not find one goal that helped communities.

“It was more about what services the community can provide for us to help us reach our goals and I think that is definitely the wrong approach.”

Recommendations were put forward to cabinet for consideration at the end of October, such as rewording its core aim as “building a sustainable borough of innovation and opportunity”.

Other suggestions include adding in 15-minute neighbourhoods, a review of the corporate plan in the next two years to see how it is working and will go back to scrutiny to see if any changes are needed, and setting a goal of increasing walking by 50 per cent.