Datchet, Royal Borough of windsor and maidenhead Draft Allocation Secured
Datchet is situated in The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in the county of Berkshire. The Royal Borough is renowned for its rich blend of attractive countryside and successful modern business development. There is a wealth of historic buildings, ranging from Windsor Castle and Eton College to the many attractive rural villages.
Datchet is located 20 miles from central London, 5.5 miles from Heathrow Airport and has two main line train stations for London, one of which connects to Waterloo allowing for a new trend of European day-trippers.
As a result of economic prosperity and its proximity to the Thames Valley, the Royal Borough attracts a variety of business enterprises including leading international companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, Hitachi, Johnson & Johnson and Nortel Networks. Forecasts suggest that the Thames Valley economy will grow at a faster rate over the next five years than either the South East or the UK as a whole.
Our Planning Department Comments
- At national level there is currently concern that there is insufficient housing being provided to meet the increasing number of households. Whilst the housing stock has been increasing by 185,000 per year, the number of households is expected to grow by 223,000 per year.
- The land at Datchet is in a highly sustainable location close to all amenities and community services and is well served by all public transport facilities.
- Representations have been made, in relation to the South East Plan, that in order to address the issue of contributing to housing needs the overall strategic housing requirement in the South East plan should be increased to 40,000 dwellings per annum and for Windsor and Maidenhead should be increased from 5,620 to 7,820 dwellings, representing 391 dwellings per annum.
- Although the land currently lies within the greenbelt its specific characteristics are such that it does not have a greenbelt function.Â Its removal from the greenbelt would be entirely appropriate and assist in meeting the acknowledged need for housing in this part of the South East.
- The physical location of the land, between the settlement boundary of Datchet and the M4 motorway, is such that its development would not lead to coalescence with any other settlement. This is one of the principal objectives of greenbelt designation and thereby would have no adverse impact on the character of the greenbelt or set a precedent for the release of land elsewhere.
- Flood alleviation assessments have concluded that residential development of the site would be acceptable and would not increase the prospect for flooding elsewhere in the immediate locality.
Latest Planning Update
As referenced in the July Planning Update, the Local Plan examination has been paused as a result of the Inspector requesting that all flood analysis and sequential testing be redone with new data due to be published by the Environmental Agency. Despite commitments that this data would be available in May this year, it has yet to be published and this is resulting in an ongoing pause of the Examination of the Plan.
Despite discussion between the Inspector and RBWM to plan a way forward and all outstanding evidence having been submitted to aid in this objective, there is no clear timetable yet available as to the completion of the Draft Plan Review.
Give the above, we have elected to take legal advice and have sent a QC letter to the Inspector advising her of our belief that the plan is being unfairly delayed and that we recommend its recommencement as soon as possible.
Alongside the above measures, we are in the process of finalising our preparatory work for our impending Outline Planning Application and, once we have received a response from the Inspector, will decide on a way forward with the application.
We do not anticipate a response from the Inspector before the end of January 2020 and will advise on the next update in mid February.
As mentioned in previous communications, we remain of the position that submitting an application for outline planning upon adoption remains in the best interest of all parties. Current indications suggest that a sale of the site upon adoption but without outline planning would achieve an approximate £18m sale price which would fall short of the projected returns we hope to achieve. In comparison, a sale price of £30-35m would be achievable with outline planning approval secured, significantly greater than initial projections.
An Outline Planning application is a much quicker process and, depending on the point it is submitted, should receive approval within 12 months. This means that we would see the sale of Datchet occurring in Q2 2021. However, given the strength of our position within the Draft Plan, we are exploring the option of submitting an OP application prior to the examination period being completed. This will require us to apply the required flood analysis to our site specifically meaning we would need the data scheduled for release by the EA in May this year. Hence no decision can be taken until then.
We will continue to keep all parties appraised of developments both with the local council's revised timetable when it is made public and with our decision in respect of the OP application. However, we do not expect any changes to the status quo prior to end May.