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Ascot: Planners' Lapland concerns

Published: 15 Jul 2013 11:307 comments

MOTORISTS could be put at risk by plans for a Lapland Christmas experience in Swinley Forest, say Royal Borough planners.

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The council's planning officers "strongly oppose" a proposal for a temporary winter wonderland in Whitmore Bog, at the junction of Swinley Road and London Road, Ascot.

Simon Hurrell, head of planning and property services for the Royal Borough, claims Lapland UK's application would have an adverse impact on traffic safety within the borough.

He said: "More robust information is required on how staff public transport use will be achieved, and on the proposed stopping areas for buses at Ascot railway station.

"Private vehicular access to the site will include the highway network within the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maiden-head and, in particular via the Heatherwood Roundabout in Ascot, where there are known accident issues."

Mr Hurrell added the opening hours would coincide with other busy festive events - such as the Ascot Christmas Races. He says Lapland UK has not given enough detail regarding sustainable means of transport to the site and how a negative impact on traffic can be avoided.

A series of objections have been received from residents living near the proposed site.

Guy Smith, of Lavender Park, said traffic load and noise would be an issue and that there would be increased accident. He also expressed concern for rare wildlife within the forest.

A 47-signature petition opposing the application on the grounds of traffic congestion has also been submitted. But Kate Etteridge, speaking on behalf of Lapland UK, told the News the company has worked closely with traffic experts throughout the planning process. She said: "Lapland UK has shown to be, and will continue to be, sympathetic to local concerns and respond to local feedback.

"As such, an alternative entrance has been designed away from the humpback bridge; Lapland UK pro-actively agreed to close 9am and 9.30am midweek tours on school term time dates to avoid any perceived traffic issues; a small shuttle bus will now only link with Ascot station; additional landscaping will be created to the rear of Whitmore Cottages; the parking exclusion zone has been expanded to include the central spine on the site."

Ms Etteridge added day trips are staggered so there would never be a "mass exodus" of cars and tickets are pre-purchased, so the company will always know how many people are attending.

Some people, most of whom live outside the area, have written in support of the application.

Lavender Park Golf Centre, opposite the proposed site in Swinley Road, backs the Lapland plan.

Manager Paul Johnson, told Bracknell Forest Council the development would be beneficial for the local area and economy - creating much-needed jobs, and added: "We can see few (if any) negative consequences."

Comments on the application are being taken up until Thursday, August 22, when it will be discussed by the Bracknell Forest Council planning committee in the Council Chamber, Fourth Floor, Easthampstead House, Bracknell at 7.30pm.

To view and comment on the plans, visit www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/viewplanningapplications and search 13/00428/T.

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