CONTENTIOUS plans to add more homes to a major scheme in a rural village have been narrowly approved after it split councillors.

Developer Berkley Homes had its plans to build 168 homes, a care community of 103 units, and the provision of nearly 17 hectares of suitable alternative natural greenspace (SANG) on greenbelt land at Sunningdale Park, Larch Avenue in Ascot, approved in 2019.

But now planners have revised part of the scheme to provide 96 homes, which is an increase of 22 dwellings.

Three of the previously approved market homes in the apartment block Mackenzie House will be converted into affordable housing following a redesign and over two hectares of additional green space will be provided.

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A total of 41 affordable homes will be delivered on-site, while an additional two affordable flats will be delivered offsite.

This is to provide a wider range of homes, such as one-bed apartments and three-bedroom houses.

Car parking spaces will be increased by 32 spaces, totalling 204 bays, nine of which will be for visitors.

Planning officers believed the new homes and the additional SANG outweighed harm to the greenbelt and character of the area. They recommended councillors to defer and delegate the plans to the head of planning subject to the developers securing affordable houses and SANG.

At a Windsor and Ascot development management panel meeting on Wednesday, December 1, the plans split councillors where three motions were put forward to refuse and approve the application.

Layout of the proposed scheme

Layout of the proposed scheme

Objecting to the scheme, Sunningdale resident Brendan Fitzmaurice urged members to refuse the “monolithic slab” of a building, fearing it will impact the street scene.

He said: “They [the homes] will dominate and change the character of the area. Little wonder over 60 residents have written to the planning team to object to this development.

“They know it will have a very negative impact in the surrounding area and avenue in terms of over-urbanisation, increase in traffic, and creating parking problems.”

Berkley Home representative Caroline McHardy said the new scheme “better utilises” the land and the Royal Borough will benefit from more housing and affordable homes while delivering an increase in biodiversity. Meanwhile, Cllr Carole Da Costa (WWRA: Clewer & Dedworth East) liked the scheme’s inclusion of renewable energy.

Independent councillor Neil Knowles (Old Windsor) believed the benefits from the redesigned scheme does not outweigh the harm to the street scene and greenbelt. This prompted him to put forward a motion to refuse the plans.

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Cllr Knowles believed the original scheme is the “lesser of two evils.”

He said: “The size of that extension in height, the different materials being used, and its layout, I think is actually going to create more harm than the existing plan.

“It may not be aesthetically pleasing, but I think the use of the colour of brick and the design does in some way merge into the woodland settings slightly better than what looks like Portland stone and Greco-Roman facings.”

His motion was defeated. Meanwhile, a motion for approval put forward by Cllr Carole Da Costa was also defeated.

However, Cllr Shamsul Shelim (Con: Eton & Castle) put forward a motion for approval but added a construction traffic management plan condition in order to relieve traffic concerns on the narrow roads.

His motion narrowly passed with five councillors voting for and four against.