‘We will be a Bracknell without forest very soon’ a councillor has warned after the borough council approved a vision for housebuilding well into next decade.

Bracknell Forest Council approved its long-awaited local plan – a major document spelling out where development should take place in the borough until 2037 – on Tuesday, March 19.

Council leaders say it will help them provide the homes residents need while protecting the borough from the excesses of ‘speculative’ developers.

But Liberal Democrat councillor Tina Eberle said she couldn’t support the plan because it says more than 200 homes should be built at Beaufort Park between Bracknell and Crowthorne. She said this would reduce the gap between the town and village to a ‘sliver of its original size.’

READ MORE: Housing estate near Crowthorne could soon be approved

Councillor Eberle said: “This will impact the distinctive character of and cultural heritage of Crowthorne village, as Beaufort Park appears to be very much cut off from Bracknell town and naturally more connected to Crowthorne village.

“Crowthorne village will come under more pressure and lose its greener border to Bracknell town.”

Housing developer Southern Homes Ownership has already applied for permission to build 226 homes at Beaufort Park. Councillors on Bracknell Forest’s planning committee are set to decide whether to approve this at a meeting on Thursday, March 21.

Councillor Eberle, who represents Crowthorne, warned that this would mean losing a large number of trees that will not be replaced. She said: “Unless we start to act we will be a Bracknell without forest very soon.”

Labour councillor Guy Gillbe – responsible for planning at Bracknell Forest – said that having a plan that designates sites for housing means that the council can block unwanted developments elsewhere.

Most of the sites allocated for housing are in the town of Bracknell. 

He said: “Having a plan allows us to guard against unwanted development schemes on unallocated sites.” He said it would help councillors in ‘preserving our green spaces whilst also offering opportunities for more of our community to have a home in the borough they love.’

Work to draw up the local plan began in 2015, when Bracknell Forest Council was under Conservative control. Conservative group leader Gareth Barnard said the plan was not ‘carte blanche for developers to do what they’d like to do.’

He said that as Bracknell Forest is a small borough with lots of greenbelt land – and is constrained by other areas of protected land – ‘there are actually very few places you can look to build housing.’

Green Party councillor Sheila Collings also said that scrapping the local plan and beginning again ‘would allow more speculative planning applications to be submitted whilst another local plan is developed.’

But she welcomed the fact that a proposal to build a 2,000-home ‘garden village’ at Jealott’s Hill in Warfield was ruled out by government planning inspectors.

The local plan was endorsed by all councillors except Tina Eberle, who abstained in the vote.

Sites allocated for housing in the local plan are:

  • Land south of Forest Road and east of Cheney Close in Binfield (up to 40 homes)
  • Land at Peacock Farm (up to 100 homes)
  • Land at Beaufort Park, Nine Mile Ride (up to 230 homes)
  • Eastern Gateway development, Town Square, Bracknell town centre (up to 210 homes)
  • Southern gateway development, Bracknell town centre (up to 600 homes)
  • Land at the Peel Centre (up to 900 homes in total but 600 within the plan’s 15-year timescale)
  • Land east of Wokingham Road and south of Duke’s Ride, Crowthorne (up to 220 homes)
  • Land north of Herschel Grange, Warfield (up to 30 homes)
  • Whitegates, Mushroom Castle, Chavey Down Road (up to 40 homes)