Category Archives: Meetings

Get involved in the issues you care about

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who supported the Golden Harp campaign, and those hard-working residents who became part of the FPAG family.

As from April 5th 2015, where a pub is listed as an Asset of Community Value, a planning application will be required for the change of use or demolition of that pub.  It falls short of putting pubs in a sui generis category, but it is clearly a step in the right direction and a fitting end to our campaign.

If you are interested in pubs and real ale, we would encourage you to join your local CAMRA branch, and maybe even get involved with helping out at a beer festival (this year’s Maidenhead Beer Festival is on July 24th-26th).

With the election just around the corner, we would also urge voters to join the debate on local and national issues, perhaps with the help of 38 Degrees.  Our Chairman, Mark Newcombe, is organising a 38 Degrees meet-up in Maidenhead soon, so please visit their website, or get in touch if you would like to know more.  Let us get together and ensure make sure that the issues we care about are top of the winning politicians’ agenda

Theresa May’s statement for the appeal hearing

Our MP, Theresa May, sent the below statement which was read out at the appeal hearing on 17th October:

Statement for the Maidenhead Planning Committee Hearing – 17th October

I have been approached by a number of my constituents who have raised concerns about the proposal for a new development of a Tesco Express store on the site of the Golden Harp Pub. I understand Tesco have appealed against the Royal Borough’s decision to refuse planning permission for the eight applications which include the installation of a shop front, plant and equipment and bollards.

The Golden Harp is located within the conservation area of the Furze Platt Triangle and has played a part in the community since the late 19th triangular area is characterised by Maidenhead’s Victorian and Edwardian development and local people are concerned about the harm of the different proposals when considered on an individual basis or in combination, on the character of the Conservation Area. As mentioned by the Royal Borough, the installation of a shop front, the proposed bollards and the materials used for it would have a detrimental impact on the character and setting of the area. Concerns have also been raised about the associated use of the development and whether there could be a change in the pattern and level of activities which may result from a new use which could detract from the character of the conservation area.

My constituents have also raised wider concerns outside of planning considerations, notably the impact the development could have on local amenities. The Golden Harp was listed by the Local Authority as an Asset of Community Value which under the Government policy initiative, would allow the community to bid for the asset if it were to be put up for sale. Some of my constituents are concerned about the ability for the local corner shop and post office to compete with a large convenience store from an international chain, which could have an impact on the local post office.

In addition, I understand that Thames Valley Police raised concerns about the Highway Safety of the development which includes increased road traffic, additional vehicular traffic entering the site and potential road safety issues. The conclusion given was that the site will not be able to cope with the increased amount of traffic at the junction of Courthouse Road and Furze Platt Road, especially during peak periods.

I would be grateful if you could consider the concerns raised by my constituents and that of the local community when further determining the planning applications.

Thank you.

Appeal Hearing 17th Oct 2013 – Brief Overview

Just a few quick lines about today’s appeal hearing for anyone unable to attend:

There were several hours of round-table discussion lead by planning inspector Isobel McCretton.  Taking part in the discussion were representatives from the FPAG, RBWM, Thames Valley Police and CgMs (Tesco’s planning consultants).  Isobel McCretton then made a visit to the Golden Harp site.  A decision is expected by the first week in December, possibly sooner.

Thank you to: our team of Mark, Kobie, Ian and James; Claire Stretton and Victoria Gibson from the borough; Thames Valley Police; the 50 or so residents who attended the hearing.

Appeal Hearing 2013-10-17

Report of telephone call with Tesco – 29th July 2013

The ‘meeting’ was arranged following communications: FPAG with Theresa May with Tesco.  Tesco could not meet face-to-face so we had a dial-in discussion on 29th July 2013.  The FPAG was represented by Jim, Ryan and Mark.  Tesco was represented by Beth Greenhouse, Corporate Affairs Manager.

We started the meeting saying that we are not anti-Tesco; in fact they have provided some locations that are positive – a village where the pub was poor and had closed is now the village store; Prestatyn has now brought life back to a dying high street.  We referred to the national planning laws that allow a pub to be converted to a store but suggested that, as with clothes, one size does not fit all.  In this case, the change does not fit the Golden Harp!

Below is a summary of the key points that were covered:

FPAG: How does Tesco select a site?

Tesco: They have a site research team that look closely at the area and analyses shopping habits and the types of people who would shop at a convenience store.  It is not for the main shop, it is simply for topping up bread, salad etc.  On-line shoppers would also use the store to top-up.  Ensure they have a ‘delivery solution’ [which actually meant: can they get their truck into the site, or deliver from the road (10 trucks per day!)]

FPAG: Re: danger for the school children…

Tesco: Deliveries will not be made at peak hours. Tesco has stores close to schools.

FPAG: There will be a single entry/exit on Courthouse Road.

Tesco: It would be safe to open the entrance on the A308. We have a diagram that shows how the trucks could unload.

FPAG: Would you send us a copy?

Tesco: Yes.

[The FPAG have since received this diagram, and we question the viability of a 40ft vehicle being able to make the turning circle when the car park has vehicles and people moving around. Vehicles exiting will block the entrance for the trucks entering from Courthouse, and they will probably block both sides of Courthouse.]

Tesco: This will be a successful store.

FPAG: How do you measure success – you make a lot of money?

Tesco: No, lots of customers use the store! I have had lots of people calling me to support the store.

FPAG: How many?

Tesco: They are frightened to say that they support, because the community would go against them.

FPAG: How many?

Tesco: We asked if they would speak at the Council meeting but they would not [see above].

FPAG: How many? We can give you the addresses of all the people who said ‘no’ to the petition because we respect their decision and did not want to call on them again. How many, Mark? 22.

Tesco: Yes, it is not many people; not as many as you have.

FPAG: How did you carry out the consultation?

Tesco: We spoke to the neighbours.

FPAG: How many houses from the site did you talk to? I am approx. 12 doors away and I had nothing!

Tesco: The 6 that are closest [including the empty flat at the Harp]. I held an open day so people could come and talk to me.

FPAG: How did you publicise the open day?

Tesco: The 6 houses nearest to the pub.

FPAG: There has been a police traffic survey…

Tesco: Yes, but it was a policeman’s report; we paid for a professional traffic survey.

FPAG: It was a Police Inspector that produced the report, not the local bobby! I have lived in Courthouse Road for 29 years and I wish it were as safe as your traffic report.

FPAG: What if we were to offer to buy the lease off Tesco; would that make any difference?

Tesco: (A long silence) Possibly.

Tesco: My senior people have asked me to let you know that Tesco is going ahead with this store.

FPAG: Would these faceless senior people sit around the table with us? We do not hide behind other people.

Tesco: [She did not answer, which we presume meant no]

Tesco: My senior people have asked me to let you know that Tesco is going ahead with this store.

FPAG: I am very disappointed that your faceless senior managers have threatened us in this way.

Tesco: No, they are not threatening you.

FPAG: What you have just said is a threat. Regardless of the traffic problems, safety etc., you will open this store.

Tesco: The appeal is set for October; we can do nothing until then.

FPAG: I have two questions that I would like you to take back to your faceless senior managers:
1. If Tesco loses the appeal in October, will they walk away from this site?
2. Would your senior managers meet with us?

Tesco: Yes I will [ask them]

DCP unanimously REFUSES Tesco’s planning applications

Wednesday 5th June, 8pm.  The Council Chamber at Maidenhead Town Hall was packed with local residents, and it was standing room only.

Proceedings opened with RBWM’s planning representative summarising the applications under consideration, and recommending the approval of all except the cash machine.  At the eleventh hour, application 13/01018/FULL (Creation of new area of hard-standing) had been withdrawn by Tesco, so there were five to consider.

Representation from the FPAG and CAMRA

Cllr Wilson (Chair) then invited the FPAG (Furze Platt Action Group) and CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) to speak against the applications.

Alasdair Donaldson (representing CAMRA) opened by speaking about the Localism Act, and the fact that the Golden Harp has been listed as an Asset of Community Value.  He suggested that the Panel could use this as a reason for refusing the planning applications.

Nadeem Asif, manager of the nearby Best One store, spoke about the impact a Tesco would have on local businesses – specifically that takings would nose-dive, and they would likely be forced to close.  In the case of the Best One store, this would also result in the closure of the integrated Post Office.

Paul Scullion spoke about the dangers from the inevitable increase in traffic movements at the busy Furze Platt Road / Courthouse Road / Malvern Road junction.  In particular, he highlighted the real accident risk to the many children that walk by on their way to school.

Ian Rose spoke about the historical importance of the Golden Harp, and the carefully-thought-out way it was designed as a community meeting place.  His message was that none of Tesco’s proposals could be considered to enhance the Golden Harp or the conservation area in which it sits, and as such, the applications could be turned down on conservation grounds.

Mark Newcombe highlighted the less-than-desirable way in which Tesco operates, such as adding last-minute amendments and late appeals.  He called on Tesco to withdraw, telling them that we know they don’t care about our community or the safety of our children.  He ended with a plea to the DCP:

“Please, in the name of common sense, refuse all of these applications”

Representation from Tesco

Then it was the turn of two speakers representing Tesco – Beth Greenhouse (Tesco corporate affairs manager) and John Ferguson (CGMS Consulting).  They were keen to stress that they had every sympathy with residents’ concerns over safety, and that this was a high priority for them too.

They claimed to have commissioned an independent traffic report, which classified the Furze Platt Road as moderately busy, and stated that there were no safety issues.  A Panel member later told them they had their facts wrong, and that Furze Platt Road is in fact an arterial road, and that it is very busy, particularly at the start and end of the school day.  Tesco had not made this report available to either the DCP or the general public.

Development Control Panel

First to speak from the DCP was Cllr Claire Stretton, who had been in contact with Thames Valley Police.  In response, their Traffic Management Officer had sent her a report, its conclusion stating:

“In my professional opinion, and based on my experience of the local area, I have real concerns about the increased road traffic that the proposed development would entail. Additional vehicular traffic entering the site from either Courthouse Road or Furze Platt Road would aggravate an already busy area. The limited number of patrons visiting the site when it was a public house did not cause any particular policing or road safety issues. This clearly would not be the case if a change of use to a supermarket is allowed.”

Subsequently, many more Panel members spoke out forcefully against Tesco, and repeatedly called on them to withdraw.  It was quite clear that none of the Panel wanted a Tesco at the Golden Harp – the question was, what reason would they cite for refusing the applications?

Repeatedly, the Panel were reminded by the Development Control Manager and the Chairman that highways concerns could not be given as a reason for refusing the applications, as (with the possible exception of the cash machine) none of them could be said to relate to traffic.  The only other possible exception was the hard-standing application that Tesco had withdrawn at the eleventh hour.  A coincidence….?  Hmmm…

Eventually, a motion to refuse all five applications on CA2 (conservation) grounds was proposed, seconded, and then unanimously supported by the Panel.

What’s next?

Well, that remains to be seen – watch this space…

Thank yous

Thank you, Panel members, for all your hard work, and your determination to refuse these applications.

Many thanks too to our speakers, and the members of the FPAG who have been working tirelessly behind the scenes researching, putting together arguments, speaking to councillors and myriad other things.  It’s a time-consuming business fighting a corporate giant…

Finally, thank you to everyone who wrote to object to Tesco’s proposals, or who attended the DCP meeting.

Further explanation of the Article 4 decision…

We have received a letter from Cllr Derek Wilson (Chairman of Maidenhead Development Control Panel), providing some insight into the Council’s decision to refuse an Article 4, despite 48-1 in favour at the Council meeting on 23rd April.  There appear to be two main reasons behind the decision:

“An Article 4 direction was not an available option as the applicant had already demonstrated clear intent to change the use of the premises. It was therefore too late for the Council to serve an Article 4 direction.”

We dispute this, as although Tesco have “commenced works to prepare the building for a permitted change” (i.e. they have ripped out the interior of the Harp), the change of use has not yet occurred – it’s not trading as a shop; it’s a boarded-up ex-pub.

In addition, Tesco currently has six planning applications pending consideration – these relate to replacing existing grass with hard-standing, installation of a shop-front, signage, a cash machine and so on.  Without these, they will not be able to open a store, so please write to the planning department objecting to these proposals!

“The Panel also considered the risk of a significant compensation claim from Tesco Stores or the freeholder[...] The Panel [...] was not prepared to take the risk of a significant compensation payment.”

Is it right that big business can win against local residents by threatening to claim significant amounts of money in ‘compensation’?  Tesco were aware of the strong local opposition to an Express store at the Golden Harp – shouldn’t they have taken this into consideration before spending money on the site?

We urge you to write to Brandon Lewis, Community Pubs Minister, (brandon.lewis.mp@parliament.uk), and our MP, Theresa May (mayt@parliament.uk), to express your views on this Article 4 decision.

DCP Votes Not To Issue Article 4 Direction

We had a great turnout for the Development Control Panel meeting last night, and a strong presentation from our legal representative.

Unfortunately, we are told that, after a very lengthy and late debate, the Panel concluded not to issue the Article 4 directive.  We are awaiting clarification as to the basis for this outcome, but understand the decision was unanimous.

Obviously this is not the outcome we wanted but we will continue to fight with what we’ve got, with or without the Council’s support.

Cllr Wilson (Panel Chairman) said: “We are in total sympathy with the residents of the area and are frustrated about the impact on a historic corner of Maidenhead, including traffic and safety concerns. But, along with countless other areas countrywide, we find ourselves up against a situation which, although unwanted by the local community, is completely legal – we will be taking this issue to government. A better way needs to be found, both for Furze Platt residents and all the other communities in a similar situation.”

RBWM press release
Maidenhead Advertiser article

Development Control Meeting – Change of Time

Please come along and support us at the Development Control Panel meeting on Wednesday 8th May at the Town Hall, Maidenhead.

Please note that there has been a change of time, and we will now be meeting at 8:15pm.

At the meeting, the Panel will consider imposing an Article 4 Direction, which would require Tesco to apply for full planning consent.

This will provide us with the opportunity to:

  • Protect our children from Tesco traffic
  • Save the Post Office and local shops
  • Save the Golden Harp and make it a genuine community pub

Council voted 48-1 to refer the Article 4 Direction

A message from Mark Newcombe, Chairman of the Furze Platt Action Group:

The Council voted 48-1 to refer the Article 4 Direction to the next DCP Meeting on the 8th May 2013. Another step towards ensuring that Tesco have to submit a Full Planning Application.

We seem to have the backing of the full Council in our David and Goliath struggle. Cllr Bursnall, the UKIP member from Clewer East, was the only one to oppose the vote. Not surprising, as he is the Property Developer responsible for demolishing the Bricklayers Arms recently!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for all their hard work thus far. It was an honour to represent the people of Furze Platt on such an important occasion. The hundred or so supporters in the room, with their campaign badges, certainly made it easier for Nadeem and I to deliver our speeches in front of the Mayor and the assembled Councillors.

We need to move forward now to meet the challenge of the next stage.

Watch this space

Council Meeting – Tues 23rd April 2013

Please come along and support us at the Council Meeting on Tuesday 23rd April in the Desborough Suite, Town Hall, Maidenhead.  Please turn up between 7:00pm & 7:15pm as the meeting starts at 7:30pm.

The meeting will consider our petitions against Tesco’s plans, and the actions the council will take.

We need your support:

  • To protect our children from Tesco traffic
  • To save the Post Office and local shops
  • To save the Golden Harp and make it a genuine community pub