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Histories of Windsor

Vansittart Road Recreation Ground

An earlier Threat by the RBWM to Sell It Off, 1952

In May 1989 the Friends of the Vansittart Road Recreation Ground were involved in a fight to save this valuable Public Open Space, from being sold to developers by the Windsor and Maidenhead council (RBWM). The fight was much helped by an earlier decision in 1952 and previously in 1947 to refuse planning permission in similar circumstances.
Any attempt in the future to the build upon this Public Open Space will need to overcome the powerful arguments put forward during these previous failed applications plus the successful campaign run in 1989, which also resulted in a refusal following a further Public Inquiry.
The shortage of Public Open Space in Windsor is well documented and it would be folly, and tragic, to deny future generations use of this important area of recreational land in this part of Windsor. Once lost it can never be recovered and offers of other recreational areas elsewhere in the town are of no benefit to the residents around the Vansittart Road Recreation Ground.
This is the decision of the Chief Planning Officer of the County of Berkshire in June, 1952 at the planning committee that was considering the application at the time.

County Planning Committee - June, 1952

The Use of Vansittart Road Recreation Ground, Windsor,
for Housing Purposes

Chief Planning Officer An application has been received from the Windsor Borough Council for the use for housing purposes of approximately 10 acres of land at Vansittart Road, Windsor, which has been allocated in the County Development Plan as a public open space. The Council's decision was based on the view that in Windsor there is an overriding need for sites for private building.

There are, however, strong reasons why this land should not be used for housing purposes. In June, 1947, the Minister of Town and Country Planning dismissed an Appeal submitted by Mr W. Varney, the owner of the land, against the refusal of the Windsor Borough Council as interim development authority at the time, to permit the development of the land for housing purposes. It was stated at the inquiry that the Borough Council considered this site was the last piece of open ground in the centre of this residential area suitable for a recreation ground. Representations on behalf of 356 local residents were made, emphasising the need for recreational facilities in this particular area. The Minister in his decision also considered that the development of this site for housing would not result in the best use of the land and should in his view be reserved as a public open space. In consequence of the Minister's decision, it was agreed that the Borough Council should purchase the land. Since that time the Borough Council have been negotiating with Mr Varney for the acquisition of the land, but they have not yet been able to come to terms. In the meantime the land is held by the Borough Council on a lease which will expire on the 29 June, 1953.

In 1951, the Borough Council approved the proposals contained in the Town Map for Windsor. No objection to this particular proposal was raised at the Public Inquiry into the County Development Plan. The land was included in the Development Plan as a public open space because it is the only area of vacant land not already reserved for other purposes, which is available to serve an extensive residential area in the vicinity. The Borough Council themselves are undertaking considerable housing development to the south of this site and they have made no provision in their layout for local recreational facilities for the inhabitants, other than that which would be provided by this site in Vansittart Road.

In relation to standards advocated by the National Playing Fields Association, Windsor is deficient in the existing provision of land for public open space. The development of this 10 acres of land in the Vansittart Road as a public recreation ground would help to remedy this deficiency in an area where it is particularly desirable. It has been stated that adequate land has been allocated in the Development Plan for open space in the Dedworth area, but it is at least a mile distant from the Vansittart Road residential area, and therefore of little value as local recreation ground to serve the neighbourhood.

Reference has also been made to the need for land for private housing. In preparing the Development Plan, a very careful analysis was made of land requirements, including those related to housing needs, and the adequate land was shown in the Plan for those purposes. It is not possible to indicate in the Development Plan land for private development as against that for Local Authority housing. This is a matter of detail, which is very much the concern of the Local Authority, but there is no reason why the land already allocated for housing should not be fairly distributed according to needs without encroaching onto land reserved for other purposes.

Resolved: That the applications submitted by the Windsor Borough Council for the development of the Vansittart Recreation Ground for housing purposes be refused.

Grounds of refusal: That the land is included in the County Development Plan as a public open space.

F. D. BAZETT, Chairman.

14th May, 1952

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