In May 1989, the following was issued in a newspaper by the Friends of the Vansittart Road Recreation Ground. The Windsor and Maidenhead council had announced plans to sell The Recreation Ground to fund an expanded Sports facility at Stag Meadow. If the sale went ahead this valuable Open Space would have been permanently lost under approximately 160 flats.
Almost without exception, Windsor residents were incensed. This story looks at the situation at the time and how, following an indefatigable fight by one man, the plans were dropped.
On Thursday, 13th April, at a public meeting held at Windsor Boys School Hall, Windsor residents voted overwhelmingly to reject proposals by Windsor & Maidenhead Borough Council to sell Vansittart Road Recreation Ground for redevelopment. Feelings ran high as the meeting's organisers outlined why the development should not be allowed and a vote of "No Confidence" in the Windsor and Maidenhead Borough Council was approved.
The meeting heard how attempts to develop the land in the past have been refused planning consent [READ REPORT] because Public Open Space in this area of the town already falls well below the minimum required as laid down in Local Planning recommendations. If these plans go through, the residents will permanently lose a valuable amenity which can never be replaced.
Local residents spoke of their anger at losing a green oasis purely for financial gain, and the threat that this poses to other Open Spaces throughout the Borough. At £1 million per acre, the pressures on areas such as these are considerable.
The meeting also heard of Berkshire County Council's objections to parts of the Windsor Town Plan in which the redevelopment plans feature. It was revealed that the number of new housing units exceeded the limits set for the town by the county. Speakers made the point that if the Town Plan as presented by the Borough was unsatisfactory, the simplest and best way to modify it to an acceptable level was to abandon plans to build on Vansittart Road Recreation Ground.
Copies of the Town Plan are now available at York House in Sheet St, Windsor, and at local libraries, together with forms upon which to register objections. The closing date for objections is May 15th 1989 and so residents are urged to act quickly so that their views are clearly heard by the Borough. More details about these forms, and how to complete them, appear on the back page. Written representations in the form of a letter will also be accepted.
Local residents have already made a significant effort to get their views heard and a petition signed by the vast majority of residents in the area has been presented to Councillors, but it seems that these representations were not heeded. Gordon Cullingham, former Borough Engineer and leader of the opposition to Windsor & Maidenhead's plans to sell the Vansittart Road site, had prepared a resumé of the history of the site for the councillors' benefit and consideration. But once again councillors from outside the Borough ignored the facts that had been placed before them.
In March this year, despite a torrent of facts against the scheme, and wholehearted opposition by Windsor Councillors, and inept replies by the out of town councillors, the motion to dispose of the land for building was passed and it became obvious that Windsor residents were going to have to fight to save their Open Space.
In the course of the public meeting, it was proposed and overwhelmingly accepted that the Recreation Ground should be registered as a Town Green. As Windsor residents have enjoyed the benefits of this area for a period that matches the requirements of the Commons Registration (New Land) Regulations, 1969, steps are already being taken to register the land. Residents are urged to assist in the process by providing a written statement on the Vansittart Road Recreation Ground Questionnaire as to their knowledge and use of the Open Space while they have lived in Windsor. In preparing the Registration documents, The Friends of the VRRGPOS have been guided by the Open Space Society in Henley on Thames.
At the close of the meeting, County Councillor Edwin Singer (SLD) expressed thanks to Councillor Eva for coming to the meeting and putting forward the Borough's point of view but as the meeting came to a close, it was a commonly expressed belief that the majority Conservative councillors were doing much to damage their credibility in the area, and that the electors would remember the attempt to sell Public Open Space for building when the time next came to vote.