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Plans for
Alma Road Car Park
and threat to Sir Sydney Camm's family home

Latest News
And Finally... we can report that the threat has been lifted and the houses renovated and occupied. See below and Forum comment here

Index to History
Alma Road Car Park

March 2002
New Plans announced for Alexandra Gardens

May 2002
Consultation Backs Windsor Riverside

November 2002
Progress and Next Steps on Agenda for User Forum

February 2003
'Consultation a Sham' claims resident
Read Letter
February 2003
Cllr Keith Evans clarifies the situation

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The Alma Road Terrace

The row of terraced houses, one of which was the boyhood home, (2nd from right), of Sir Sydney Camm, designer of the world-famous Hawker Hurricane, and his brother Fred Camm, editor of the 'Practical ..." series of magazines. At one point these homes were threatened with demolition, but the public outcry forced a rethink.

September 2005

Camm's house renovated and occupied

Camm's restored home

New windows, renovated roof, redecorated throughout, new paling fence. A comfortable home once more! Forum comment and more pictures here

March 2004

Camm's terrace to be lived in once more

The Terrace that features  Camm's home

The terrace of houses left empty for six years

Royal Borough Press Release

Windsor Homes Saved In New Affordable Housing Scheme

27 February 2004
Ref: 346/03

Nine empty Victorian houses in Windsor - including the former home of aviation inventor and designer Sir Sidney Camm - are set for a new lease of life, thanks to a Royal Borough partnership initiative with Airways Housing Group.

The houses at Arthur Road and Alma Road will be transformed into much-needed affordable homes which will be let to people nominated by the council. 

The initiative, agreed by a recent cabinet meeting, means that the council-owned properties at 83 - 87 Arthur Road and 2 - 12 Alma Road will be leased to Airways Housing Society, who will carry out the renovation works.

Cllr Mary Rose Gliksten, lead member for Windsor town centre, said she was delighted by this very positive partnership arrangement.

She said:  "The future of these houses has been the subject of much debate over the past few years and I feel this initiative will be good for everyone concerned.  It will mean a new source of affordable housing available for local people and it retains 10 Alma Road, which was the home of Sir Sidney Camm and which many residents want to see retained as a significant part of Windsor's heritage."

Steve Coggins, development director for Airways Housing Group, said: "We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Royal Borough on this exciting project. Not only are we able to provide much-needed housing for the local community we are also preserving an important part of Windsor's local history.  We are hoping to start the refurbishment during April this year and anticipate completing the work by late summer 2004."

See The Windsor Forum for the latest comment

May 2003

Lib Dem Council Scrap Car Park Development Plans

proposed site of multi-storey car park

The area that would have been affected by the proposed three storey car park

The newly elected Liberal Democrat Borough council have announced that they will scrap plans to extend parking at Alexandra Gardens by adding two decks to the existing surface car park. The prime reason for this was that the only access would have been at the junction of Alma Road and Arthur Road. This was unacceptable. The plans also included the closure of Barry Avenue, the removal of the current parking spaces there, and the transformation of that entire length of roadway to a pedestrian area.

January 2003

Major Changes after Consultation Anger Local Residents

Single storey and 100 car parking spaces becomes 540 spaces and three storeys

In January 2002 The Royal Borough published a Draft Development Brief for the area around Alma Road and Alexandra Gardens following a vociferous and successful public campaign against a 502 space multi-storey car park to the rear of 51-87 Arthur Road, and the destruction of a row of terraced houses that included Sydney and Fred Camm's boyhood home. These plans were withdrawn on 31st March 1999
  In the subsequently published colour leaflet on the subject in March 2002, (the snappily titled "Improving the Riverside Alexandra Gardens and Alma Road for Windsor"), the proposed parking changes were described as being a "new parking deck over part of the surface car park at Alexandra Gardens". Note the description, 'deck' and 'part'. The current car park area was highlighted in pink and captioned "Indicative zone of replacement parking". Note 'replacement parking' NOT "substantially increased parking". The leaflet went on to say "Great care will be taken to retain the railway arches, to ensure that the design is totally in keeping with the distinctive character of the area and does not exceed the height of the viaduct... Government guidelines currently indicate that the council cannot increase parking in this area."
  It was this document, and these reassurances, that local residents were invited to comment upon and, claim the Borough, supported. It is patently obvious to us that this was a total misrepresentation of the plans that the borough actually had, or, major changes to the plan have been made since, and no consultation of any kind has taken place.

Extract from an earlier editorial

" Congestion in Arthur Road is now so severe that tail-backs to the relief road and even the M4 are now commonplace. Any addition to the number of car parking spaces in the town centre will further exacerbate the situation to an intolerable level. RBWM accept this, as stated in The Town Plan, Page 6.11, para 6.6.18, "At present, most traffic entering Windsor does so via Arthur Road, Clarence Road or Alma Road from the Windsor and Eton Relief Road. In terms of environmental capacity, all these routes are reaching saturation. In order to relieve these roads and also the central area from long-stay traffic, an alternative to parking provision within the town needs to be considered."

Yet in January 2003 a three storey car park is in the offing using precisely the same access roads that were previously dismissed as being at saturation point.

January 24th 2003

Local papers report claims of 'gridlock'

The Observer this week has reported that a three-tier, 540 space, multi-storey car park is planned to replace the spaces currently available at Alma Road/Alexandra Gardens. Tory councillor Peter Spooner presented the proposals at a recent planning meeting as part of plans for the area around Alexandra Gardens, which includes the pedestrianisation of Barry Avenue, the removal of parking there, and the closure of the access road to the present car park. The effect will be to force all traffic to use the Alma Road, Arthur Road junction which is already heavily overloaded by traffic to and from Windsor Dials, King Edward Court and Victoria Street car parks and the adjacent coach park. Cllr. Spooner claims that "major consultation has been carried out."

We would like to make it clear that NO CONSULTATION was undertaken for this aspect of the scheme, and any claims that the local residents would support Cllr. Spooner's proposals is a total distortion of the truth.

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Consultation a Sham
claims Alma Road resident

" mention of the fact that ... they would be getting a huge 540 space three-storey car park"

Dear Editor
With reference to your ongoing feature on this topic, I wish to express my concern and dismay at the inevitability of the Alexander Gardens/Alma Road development in Windsor. I have seen the council's recent statement outlining the final development package submitted for Cabinet approval and I think all Windsor residents should reflect on what is being proposed and how its been contrived.
  If one studies the responses to the Alexander/Alma Road consultation, one will find that nearly everyone wanted improvements to Alexandra Gardens but when it came to a new car park and the building of flats on Alma Road, concerns were raised from all sides of the community. This key factor seems to have been conveniently overlooked in formulating the final proposal. There appears to be a dangerous culture creeping into the Council which implies "We've done a consultation so everything is now OK."
  I believe that people have been misled, with this innocent type of the preliminary consultation. It made no mention of the fact that by going along with signing up to the improvements to Alexander Gardens, they would be getting a huge 540 space three-storey car park, plus 64 housing units with residents parking. I think this exposes the consultation as a sham.
  It is important to ensure that the residents of Windsor know exactly what is being proposed - apart from the modifications to Alexander Gardens, the Council plan to build a massive multi-storey car park, situated so close to the Brunel Arches it will spoil their architectural presence. Access to and from the new car park will be through the single archway in the railway viaduct on Alma Road/Arthur Road, which is shared with coaches, using the coach park. As for the 64 flats, they present the highest density possible in an area which is already probably the most densely populated in the Royal Borough - again with its on-site resident parking area which will also add more traffic movements in and out of the same access junction. With all this added traffic, the existing road system will not cope - it cannot cope as it is! There are genuine fears that Windsor will become gridlocked.
  Another unacceptable attitude of the Council is its refusal to involve our elected Ward Councillors when significant changes are being proposed in their Ward. I have tried to seek further information from my Ward Councillor, only to be told that they do not know - they only kept abreast of the situation when it suits the council!
  The Alexander Garden plan as proposed, is neither viable nor a practical solution for the town. If the council persist with the cavalier approach to planning by ignoring essential facts and the underlying concerns of residents then this development, like others in Windsor will inevitably have a detrimental effect on the town's ability to address the needs of the local community.
  Yours sincerely
  Alma Road Resident

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An exchange of emails with Cllr. Keith Evans

From Keith Evans
Trinity Ward

I see the proposed multi-storey car park in Alexandra Gardens is causing concern amongst residents. I understand the confusion as to the size and capacity of the structure and the fear of congestion this will bring.
  However, nothing has yet been decided as to the detail, only a schematic drawing, produced for a parking forum meeting at the end of last year, which showed the maximum capacity the car park could be, a 3 storey, 540 space facility.
  In actual fact the eventual design, by law, must not provide a net gain in parking, simply replace the spaces lost in the closure of Barry Avenue and the existing surface car park in Alma Road. That is why the previous multi-storey car park in Alma Road, proposed by the Lib. Dems. fell through, it was intended to provide some 500 spaces.
  This means it can only have a maximum overall capacity of 350 spaces, which includes the existing 150 spaces in Alexandra Gardens at the present time. The net increase of 200 spaces come from 80 in Barry Avenue and 120 on the surface car park.
  The height of the structure itself will not be above the railway viaduct, even if 3 storey, so views of it will not be altered.
  The proposal, once it is finalised, will have to go through the normal planning process and therefore, as required by law, will have to allow additional local comment.
  In the meantime, the Borough will be sending out a detailed consultation document to get feedback from local residents. The original consultation, amongst other things, was for opinion in principle to building additional decks and gave reason as replacing the surface car park and Barry Avenue spaces, no actual detail was offered.
  I hope that helps alleviate any fears residents may have, at least people should know the idea is not a "done deal" and is still very much open to public opinion.

From Editor, Thamesweb

Many thanks for the clarification. I assume that cars, when parked on the top level of the car park, will be below the level of the arches as the track descends towards the river crossing. Also, I hear rumours that Barry Avenue could be reopened through the arches to provide access to the car park. A lot of us would also like to know where we are at with Park and Ride.

From Keith Evans
Trinity Ward

I am told the only visible part will be the lift tower. It will be situated more towards the town end of the arches so there will be the advantage of more height.
  Barry Avenue could be a possible entrance. It is part of the ongoing discussion with the Borough engineers now.
  The Park and Ride is still planned and more work has been done on this in the last 2 years than ever before.
  Problem is that it will be situated on Slough Council land meaning there has had to be a lengthy round of discussions, they had an election last year which stalled things.
  There is no chance that the Alexandra Gardens car park will exclude the option for a Park and Ride scheme as all that is happening is a combining of three different areas of existing spaces into one, no net gain. Anyone suggesting otherwise is up for election in 2 months, and as I said more has been done in 2 years, than 10 of a previous Council body, who now seem to think it is a good idea!

From Editor, Thamesweb

I personally do not consider the Park and Ride Scheme to be much of a solution, motorists being what they are. I was going to check how well used the Legoland scheme was - but then it got suspended until the end of March!
For office and shop workers, the concept of parking some distance from their destination and waiting for a bus to take them into town and back again, whilst marooning them from their cars throughout the day, is not appealing, especially as the waiting and travel time could add 40 minutes (20 minutes each way, each day) or even longer.
For shoppers the facility is probably a total non-starter too, unless they are going into town to buy a pencil sharpener! The prospect of struggling on and off a bus, plus additional walking and waiting, with their various bags and boxes precludes the use of the service, except by the most hardy. If I want to go to Waitrose, I use Sunningdale (or is it Sunninghill - never could remember) because I can park outside their door! Dragging loads of bags on and off a bus, after a lengthy wait in all weathers just does not appeal to me.
Tourists could possibly be tempted to use Park and Ride if the 'ride' element into the town centre was enticing, Walt Disney style, where visitors seem perfectly happy to be parked in the next state, when given a 'fun ride' into Disneyland.
Park and Ride will not solve the problem caused by those who seek free parking in the Green Lane, York Avenue, York Road area and elsewhere on the outskirts, even parking on both sides of a sharp bend, and on double yellow lines. I am aware that the police have one or two other things on their minds at the moment, but surely the odd blitz on illegal parking could be arranged just once or twice??
I trust that the consideration of opening up Barry Avenue does not include the wrecking of the existing arches a la Alma Road. That would be vandalism! Access to Barry Avenue via Vansittart Road is certainly a non-starter, so that leaves the circuitous route past the Leisure Centre - and anyway the route does nothing to alleviate traffic in Arthur Road.
There is nothing for it... Ma'am is going to have to give permission for a discrete parking area in Frogmore!
On the subject of the local elections, we are planning a section devoted to it. I see we will have mobile voting booths outside train stations, etc... I must do a cartoon of a frustrated voter running down the street waving his pencil having just missed his booth!!

From Keith Evans
Trinity Ward

Park and Ride will have a novel method of getting into town, by train. Not quite Disney but certainly not Mickey Mouse!
  My belief is that this will only be attractive to day visitors who come by car, and a few workers, (as the train will bring them right into the centre of town and be more reliable than a bus in traffic), and that's it. Not a waste of time and money but only a part of the whole solution. That is why the effort to improve the parking has been done in 3 stages.
  Park and Ride at Legoland is a useless facility for workers not just because of the hassle it brings but simply because it doesn't have a bus service until 10am and finishes at something like 5pm! Ridiculous and it appears to be out of the borough's control.

Our thanks to Cllr. Keith Evans for his time in putting his point of view and clarifications.

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March 2002

New Plans announced for Sir Sydney Camm's House,
Car Parks, Barry Avenue and Alexandra Gardens

In March 2002 Windsor and Maidenhead Borough Council announced plans to improve the area around the northern end of Alma Road and the adjacent car parks together with improvements to Alexandra Gardens, Barry Avenue and the riverside promenade. The plans stem from a successful campaign mounted by local residents in the summer of 1999 to halt the proposals being put forward at the time. These plans included the demolition of the terraced houses pictured above, which included the birthplace and childhood home of one of our most innovative aircraft engineers, Sir Sydney Camm, designer of the Hurricane aircraft amongst a number of others. The plans provided for the construction of a large roundabout and access roads plus a car park for some 500 vehicles. For local residents the project was totally unacceptable and a campaign was launched to oppose them. The matter caught the attention of the national press and even generated a letter from an amazed former Luftwaffe pilot in Austria! The full story is available here.

The revised plans retain the terraced homes in the immediate area, with additional parking provision and low-cost housing, plus a major refurbishment of the riverside in this part of Windsor. Car parking provision is retained at a similar level although the plans include the pedestrianisation of Barry Avenue with the loss of approximately 100 parking spaces. These spaces are to be replaced by additional parking on a new, second parking deck above the existing car park adjacent to Alexandra Gardens.

A Consultation Form was published by Windsor and Maidenhead Borough Council outlining the plans and inviting comment. These leaflets are available from York House, Sheet Street, Windsor. This leaflet, plus a draft development brief may also be downloaded from The Royal Borough Consultation Area

An Exhibition featuring the proposed changes was held at the following locations around Windsor.

14th - 17th March Windsor Leisure Centre, Stovell Road
18th - 22nd March The Guildhall, High Street
25th - 28th March Windsor Library
2nd - 5th April York House, Sheet Street

The consultation report showing support for the plan was published by the Royal Borough in May 2002 and is reproduced below.

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Consultation Backs Windsor Riverside
and Alma Road Schemes

Tuesday, 21 May 2002

Windsor people have given their overall backing to the Royal Borough's plans to improve the important Riverside area of the town and for an innovative housing scheme at Alma Road.

  A report to cabinet, meeting on Thursday evening (May 23), highlights the results of the recent six-week public consultation, which Cllr. Peter Spooner described as "welcome and far-sighted approval" for the innovative and ambitious initiative.
  The lead member for capital assets and strategic infrastructure said: "These plans will enable us to make the most of one of Windsor's most popular assets ­ the riverside area of the Thames. At the same time they give us a unique opportunity to provide much-needed
town centre housing, including affordable housing, at Alma Road. Historians are also happy that we have been able to retain the former home of Sir Sidney Camm.

  "The consultation attracted considerable local interest and I am delighted that so many people have given their approval for these far-sighted and exciting plans."

Consultation results

223 responses received

Riverside ­ 63% of respondents in favour of closing Barry Avenue to traffic to enable the riverside gardens to be extended to the river's edge, with improvements and landscaping; 77% agreed to proposed safety improvements.
Alma Road ­ 81% in favour of refurbishing the existing properties at Alma Road, including the Sir Sidney Camm house; 58% in favour of using the car park for new homes.
Alexandra car park ­ 62% agreed with the proposal for appropriately designed decked parking to replace the space lost at Alma Road.

The consultation also showed that, while 54% of respondents agree a modified Alma Road/Arthur Road junction will provide adequate access to the new homes and the car park, there is still some local concern.
  Cllr Spooner said: "We appreciate some people are worried that the junction will not have the capacity to cope with additional traffic they feel will be generated by the new homes - so we will be carrying out further work on this aspect of the project to minimise any potential
effects on the roads in the area."

  Following the consultation, cabinet will now be asked to approve the development brief for Alma Road, maintaining parking for residents and access to the Windsor Dials car park, which is used by members of the public at weekends.
  Members will also be asked to agree that detailed designs and estimates be prepared for Windsor Riverside and Alexandra Gardens car park, with a further report to cabinet before a planning application is submitted later in the year.

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Progress and Next Steps on Agenda for User Forum

Monday, 18 November 2002

Progress on the Royal Borough's Windsor parking strategy - and what happens next - are on the agenda for next week's user forum (Monday November 25).
  Chaired by lead member Cllr Peter Spooner, the meeting will give an up-date on the recently-introduced on-street parking arrangements and council enforcement, and look forward to the introduction of variable message signs which will give drivers real time information about the availability of car park spaces.
   Also on the agenda are the plans for extending Alexandra Gardens car park, in conjunction with improvements to Windsor Riverside, and the creation of additional spaces at the Home Park park and ride facility. There will also be a progress report on the council's long-term plans for a park and ride at junction 6 of the M4 motorway.
   Cllr Spooner issued a warm welcome to local people to come along and hear the discussions about these important initiatives.
   He said: "The aim of the forum is to look at the issues, initiate discussion and generate ideas which we can investigate to see if they are feasible and then bring forward formal proposals for consultation.
   "Finding solutions to Windsor's congestion and parking problems is a council priority and, with constructive help from the local community, we have made a great deal of progress so far. The variable message signs will be another important step forward when they are introduced in January and now we want to look further ahead to make even more improvements which will be of benefit to the entire community.
   "The council remains firmly committed to our long-term plan for a park and ride at junction 6 and we are having on-going discussions with Slough Borough Council to progress this."

The user forum took place on Monday November 25 in Windsor Boys' School, Maidenhead Road.  

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