OUTLINE planning permission was granted by councillors for controversial plans to build 79 homes on a former RAF barracks site used during World War Two.

This means the Grove Park Industrial Estate redevelopment – which will have a mix of two, three, and four-bedrooms, in Waltham Road, White Waltham, is one step closer to a reality with a full application to be submitted at a later stage.

Apart from three offices, a majority of the small to medium sized buildings on the site will be demolished for the new homes – four of which will be affordable – and a new nursery replacing the existing one on site.

Campaigners urged members of the Royal Borough Development Management panel to refuse or defer this application on the grounds of its scale and density, and disagreed with the planning officers that this development will cause harm to the green belt and deemed it ‘unacceptable’.

While not objecting to some development of the site, Charles Donald, who spoke on behalf of the White Waltham Village Association, vehemently opposed the plans and said if councillors give approval, the association will ‘consider’ seeking a judicial review.

READ MORE: 'Brutal and uninspiring' 10-storey Maidenhead flats approved

Speaking against the plans, councillor Maureen Hunt (Conservative: Hurley and Walthams) said the parish does not want this kind of development where it will have an impact on the green belt and its openness without any ‘very special circumstances’ to justify it.

She also feared for the loss of employment opportunities as some businesses operate at the site.

There are businesses on the site – but the planning officers report states the need for housing development ‘is given greater weight’ than the loss of employment.

Members of the panel mainly spoke in favour of the application as they believed the ancient buildings have gone ‘beyond their sell by date’ and considered the redevelopment appropriate for the green belt.

Speaking in favour of the plans, councillor John Bowden (Conservative: Eton and Castle) said: “It is in the green belt, however, it is already a developed site and the buildings I saw there, regrettably, I have to confirm that they are beyond their sell by date.

READ MORE: 'Grade A' Maidenhead office block given the go ahead by councillors

“They are, to me, similar to nissen huts that were used in the war and now have passed on to employment – but are now in a relatively poor condition and I am sure local space can be available alongside the existing Grove Park if they so wish to be.”

Cllr Geoff Hill (The Borough First: Oldfield) said he liked the plans due to the development primarily focusing on family homes rather than “monstrous” blocks of flats.

Seven councillors approved the plans where the chairman of the meeting, councillor Phil Haseler (Conservative: Cox Green), exited the meeting due to ‘prejudicial’ interests in the matter as he sent a letter of objection to the plans.

A ‘frustrated’ councillor Leo Walters (Conservative: Bray) couldn’t vote due to technical issues where the council’s constitution states a member needs to be present throughout the debate to vote.

The plans are subject to the developer’s completion of securing affordable housing, improving the bus infrastructure, and the replacement of the nursery.

The meeting took place on November 18 (Wednesday).