Last night, the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead Council gave its response to the petition on WLR. It resolved:
(a) notes the petition and the case made for the Windsor Link Railway, and
(b) encourages the WLR team to engage fully in the planning policy processes, feeding into the emerging Borough Local Plan and Central Windsor Neighbourhood Plan, and looks forward to the further submissions and discussions in these regards with all relevant Members and Officers.
George Bathurst, introducing the petition, said:
1,423 residents and visitors have signed these two petitions in support of Windsor Link Railway and its aims. These are to improve rail services and parking and to reduce traffic congestion in Windsor and the surrounding region.
When the first railways were built, some people imagined that they would give everybody dysentery or stop hens laying eggs. Whilst nobody has yet said that of the Windsor Link Railway I would like to start by laying to rest some myths.
There are no powers that I am aware of that give blanket planning permission and compulsory purchase for anything you like within 300 yards of a railway. There is no secret conspiracy to concrete over Alexandra Gardens and build 500 flats upon it. The railway is not a Trojan Horse, a trick, to allow some massive unwanted development into the town.
In fact it is quite the reverse. We hope to facilitate the restoration of Alexandra Gardens to its original Edwardian vista, to reconnect it with the river whilst improving flood defences and at the same time move unsightly parking away from the riverside and improve the views of the castle.
Sites such as the clamper’s car park, Castle Car Park, which have been a blight on the town for decades could be brought within the scheme, compulsorily if necessary, and replaced with something much more in keeping with what local residents want.
Rather than ugly tower blocks, WLR wants to work with the Princes Foundation for Building Community to create architecture that is in keeping with Windsor’s traditions.
Some development will be necessary if we want to bring the project forward privately, rather than putting the burden on taxpayers. WLR wants to do this in partnership with both the local council and residents to work out what is acceptable and what is not. What I can assure council members is that everybody, including the Secretary of State who would have ultimate authority for approving the railway, will take great interest in the views of both the council and local residents. It is in nobody’s interests to ruin Windsor.
What I hope is that we can work together to build a Windsor that is not only more economically vibrant, better connected and less congested but also that is even more beautiful than it is today.
I very much hope that you will respond warmly this petition.
Update: the minutes of this meeting have now been published and are available here.