Gaining planning permission to develop Green Belt land is always a challenging proposition, particularly when the land in question is also registered under the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953 and within the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens by English Heritage for its special historic interest.
However, on 15 March 2017 the Maidenhead Development Control Panel voted to grant planning permission for a new Care Village within the grounds of the Grade II Listed Registered Park and Garden at Hall Place, near Maidenhead. The estate is currently used by BCA College (formerly the Berkshire College of Agriculture) as their campus, and lies within the Green Belt. The estate also contains several Listed buildings and structures, including the Grade I Listed Hall Place manor house.
Part of the historical interest of the estate stems from an area planted in the 1830s to commemorate the Battle of the Nile of 1798, with oak trees laid out in the formation of the English and French armadas, although few of the original trees survive today. The missing oaks were replanted in the 1990s, and labelled with the names of ships present at the battle. The feature also contains two brick pyramids, of which one remains partly intact, as well as a statue of Nelson, of which only the plinth remains.
The scheme for a Care Village comprises a 50-bed care home, a well-being centre, 26 assisted living units and 82 independent living units. The scheme also provides for a wide-ranging landscape improvement program, which will enhance and restore the historical landscape elements within the Park, in addition to enabling the built heritage assets to be preserved and enhanced through a series of restoration projects facilitated by the Care Village development.
CSA Environmental were part of the consultation and design team, advising on landscape, visual and arboricultural matters. CSA’s team developed the concept landscape plans and parkland restoration concepts which were vital to the overall presentation and acceptability of the scheme.
Whilst the scheme has faced significant opposition from local residents (as well as some support), the landscaping benefits inherent in the plans were instrumental in gaining permission for the project.