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School allowed in green belt near Maidenhead

Published: Thursday, 11th August 2016

Communities Secretary approves proposals for a green belt development, concluding that the scheme meets the “very special circumstances” needed to justify the construction...

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has approved proposals for a new campus for a school for vulnerable children at a green belt location near Maidenhead.

Beech Lodge School is currently mainly based in a converted barn at Honey Lane, Hurley on the basis of a temporary permission which expires next year. The establishment’s founder is Daniela Szmigielska Shanly, wife of house builder Michael Shanly.

The scheme involves the construction of a new school, mostly single storey and with the traditional appearance of farmstead barns grouped around a courtyard with ancillary outbuildings.

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead had backed the school’s proposed move to a new 3.2-hectare site at Stubbings north of Maidenhead Thicket, with space for almost 100 pupils. The location is close to the estate where the Shanly family live.

In March 2015 the then Communities Secretary Sir Eric Pickles called-in the application following concern voiced by the Burchetts Green Village Association and Bisham Parish Council.

Javid’s decision to allow the school was in line with the recommendation of the inspector who held the inquiry into the proposals.

The SoS agreed the scheme was not an acceptable use in terms of green belt policy but concluded there were “very special circumstances” to justify it.

The decision letter said: “the change in character from open countryside to a landscaped school development would have only limited harm”. He also acknowledged that regular users of the Chiltern Way/Berkshire Loop long-distance footpath in the vicinity of the proposed site would experience significant harm.

View the called-in decision: land at Henley Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire

Roger Milne