Whack’a’mole – Green Belt planning application edition

With the film studio planning application still undecided (and as yet unclear when the Bucks Strategic Sites Committee will meet about it – so you can still object) and the van storage application withdrawn, two new planning applications have appeared in the Little Marlow Lakes Country Park.

Football pitches

The first one (planning application 22/08176/FUL) is to put in place 5 grass football pitches next to the Athletics track (and thus involving Buckinghamshire Council). It is not as extensive as ideas being floated in 2021, but strange nonetheless.

This is what the proposal looks like:

The ground will be levelled, the pitches will be put in place, together with some other “biodiversity improvements” (hedgerows, trees, wildflowers) as per their plan. However, it is unclear how anyone is expected to access these pitches from either the footpath (blocked by an existing and retained hedgerow) or the car park (from the “retained grassland” indicated as parking above on which they are parked, through the “wildflower grassland”?). How long before it all turns into a mudbath?

Another curiosity is the applicant. in one document the customer is listed as “Brenard Leisure” – the closest we can find is Brenard Properties Limited, linked to Michael Shanly (one of its directors). Some of the documents also have their title as the document location:
P:\1293 Shanly Group Little Marlow\8.0 Drawings in Progress\8.2 Revit\01-WIP Data\1293 Site Plan Reduced option.pdf

So there will be just football pitches. “For the avoidance of doubt, no floodlighting, seating, changing, clubhouse, or other buildings/structures are proposed as part of this planning application.”

Who will use a football pitch during the day, with only natural lighting? Not that many people, but it is about the principle of having pitches available:

“The football pitches will be available for use by the local community and clubs. The applicant is currently in discussion with a number of local football teams / clubs who have identified a need for both training and match pitches. The application seeks to establish the principle of pitches on this site to enable these discussions to continue.”

So no lighting etc. in this application. But an intention to seek a variation on the approved planning application to make full use of the pitches, with additional buildings and floodlighting. Yes, now it makes sense.

It is clear that the application as proposed will not be useful to the community or the general public – is it just preparing the ground, literally, for something that will have a major impact on the community and Greenbelt?

Car parking on Fieldhouse Lane

Meanwhile, in the southwestern corner of the Little Marlow Lakes Country Park, Folbo Y Ltd seeks to make its temporary car park permanent (planning application 22/08240/FUL), plus expand it from 200 to 271 spaces.

The current temporary planning consent for the car park for 200 spaces expires on 31st January 2023, so there is a bit of time pressure on this one! That explains why comments need to be in by then… An application in July 2021 was refused on it being inappropriate development in the Green Belt, on “a failure to contribute towards the outdoor recreational function of the (…) Country Park” and on a lack of positive impact on biodiversity.

So this planning application offers some olive branches to address this:

  • the car park will be open to members of the public at the weekend
  • “upgrades to the existing footpath and cycleway” – or rather no longer blocking the path which we claimed in 2021.
  • plant more native trees and species, and mitigate flood risk

No EV chargers or secure bike parking facilities though, so it is definitely not future-proofed.

If this planning application is not approved at the end of the month – will the car park be decommissioned, removed or just abandoned? Where will the Softcat commuters go? On the portal, there is already support from people on the Harleyford Estate (linked to Folbro Y Ltd?) and from Maidenhead & Wantage…

Who will the car parking benefit, really? Softcat, who provided the needs statement? The public, to visit the Country Park – but at what cost? Or the film studio out of usual hours, with a path linking to the main footpath that links to the heart of their monstrous proposal?


You can add your comments via the planning portal or email planning.wyc@buckinghamshire.gov.uk with the planning reference number (one email per planning application). Don’t forget to add your name and address when you use this route. Save Marlow’s Greenbelt is seeking more information and considering its position on both proposals.

2 thoughts on “Whack’a’mole – Green Belt planning application edition”

  1. It would be better to improve the bus service than provide car parks. For those without a car the bus service is largely non-existent.

    Are the planned football pitches currently fields? If so what are they used for. If they are woodland it should not happen.

    It brings into question whether all these applicants are actually working together to make a massive development area in Little Marlow. In future all sorts of new projects, buildings and proposals could materialise.

    Thank you for all the information that you provide.

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