March 21, 2011
A proposal for a residential development project on the site of the derelict Brunel campus in Coopers Hill Lane has been submitted to Runnymede Council. The proposal is the second for said site after the first was criticized by residents.
This comes after a motion to refuse a planning application for new student accommodation on Egham Hill was passed by Runnymede Council’s planning committee in September last year. The plan was designed to accommodate the predicted growth of Royal Holloway’s student population – at present approximately 7,700 – to 12,000 students by 2031, with a development of the Brunel Campus, empty as of 2007.
Under the proposal, the campus would be developed into a predominantly student residence. Developers Orchid Runnymede envisaged the construction of over 100 new homes, 59 care units and accommodation for roughly 530 students on the 67 acre site –plans met with enthusiasm when presented to residents in November last year.
Yet critics of the development proposals have become more outspoken in recent months. Stuart Salt, a resident of Kingswood Close who studied at the Brunel Campus in 1954, expressed concerns over detrimental environmental effects of the planned development stemming from increased traffic and a potential lack of parking. Mr Salt stated that the preference of many of the area’s residents would have been for the site to be used for educational purposes only, as opposed to a project which would most likely increase congestion. Concerns were also raised over “cultural differences” between students and residents. Mr Salt expressed concerns regarding houses being in such close proximity to student halls, citing noise issues. Fellow resident Rod Smith stated that the plan bordered on “over-development” and that it could become an eyesore.
Englefield Green Borough Councillor, Peter Taylor, expressed his support for the rejuvenation of the derelict site and attempted to ease the minds of concerned residents. He expressed confidence that the planning committee would be able to find the right balance in the project.
Mr Taylor continued that it would be a shame to leave derelict a site with such potential to help trade in the village, but conceded that the plans must not infringe upon the character of the village or place strain on parking facilities.
After an initial application was met with criticism by residents for its density and scale, this new proposal, revised by architects John Thompson & Partners, has been submitted.