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Controversial polo pitch plans rejected again
CONTROVERSIAL plans to lay polo pitches at the end of a quiet Marlow country lane have been rejected for a second time.
The proposal for practice pitches at Low Grounds Farm on Harleyford Lane drew strong opposition from residents, walkers and runners who use the popular leisure spot.
Fears centred over the dangers posed by large horse boxes along the narrow restricted byway, which gives a right of way to non-motor vehicles.
Previous plans were thrown out due to the extra traffic the polo centre would create along the lane.
A revised application reduced the number of vehicles by stabling horses at the site during the summer polo season and stopping traffic associated with the nearby golf course.
But despite addressing the traffic issues, councillors on Wycombe District Council’s Planning Committee voted narrowly to turn down the project on the grounds of public safety.
They argued walkers and joggers could be "intimidated" by large horse-boxes on the single track road and that the plans would be detrimental to the public’s enjoyment of the lane.
Resident Richard Rees Davies, who has been fighting the plans since they emerged in 2012, said: "Clearly, the safety of local residents and Harleyford Lane recreational users was of foremost importance to the Planning Committee.
"The very high level of concern voiced by the local community was clearly heard by the planning committee; this was local democracy at its best.
“I was very impressed with the deep and engaging debate by the Planning Committee, who really took time to focus on the safety issues posed by the application, especially around the Henley Road busy, steep & concealed junction.
"Despite the lack of objection by the Highways department, the Councilors really took a common sense approach to the practical safety impact to the local community"
Cllr Alex Collingwood, who represents Marlow, spoke against the plans, which fall within the area for the mooted Marlow Flood Alleviation scheme.
If the Environment Agency project can attract the necessary funding, the polo pitches would be used as a giant lake to prevent flooding downstream.
Cllr Jean Teesdale, who also opposed the application, said: "When I walked along the lane I nearly got knocked over by a car, it is an accident waiting to happening.
"The lane is enjoyed by many walkers and is a very pretty area. I am very concerned about the safety issue here."
Cllr Gary Hall disagreed, claiming that as a working farm it should be expected to generate heavy traffic as a matter course.
He said: "It is the working countryside with working farm buildings and could quite easily be a working farm with all kinds of heavy vehicles going down that lane.
"Having seen the revised plans they seem to have alleviated the problems discussed previously."
Cllr Clive Harris said that people should expect to be wary of heavy traffic around farms, and that ramblers should be prepared to "get out of the way".
Harleyford Properties, which submitted the plans, insist the plan is the best case scenario for everyone using the lane.
MD Rob Marsh insisted to the BFP that the alternative for the site was intensive farming, which would generate far more heavy traffic than the polo plans.
An appeal over the previous plans has been submitted and will be heard by the Planning Inspector on April 1.
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