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MP: 'Country park' land should be protected not built on
MARLOW MP Dominic Grieve has dismissed the idea of a new business park in Little Marlow, which he claims his constituents do not want.
Speaking exclusively to the Free Press, Mr Grieve opposed the idea of a major development at Westhorpe Park as put forward by Wycombe District Council in its Local Plan consultation.
He said the Green Belt area was a ‘clear boundary’ between Marlow and Little Marlow, which would be lost if a new development were to be built.
Earlier this month, campaigners for the long-awaited country park on the Westhorpe site reacted angrily to suggestions it could be used to house a new business park.
And Attorney General spoke out in support of the country park scheme, adopted as policy by WDC over 10 years ago.
He said: "It is one of the big issues. Local residents are concerned because for years the A404 has been seen as a clear boundary and there’s lots of work been done to turn the Westhopre Park into a Country Park.
We have had the planning application for the football club turned down in my opinion rightly and with considerable local resistance and I gave evidence at the inquiry.
"They (residents) made representations and I have fed those in. We are getting short on development land but it’s clearly very undesirable that Little Marlow should become linked to Marlow, I think that clearly needs to be protected. The question is how you do that.
"I'm completely supportive of the country park proposal. It’s probably not incompatible with some development on the Westhorpe site.
"There are arguments against any development at Westhorpe at all, but one thing I’m quite sure about is that if we are moving in that direction in any way then I would like the reassurance that the country park is happening."
Mr Grieve added that the controversial new WDC running track, due to open this year, is ‘a piece of gentle suburbanisation’ and should not become the first of many building projects at Westhorpe Park.
The 450-acre site between the A404 and Spade Oak, which includes the Little Marlow Gravel Pits and the Thames Water sewage treatment works, has been earmarked for a country park since WDC made a long-term pledge to create the protected area in 2003.
The project would include to include a network of footpaths, open green space, wildlife reserves and a series of ponds and lakes.
The idea for the new business park was put forward as part of the council’s Local Plan, which is looking for ways to build up to 700 new homes and businesses a year over the next 15 years.
WDC claims that the country park remains an "unfulfilled dream" due to lack of funding, and that a development as Westhorpe Park could actually help realise the project.
Spokesman Sue Robinosn said: "One of the discussion points during the local plan consultation was, whether, if delivered well, development of part of this area could help to unlock the delivery of the country park vision by generating the funds needed to enhance the landscape."
However, calls are growing for existing business areas such as Globe Park, to be maximised before any other projects are considered.
The dedicated business area on Fieldhouse Lane has several empty office blocks, which business groups are calling to be regenerated to maximise Marlow’s business opportunities.
For more on the regeneration of Globe Park, see next week’s Marlow Free Press.
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