Local Gaps and Strategic Gaps

Gaps retain identity of settlements by preventing coalescence with nearby settlements. Local Gaps are differentiated from Strategic Gaps by the size of population.

Entec Study

In August 2006 Bracknell Forest Borough Council published a report by Entec UK Limited entitled 'Landscape Analysis of Sites Allocations and an Assessment of Gaps/Green Wedges'. Local Gap 4 between Bracknell and Ascot was included in the Core Strategy submission version (2006) to protect against Ascot merging with Bracknell to become Brascot. Click here to read the Entect Study.

2016 Neighbourhood Development Plan Survey

Winkfield Parish published a Summary Report on the 2016 Neighbourhood Development Plan Survey. The section on Green Infrastructure and Environment stated "A strong majority (88%) of residents overall would support the adoption of the 2006 proposal from Bracknell Forest Council for a local gap so that Bracknell and Ascot would remain separated by a green strip of land stretching from Winkfield Row to Martin's Heron to prevent Bracknell merging with Ascot. 88% agree, including 71% agreeing strongly." Click here to read the Winkfield Parish Summary Report.

Planning Inspector Undermined Local Gap 4

In 2007 Bracknell Forest Borough Council published a Planning Inspectorate Report on the Examination into the Core Strategy Development Plan. The planning inspector undermined Local Gap 4 by stating "North Ascot is separated from Bracknell by the Green Belt, albeit by a relatively narrow strip of Green Belt. Therefore, there can be no real threat of coalescence". Following this misleading report, Local Gap 4 did not appear in the BFC Core Strategy (2008). Click here to read the Planning Inspectorate Report.

Green Belt

In neighbouring parishes "Special Circumstances" have already been used to permit building on green belt land. CPRE (The Campaign to Protect Rural England) estimated that Fifty Thousand Homes have been built on green belt land in the last ten years. According to CPRE, Councils across England have approved plans for 275,000 homes on Green Belt land, including 117,000 on the London Green Belt. There are many buildings in the green belt land on the north side of London Road from Fernbank Road to Priory Road and on the east side of Priory Road. This is the "narrow strip of Green Belt" referred to in the Core Strategy Inspector's Report 2007. These buildings prove that green belt does not prevent coalescence, and proves the importance of Local Gap 4. Contrary to the Core Strategy Inspector's Report 2007, there is a real threat of coalescence between Bracknell and Ascot.

BFC Core Strategy Policy CS9. Bracknell joining Ascot

Since the Inspector's Report 2007, Local Gap 4 is fast disappearing due to the following developments and proposed developments.
  • Chavey Down village has extended developments into the gap.
  • Berkeley Homes presented their proposals at The Brackens, London Road, Ascot, SL5 8BE in January 2017. Brompton Gardens is already expanding in the local gap.
  • Palm Hills is a proposed Development to the north and east of the Mercedes Garage.
  • Bracknell Forest have proposed a massive development on Whitmoor Bog to the west of The Brackens, north of the railway track (Lapland). Whitmoor Bog includes special wildlife habitats identified by TVERC (Thames Valley Ecological Research Centre) and by Wildlife in Ascot.
  • The latest proposal threatening Local Gap 4 was detailed in the Villager in March and April 2019.
The Bracknell Forest Council Core Strategy includes Policy CS9: Development on Land Outside Settlements: The Council will protect land outside settlements for its own sake, particularly from development that would adversely affect the character, appearance or function of the land; and
  1. protect the defined gaps within or adjoining the Borough from development that would harm the physical and visual separation of settlements either within or adjoining the Borough; or
  2. maintain the Green Belt boundary within Bracknell Forest and protect the Green Belt from inappropriate development.
In March 2019 The Villager Newspaper published a story about yet another threat to the Local Gap between Ascot and Bracknell. A development of 73 assisted living units would have plugged the gap between The Brackens (Brompton Gardens) and Lavender Park Golf Course. In April 2019 The Villager Newspaper published the outcome of an appeal. 88% of the Winkfield Neighbourhood Development Plan Survey respondents will be delighted that this planning application has been refused.

Residents also need to be vigilant about the Bracknell Forest proposed development on Whitmoor Bog by keeping an eye on the Bracknell Forest Local Plan .