MP takes a U-turn on Green Belt plans

Theresa May, MP for Maidenhead, took a surprising U-turn this week by going back on a hard-fought campaign to save Green Belt land from developers in the village of Holyport.

The fields north of junction 8/9 of the M4 were singled out by Mrs May as her choice for a new multi-million pound hospital last week, replacing the ageing Wexham Park in Slough.

But at a meeting in February last year, Mrs May slammed proposals to build a Motorway Service Area (MSA) on the land near Holyport, claiming families would suffer from noise and pollution.

development on green belt

The Express reported her saying: Green Belt is not just a space to draw on a map. Green Belt exists to give the green space for people living in urban areas. To suggest you should destroy an area of Green Belt outside Maidenhead flies in the face of its raison d'etre - to give protection to a town such as this."

Mrs May now names the site, north of the M4 junction near Holyport, as her number one choice for building a state-of-the-art emergency hospital.

She was reported saying: "This is a golden opportunity because the trust has decided to think about a new hospital site. It won't come along again for a long time, so we have to make it clear what we want."

The reaction has been mixed but most residents would prefer to see a community resource such as a hospital to a housing development.

Father-of-two Geoff Hills, 60, of Arkley Court, Holyport, said: "I'm excited. I've lived here for 60 years and we used to have a hospital, St Mark's, which shut back in the 1970s. We now have to go all the way to Wexham Park, Heatherwood or Wycombe, which is very inconvenient.

"I think it is a marvellous idea and would definitely press for it."

Holyport resident for 11 years, Neal Beton, 46, of New Road, said: "There was controversy about a MSA being built there, but a hospital sounds like a more beneficial use then a service station. It's nice to retain green land although then again there is a need to build. This is not commercial or housing, it is a potential resource for the community, that possibly outweighs the green land."

Mrs May's spokesman said: "There is the argument that we should not build on fields and that it's important to retain our green spaces, and Mrs May has every sympathy with that. But the way things are going with the requirements of new housing development, homes may be forced on to the land anyway and it would be better to have a hospital there which is of importance to the community."

IC Berkshire, 5th November, 2004

Further News Articles »