Ascot: Planners' Lapland concerns

Published: 15 Jul 2013 11:307 comments

MOTORISTS could be put at risk by plans for a Lapland Christmas experience in Swinley Forest, say Royal Borough planners.

The council's planning officers "strongly oppose" a proposal for a temporary winter wonderland in Whitmore Bog, at the junction of Swinley Road and London Road, Ascot.

Simon Hurrell, head of planning and property services for the Royal Borough, claims Lapland UK's application would have an adverse impact on traffic safety within the borough.

He said: "More robust information is required on how staff public transport use will be achieved, and on the proposed stopping areas for buses at Ascot railway station.

"Private vehicular access to the site will include the highway network within the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maiden-head and, in particular via the Heatherwood Roundabout in Ascot, where there are known accident issues."

Mr Hurrell added the opening hours would coincide with other busy festive events - such as the Ascot Christmas Races. He says Lapland UK has not given enough detail regarding sustainable means of transport to the site and how a negative impact on traffic can be avoided.

A series of objections have been received from residents living near the proposed site.

Guy Smith, of Lavender Park, said traffic load and noise would be an issue and that there would be increased accident. He also expressed concern for rare wildlife within the forest.

A 47-signature petition opposing the application on the grounds of traffic congestion has also been submitted. But Kate Etteridge, speaking on behalf of Lapland UK, told the News the company has worked closely with traffic experts throughout the planning process. She said: "Lapland UK has shown to be, and will continue to be, sympathetic to local concerns and respond to local feedback.

"As such, an alternative entrance has been designed away from the humpback bridge; Lapland UK pro-actively agreed to close 9am and 9.30am midweek tours on school term time dates to avoid any perceived traffic issues; a small shuttle bus will now only link with Ascot station; additional landscaping will be created to the rear of Whitmore Cottages; the parking exclusion zone has been expanded to include the central spine on the site."

Ms Etteridge added day trips are staggered so there would never be a "mass exodus" of cars and tickets are pre-purchased, so the company will always know how many people are attending.

Some people, most of whom live outside the area, have written in support of the application.

Lavender Park Golf Centre, opposite the proposed site in Swinley Road, backs the Lapland plan.

Manager Paul Johnson, told Bracknell Forest Council the development would be beneficial for the local area and economy - creating much-needed jobs, and added: "We can see few (if any) negative consequences."

Comments on the application are being taken up until Thursday, August 22, when it will be discussed by the Bracknell Forest Council planning committee in the Council Chamber, Fourth Floor, Easthampstead House, Bracknell at 7.30pm.

To view and comment on the plans, visit www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/viewplanningapplications and search 13/00428/T.

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  • TomEdwards
    47 posts
    Jul 15, 17:19
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    This is a horrendous example of NIMBY'ism stirred up by a few people ...... its very interesting that when the pipeline came through the area and causes utter devastation to the forest, no-one said anything .... this time around, [its a miracle!] suddenly this PRIVATE Commercial Forest is overrun with Great Crested Newts and NightJars [although there is ZERO to suggest this is the case!]

    This is NOT Green Belt land, this is NOT SSSi or SPA ... Crown Estates could go in tomorrow and strip the entire site bare of every single tree ..... There is so much misinformation about this site its terrible. I received a semi threatening letter from someone claiming to be an Ecology PHD [ I believe she is actually a student and not qualified] demanding i tell her why i supported this application. I have no idea where she got my details from but i have complained to Bracknell Forest Council.

    She is employed by SUNNINGDALE PARISH COUNCIL to object to everything on Ecology Grounds.

    Winkfield Parish Council didn't object, Crown Estates don't object, i don't think Natural England have objected.

    We should definitely have this in Bracknell Forest.

    I paid to take my Grandkids there last year and the year before its a magic experience ..... but people just don't understand it what its all about ..... for a family of 2 Adults and 4 children i paid £400 - worth every penny. This is not some cheap and tacky christmas thing.

    Recommend?   Yes 6     No 32

  • angryofascot
    4 posts
    Jul 15, 21:15
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    Anyone willing to pay 400 quid to see a fake Santa in fake Lapland needs their head examining and I think you'll find it is cheap and it is tacky because it IS fake!

    This event will indeed cause major traffic problems in the area, no matter what Lapland UK say to the contrary and if you lived over the road from it, you would be concerned too.

    The incredibly scary aspect of this whole planning process is the support comments that Lapland UK have begged for from their existing customer base. The comments about how magical this will be for children from people who live in Wales or Wolverhampton are SO irrelevant as to render this application a joke. If Lapland UK thought their application could stand up to scrutiny it would not have felt the need to drum up support from the kind of people willing to pay stupid money to see skint students dressed up as elves.

    Recommend?   Yes 34     No 2

  • TomEdwards
    47 posts
    Jul 16, 08:01
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    AngryofAscot - How dare you imply I need my head examining. Have you been to LaplandUK .. No .... do you know what itÂ’s like .. NO! It is NOT cheap, it is NOT tacky if you had been there, especially with Children you would understand what this is all about...... and having been there twice I have experienced ANY traffic jams getting into or from the site.

    People draw comparisons with LEGOLAND and Ascot - LEGOLAND has a capacity of 15,000 PER DAY - Ascot is what . 25,000?? more? From what I understand from the exhibition, this is about 1200 people per day with an average of 3-4 people per car, so assuming even 1500 per day ... this is still about 60 cars per hour ?? for the record .. I live in PRIORY ROAD and I'm not that far from the Junction with London Road ... I totally support this application.

    The incredibly scary aspect of this whole planning process is there is just so much hysteria and so much misunderstanding of what this is about.... Given where I live, I asked wrote to a house that was in a similar location to mine at Bewl Water - they didn't have any traffic concerns!

    Recommend?   Yes 2     No 25

  • angryofascot
    4 posts
    Jul 16, 10:42
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    TomEdwards I can imply whatever I like, I'm entitled to my own opinion as are you.

    If you put into the public domain how much you spent to take your grandchildren to a fake Lapland then you can't grumble if it is commented on.

    Recommend?   Yes 19     No 1

  • lilacsam
    3 posts
    Jul 16, 12:12
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    Myself and my family use these forest areas on a regular basis. I do not think our royal estate forest's should be up for "hire" for businesses. Clearly, these individuals who want to bring this proposal here, do it just to make money... it's not for Father Christmas, it's not because they love our children, it's because they make vast sums of money out of public forestry. Wildlife live and nest there, and to evict them from their homes just because someone wants cheap plastic reindeer and drifts of fake snow to the beautiful surroundings, is disgusting, and simply vulgar. family's need to make their own fun at Christmas, and stop relying on others pre-paid activities to occupy their bored children. Get off your backsides and use some creativity. As far as i'm concerned, our ever decreasing forests of Bracknell are not for hire.

    Recommend?   Yes 21     No 1

  • DunMoaning
    71 posts
    Jul 16, 13:13
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    The proposed location is unsuitable.

    People keep stating no problems at existing Bewl Location.

    That is because it is located at an existing Leisure facility under used at this time of year. With proper road access from an A-Road. With plenty of existing hard standing car parks, and facilities to cope with earlier arrivals. There is minimal effects to this location as majority of the event is held in the car park thus minimising damage to the environment.

    Whitmore Bog situation is completly different - it is undevelop forest and should remain that. There are plenty of locations in the area where this event could be held with minimal effect to the environment due to existing proper access roads and existing car parks. examples being the old TRL site and Legoland.

    I am concerned as whether the buildings and artifical snow will be removed and the area returned to its current conditions as LaplandUK promise. In previous years Bewl Estate complained that buildings were not removed and the fake snow did not biograde within the stated period leaving the location in a mess. As Whitmore bogs is more remote than Bewl how can we guarantee that all traces are removed.

    Also the loss of a free local amentity will be lost for upto 4 months.

    Also cars turning right into and out of this location will cause an additional hazards at night and will LaplandUk ensure the main road is kept clear of mud that will be dragged onto the main road.

    Recommend?   Yes 25     No 0

  • DunMoaning
    71 posts
    Jul 16, 13:29
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    Also it worth noting that Lapalnduk love to state that they have been running this event successfully for 5 to 6 years. This is not true as I believe 2010 the event was forced to close due to snow and went into Liquidation, leaving customers and local businesses out of pocket. As majority of access and parking at the event is on existing gravel tracks and salting will not be an option without salt run off into the forest.

    Recommend?   Yes 24     No 0