The Cookham Society

We all lead busy lives, but where I have an opinion (and guess what, I often do!) I think it is important that I am prepared to actually DO something.  Hence there is a hideous photo of me in the Maidenhead Advertiser archives holding a "Save Poundfield" placard.  There are a lot of pressures on Cookham; roads, parking, flooding, housing density and location to name but a few.  And whilst development is a very current issue, with areas of the village under threat again, it is not a new concern.  In 1968 a planning application for Poundfield spawned the birth of The CookhamSociety with its aim to "protect, preserve, improve or create, features of general public amenity".  In other words, they are a group of people who ARE prepared to do something, and as such they get involved in much of village life.

Then, back in 2013 something quite unique happened.  The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM), alongside the Cookham Parish Council and The Cookham Society embarked upon the development of TheVillage Design Statement (VDS).  It was the first time that elected representatives and local residents had united to deliver a project that would help shape local policy making.  The aim of the VDS is to “provide local guidance for those seeking to make changes to their property or land to help ensure that change is in keeping and protects what people most value.”  My interpretation of that is; whilst the village changes, the VDS aims to ensure that change is mindful of maintaining what makes Cookham special.  Those involved started working on the project in 2008 and over the 5 years it took to deliver, they held public workshops, sent out hundreds of questionnaires, completed interviews with key community members and engaged specialist professionals to gather the information they needed.  The outcome is nearly 100 pages of fascinating local history and an articulation of how the heritage and physical attributes of the village, make it so special to us.  The VDS is in use today and is one of the official, supplementary documents used by the Borough as they consider planning applications.  

So the point of me telling you all this, is to give you some background on how The Cookham Society got to where they are now.  I suspect that some of you might have been on the short end of an objection to a planning application or similar, and I know how frustrating that can be, but this context might help explain why they are so significantly interested in any development in the village. However, planning applications are not all the Society get involved with on our behalf.  Did you know for example, that there is an annual Cookham Society (architectural) DesignAward and that in 2017 it was won by a eco-friendly house in the village?  Are you aware that they sit on the AdvisoryCommittee for the local National Trust Cookham Commons on our behalf? That they work with the Parish Council on everything from flood risk planning to why on earth was that glorious old tree cut down in Cookham Dean (sorry, couldn’t help myself).  You’ll also find them representing the village on all sorts of other groups like the Maidenhead Civic Society, the River Thames Society, the National Trust, The Ramblers Association, the Marlow-Maidenhead Passengers' Association, and the Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise.  

The Society are always looking for more members (it will cost you the princely sum of £3 a year) because the more members they have, the stronger the village voice.  For those that would consider a more active role, they are looking for committee members, and hold the press, they've only gone and created a Facebook group!  And they are very anxious for more members!  So whilst you may not feel you want to DO something with a Save Poundfield placard, you can DO something simply by supporting the society with your membership and engagement.  


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