The Cookham Society was formed in February 1968 to face a list of problems that were beginning to threaten the Cookhams. A look through our archived newsletters will show that the same issues crop up time and time again. Indeed our very first newsletters "Bulletin No.1" and "Bulletin No.2" in 1968 highlighted "Gravel Workings at White Place Farm", "The Pound Bypass" and "The Terrys Lane Housing Development".
With the backing of its many members The Society has generally been successful in representing the Cookhams against both overdevelopment and unsuitable development in addition to monitoring waterways, flooding, footpaths and local service problems. We feel it fair to say that Cookham would look quite different today without the Society's efforts over the last 50 plus years.
The issues most frequently mentioned in our newsletters are traffic and pedestrian problems in The Pound and pressure to build on the Poundfield area. In 1969, Bulletin No.3 describes how The Society rallied public opinion to defeat a proposal to build a northern bypass to The Pound passing through a development of 144 houses across Poundfield. To date The Society has successfully advised and supported aggrieved residents through three major campaigns.
We are aware that over this time many people who have since moved into Cookham may be quite unaware of all this activity or why Poundfield is so precious. So for the benefit of posterity we hope the following will be of interest.
Poundfield is a Conservation Area comprising the "Pony Field" adjacent to The Pound and three further fields north towards Terrys Lane. Englefield, the beautiful listed house and garden made famous by Sir Stanley Spencer paintings sits at the centre of Poundfield. A very popular walk through the area is via Poundfield Lane, passing Englefield, across Terrys Lane to Winter Hill Golf Course and wonderful views to the the river Thames and the Village. Much of this green wedge is visible to anyone approaching Cookham from Maidenhead Road and also from Cookham Village and beyond. This mixture of housing interspersed with green areas is characteristic of the Cookhams and is the principle reason why Poundfield is cherished so much.
We have few details of the 1969 campaign but fortunately the one in 1989 is better documented. A proposal for 140 houses was fiercely rejected by the villagers in a campaign which included over 600 people linking hands around the entire Poundfield area. This was all captured in this 1989 film 'Poundfield Protest'. The application was finally dismissed by the Home Secretary following an appeal by the developers.
Unfortunately in 2001 parts of Poundfield were excluded from the Green Belt following a court case pursued by the landowners. This was followed by the planting of high hedges and positioning of unsightly farm buildings, all of which diminished the open nature of the area. The Society believes that hedges can always be trimmed but housing developments are permanent!
In 2002 the Society successfully campaigned to extend the Cookham Village Conservation Area to include all of Poundfield.
In 2016 further applications to build houses on Poundfield were proposed. Again residents campaigned and this film 'Saving Poundfield' records the rally that started start the campaign. Attendees included our MP and then Home Secretary, Theresa May, who you can see endorsing Poundfield as an "important green space for Cookham". The proposals were rejected after strong opposition.
It is clear from the two videos that Poundfield has changed dramatically. Our Village Design Statement says that: “Cookham is defined by its green spaces” and Poundfield is essential to the character of our village. For this reason the Society initiated a campaign to have Poundfield declared a “Local Green Space” in the new Borough Local Plan, which would give it similar protection to the Green Belt. We are delighted that the Local Plan has been adopted by the Royal Borough with Poundfield so designated.
Video - Saving Poundfield 2016
Video - Poundfield Protest 1989
Poundfield circa 1988