Colnbrook and its neighbouring villages face threats in the 21st century like never before. With the loss of Horton farmland to gravel extraction; the ever-climbing landfill operation off Sutton Lane; and the notorious aquiescience of Slough Borough Council in the face of those that ignore planning law and ride roughshod over residents, Colnbrook is a village under siege on all sides.
Quite literally: few believe the expansion of neighbouring Heathrow ends with the Coalition’s cancellation of the Third Runway. Already the looming threat of the Slough International Freight Exchange (SIFE) which will, if approved, see the concreting-over of the “Strategic Gap” – the last 200 acres of Green Belt that separates the borough of Slough from London. There is hardly a part of the village that isn’t under threat in some way, whether it is destruction of a listed building, erosion of Green Belt, or neglect of the countryside.
Most of the 5,500 people who live in Colnbrook today were not born here. Most have come because of the proximity to the airport, logistic centres, industrial parks, and transport network. With turnout in the last local election at under 25%, and attendance at parish and borough meetings at an alarming level, it’s easy to assume that nobody cares. On the contrary, the passion that is generated in small pockets up and down the village – each fighting their own campaign – is actually incredible. With a little collaboration it could be a force to be reckoned with.
But Colnbrook Views is also intended to celebrate that which is good about our village. Colnbrook is defined by its pubs of course, and each of them has it’s own story to tell. But Colnbrook is also blessed to have a wide range of flourishing local businesses. The countryside which we still have, and the amazing breadth of species surviving in the midst of adversity – the kingfishers on Colne Brook, the bat colony at Orlitts Lake, the hidden treasures of Old Wood or the Colne Valley Way. Taking in a walk down the High Street you may excused for being unaware that a thousand years of turbulent local history are bursting from behind not just the buildings of the iconic Ostrich, King John’s Palace or Tanhouse Farm, but also the likes of the less well known White Hart House or old Royal Standard building, or the village pump, fire engine, millstones, and bridges.
Colnbrook has a unique history, and a unique identity, and is something worth fighting for.