Major Plan to Regenerate Maidenhead Rejected
1 May 2013, 08:08 | Updated: 1 May 2013, 10:36
Last night (Tues Apr 30), councillors at the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead voted against the £152m plan to redevelop a large part of Maidenhead town centre.
A special meeting took place last night to look at the long-standing plans which have been revised several times and rejected once before (December 2012).
The developers claimed the new offices, shops and homes would have created around 800 jobs.
But concerns over parking, transport issues and a lack-of-public spaces have dogged the project all along.
After more than three hours of detailed discussions last night, the Maidenhead development control panel voted by six votes to five to delegate the refusal to officers, in light of continuing concerns over a range of issues which members did not feel offered the high standards sought for the town centre.
The members said the amendments offered by applicants (ING RED UK) did not constitute the fresh look at the application they believed was necessary. Cllr Derek Wilson, chairman, said: "It is very disappointing that, despite several months of reworking the application in light of members’ concerns, the majority of my panel members felt that not enough progress had been made and that Maidenhead deserves better."
Panel members made it clear that even with the amendments made by ING since December, the application failed to meet their requirements on a number of issues, for example highways arrangements (including two-way traffic on Queen Street), under-provision of parking, servicing and loading arrangements, environmental issues, access to the anchor store, design of the junction opposite Maidenhead station and pedestrian and cycle safety.
There were also questions raised about the suitability of relocating Shopmobility to the Grove Road car park which would mean people with disabilities having to cross a two-lane road to get to the town centre.
Cllr MJ Saunders, cabinet member for planning and property and lead member for Maidenhead, said: "It is of critical importance for the Royal Borough to focus on how best to inspire the right development for the Kings Triangle. There may be concern and frustration caused by the panel’s decision but the council is determined to achieve high quality development and investment for Maidenhead and that commitment continues."
In light of the development control panel’s decision the property team at the Royal Borough will now be accelerating its front-line role in the rejuvenation of Maidenhead. Cllr Saunders said: "This increases our determination to drive high quality development where we and residents can control critical choices over land and property.
Many Maidonians, including from business and all political groups, put a huge effort into crafting the Area Action Plan for Maidenhead, but we must remember it is there to inspire not inhibit. We must focus on what residents, businesses and councillors are now demanding and we must galvanise the business partners we need to make it happen."
MP Theresa May told Heart she's disappointed, after previously supporting the proposals and called on the council to approve them.
The planning application was first submitted in November 2011 and has been subject to public consultation. In December 2012, a decision on planning permission was deferred to allow the developers, ING, to address some issues that were raised.
Following this, planning officers from the council recommended that the development should be supported, noting that it "will help bring about the rejuvenation of Maidenhead town centre and in particular will enhance the retail offer and create new homes and office space all within a high quality environment that will integrate well into its surroundings."
Theresa has consistently supported the proposals, stating that they should not be seen in isolation but are an important part of the wider efforts to rejuvenate Maidenhead town centre: "This is a disappointing decision. This site is an important one for the town centre, and the Kings Triangle project would be part of the wider rejuvenation of Maidenhead that we all want to see. I am concerned at the message this sends to local residents and the business community, who want to see progress made in improving the town centre.
Nevertheless, this is just one part of the work that is underway to improve the town centre. With other developments in the pipeline, and the introduction of Crossrail, we can be confident that Maidenhead will continue to attract investment, meaning more jobs and better services locally."