Agenda and minutes
Venue: Virtual Meeting - Online access
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Apologies for Absence
To receive any apologies for absence.
Apologies were received from Councillors Clark, Targowski and Reynolds. Councillors Haseler, Johnson and Singh were attending the meeting as substitutes.
To receive any declarations of interests.
Councillor Hill declared a personal interest as he owned a property in Maidenhead Town Centre which he rented out, but would debate and discuss items with an open mind.
To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 14th July 2020.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That the minutes of the meeting held on 14th July 2020 be approved.
The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting. In his opening remarks, the Chairman said that he was delighted the new leisure centre at Braywick would be opening this week. Both himself and the Vice Chairman had seen the new centre and they were both very impressed.
On the issue of bins and waste collection, the Chairman informed residents that he had met with Serco and they had reassured RBWM that they would restore service back to the normal level. Any collection that has been missed would be collected later in the week, with normal operation resuming from Monday.
Update on Redevelopment around Maidenhead
To receive an update from Barbara Richardson, Managing Director of RBWM Property Company Ltd.
Barbara Richardson, Managing Director of RBWM Property Company Ltd, gave the Forum an update on the redevelopment and construction at various sites around Maidenhead.
The site at York Road had experienced some delays due to Covid-19 but reopened on 18th May, with construction capacity at the site reduced by around 25%. Early 2021 was the target for phase 1 handover, with phase 2 due to start in March 2021, with a need to negotiate with the current leaseholder. Practical completion for all phases of this project was 2024.
West Street was estimate to start on site in 2024, with completion in 2026.
The project at St Cloud Way, the former site of Magnet Leisure Centre, was due to be the next project to go onsite, around October. The scheme on this site would be due to start in April/May 2021, subject to planning permission being granted.
The Reform Road project site had flood zone status and therefore was taken out of the Borough Local Plan. On completion the site would be a combination of office space and a new health hub, which would start in late 2022.
Maidenhead Golf Course redevelopment had been due to have a public consultation but this had not yet taken place. Barbara Richardson said that it was important to speak to residents about the plans so that access points could be understood and the types of housing that was needed could be proposed.
The Nicolson’s Shopping Centre had two developers who were working on plans for the redevelopment of the centre. There had been a good level of input from RBWMs Disability and Inclusion Forum on things like adequate disabled parking which had improved the plans.
The Chairman said that he felt privileged to be part of the town and that all these projects were very exciting.
Councillor G Jones asked what the health hub consisted of that was part of the plans on Reform Road. Barbara Richardson explained that the NHS was looking to consolidate smaller surgeries into large hubs, which would offer a greater range and variety of services. The Client Commissioning Group would look at the surrounding area and decide what would be best to include in the hub.
Councillor Baskerville asked for clarification on what affordable housing actually meant. He was informed that it can take a number of forms, with shared ownership, affordable rent and social rent (40% of market rent) all being potential options. Developers would always try and reach the target for affordable housing in their application, with the target current set at 30%. However, this could depend on how financially viable affordable housing would be at the proposed site.
Councillor Singh said that there had been a lot of change which was needed to react to the Covid-19 pandemic. He asked what changes had been made to the plans for these development and if RBWM was building for the needs of residents.
Barbara Richardson said that the planner would act independently by looking at the housing ... view the full minutes text for item 72.
Update on Business Retail and Recovery
To hear from Steph James, Maidenhead Town Manager.
Steph James, Maidenhead Town Manager, explained that a year’s worth of events had been planned before Covid but they had to adapt instead to supporting businesses and retail in the town. The Town Partnership played a prominent role in distributing information to businesses while the business rates team at RBWM had helped to administer grants by getting in touch with those organisations that needed them. The main goal had been to support the local community, with some businesses remaining open by adapting their business model to suit local resident’s needs.
Social media had also played an important role, with joint campaigns focussing on ‘Shop Local, Support Local’ and ‘Rediscover your Royal Borough’. A package of interventions had been created so that residents and visitors felt safe when visiting the town centre. A promotional video had also been created to encourage trade and shoppers back to businesses. The Enjoy/Make Maidenhead brand had enjoyed good results on social media during the pandemic and the footfall in the town was starting to recover. Vacancy rate currently stood at 14%, which was 38 units, which was a figure that had remained relatively consistent across the year.
Looking at the recovery stage, there was a real opportunity for coordinated business engagement as well as ensuring that the town centre was sustainable moving forward. Pop ups were encouraged and supported to utilise the empty spaces. Covid-19 renewal in Maidenhead fell under three main headings; empowering communities to thrive, create great places to live and work, and build lasting relationships with businesses.
Councillor Baldwin joined the meeting.
Chris Joyce, Head of Infrastructure, Sustainability and Economic Growth, said that Steph James and all of her team had been fantastic and had undertaken some excellent work supporting businesses during their recovery.
Councillor Bhangra echoed these comments and passed on his thanks to Steph and her team for their work. He asked if all businesses in Maidenhead had applied for the grants that had been made available.
Steph James said that not 100% of businesses had applied as not all of them wanted it. The business rates relief was different as it was automatically applied.
Councillor McWilliams said that the social media growth was good to see. He asked if Maidenheads offering had improved with the help of social media. Steph James said that she felt perceptions were changing. There was a lot of independent food businesses in Maidenhead and they were able to promote themselves well.
The Chairman said that he had heard from businesses that were looking to benefit from the wide variety of food choices in the town rather than having things like their own cafes or kitchen areas.
Climate Change Strategy Consultation
To hear about the consultation.
Olivia McGregor, Sustainability and Climate Change Lead, explained to the Forum that the RBWM climate change strategy was currently out for public consultation. In June 2019, a climate emergency was declared with Full Council approving the draft strategy in June 2020. As part of the consultation, it would be brought to both Town Forums, businesses and residents so that it reaches as many people as possible. Olivia McGregor said that they were looking for views on the vision, approach and themes of the strategy. Some of these themes included; energy, natural environment and transport. If anyone had any questions about the consultation or how to access it, they could email Olivia.McGregor@rbwm.gov.uk.
Councillor Singh asked how many people had taken part in the consultation so far. Olivia McGregor said that they had received around 30/40 responses but this was expected to rise. The period for consultation had been extended and there was an expectation that many residents would wait until towards the end of the period to submit their views.
Councillor Singh further queried if there was any need to register to access the consultation. Oliva McGregor explained that they used RBWMs online platform but she would check if there was a need to register before a resident could take part in the consultation.
Councillor Haseler said that from a planning perspective it was important that future developments looked to comply with the climate situation. Olivia McGregor said that planning applications were part of the strategy.
Councillor McWilliams informed members that there would also be a public consultation on the Budget towards the end of the year as it was important to hear the views of residents. They would be looking to use the best platform that would receive the most engagement and was also easily accessible.
To receive an update from Chris Joyce, Head of Infrastructure, Sustainability and Economic Growth.
Chris Joyce gave the Forum an update on infrastructure around Maidenhead. The Maidenhead Station access project was a transport interchange that was designed to improve pedestrian and cycle links across the town. Traffic layout changes had been made, particularly around the station, in order to make it a gateway to Maidenhead. The Cross Rail project, once completed, was expected to bring an increase in growth to the town. The station project was in its delivery phase and would be completed in January 2021.
The ‘Missing Links’ project was designed to connect pedestrian and cycle routes. This included crossings on the A4 and improving connectivity around the town. Around £2.8 million had been earmarked for the project, with £2.2 million received from LEP funding. The project would be starting later in the month, with completion expected to be April 2021.
Chris Joyce said that junction improvements would also be made to a number of roundabouts in Maidenhead, with six to be upgraded as part of this project. This was a £6.3 million project and would enable the housing sites that had been identified in the Borough Local Plan to be progressed. Work was due to start in October 2020 and completion was estimated to be April 2021, in two phases.
Councillor Singh asked if there were any images available for the proposals. He was told that images were available on the RBWM website. The junction plans were clearly set out in the Borough Local Plan consultation, which was available in the public domain.
Councillor Singh further asked if cycle lanes could be included in the roundabouts that were due to be upgraded. Chris Joyce explained that Maidenhead Missing Links was a major cycle project and was looking to provide new cycle routes across Maidenhead.
Councillor Hill left the meeting.
Councillor Taylor commented on the traffic light sequences around the town centre and that they needed to be looked at it so that they could be phased better. Chris Joyce said that he would pick this up after the meeting.
Councillor McWilliams said that the proposed development on Maidenhead Golf Course had opportunities to improve sustainability, especially with the number of homes that were planned.
Chris Joyce said that the proposals had been included as part of the Borough Local Plan and therefore traffic and infrastructure had been modelled with the site in mind. A site of that size would also provide RBWM with a significant amount of CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) which could be used to invest in sustainable projects.
Councillor McWilliams asked what opportunities were available for the site to become a leading example when it came to climate change and sustainability. Chris Joyce said that there was a great opportunity to trial sustainable projects such as low carbon heating and renewable electricity generation.
The Chairman queried if any consultation had taken place on the A308. He was informed that funding had been provided to study traffic on the road, with the consultation paused due to Covid. However, it ... view the full minutes text for item 75.
Cycling Action Group Update
To receive an update on the group.
Chris Joyce gave the Forum an update on cycling in the borough. He said that more funding had been received by RBWM, with 100% of the bid received in the first round from the government. A second bid had been put in which was more ambitious than the first. The money would be used to support the Cycling Action Plan and allow a North-South route through Maidenhead for cyclists, as well as providing sustainable travel to schools in the town.
Councillor Taylor mentioned the new Braywick Leisure Centre, as the new cycling route which connected it could not be lit. She asked if a safer, alternative route would be advertised that would lead back to the town centre. Chris Joyce said that he would take that away and ensure that it was part of the planning.
Councillor Haseler asked if a cycle route from Oldfield, down Braywick Road to the new leisure centre had been considered by officers. Chris Joyce explained that various options had been looked at in this area and he expected that there would be future opportunities to gain funding.
Councillor Singh asked if the free shuttle bus would be starting next week, between the town centre and the new leisure centre. David Scott, Head of Communities, said that the new leisure centre would be having a soft opening at the weekend, with the shuttle bus running from Monday to Thursday on a half hour timetable. This would be piloted for three months.
CCTV System Review
To hear from David Scott, Head of Communities.
David Scott said that new CCTV had been installed between November 2018 and March 2019, replacing the previous analogue system that had been installed in the 1990s. There were four compliant tenders, with the chosen tender utilising a new wireless hub technology approach which also reduced costs. The CCTV covered the main areas of the town as well as a number of the outlying villages. There were almost 250 cameras which were installed, providing greater resolution and helping to keep communities safe and a useful deterrent of crime. It provided reassurance for users, while Community Wardens, the licensing team and Thames Valley Police all benefited from its use. Some minor system improvements had been identified and these were now nearing completion.
Coverage of the CCTV network had continued over lockdown, despite staff needing to self-isolate. New developments, scaffolding and trees were all issues which could affect CCTV on a daily basis, while the standard Wi-Fi frequency was becoming congested so alternatives were being identified to ensure continued reliable operation. The system was operated under the Surveillance Camera Commissioner’s guidelines which would help best practise, while the system would continue to be refined to help improve safety in the town further.
Councillor Baldwin left the meeting.
Councillor Haseler asked if TVP had access to the CCTV at any time and how the relationship with TVP worked. David Scott explained that TVP was not continuously given the CCTV feed, but the links were there if it was needed for large scale events, in Windsor for example. RBWM continued to work with the police on the best way to utilise the CCTV and the evidence to help reduce and detect crime.
Item Suggestions for Future Forums
The Forum is invited to make suggestions for future meetings.
Councillor Taylor suggested that there could be an update from the Neighbourhood Watch Team, or an update from the Community Wardens. David Scott said that he would ask and see who was available, a presentation had recently been given to the Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel so that could easily be updated and brought to the next Town Forum meeting.
Councillor Baskerville said that he had noticed an increase in bonfires around the town and asked if there could be an update provided on this, possibly linking in with Fireworks/Bonfire night in early November.
Councillor McWilliams asked if there was the possibility of streaming Town Forum meetings via Facebook Live and using the comments provided by residents to enhance the discussion.
Date of Future Meetings
All future meetings to be held on the following dates (at 6.15pm):
· Tuesday 17th November 2020
· Monday 1st February 2021
· Wednesday 31st March 2021
· Tuesday 18th May 2021
Members noted the dates of future meetings.