Nicholson Shopping Centre development and regeneration
To receive a presentation on:
· The Nicholson Shopping Centre redevelopment from Rob Tincknell, Areli Real Estate
· Regeneration update from Barbara Richardson, RBWM
RESOLVED UNAMIOUSLY; The Chairman suggested changing the order of items on the agenda, so that the Forum would start with item 10 – Nicholson Shopping Centre development and regeneration.
Barbara Richardson, RBWM, informed members of the work that was ongoing around the town centre. One key point was that all stakeholder groups were being engaged and consulted, while the infrastructure that would need to be in place was also an important consideration especially as up to 4,000 homes would be built on council owned land. JTP had been appointed to create a ‘vision’ of Maidenhead and come up with a clear picture of what it would be like to live and work in Maidenhead in the future. There had been positive feedback received from the public.
Barbara Richardson outlined the current developments that were being worked on:
- York Road – it was currently on time and budget. There were 3 phases to the project, with phase 1 being launched in Spring next year before full completion in 2024.
The project would involve the relocation of the Heritage and the Community centres, along with the refurbishment of the Desborough Theatre.
- West Street – would look to be a mix of residential and commercial, with approximately 30% being affordable housing.
The timescale was for the project to start in 2022 and for completion to be around early 2024.
- St Cloud Way – project of around 450 units, subject to planning permission. Will be 5 phases, starting in 2020 with completion in 2026. Around 30% would be affordable housing.
- Reform Road – up to 317 units but the area is a flood zone. Start would be late 2022 and completion 2025, although this site may need to be reconfigured based on the outcome of the BLP and the flood zoning in the area, from residential use to commercial use.
- Ray Mill Road East – currently waiting for a date to go before Planning Committee but is also located within a flood zone. Around half of the area shown would be maintained as a natural habitat for local wildlife. 47% would be affordable housing.
- Golf Course – would be a joint venture with CALA Homes. It would need to wait for the outcome of the Borough Local Plan before progressing. The project would be substantial, with a site area of 53 hectares.
- Nicholson Shopping Centre – would be a complex project, with the car park being moved from its current location to improve access. Planning application would hopefully be granted next year.
- A Community Planning Day is taking place on 23rd November, to look at the Vision for Maidenhead which would create a charter for all stakeholders to adopt. This would need to be co-ordinated and take account of any planning policy that was adopted for this area, including the BLP.
A member of the public asked what counts as affordable housing. Barbara Richardson explained that there were three types of tenure mainly used in the Borough; shared ownership, affordable rent and social rent.
Another question also focussed on affordable housing, and whether RBWM had achieved their targets for affordable housing in the past and whether 30% was too ambitious. This was hard to judge as private developers were unlikely to implement affordable housing, but Barbara Richardson clarified that many local authorities don’t achieve the targets and admitted that it would be a challenge at some of the sites. However, there was a commitment that all council owned land would produce 30% affordable housing.
Councillor Reynolds questioned why RBWM had not done the vision part first. Barbara Richardson clarified that there had been an area action plan which plans for most of the sites were on. The vision was so that the public could see what the regeneration would look like once it was finished and gave a more tangible vision, that would help residents and businesses understand the aspiration for the town.
Councillor Hill queried about losing an important car park at the Town Hall and the potential impact this could have. He was told that the new Nicholson car park would be a direct replacement and would have an additional 250 spaces. The Town Hall was largely only available to the public at evenings and weekends and residents would benefit from having all parking in the same location. It was also confirmed that the ground floor of the new car park would be predominantly for blue badge holders and families with young children, while there would be a number of new ‘drop off’ areas created.
Councillor Baskerville asked if the golf course site would have an area of natural protection too. Barbara Richardson confirmed that it would, but they were still waiting to hear back from an ecology report but predicted that at least 40% would be protected.
Rob Tincknell, from Areli Real Estate, then gave a presentation to the Forum on how the Nicholson Shopping Centre would be developed. He explained how Areli had done a major public consultation to understand what residents wanted from the project. As part of this, a Community Planning Weekend was organised which involved workshops, communicating with local groups and visiting business affected. From this, key themes were picked up and allowed Areli and JTP to ensure concerns were taken into account. After the consultation, Areli came back with a ‘masterplan’, with the main goal of opening up the town centre and allowing more through routes to improve access. In October, Areli held a Community Exhibition to showcase their plans for Maidenhead.
New squares would be created, for example St Nicholas Square, which would create open space for shoppers and workers to enjoy. All buildings would be a similar height, with one building being taller than the rest which was supported by the majority of those asked at the consultation. Pedestrianised routes would be created in Sydenham Place and Pineapple Way. Moffatt Street would be a food-led area, while streets like White Hart Yard would be a ‘lanes’ area which had been successful in other town centres which Areli had been involved in. The Nicholson car park would be moved and relocated to a better location.
A member of the public was interested to hear any other examples of Areli’s work, so that it could be compared to what was happening in Maidenhead. Rob Tincknell explained that while there were a number of projects were similar, each one was unique. Areli would keep residents updated on the regeneration as work progressed.
Councillor Reynolds commented that the plans were impressive, but expressed concern about what would happen to Maidenhead while regeneration works were taking place. He was reassured that the whole project was being run by the same company and therefore they would be fully committed to making it work. Rob Tincknell explained that there would be a period of change, but this would be carefully managed.
Councillor Hill queried about the parking situation, with some flat being created without parking so there would be a reliance on public transport which was not always practical. He had seen some situations where residents needed parking after moving in due to situation changes. Rob Tincknell said that with senior living the parking ratio would be higher, but things like car clubs and lift sharing were viable in some locations if needed. Underground parking was expensive, but a range of options would be looked at.
Councillor Baskerville commented on the links that Areli had made to the past, including the local brewery name being used in the regeneration. He explained that Maidenhead had also been previously known for its brickworks and whether this could be incorporated into the project. Rob Tincknell confirmed that they would use local schemes if possible, as it was important for the community. He pointed to the example of ‘Made in Battersea’ which was part of the development of Battersea Power Station.
The Chairman told members that it would be good to invite Ariel back to the next Forum meeting in January for a further update on how the regeneration project was going.