11:00AM, Thursday 13 October 2016
Backers of the proposals to build a Hindu Community Centre in Maidenhead Riverside have said they will ‘keep fighting’ to get planning permission.
The Hindu Society has said plans have now been submitted to the Royal Borough for a one-storey community centre at land opposite Boulters Lock car park in Lower Cookham Road.
The building will include a hall and a kitchen, so the society can hold educational, cultural and social events, and 13-16 car park spaces.
The proposals have faced opposition from neighbours who believe the centre will add to existing parking problems in Maidenhead Riverside.
Chander Mohan Malhotra, president of Maidenhead Hindu Society, said: “We’ve been looking for a site for 11 years, we want a place of our own.
“We currently rent out St Piran’s once a month, or we have to travel to Slough or Reading.
“We’re not a big society, we have 100 members but only 30-40 of those will turn up to events.
“We only run events once a month, during the week people can visit the centre to pray at any time, so there will be no more than two to six people at a time.
“During Diwali there might be more events but that is only once a year and we plan on having sound proof walls and no sound system.”
Last week the Advertiser reported opposing neighbours have formed the Boulters Riverside Community Interest Company to raise at least £73,000 to bid for the land and turn it into allotments.
Mr Malhotra said: “The land has been empty for years and now because we want to build there, they want to use it.
“We will have parking spaces with the centre and we will encourage car sharing and we will run a mini bus for members.
“If we don’t get planning permission we will keep fighting. We will keep trying.”
The Hindu Society also said the centre will be available to the wider community for hire and will deter existing anti-social behaviour in the car park.
Padam Kashyap, a member of the society said: “I’m thinking about the next generation, I want my kids to have a community centre in Maidenhead.
“Maidenhead is in the spotlight now because of Theresa May, it should have its own Hindu centre.”
The society said costs for the building, expected to be between £500-600k, will be fundraised by the members.
A group against the Hindu Community Centre plans has hit back at a parking study undertaken by the Royal Borough.
The study found using the land in Boulters Lock to extend the car park would cost £239,000.
Mick Jarvis, chairman of Boulters Riverside CIC (Community Interest Company) believes the study is ‘flawed’. He said: “This was an inadequate study, clearly done in a hurry and designed to take this option off the table. The analysis was based on current car parking charges, which are very low – much lower for example than in the Riverside Gardens car park just down the road.
“They assumed a flat level of traffic, although the new leisure facilities are likely to generate much more demand.”
“Simon Dudley (councillor and council leader) wants a community centre, and is not prepared to give fair consideration to any other option – even one that would be of greater benefit for the people of Maidenhead and visitors to the town.”
Cllr Dudley (Con, Riverside) said: “It’s not flawed, I’ve read the survey and I thought it was a sensible analysis. It’s now up to the planning panel to decide if planning permission will be granted.”
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