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'Town centre needs 6,500 extra parking spaces'

Proposals for a comprehensive parking strategy in the Royal Borough have been unveiled, following a warning that it was ‘extremely urgent’ for a plan to be put in place.

A report outlining a framework for parking matters in the borough was released by the council yesterday (Wednesday), ahead of it being presented to cabinet on Thursday.

It outlines proposals to install temporary parking facilities in Maidenhead town centre to compensate for space lost during regeneration projects, as well as a promise to consider forcing developers to include public parking provision as part of applications.

The report comes as concerns were raised by a working group for the Maidenhead and Cox Green Neighbourhood Plan. According to research carried out by the Design Working Group, about 6,500 extra spaces are going to be needed for the planned creation of about 1.3million sq ft of office space in the town over the coming years.

However, the Royal Borough has said it will not comment on the figures until the completion of the neighbourhood plan.

Working group chairman Roger Panton, called the numbers, based on a Maidenhead Town Centre Capacity Study by estate agent Lambert Smith Hampton and architect Allies and Morrison, ‘very frightening’.

He was concerned how additional parking could be financed, claiming the cost of a surface-parking space is £10,000, rising to £20,000 a space in a multi-storey – for a total cost of between £65m and £130m to provide all the spaces.

Olu Odeniyi, president of the Maidenhead and District Chamber of Commerce, also warned it is vital a workable parking strategy is approved and rolled out as soon as possible.

“We know these things take time to devise and time to get signed-off,” he said. “So we need to be doing it as soon as possible because it’s already late in the day, given we’ve only got about two-and-a-bit years before Crossrail opens. Time is of the essence.

“We know there’s going to be a shortfall and we need to minimise it as much as possible, but it has also been a problem for ages, so we need to kick on.”

Developers also seem unwilling or unable, initially at least, to provide enough parking for projects, although this is something the Royal Borough’s new strategy paper aims to address.

An example is a planning application submitted earlier this month for an additional deck of parking at the Concord Park business park in Maidenhead.

The application says only one of four office units is currently being let and extra parking is needed to ‘make the site more attractive to prospective tenants’.

Maidenhead Chamber of Commerce is holding an open meeting at 6pm on Wednesday, November 9, to discuss regeneration with Cllr David Evans (Con, Hurley and Walthams), cabinet member for Maidenhead regeneration.

Visit www.mdcc.eventbrite.com to register to attend.

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