A major step towards the regeneration of Maidenhead was taken last night as Royal Borough councillors gave the green light to plans to restore the town's waterways.
Applause rang out in the town hall as Maidenhead Development Control Panel unanimously agreed to authorise the head of planning to grant permission for the scheme subject to certain conditions.
These include the submission of detailed plans for the management and maintenance of the waterways, and the requirement that work is completed within five years of it starting.
The Maidenhead Waterways Restoration Group (MWRG), which has been working on the plans for six years, has been told it is safe to start fundraising for the project.
Chairman Richard Davenport spoke at the meeting, which involved nearly two-and-a-half hours of discussion and 10 speakers, describing the scheme as an 'amenity for all to enjoy'.
His sentiments were echoed by Peter Sands from Maidenhead and District Chamber of Commerce.
"One only has to look at the Oracle centre in Reading to see the impact of water in town centres," he said.
The £5m scheme will create a 2km 'ring' of water around the town, which can be used by small boats and canoeists.
The revamped waterway would extend from Town Moor, where the channel splits into York Stream and Moor Cut, and through the town centre to Green Lane.
Plans also include widening York Stream at Chapel Arches and a second arch bridge opened to create a more attractive recreational space.
The next stage will involve working through any planning conditions before a detailed design is drawn up.
Funds will be raised through private donations, public grants, lottery funding and section 106 developer contributions.
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