Community centre warns it could fold if Cox Green School plans are approved

James Harrison

A community centre could be forced to fold if town hall planners approve a controversial application for a school expansion.

Cox Green Community Centre, in Highfield Lane, has warned its already strained parking provision would be put under even greater pressure if an application by Cox Green School, with which it shares a site, is given the green light.

The scheme, which is due before the Royal Borough's Maidenhead Development Management Panel tonight (Wednesday), involves a two-storey building housing eight classrooms, dining facilities and storerooms.

However, although this will create space for an extra 206 pupils, no additional parking provision has been included.

Ian Harvey, chairman of the community centre's management committee, said: "From the centre's point of view, the problem is the knock-on effect of doing this and that stems from the fact that we're already in a position of the centre being by a lack of dedicated parking space."

He added: "The centre wants a reasonable solution to the parking issue, it just can't be at the expense of the community facilities."

The centre claims it has a monthly footfall of about 9,000 people who use it for everything from preschools, to hosting lunch clubs, bereavement groups and exercise classes.

But it says that any extra strain on its car park, which was transferred to the school when it gained academy status in 2012, could make the centre unviable if it prompts users to seek alternative venues.

According to a parking provision study prepared by the school, use of the car park is determined by an 'informal arrangement' between the school and community centre, but this is also disputed by the centre.

Paul Holifield, chairman of the centre's trustees, said: "The big issue [with the school's plans] is the parking and a lack of adequate provision.

"There's other issues, but that is the main one, although there's also a lack of communication and respect.

"We never had a relationship with Heidi [Swidenbank, the previous headteacher who left at the end of the academic year] and we had a vague one with her predecessor.

"But prior to that we had three staff members on our management committee."

Planning officers for the Royal Borough have recommended councillors vote to delegate the decision to officers while further consultation is carried out.

The reference number for the plans is REF: 17/01220

Tonight's meeting will take place at Maidenhead Town Hall at 7pm.


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