02:21PM, Thursday 05 October 2017
High rise developments may become the norm for the town after the Royal Borough’s joint venture partner reluctantly released early designs for a proposed 18-storey tower at the end of West Street.
The plans were revealed during a presentation at Maidenhead Town Forum on Tuesday by Countryside to demonstrate the impact of the building on the town’s skyline.
Speaking after the meeting, cabinet member for planning Cllr Derek Wilson said there is a compromise where residents may have to accept higher developments to achieve the levels of affordability at each site.
He added: “As long as its well designed higher developments could become acceptable and planners will then want to ensure good design is a priority.”
Yesterday (Wednesday) when contacted by the paper for copies of the images, the developer initially declined to send them on, saying they had yet to be finalised and using them ‘might upset people’ – even though they were used during the presentation at the forum, which is open to the public.
The presentation for the ‘landmark’ tower block left councillors fending off concerns about parking and affordability.
The meeting heard Countryside’s senior development manager Zoe Mulholland describe her company’s excitement at the opportunity to develop each site.
She added: “We want to create attractive public spaces and invest in non-residential amenities.”
Architect Marcus Pethica said more than 70 per cent of the responses to last month’s consultation had been positive and admitted the biggest issues were parking and concerns about the height of new developments.
He said plans for the York Road area would aim to open up the waterway and create ‘busy, vibrant spaces’.
He went on to share early impressions of the 18-storey mixed use development in West Street that could include commercial or retail space on the lower floors and apartments on top.
“We want to bring Kidwells Park closer to the town centre with potential for a new pedestrian crossing or causeway,” he added. “We think this site has potential for a landmark building and are proposing 18 floors.”
A member of the public raised concerns about parking, which led Mr Pethica to confirm there would be no additional public parking on the site and explain they were looking at a number of factors to determine a suitable parking ratio.
Concerns about the ratio and the amount of affordable housing were also echoed by councillor Simon Werner (Lib Dem, Pinkneys Green) who said he was distrustful of developers after a member of the public pointed out they can often buy their way out of affordable housing commitments.
Cllr David Evans (Con, Hurley and Walthams) snapped back, saying: “Don’t be so cynical.”
The cabinet member for Maidenhead Regeneration added: “We will not be developing these sites if they do not have the right amount of affordable housing.”
Later Cllr Derek Wilson (Con, Oldfield) had to explain how affordable housing compared to the old council housing system.
Deputy lead member for Maidenhead Regeneration Cllr Phillip Love (Con, Belmont) assured attendees plans would address additional infrastructure needs and other areas like school places.
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