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Hopes sink for Maidenhead Waterways after funding 'abandonment' by council

The Maidenhead Waterways group has slammed the council after attempts to deepen a section under Chapel Arches were ‘abandoned by inaction’.

For the last two years, the group has been pleading with the council to work with Shanly Homes, developer of the Chapel Arches site, to deepen the water from 2ft (0.6m) to 4ft 4ins (1.3m), bringing it in line with the depth of the rest of the waterway through the town.

If the channel is not deepened, any boat larger than a canoe or rowing boat will not be able to traverse the length of the waterway.

Richard Davenport, Maidenhead Waterways chairman of trustees, has now abandoned hope that the project will be completed.

He said: “It’s incredibly short-sighted. It just proved too hard for the council officers to reach some kind of agreement.

“Why did they build the rest of the channel at 1.3 metres deep and leave this part at 0.6 metres?

“It’s crackers in terms of strategy.”

Mr Davenport said he believed the borough had abandoned the project because it found it ‘too complicated’ and pointed to a ‘lack of continuity, a lack of understanding’.

Mr Davenport had hoped the council and Shanly Homes would reach an agreement on the works while the developer was still working on the Chapel Arches site.

Shanly had been open to doing the works if the Royal Borough provided the £400,000 funding required and drew up the plans.

The borough only ever publicly offered to pay half the sum, despite already spending about £8million on the project, and the two bodies have not been able to reach an agreement.

Meanwhile, Shanly Homes have installed a concrete ramp under the water to ensure the drop from 0.6m to 1.3m deep is not as sudden.

Mr Davenport added: “It’s not impossible to lower it in the future but it will cost twice as much and be more disruptive.

“I’m exasperated. They have abandoned it by inaction.”

Neither Royal Borough nor Shanly Homes responded to a request for a comment.

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