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Disagreement over waterway access in York Road redevelopment site

Concerns have been raised over how the waterways will be integrated into the York Road redevelopment project by the firm Countryside.

In the plans for the 229-home Watermark site, the footpath will be two to three metres above York Stream, and there will be no access down to the water.

In public consultation, the images showed the path would be almost level with the £8million waterways, but the plans were altered in the final application.

Richard Davenport, chairman of trustees of the Maidenhead Waterways Group, has urged Countryside and the council to get together and amend the plans.

He said: “We have a design that would mean the footpaths are never less than two or three metres above the water. That’s quite far, that’s a drop with steep banks, and there’s no location or facility to get boats onto the water to maintain the water.

“We think that’s a crazy omission. It also really conflicts with the images that were sold to the public at the consultation.

“People still talk about the piazza in front of Sainsbury’s (Providence Place), which when it was a planning application was going to be a fabulous multi-purpose asset and amenity for the public.

“Of course the reality is quite different.”

Mr Davenport added that no agreement had been reached between the joint developers – Countryside and the Royal Borough – over who will maintain the stream once the project is complete, and that he was worried it could fall back into disrepair if no agreement is reached.

Cllr Donna Stimson (Con, St Mary's), lead member for environmental services, said she cared about the issue, but with the council’s £4million overspend, other projects had to take priority.

She said: “With the money that we have spent we can’t turn around to our residents and say we’re sorry there’s no more money available for children’s services or adult services, but here’s another million to sort something out for the waterways.

“It can’t just be waterways or bust, we have just got to go slowly.”

A Royal Borough spokeswoman said: “Initial discussions with our planning teams and the Environment Agency has shown that both would likely object to any works that could see steps down to the water introduced, as this would interfere with bio-diversity and natural integrity of the waterways.

“Any future improvement to the waterways would need to add to the bio-diversity.”

Countryside did not respond to a request for comment before going to press.

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