02:00PM, Thursday 10 September 2020
Big change is afoot in Maidenhead as a host of regeneration and improvement works were set out at a meeting this week.
The Maidenhead Town Forum met virtually on Tuesday to discuss matters arising in the town, one of which was an update on planned infrastructure projects.
Head of infrastructure Chris Joyce told members of three key schemes the council is carrying out with the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
The first is a £4.5million improvement to Maidenhead train station which favours pedestrians and public transport, confirmed at the meeting to complete in January 2021.
The second – called ‘Maidenhead Missing Links’ – aims to link Queen Street, Kidwells Park and Strand Water for cyclists.
Mr Joyce told the meeting: “The project includes enhanced cycle routes and crossings over the A4 and Strand Water.”
Work is in a detailed design stage, he added, and is due to start this month, completing in April 2021, at a cost of £2.8million.
Finally, a series of improvements to six key junctions in Maidenhead will take place in two construction phases – starting in October this year and completing in April 2021.
The £6.3million scheme is called the ‘Maidenhead Housing Sites Enabling Project’ and aims to increase capacity at busy junctions in the town in the wake of predicted population growth.
“This project deals with the six most capacity-constrained junctions around Maidenhead, including the Stafferton Way roundabout (below),” Mr Joyce told members.
The meeting also heard from Barbara Richardson, managing director of RBWM Property Company, who shone a light on major regeneration projects.
In West Street, up to 141 units are subject to planning with an estimated start date of 2024, and a potential future home for a key accessibility service.
Ms Richardson said: “We would like to relocate Shopmobility on to this site temporarily whilst a new multi-storey car park is built [at Nicholsons].”
Down the road at the St Clouds Way site – where the Magnet Leisure Centre stands – 446 units are also subject to planning.
Ms Richardson announced at the meeting that the Ivy Leaf Club will ‘remain on site’ here ‘moving forward’.
Elsewhere, Reform Road could be home to a new health hub if plans get the go ahead.
The site was taken off the Borough Local Plan due to its flood zone status and so a health hub may come forward, along with office space.
Discussions are taking place with the NHS CCG over ‘whether it is appropriate for a brand new health hub to go on this site’, Ms Richardson said.
If approved, works could be complete by 2025.
Cllr David Coppinger (Con, Bray), lead member for Maidenhead, said of Maidenhead’s regeneration: “I don’t know about anyone else but I feel so privileged to be part of this town with this exciting change and redevelopment.
“We will end up with one of the finest shopping areas in the south east.”
At the height of lockdown, footfall in Maidenhead High Street was 78.1 per cent down.
This figure for April was announced at the Maidenhead Town Forum meeting by Steph James, town manager.
She added that Maidenhead is starting to recover from this, with levels in August 15.9 per cent down.
But office workers, who contribute to vital midweek footfall, are still being missed as companies work from home.
“One of the things we are still missing at the moment is our office market which would traditionally provide lots of our Monday to Friday footfall,” Ms James said.
Meanwhile, the retail vacancy rate in the town centre has ‘not changed much’.
Ms James showed a graphic to the Zoom meeting which outlined a current retail vacancy rate of 14 per cent, with 38 empty units.
She added: “It is a bit of a moving feast at the moment with a planning application in for the shopping centre and lots of change going on in the town.”
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