04:43PM, Sunday 22 November 2020
Maidenhead Waterways looked back at the year’s highs and lows at its AGM – including the completion of a ‘major milestone’ in the waterways regeneration.
Since the year began, the charity has instigated a number of projects across Maidenhead, in partnership with the Royal Borough and property developers.
It has overseen the filling of York Stream, which was ‘a neglected, ugly, overgrown eyesore’, in the words of Richard Davenport, chairman of the trustees. “It’s now been permanently filled to create an attractive water feature that runs through the centre of town,” he said.
The crowning glory of the waterways projects is the Green Lane weir, which lifts the water level all across town, and has created a three metre depth on which canoes can now paddle. The weir has stabilised channels that were previously prone to either flooding or drying out. It has fish and eel passes built into it, allowing fish migration all the way through the town centre’s waterways for the first time.
“We’re now at the stage where the original vision is becoming a reality,” said Richard.
The charity believes the Borough Local Plan does not go far enough in acknowledging the role of the waterways in the regeneration of the town centre.
“Maidenhead town centre has been a ‘disappointment’ for many years – unattractive, overgrown, hostile, with unpleasant and derelict sites,” said Richard. “It’s been transformed by the waterways.”
He said that the work acted as a catalyst for properly developers Shanly Homes and Countryside to make investments into further improving the waters around their developments.
“The waterways in conjunction with the Chapel Arches development is the single most tangible evidence of regeneration in Maidenhead town centre since the 2011 area action plan,” said Richard.
Chapel Arches phase three is nearing completion, which involves creating a second water basin and a ‘vital missing link’ for York Stream.
“Though there’s a lot more we’d like to achieve, we have a transformation,” said Richard. “Wildlife is back in the town centre that wasn’t there before – it is now abundant in the waterways.”
COVID-19 has put constraints on Maidenhead Waterways volunteers’ ability to meet up to clear the streams of weeds and litter. Concerns have also been raised over funding for Waterways projects, given the Royal Borough’s financial problems.
The AGM saw 30 members attend via Zoom on Wednesday, November 11. It included the re-election of Jon Reekie as director/trustee and Richard Curry as independent examiner.
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