01:00PM, Tuesday 02 February 2021
Cabinet has agreed to construct a new £11.68million car park in Vicus Way – even though the plans are ‘hotly contested’ by residents.
The plans will provide 200 long-stay spaces for office workers near the town centre, freeing up short-stay parking for shoppers and visitors.
At a meeting of the cabinet on Thursday (February 28), Councillor David Coppinger, lead member for planning, environmental services and Maidenhead, said that the future of Maidenhead ‘depends on this work’.
However, Cllr Geoff Hill (The Borough First, Oldfield) said there was rarely a subject more ‘hotly contested’.
“I have never seen so many community groups come together in one crescendo against a development,” he said.
“Frankly, if this thing gets built, it will be ugly, it will stick out like a sore thumb. There’s no getting away from it – this thing will be an eyesore.”
Cllr Hill added that he felt the business plan for the development was ‘doubtful at best and commercial folly at worst.’
“The planning process has been described as a fiasco in different ways by members of the public,” he said.
He also raised the point that COVID-19 may lead to a long-term move away from office-working, removing the need for this type of parking facility.
Barbara Richardson, managing director of RBWM Property Company, replied that the Royal Borough’s information suggests there is still a substantial amount of interest in office space.
Leader of the council Andrew Johnson predicted a ‘hybrid model’ would be the most likely outcome of COVID-19 changes, with most offices opting to have some office work and some homeworking.
He added that now was not the time to unpick the ‘fundamental principles’ of the project, as full planning consent has already been granted.
Following agreement by the cabinet, the Royal Borough is set to enter into a construction contract this month.