Magnet plans are 'right' for the area, council leader says

Plans to build more than 400 flats on the Magnet Leisure Centre site have been described as the ‘right development for the site’ by the council leader.

Countryside has put forward plans to build 439 flats where the former leisure centre currently stands, but the plans have been criticised by opponents who have questioned how many more flats Maidenhead needs.

Martin McNamee, of Maidenhead Civic Society, warned that if too many flats are built, this will drive families out of the town once they outgrow small apartments, with a limited choice of town houses to choose from.

He said: “If you carry on building flats at the rate we are, and not family homes – when someone in a flat decides to become a family, there won’t be enough family homes in Maidenhead, and they will leave.”

Concerns over the plans were echoed on the Advertiser Facebook page, with residents raising questions about the impact on schools and doctors’ surgeries and fears raised that the development would be a ‘concrete jungle’.

Proposals include 130 affordable homes, 350 car parking spaces and new landscaping to improve the pedestrian experience in the area, including enhancements to nearby subways and the footbridge over the A4.

Martin McNamee expressed concern over the development reaching 11 storeys, but he did praise certain aspects of the development.

“We do not like the fact it has gone up to 11 storeys, but we like how it has got 30 per cent affordable housing,” he said.
“We are pleased that there is a higher proportion of three-bedded, five-person apartments; generally there has been too many one and two-bed apartments.”

However the society chairman was not a fan of the building design, calling it ‘blocky’, and also criticised the number of parking spaces, calling them ‘inadequate’.

The council has maintained that Maidenhead Golf Course will be a key site to alleviate worries about a lack of houses, with hundreds of town houses set to be built here.

Councillor Andrew Johnson (Con, Hurley and Walthams), leader of the council, said of the Magnet plans: “We do feel it is the right development for the site.

“What developers tend to do is release developments in phases. It all relates to supply and demand. They will only build out if they think the market can sustain it.”

He added: “The key for me is just making sure the town retains its unique characters, but also leads the way in terms of its sustainability, credentials, [and being] forward-thinking.”

Countryside’s Daniel King said: “Despite the events of the past year, the housing shortage we face has not altered – if anything, there is increased demand for new homes. Homebuyers want green open spaces, community facilities and public amenities nearby and that’s what our development at Saint-Cloud Way will offer.”

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