RBWM housing team and Maidenhead Civic Society add objections to Magnet development

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams and James Bagley, Local Democracy Reporter


The council’s own housing department and Maidenhead Civic Society have raised objections to plans for the old Magnet Leisure Centre site.

The Saint-Cloud Way development being proposed is a 400-plus apartment complex of five buildings.

Last week, Maidenhead Mosque voiced its concerns over the effect such a development would have on the nearby community groups. The police also had concerns about anti-social behaviour being encouraged there.

Now the Royal Borough’s housing department has come out against this scheme, for not including affordable rent into the affordable housing.

The plans include 130 affordable homes, which makes up nearly 30 per cent of the total proposed homes.

But the housing department states this ‘does not adequately meet local housing needs,’ and there should be a tenure split of 45 per cent social rent, 35 per cent affordable rent, and 20 per cent shared ownership in the scheme.

Leader of the council Andrew Johnson said that if affordable rent were mixed in the tenure, the number of affordable homes would be ‘significantly less’ than the 130 that is proposed.

“We made a cast-iron commitment that all council involved schemes will deliver 35 per cent, or thereabouts, affordable housing,” he said.

“The only way we could make it work was to deliver 35 per cent as intermediate shared ownership as opposed to a mix of tenure our housing department would’ve liked to have seen.

“If we followed that route that the housing department wanted, we could’ve delivered some social and affordable rent on there, but the overall number of units will be far lower than what we’re proposing here.

“So, we went with the higher figure to benefit the greater number of people.”

Cllr Johnson also said the council is looking at other sites, such as the controversial Maidenhead golf course, to deliver more affordable rented and social accommodation.

In addition, Maidenhead Civic Society has called the proposals ‘the next stage in the delivery of Maidenhead's Flat Mountain.’

The society expressed approval for the 30 per cent affordable homes and the number of three to five person flats – as opposed to the ‘gross oversupply’ of one and two-bed flats in the town. However, the scheme ‘as a whole is unsatisfactory’ it said – particularly the change in plans from seven or eight-storey buildings to 11 storeys.

“Higher blocks will reduce sunlight to the rest of the scheme and create a visual barrier restricting the visual aspect,” wrote Martin McNamee, chair of the planning group for the civic society.

He added that the block design had ‘little architectural merit’.

“The balconies would have restricted sunlight and reduce the daylight levels in each living room,” he wrote.

He also raised concerns over a listed building, The Wilderness Centre, being ‘swamped’ by this development.

As with Maidenhead Mosque, the Civic Society also feels that the parking facility would be inadequate.

In addition, visitors to The Wilderness Centre medical facilities have historically used the public car park outside the Magnet.

“As this area is now incorporated in the new development there is no parking provision for those visiting the ongoing medical businesses,” Mr McNamee wrote.

Pedestrian accessibility is also a concern with the ring road carrying the main A4 presenting ‘a significant physical barrier’ and the loss of the pedestrian footbridge from Hines Meadow car park ‘regrettable’.

An upgraded footbridge from Sainsburys would be preferable, Mr McNamee added.

“The alternative proposal of a ‘toucan’ crossing from the Premier Inn to Kidwells Park has the disadvantage of requiring a further road crossing over Cookham Road,” he said.

“Upgrading the existing subway appears to have been dismissed.”

A spokesman for Countryside said: “The proposed development has been carefully designed to meet the relevant guidance for buildings, homes and green spaces, demonstrated by the number of thorough technical studies, including those on sunlight and daylight, that accompany our planning application.”

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