Heritage Centre could move to former SportsAble building

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

adrianw@baylismedia.co.uk

Maidenhead Heritage Centre could be moving to the former SportsAble site under proposals set to go before the council – providing the town with a ‘bigger, better heritage centre.’

The trustees of SportsAble announced the closure of the disability sports charity at the start of March after it was hit hard by COVID-19 and a fundraising drive did not raise enough to secure its future.

The trustees were able to surrender the lease of the clubhouse premises in Braywick Park back to the council, with the council having paid £100,000 towards the initial construction of the building. The building was vacated at the end of May.

In a council meeting set to take place tonight (Thursday), the cabinet will discuss the possibility of ‘disposing’ of the former SportsAble building to allow Maidenhead Heritage Centre to move in.

The current heritage centre building is about 4,000sqft.

The trustees have been looking for a larger space, around 6,000sqft – an alternative equivalent site would cost around £1.2m to construct.

The future location of Maidenhead Heritage Centre has been the subject of discussion for several years, with its current site earmarked for redevelopment.

In return for the move to the SportsAble building, the council would acquire the current heritage centre in Park Street.

This is the recommended option by council officers – another recommended alternative involves leasing the SportsAble building on a commercial basis.

The council could generate ‘a substantial rental income’ if the building is leased. Pre-schools and nursery occupiers could bring in rents between £65,000 and £100,000.

A third option is to lease the SportsAble building to a voluntary or community group at peppercorn rent.

This is not the recommended option as the council ‘will incur significant costs’ in repairing the building and would generate no income.

If the council does decide to lease the building to a voluntary group or community group, this could include St John Ambulance, Maidenhead Hindu Society, Sporting Mind or CycleHub.

Richard Poad, chairman of Maidenhead Heritage Centre, said the that Maidenhead Heritage Trust is ‘delighted’ that the council is considering offering it the empty SportsAble building.

“The building is significantly larger than our present building in Park Street and at long last would offer us the space to deliver our vision for a bigger, better heritage centre as a destination attraction,” he said.

“It is especially timely as we have just received a bequest of a 100-year-old veteran car built by GWK on the Cordwallis Estate.

“Since we have already offered a permanent home to the historic 18th century Bray fire engine, additional space is becoming more urgent.

“Clearly, the recommendation to the cabinet needs to be approved before detailed discussions can begin. Our trustees are sure that with goodwill on both sides, a satisfactory agreement on the all-important terms and conditions can be reached.”

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