Councillors refuse application for 49 flats at former Maidenhead church site

An application to build a block of 49 flats at the site of a former Maidenhead church was called ‘scandalous’ for the lack of affordable housing and has been refused by councillors.

At the Maidenhead Development Control Panel on Wednesday councillors voted against the officer recommendation of to authorise the head of planning to grant permission subject to conditions and instead opted to refuse the application.

The outline application by Shanly Homes looked to build an eight-storey block of flats, including 49 apartments and parking, following the demolition for the former Maidenhead Spiritualist Church in York Road.

It was deferred from the June meeting to allow for Shanly Homes’ viability assessment to be made publicly available explaining why no affordable homes were proposed on the site.

During Wednesday’s planning meeting, members of the public and councillors criticised the proposed size of the eight-storey block and its potential to overshadow the nearby area as well as the lack of affordable homes.

Tory councillor Donna Stimson (Con, St Mary’s) said the development was ‘too tall for its position’ and should be lower than nearby buildings due to it being further away from the town centre.

She also pointed to concerns from the Environment Agency that the development would be too close to the rejuvenated Maidenhead Waterways.

A report from council planning officers said the development would be taller than nearby buildings but this was outweighed by the opportunity to meet the council’s housing needs in a ‘highly sustainable’ town centre location.

Councillor Gerry Clark (Con, Bisham and Cookham) told the meeting it was ‘scandalous’ the development included no affordable housing.

He said: “It’s disappointing to see a development coming forward from a major developer for an eight-storey development with 49 flats without one single affordable home.

“That’s disappointing at many, many different levels and disappointing for our residents at many, many levels so I hope that future developments can address it.”

Kevin Clark, acting on behalf of Shanly Homes, said it had been concluded the development could not support affordable housing and this was no different to other housing developments which have been approved in the town centre.

But he told the meeting the scheme could be reviewed in the future to see if affordable homes could be added.

He described the development as an ‘attractive building’ which would fit in with the nearby surroundings.

Liberal Democrat councillor Josh Reynolds pointed out that the initial viability assessment for the housing plans had been drawn up in April 2021 and a lot had changed with property prices since then.

He called for councillors to block the scheme due to the lack of affordable homes, the concerns of the Environment Agency and the impact on the character of the nearby area.

Planning committee members backed his motion, refusing Shanly’s latest housing plans.

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