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Housing 'preferable' to leisure centre at Braywick Park, says Civic Society

Residential development in Braywick Park might be a ‘preferable option’ to relocating the Magnet Leisure Centre, according to the Maidenhead Civic Society.

Commenting on the council’s planning application for Braywick Leisure Centre, the society said there is a ‘strong community feeling’ that moving the gym out of the town centre will reduce access for residents who do not have a car.

In the statement, Martin McNamee, chairman of Maidenhead Civic Society’s planning group, said: “A town centre location is much more convenient for regular users and is significantly more sustainable by not generating hundreds of additional car journeys each week.

“A more central location is also beneficial in terms of contribution to the vitality of the town centre.”

He said an upgraded facility could have been provided on the existing site and ‘hundreds of homes built on Braywick Park’ instead.

Plans for the £32m leisure centre were submitted earlier this month and include a 200-station gym, two dance studios, a 10-lane swimming pool and a hall to seat 650 people.

The existing leisure centre in Holmanleaze would be demolished once the new gym opens in 2019 and has been earmarked for 640 housing units.

Mr McNamee said the Civic Society welcomed plans for the bigger hall, adding the design was positively received and parking is ‘probably adequate’ with more than 380 spaces.

But he said traffic access onto Braywick Road was inadequate and would require control at peak times, and pedestrians would experience difficulty attempting to cross the road.

He also suggested a shuttle bus which could run every 30 minutes as bus transport to the site is ‘virtually non-existent’.

He added: “We would ask that the strategic decision to relocate the leisure centre to Braywick Park is reconsidered, even if this delays delivery of the project.

“If exceptional circumstances can be demonstrated for greenbelt residential development of Spencers Farm and Maidenhead Golf Course, then residential development of Braywick Park might be a preferable option.”

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