01:02AM, Friday 26 April 2013
What do you think Maidenhead should look like in 15 years time?
Where should houses be built? What kind of shops do we need? How can our public transport be improved?
An opportunity to explore these questions and more is being offered in the form of Maidenhead and Cox Green Neighbourhood Plan - a document which will help shape the future of the area over the next 10-15 years.
The team behind it are looking for people from all walks of life with local knowledge and ideas to contribute, as well as people with the practical skills required to create the plan.
It covers six wards - Pinkneys Green, Furze Platt, Belmont, Boyn Hill, Oldfield and Riverside - and the Parish of Cox Green.
The project is being led by a steering group made up of members of the community including residents, business owners and members of Cox Green Parish Council, with Royal Borough guiding rather than driving it.
Four topic groups have also been set up to help investigate key issues.
They cover the areas of Housing and the Built Environment; Business and Shopping; Transport; and Community, Leisure, Countryside and the Natural Environment.
The groups can communicate via their own forums, set up on the plan website, reducing the need for face-to-face meetings.
Royal Borough councillor Philip Love (Con, Belmont), chairman of Maidenhead Neighbourhood Plan, urged people to get involved now, rather than 'grumble' when the document comes up for referendum.
"This really is your chance," he said. "It's not going to take up a lot of time and effort. You can sit at home and do it."
Roger Panton, who designed the plan's website, added: "This is setting the theme for the future. It's going to be the pathway."
It is hoped a draft of the plan can be put together by January, with a referendum and its potential adoption following in September 2014.
Can you help? Visit www.maidenheadplan.com for details and to register for email updates.
A Neighbourhood Plan is a new type of planning document giving members of the community the power to plan for their area.
While it cannot change the major decisions, such as how many houses the town should have, it can influence aspects such as where they could be built and how many are needed.
Once completed the plans are subject to a community referendum before being adopted by the council as the central decision-making document for planning applications.
Along with the existing Area Action Plan for the town centre, which was adopted in September 2011, Maidenhead's neighbourhood plan will feed into the Borough Local Plan (BLP), which is in progress and is expected to be ready next year.
When complete the BLP will help guide development in Windsor and Maidenhead over the next 15 years.
A mural designed by Art on the Street co-director Harriet Brittaine features on the neighbourhood plan website.
The colourful creation includes landmarks such as the Jubilee Clocktower, Berkshire House and Maidenhead Bridge, as well as the Toad Patrol, Carters Steam Fair and a tiny copy of the Advertiser.
It was designed in 2011 to feature in one of Maidenhead's underpasses, but the plans have been put on hold.
Visit www.harri-art.co.uk for details of Harriet's work.
What do you think Maidenhead should look like? Tell us below.
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