10:57AM, Thursday 19 June 2014
Designs for a new car park have gone back to the drawing board after being described as looking 'similar to Guantanamo Bay'.
A planning application submitted by the Royal Borough proposes demolishing York Stream House and St Ives House - empty council offices in St Ives Road, Maidenhead - and turning the land into a car park before it is fully redeveloped later.
The plans drawn include a two metre-high perimeter fence.
Martin McNamee, chairman of Maidenhead Civic Society's planning group, says the security fencing is 'reminiscent of a prison compound'.
He added: "Considering the proximity to the waterways, landscaping and planting would be more suitable than a security compound similar to Guantanamo Bay."
The borough announced in February that it wants to redevelop the York Road area into a 'flagship development' with homes, offices, a cafe and restaurant.
Cllr MJ Saunders, cabinet member for planning, said the car park would only be temporary and need 'appropriate' security, but admitted the current plans are inappropriate.
"In their enthusiasm to meet the security requirement our consultants proposed fencing that certainly wasn't aesthetically pleasing – and we have asked that they come up with a more attractive alternative," he added.
The car park, Cllr Saunders says, will mean the site is not wasted between the council building demolition and redevelopment.
He said: "A demolished site could usefully provide additional parking for 12 months or more."
York Stream House and St Ives House are already empty. The council has moved its staff to Maidenhead Town Hall and other buildings.