04:55PM, Tuesday 11 April 2017
As the council works on the final draft of its borough-wide local plan, the Advertiser is running a series of articles raising issues that need to be addressed before the plan becomes 'set in stone'. The articles have been developed with the independent group which produced the Maidenhead Neighbourhood Plan and which has looked at the issues in detail. This week's article is about the need for a clear infrastructure plan — from roads to doctors — to ensure the town will be able to cope with an extra 15,000 residents as well as an influx of commuters drawn by Crossrail.
With the prospect of 10,000 new homes being built over the next 15 years in the Royal Borough and 70 per cent of these in Maidenhead, how will our infrastructure cope?
This extra housing will bring an estimated 15,000 residents into Maidenhead. The borough council has yet to publish its plans for developing the infrastructure to provide the necessary facilities to handle such a large expansion of the current population.
The Maidenhead Neighbourhood Plan Group (MNP) says our current road network is already at full capacity during rush hour.
The entry into the one-way system by the railway station, Castle Hill, Norreys Drive and the exit and entry into Maidenhead over the Grade I-listed, narrow Maidenhead bridge are already all at full capacity.
The group said: “We only have two modern Thames crossings – the Marlow relief road (A404M) and the M4. All of the other crossings are very old and weight limited. An additional crossing is urgently needed.”
The group says the new ring road created by the Stafferton Link cannot handle large volumes of traffic and is weight restricted.
“Also its access to the A4 from Oldfield Road is difficult to negotiate. These factors prevent it from working effectively as a ring road.
“To help ease congestion at road junctions, more use of slip roads should be introduced. Both this and the Thames River crossing should be referred to Central Government.”
The group supports plans for Maidenhead Railway Station to become a transport hub, but believes that will put more strain on railway station parking.
It says: “The access to the one-way system will have to be redesigned and improved and safer pedestrian access will have to be provided.
“Access from the Stafferton Way car park is difficult and requires crossing a very busy road.”
The group also believes parking for commuters and those working in the town is already at capacity and, as a consequence, residents are suffering from all-day commuter parking in their roads.
“There must be more railway station parking – particularly with the imminent arrival of Crossrail,” says the group.
“We must also ensure office blocks provide staff car parking and new housing developments cater for the occupants by providing adequate off road car parking.”
To encourage the use of public transport, the group says local bus services must be improved and designed to cover more areas with greater frequency throughout the day and with extended hours to reflect changing work patterns.
“Our existing GP surgeries and dentists already have full patient lists. We need one extra GP for every 1,800 new residents. We only have one hospital in the area with A&E provision and this is already under great strain,” warns the group.
“With the Government cut-back on pharmacy subsidies, we face the prospect of fewer pharmacies when we should, in fact, need more.
“None of these issues can be taken in isolation if Maidenhead wants to be seen as a pleasant, practical and prestigious place to live.
“When talking to existing residents, two main topics always come to the fore. Traffic congestion and parking in Maidenhead is the result of being both a transport hub and a business centre – and we have to make provision for both.
“Currently we are working in the dark without the RBWM infrastructure document being available.”
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