03:20PM, Tuesday 09 June 2020
How 'Sir Nicholas Winton Square' will look if plans are approved.
Major regeneration plans for the Nicholsons Centre have been submitted in what has been dubbed one of the first ‘shopping centre to town centre’ projects in the UK.
A year after purchasing the centre, French firm Tikehau Capital and developer Areli Real Estate have revealed proposals for how Maidenhead town centre could look after a £400m facelift.
Under the plans, the single-use shopping complex, which dates back to the 1970s, will be turned into a 'vibrant' mixed-use space, with hundreds of new homes, 327,000 sq ft of office space, more than 60 new shops and restaurants, and 1.5 acres of public realm.
Called 'Nicholson Quarter', the plans involve the shopping centre being broken up into a number of different ground floor zones and streets, some named after prominent figures.
The central point of the development will be 'Sir Nicholas Winton Square', hosting restaurants, cafes and capacity for large events such as outdoor concerts and performances.
Other areas will be 'Nicholson Yard', 'White Hart Yard' and 'Brewery Yard' - collectively called 'The Yards' - offering unique alleyways likened to Brighton's famous Lanes.
'Moffatt Street', which used to exist as a road name in the town, is set to be centred around food and drink.
'Desborough Way' will contain independent designers, 'Sydenham Place' will add to the leisure and greenery around the cinema, and 'King Street' will also get an uplift with a focus on health and wellbeing.
Finally, 'Brock Lane' will provide a different entrance to the centre from Queen Street, and will offer the newly-located heritage centre, and connections to the rest of the town.
Looking west into the square from Brock Lane (above)
The development comprises eight buildings, with heights ranging from three storeys (14 metres) to 25 storeys (84 metres).
Independent traders and local tenants will be sought for the various retail offerings around the scheme, with more than 300 senior living homes added to the 364 apartments.
The plans - which have been submitted to the Royal Borough - have arrived after public workshops and exhibitions in the existing centre with architect JTP.
Residents are now being urged to continue submitting feedback digitally because of coronavirus restrictions, through a smartphone app and website.
Areli Real Estate Partner, Rob Tincknell, told the Advertiser: "This is really important for a number of reasons. [Firstly] we have done it in close consultation with the community.
"We believe there is a lot of consensus around the town as to what is needed and I like to think we have met the requirements and needs that people have.
"[Secondly] we have created something exciting from a national point of view. This is one of the first schemes (in the UK) where a shopping centre transforms into a town centre.
"What we have not done is stuff it full of flats. It is a well thought out cocktail of ingredients."
Looking into the square from Moffatt Street (above)
He added: "We are taking out what is effectively a large single storey building. It breaks up the whole town, doesn’t provide any life whatsoever, and we are putting back what is really the traditional street.
"We take old redundant shopping centres and we put back new, vibrant town centres. Creating a place that people want to walk around and be in.
"We are tightening it all up. It has to be intimate. You take some of the most active and busy places in the country – like Covent Garden [in London]– they are tight places, and people like that, sometimes they don’t want to be in the vast open.
"If we need socks or ink cartridges, more and more people are doing that on the internet, and it has got even worse [with COVID-19].
"So why do you go out? You go to something unique, interesting. If you want to have a nice local day out, have some lunch and go round some quirky shops, then this will be the place for you.
"We think we have listened, we have heard what the people have said and we have created a scheme that will have a positive impact on Maidenhead, not just now but in the future."
Desborough Way (above)
At a consultation in 2019, people were quizzed over whether they wanted the scheme completed in 2025 or 2027, with a debate surrounding when the centre's new car park will be built.
A total of 64 per cent of people were in favour of the earlier completion target, with the car park set to be moved to the eastern edge of the scheme for easier access.
Rob added: "I am delighted we have been able to complete this application, and we have done it completely remotely.
"But I am very conscious – what I would normally do now, is I would have an exhibition in Maidenhead ready to answer any questions that the public has for us.
"Sadly we can’t do that, hence why we have gone overboard with the apps and website.
"We are not holding back in terms of consultation. We are really excited about this, we are very proud of it as well."
Rob urged that he has been speaking with existing tenants about their future, with a number of shops occupying the existing Nicholsons Centre.
"A lot of them are quite keen to move on," he said.
"There will clearly be a little bit of disruption for a couple of years, [but] everybody recognises that is a small price to pay.
"A lot of tenants that we have, if they want to stay, then we are also working with the landlords on the high street so some of them can stay there."
Areli will be distributing a newsletter and questionnaire to more than 27,000 households and businesses this week, and the questionnaire is also available on the new website at www.nicholsonquarter.co.uk when it goes live, under 'Have Your Say'.
A digital brochure containing images and further information will also be shared this week.
The app can be downloaded by searching for 'Nicholson Q' in your App Store, when it is ready to launch.
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