11:44AM, Thursday 29 April 2021
A Windsor and Maidenhead housing strategy will be debated at a council meeting tonight, but councillors have differing views on the plans.
The strategy, which sets out the council’s housing priorities up to the year 2026, is set to be discussed at cabinet this evening (Thursday).
The council says that it will help it achieve its goals of delivering new, affordable homes in the borough and supporting vulnerable residents in obtaining suitable accommodation.
In the cabinet report, it states that the average house price in the borough is approximately £476,000, which is more than 15 times higher than the average UK salary (£30,420).
“This has made getting into sustainable rented accommodation and onto the house ladder difficult for many residents,” the report adds.
A consultation was launched on the housing strategy both internally and publicly, and Cllr Ross McWilliams (Con, Cox Green), the council’s lead member for housing, thinks it will help people to buy or rent homes.
“I understand the criticism about affordability in the borough,” he said. “I know first hand what that does to a community.
“Which is why I am so committed that we drive up the number of affordable units and deliver a housing market that not just works for people coming to the area, but also for the people who have always lived here.”
Cllr McWilliams, who lives in an apartment, added that ‘we also need to deliver houses and homes, not just flats’, following criticism from some that the council is approving too much flatted accommodation.
“For me, buying a flat was what I could afford, and there will be similar people,” he said.
“What we need is a mix of homes at different price points. We really need to look at what we want these homes coming forward to look like.”
Much has been made about whether the borough has enough infrastructure in place ahead of the arrival of thousands of new residents once new developments are built.
Cllr McWilliams said: “As each development comes forward there will be infrastructure with that. I think there is an enormous amount that the borough is undertaking in terms of infrastructure expansion.”
Opposition councillor Geoff Hill (TBF, Oldfield) thinks that ‘affordability’ is just a ‘buzz word’ used by councillors and raised concerns over the level of flats being built in Maidenhead.
“In terms of too many flats, yes. I think it is the thing that will drive people out of Maidenhead town centre,” he said.
“My biggest concern is that there is a severe lack of parking, particularly in the centre. It is hopelessly inadequate.”
He added: “Affordabilty is a buzz word. Maidenhead is unaffordable for the majority of people, and it is regrettable. I do wish members would stop using the word.”
Residents can view the virtual meeting at 6:15pm tonight on the RBWM YouTube channel.
Also being debated at the meeting will be the future of Maidenhead Town Hall, with the council set to consider what to do next with the building.