03:22PM, Tuesday 10 August 2021
The Landing site in Maidenhead town centre has been lying empty for some months
Construction of a major regeneration project in Maidenhead town centre is set to start this summer – following a crucial decision by an independent planning officer.
The Royal Borough is working with developer HUB to bring forward The Landing, a scheme including 431 new homes, accommodation for offices, retail, businesses and community use.
Work has been halted for some time since demolition was completed, with the land on the corner of Broadway and Queen Street remaining empty as question marks rose over when construction would start.
A key development has now arrived in the form of remaining Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO) being agreed, which secures the remaining land needed for the regeneration of The Landing.
A CPO is when the Government, councils or utility companies in certain circumstances have a statutory right to buy property for the purposes of regeneration, for example.
The council made a CPO in September 2020 to acquire plots of land in the triangular area bounded by the Broadway, King Street and Queen Street.
The remaining land needed at Queen Street and Cullern's Passage has now been confirmed by an independent planning inspector, after a public inquiry and site visit held in June.
The virtual inquiry was much shorter than originally anticipated and only lasted one morning, due to ‘the number of withdrawals from objectors'.
At the start of the inquiry there was one remaining objector, a 'Mrs Zaman', whose main ground of objection related to the terms of compensation.
"In particular, Mrs Zaman considered the offers so far made to be inadequate given a number of factors, including her original purchase prices in 2006 and 2007, future loss of rental income, and comparable values of other similar property transactions in the town centre," planning inspector Peter Rose said.
"In response, the authority advised that it had made significant efforts to reach agreement."
But Mr Rose said - via a decision dated July 19 - that he was satisfied that the land could not be acquired by other means and that the evidence clearly demonstrated that the order was a last resort.
"The site is a highly sustainable location and the scheme would offer a range of attractive town centre uses and facilities," Mr Rose added.
"The scheme would also be very well placed to benefit from its proximity to the Elizabeth Line (Crossrail)."
The inspector added that the development represented 'a major capital investment, providing homes, jobs and other facilities', and would 'generally enhance the vibrancy of the town centre'.
"I still find her (Mrs Zaman's) concern to be on no relevance to the principle of the Order or to its merits," Mr Rose concluded.
"I consider that the overall scale of public benefits arising the scheme would far outweigh the loss of any remaining private interests, and that no violation of human rights or breach of the Equality Act would be incurred."
Councillor Andrew Johnson, (Con, Hurley and Walthams), leader of the council, said: "We always seek initially to acquire land through private agreement, however we aren’t afraid to use CPO powers as a last resort.
“We’re pleased the inspector has agreed there was a ‘compelling case in the public interest’. In making his decision, the inspector described the scheme as ‘much needed'.
“(He) recognised (the redevelopment will provide) homes, jobs and other facilities that will considerably improve the local environment and enhance the vibrancy of the town centre.
“It’s very promising to see the project get that endorsement and take another step forward. This is great news for the whole borough."
Damien Sharkey, managing director at HUB, added: “We are pleased to be moving forward with our programme and starting construction on site this summer.
"The Landing will deliver a fantastic new place to live and work in the heart of Maidenhead town centre.”
It is not yet known on which date work is due to start.
HUB has been contacted by the Advertiser for further comment.
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