Plans refused for 88 flats in place of Hitachi HQ

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams
Application to demolish Hitachi Europe headquarters in Maidenhead refused

Plans to convert Hitachi's HQ in Maidenhead into 88 flats have been quashed by the council.

The Japanese company’s European headquarters were on Lower Cookham Road for 30 years but the company said the space is now too large for its requirements.

Instead it was targeted for redevelopment. Two previous proposals were rejected in January this year and in December 2019.

The council rejected an application for 97 homes due to fears over a safe evacuation route for future residents in the event of flooding.

The latest proposals by developers Ashill Urban included 88 flats, 120 car parking spaces, 18 visitor spots, and at least one cycle parking space per apartment.

As the plan was simply to convert the existing site from offices, it did not have to go through the full planning process – but instead, needed to meet certain conditions to be approved.

The Borough considered the transport and highways impacts of the development, contamination risks and flooding risks on the site.

“The proposal would increase the number of people at risk from flooding to the potential detriment of their health and safety, this would also place an increased burden on the emergency services during a period of flooding,” officers wrote.

With this in mind, the application included a flood warning and evacuation plan, showing safe routes provided for future residents in the event of extreme flooding.

Maidenhead Civic Society raised different objections against the proposal.

“The setting on the semi-rural fringes of Maidenhead makes this location not really suitable for a large development of residential flats, which are out of character with the neighbourhood,” wrote chair of the planning group Martin McNamee.

The society favoured demolishing the block and redeveloping the site into family homes.

But in the end, the reason that the Borough did not grant permission was down to space.

Officers found that the plan does not comply with the national space standards for homes, in terms of built-in storage areas, bedroom widths and floor areas.

It said that the plans should, but do not, include at least one double or twin bedroom of ‘appropriate floor area and width.’

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