01:48PM, Thursday 17 June 2021
A CGI image of how the new hotel in Windsor will look when complete, facing Bachelors Acre and Mellor Walk
Windsor town centre will soon be home to a new 116-bed hotel after councillors approved plans to build one behind Boots in Peascod Street this week.
The Windsor and Maidenhead council's planning committee met yesterday (Wednesday) night at Maidenhead's Holiday Inn for a virtual meeting and were in favour of the developer Canada Life's proposals.
The applicant will now partly demolish behind the Boots shop and redevelop the 'unattractive' building that is there into a hotel with 116 rooms.
The hotel, which will be up to four storeys in height, will front onto Mellor Walk and will be a ‘car free’ development, with no car parking apart from one disabled bay and one pick up/drop off bay.
Concerns were raised by neighbours that an upper storey (fourth floor) would have an impact on light and privacy, with developers reducing the number of rooms from 125 to 116 and deleting the upper storey.
It still remains to be seen which hotel occupier will take over the new Windsor location, with a restaurant, bar and back of house facilities also proposed for the scheme.
The Boots store fronting onto Peascod Street will be retained but reduced in size.
Speaking at the planning meeting this week, Matthew Williams, representing Canada Life, urged councillors to approve the plans, citing them as improving the conservation area and boosting jobs and the economy.
Councillors largely praised the development's efforts to ensure that the Boots store would remain in place, although some concerns were raised over traffic congestion.
Councillor Neil Knowles (OWRA, Old Windsor) said: "They [Canada Life] have spoken to everybody and liaised with everybody. There is going to be a certain section of the community who will complain about it, but I think it is really hard to find fault.
"It keeps it in commercial operation and keeps an important retailer in Windsor, because I can't see Boots wanting to maintain that huge space. All in all, it is what it is. It is functional, it does the job."
Cllr Knowles said he 'did worry about the traffic flow and congestion' in the area as drivers drop-off and pick-up those using the hotel, but anticipated that 'the majority' of the drop-offs/pick-ups would take place away from Mellor Walk, which is where the only bay will be located.
Liberal Democrat councillor Amy Tisi (Clewer East) was unsure about the look of the hotel, but conceded that it was better than the existing site.
"What is there is fairly bleak, it is not particularly attractive," she said. "Do I think that what is replacing it is the most gorgeous architecture? No.
"I do not think it enhances the character or appearance of the conservation area, but it is certainly an improvement on what is currently there."
Cllr Tisi added that she had concerns over potential traffic and parking problems in and around Bachelors Acre with the extra traffic the hotel would generate, calling this an 'element of risk'.
She also questioned where coaches would park when they were transporting people to and from the hotel, with developers saying in the plans that these vehicles would not be able to drop-off/pick-up in Mellor Walk.
Cllr Tisi said this 'seems sensible' but raised fears over the plans stating that coach drivers should use Windsor Coach Park in Alexandra Gardens instead.
"The one that we are trying to redevelop," she added. "Where will the coaches go if we no longer have a coach park?"
Cllr David Cannon (Con, Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury) said that when he first saw the proposals, he was concerned that the hotel would occupy the whole unit, forcing Boots out of Windsor.
"I think lots of people did, which caused a lot of concern," he said. "What is being done here is the best of both worlds - providing the retail, maintaining Peascod Street's integrity and replacing with maybe not a beautiful building but it is better than what is there.
"I cannot find anything to criticise about it and I am very much in favour."
At the end of the meeting, councillors voted unanimously in favour of authorising the head of planning to grant planning permission, with a series of conditions.
As part of the agreement, Canada Life will have to complete a Section 106 Travel Plan.
Also discussed at Wednesday's meeting were plans for 87 flats as part of The Landing development in central Maidenhead. Read more on that here.
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