09:00AM, Friday 19 June 2020
Figures in Maidenhead have reacted to major plans for the Nicholsons Centre, which were submitted to the Royal Borough last week.
The £400million town centre proposals – called Nicholson Quarter – could see the shopping centre transformed into 1.5 acres of public space, retail and new residential and office space.
The scheme, from the centre’s French owners Tikehau Capital and developer Areli Real Estate, has been praised for its ambition, but others have raised concerns over the height of buildings.
One 25-storey building is proposed to reach 84 metres (275 feet).
Council leader Cllr Andrew Johnson (Con, Hurley and Walthams) said the plans show the ‘attractiveness’ of Maidenhead.
He said: “I think Areli’s commitment to the town overall is to be welcomed.
“It demonstrates the fundamental continuing attractiveness of Maidenhead as a location for significant investment, but also future potential opportunity for jobs and growth.”
Fellow Tory councillor Ross McWilliams (Con, Cox Green), said that the plans are ‘exciting’.
“We are seeing all around us the regeneration starting to happen,” he said.
“All these schemes are starting to come forward, and the regeneration of Maidenhead that we have all been waiting for is now becoming a reality.
“It is certainly exciting that such a large and ambitious scheme is coming forward.
“It is now important for the [planning] officers to go through it in detail.”
Lib Dem councillor for Pinkneys Green, Cllr Simon Werner, acknowledged the ‘potential’ in the scheme but said that it ‘needs work’.
He said: “I think it is an interesting proposal but I think it needs work.
“I am really concerned about the heights of the buildings – it is just wind tunnel city.
“I am pleased that a developer has come forward with ideas for the Nicholsons, it is just making it right.”
Chairman of Maidenhead Civic Society, Bob Dulson, said: “The exciting plans aspire to revitalise the town centre with a rich mix of uses to give a new heart to the town.
“What is not immediately obvious from the artist’s impressions is the proposed height of the development, which exceeds anything planned for Maidenhead.”
The plans have been distributed to thousands of households and businesses in the area in the form of a newsletter and questionnaire, and a website is also live at www.nicholsonquarter.co.uk
Out of 155 questionnaire responses, Areli says that 126 (82 per cent) supported the plans.
In response to concerns raised, the firm’s partner Rob Tincknell said: “I think it is fair to say there has been an overwhelmingly positiveresponse.
“We asked, in our October consultation, would the public prefer building heights limited to the height of The Landing or do they support one building going taller – and they voted in favour of the taller building.”
He added that the scheme has been tested following concerns over ‘wind tunnels’.
W Richard Poad, chairman of Maidenhead Heritage Centre, has clarified that the venue in Park Street has not reached any agreement about moving to the development.
“We are still looking forward to having discussions with the developer Areli as soon as practical in the COVID-19 circumstances,” he said.
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