Inspector calls for public involvement in shaping town centre future

The planning inspector overseeing the Borough Local Plan wants to see the creation of a new planning document to shape future developments in Maidenhead town centre.

Louise Phillips has asked the council to work alongside landowners, developers and the community to prepare a guide for future works.

Maidenhead Civic Society chairman Bob Dulson is hoping the move will ‘stem the flow’ of high-rise buildings being approved in the town.

He told the Advertiser: “One hopes it’s not too late. We can’t change what’s already been decided and that is regrettable but hopefully it can stem the flow.

“What’s encouraging from a civic society point of view, and indeed a number of other volunteer organisations who show interest in planning is the Inspector, is insisting there should be community stakeholder involvement in drawing up a scheme for the town centre.”

The planned redevelopment of the Nicholsons Centre is set to feature buildings up to 25 storeys tall while the long-awaited Landing scheme will also include towering apartment blocks.

Mr Dulson added: “Its been the housing shortage which is a recognised problem, but also the need for political expedience by quick results which has led us to build so many tall flats in the town centre which the Inspector quite solidly is suggesting she doesn’t think is appropriate for Maidenhead.

“What the Inspector is advocating in these very welcome changes should stem the flow and make people stop and think before any more approvals.”

Councillor David Coppinger (Con, Bray), the council’s cabinet member for planning, said it was ‘critical’ the local authority works alongside a broad spectrum of people to decide future changes around the town centre.

He said: “Many of the parts of the jigsaw are already in place but there’s a lot more to it than that and it is absolutely essential as we move forward we do involve as many people as possible.

“There’s the softer areas like the green and blue infrastructure, parts of developments which aren’t buildings and the type of social amenity.

“There’s a wide range of things that could be developed over time in the town.”

He added: “We’re going to go through a difficult period for a couple of years.

“I’ve got to be honest that with the amount of construction we’ve got going on in the town centre it’s not going to be easy.

“But there’s no other way of getting to the end if you don’t take the journey.”

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