06:07PM, Wednesday 07 April 2021
A Maidenhead nightclub has responded to comments made in a meeting last week about it being ‘offered space’ in the new Nicholsons Centre redevelopment.
A Maidenhead Town Forum meeting heard from Barbara Richardson, managing director of the RBWM Property Company, who said that Smokeys, in Nicholson Lane, had been offered a site within the ground floor of the council-owned multi-storey car park.
The Nicholsons developer Denhead S.A.R.L has offered to cover the capital cost of fitting out the new club.
Denhead S.A.R.L is a collaboration between regeneration specialists Areli Real Estate and Tikehau Capital, which bought the centre in 2018.
Ms Richardson said that an agreement is yet to be reached regarding whether the nightclub is able to house a smoking area, with the possibility of a ‘winter garden’ being floated with the licensing authority.
Another outstanding agreement relates to how the space actually looks, she added.
Following the meeting, Smokeys said in a statement that a smoking area was ‘an imperative’ and claimed that a suitable open-air space has not been achieved.
“We were unbelievably saddened to be told by a director of Areli in October 2019 that they did not want us to be part of the new build, nor would we be granted a late licence in the new development,” Smokeys said.
“We still have no idea why they have chosen not to re-provide this protected community space.
“As a last resort, we contacted Cllr Andrew Johnson [council leader] and he put us in touch with the [RBWM] Property Company who made contact with us late last year. They suggested space in the new council-owned car park, but sadly don’t seem to be able to achieve provision of an open-air space suitable for use as a smoking area.
“A smoking area is an imperative for a venue of our capacity. People need a breakout area, to have a chill place to talk, or vape and for some to smoke, in a secure area, covered by security, without having to leave the premises and mingle outside with other members of the public.”
It added: “This could have been avoided, and we did lobby very hard for the planning panel members to ask for the re-provision of the space to be conditioned as part of the planning permission, but this was ignored
“The Local Area Action Plan Policy MTC13 calls for community spaces like this to be reprovisioned, in our view it was tragic that they did not see fit to do so.”
The venue said it plans to reopen on June 25 and ‘cannot wait to welcome our customers back’.
“The local night life might not be important to the councillors who signed its death warrant, but the support from our customers has been overwhelming and humbling,” it said.
Ms Richardson said at the meeting that Smokeys had been offered a location on a ‘like-for-like space and rent basis’ – but a smoking area is still yet to be determined.
“We are working our way through those at the moment. Everything else, we seemed to have ticked the boxes,” she said.
A spokesman for Areli said: “Areli continues to work with tenants to find suitable relocations where possible as we regenerate the heart of Maidenhead town centre in a multi-million pound boost to the local economy.
"We have been working closely with the local authority to accommodate Smokeys, which includes substantial contribution towards the fit out of the club."
A spokesman for the Royal Borough said it had made a ‘very generous’ offer and is still looking at the ability to accommodate a smoking area.
"The council is still looking at the ability to accommodate a smoking area, within the space on offer. The difficulties arise in that this space cannot be enclosed otherwise it would breach the regulations for smoking areas," he said.
“The council has made a very generous offer to Smokeys of a brand new facility, at a reduced rent and the developer has offered to contribute financially to the fit out costs of the new club. The council is looking into how this might be accommodated.
“We want to keep Smokeys in the town and have worked hard to achieve that however we recognise that this is a commercial decision for them and obviously they need to do what is best for their business."
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