Welcome to Maidenhead Neighbourhood Forum
Annual General Meeting 2021
We are holding the Maidenhead Neighbourhood Forum AGM on Tue 29-Jun, by Zoom Teleconference from 19:30 to 20:30: We would like to welcome as many members/supporters as possible, to ensure that we remain in touch - the last year has been challenging.
The agenda, Chair's report and financial report are on the links below, together with the Minutes of the last AGM - and we would also like to ask two more things:
a) If you have any additional motions for the AGM, please let us know by 22-June
b) If you would be willing to serve on the Management Committee, please let us know, also by 22-Jun.
We welcome anyone who wishes to join the Management Committee. We are open to people of all backgrounds - the only requirement is an interest in local planning. We are keen to make the forum as representative as possible of the population of Maidenhead. Feel free to contact us if you would like a chat.
Shortly after 22-Jun, we will send out a link to the AGM Zoom meeting, and in the same e-mail will include any additional motions proposed, with a list of those willing to join the Management Committee.
For members: there will also be an opportunity to vote on the motions, and for Management Committee members if we have more applicants than places. Voting in advance, or by proxy, will be possible if unable to attend the AGM.
For any queries please email email@example.com
Cookham Neighbourhood Plan: now taking soundings about priorities
Cookham's Neighbourhood Plan is more advanced than Maidenhead's, and they are currently taking soundings about people's priorities for the future of the Cookhams (Cookham, Cookham Dean, Cookham Rise).
Although the historic villages have some special challenges, many of their issues are the same as ours - traffic, environment, public spaces etc
The survey is open to visitors as well as residents; it only takes 5 minutes (closes April 11th).
Magnet Centre: new plans propose 439 flats, 30% affordable
With the completion of the new leisure centre in Braywick, proposals have been put forward to redevelop the site of the now-empty Magnet centre just north of the town centre.
The accommodation ranges from one-bed two-person flats to three-bed five-person townhouses, with parking spaces for 350 cars and 439 bicycles. Thirty percent of the dwellings will be classed as affordable (shared ownership).
The overall details of the plans can be seen here and the full proposals can be inspected at the RBWM Planning Portal (reference 21/00502/FULL) where comments can also be made.
NEW: Approval recommended for redevelopment of Nicholson Centre
The £500m proposals to demolish the Nicholson Centre and build a new high-rise “Nicholson Quarter” will be discussed at the borough’s Development Management Panel which meets at 6.15 next Wednesday 3rd March.
This will be the single most important regeneration project in the town centre for many years, and will be key to the future of Maidenhead.
The papers for the meeting are available here – about 50 pages – and they recommend approval for the proposals, subject to a process of “defer and delegate” (which means more work to be done by planning officers).
The papers give a summary of the proposals, a consideration of the objections that were raised, and reasons behind the recommendation to approve – and they are worth reading if you have strong feelings about the plans.
Although the public consultation is now closed, the proposals will be discussed at the panel meeting and, if you wish, you can contact Councillors who are attending (Councillors are listed in the agenda). You can also watch the meeting on YouTube (see RBWM channel).
We highlight here the two issues that most people felt strongly about:
- The RBWM policies on building heights (Tall Buildings strategy, emerging Borough Local Plan) do not seem specific enough to support objections on that issue, especially in the context of a town centre where there are an increasing number of tall buildings (Note: Guidance on heights in the Area Action Plan has been superseded (relaxed) by the BLP and by approving the Landings development a precedent has also been set to go much higher than existing. )
- Affordable Housing: the Financial Viability Assessment indicates there will be insufficient profit in the scheme to support Affordable Housing, so RBWM are proposing a legal agreement whereby if there is more profit than projected, it is shared with the borough to be used for affordable housing
NEW: RBWM consultation on school streets, bus gate and cycle routes
RBWM have launched a public consultation around proposed additional cycling and walking improvements within the Borough. The schemes will be funded by a grant of £335,000 from the Government's Active Travel Fund.
Within Maidenhead the programme consists of
- school streets (closures of streets adjoining schools at the start and end of the school day) around Newlands Girls School, Lowbrook Academy, Wessex Primary School and Larchfield Primary & Nursery School and a pedestrian crossing outside Boyne Hill Infant School and Nursery Class
- a bus gate (a barrier to all traffic except buses, cycles and taxis) on Shoppenhangers Road, north of its junction with Ludlow Road
- a future possible 1.2km South-West to North-East Maidenhead segregated cycle route
The consultation is open until Tuesday 9th February and can be accessed via this link:
Schemes would be finalised and delivered from March onwards using Experimental Traffic Orders and reviewed 6 and 12 months after implementation.
NEW: 13-storey apartment block proposed behind former Post Office
A new apartment block has been proposed behind the former Post Office and Poundland in the High Street.
The application specifies 13 storeys, with a total of 108 flats. This is about the same number of storeys as Berkshire House but, as their picture shows, it is much shorter than the buildings proposed for the Nicholson Quarter.
The public consultation runs until February 2nd, and the documents can be inspected at the RBWM Planning Portal, reference number 20/03508. More illustrations of the projected massing of buildings is set out in the document called Design & Access Statement Part 9 - for convenience we have saved a copy here.
You can look more closely at the illustration here.
NEW: Guide maps to local development sites
People often feel they don't really know what redevelopments are planned locally - and suddenly a building site appears.
To help remedy this, the MNF Management Committee have put together a simple guide HERE showing maps of the sites detailed in the Borough Local Plan (BLP), plus footnotes on progress where known, and on sites which aren't in the BLP.
If you would like to look more closely at the relevant sections of the BLP, the link to RBWM page is here.
Proposals for Nicholson Centre - Zoom webinar 6pm Dec 1st
As we reported below, Areli have made wide-ranging detail changes to their proposals for the redevelopment of the Nicholson's Centre. They will be holding a webinar at 6pm on December 1st - if you would like to join that Zoom event, you just have to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rob Tincknell from Areli and the design team will run through the updated proposals for The Nicholson Quarter, followed by a question and answer session.
The Forum recently saw the Areli presentation and, while it's fair to say that the proposals have been reined back a bit - less massing, more light etc - this is still a very, very ambitious proposal which will be the deciding factor in the future of the town centre.
We are going through the detailed proposals to create a response on behalf of the Forum, and members are welcome to send us an email with their comments on the webinar.
21st November 2020 - revised proposals for Nicholson Centre
Areli have made wide-ranging detail changes to their proposals for the redevelopment of Nicholson's Walk. This document just published by Areli summarises the changes, and also offers a summary of the challenges and advice offered by RBWM and Design South East. More information and detail (a lot more - about 500 documents) can be found in the borough's Planning pages, reference 20/01251/OUT.
We have yet to digest the adjusted proposals in detail but some aspects jump out:
- the height of the tallest building remains at 25 storeys, despite being one of the most controversial elements of the plan
- car parking has been reduced
- buildings have been stepped back to reduce visual impact and increase daylight
20th October 2020 - the Forum's path to designation
The Forum had an hour-long meeting with RBWM's new Head of Planning, Adrien Waite, and Councillor David Coppinger, Lead Member for Maidenhead, on October 12th 2020. The purpose of the meeting was to understand Mr Waite's view of the way the Forum was initially refused for designation by the previous Head of Planning.
Both Mr Waite and Cllr Coppinger expressed enthusiasm for the role of Neighbourhood Plans in local areas, and said they were to be encouraged.
However, Mr Waite said that "neighbourhood" did not ordinarily mean a whole town, and that it was "a bit of a stretch" to see 21 unelected people representing the views of a population of about 50,000.
However, the meeting agreed that there may be ways to adapt the Forum's structure and operation such that it could be an acceptable body for designation, and the Forum agreed to come back to RBWM with new proposals.
26th Sep 2020 - progress
We are pleased to tell you that we have finally secured a meeting with Adrien Waite, the new Head of Planning at RBWM, on October 12th. This has been crucial for us, to understand his view about our being refused designation by the previous Head of Planning, and to agree a way forward.
At the same time, the RBWM’s Borough Local Plan continues to “evolve”. As you may be aware the Inspector, Louise Phillips, is shortly to begin hearings about the BLP which will run until November (more details here). There are no promises about when she will report back, but we are keeping close tabs on this because our hoped-for Neighbourhood Plan will have to fit alongside the BLP, offering additional detail rather than different policies.
DHCLG White Paper "Planning for the Future"
In August, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government issued its White Paper consultation into planning reform, and they are seeking responses by October 29th. It’s a very wide-ranging paper (link here), covering a vast area of planning policy and practice, but we would like to respond as a body (albeit undesignated) if we can.
Rather than wrestle with all 24 topic areas, we are asking you to tell us which areas of the paper YOU think are important. Please click through to the list of proposals here, and put the word YES next to the five or so which you think are most important. It would be helpful if you also put a comment to explain your choices. Please do this by Saturday 3rd October, so we can see where our collective MNF response should be heading.
NEW: Conditions for cycling in Maidenhead could be about to get better
Government support for "active travel" (i.e. cycling and walking) has been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic. This means more money for cycle lanes, clearer road markings, and decluttering of street furniture to encourage cycling.
A Cycling Action Plan is in place at RBWM, and the extra funds should mean that 2020 will see Maidenhead become a much more appealing place for people considering the option of using the bike.
Read the full story here by David Dyer, leader of MNF's "Getting About" topic group.
Understanding the proposals for Nicholson Centre - watch this movie
A short mini-movie made by MNF to help local people understand the basics of what is being proposed in the £400m planning application by Areli/Tikehau. Link HERE
MNF Viewpoints about the Nicholson's proposal
Tall buildings. Intensification. Financing. Carbon reduction. Infrastructure.
What are the issues, and what do we need to consider?
Forum members offer their insights into aspects of the proposals on a new page here
Update on other major developments
RBWM'S BOROUGH LOCAL PLAN
All local authorities have to provide a Local Plan, covering housing, transport, employment, infrastructure etc. Some years ago, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead began creating a Borough Local Plan (BLP - link here) to run from 2013 to 2033 but it is still unfinished.
The latest stage is that the independent Inspector (who has to approve the BLP) has challenged the Borough with 25 pages of questions (link here) concerning issues like whether Maidenhead's infrastructure can cope with all the proposed new dwellings.
Previously, the centre of Maidenhead had an Area Action Plan agreed in 2011, but this will be superseded by the BLP if and when it is finally approved. The Neighbourhood Plan (which we hope to create) must fit alongside the BLP, and not contradict its Strategic Policies.
THE "LANDING" SITE, or "TRIANGLE"
(area bounded by King St, Queen St and The Broadway)
This is the other major development in the heart of the town centre, with around 400 homes and 100,000 sq ft of office space. There will also be retail and leisure premises at ground level, and extensive public open spaces. The planning application was approved in November 2018, since when the site has been demolished - as seen in this photo, taken from Nicholson's car park, towards Queen St.
More information about the proposals is available from the developers HUB here.
130+ NEW FLATS NEAR WAITROSE
Bellway Homes are now seeking outline permission for 136 flats (plus green space) near Waitrose, next to the A4. The site currently holds Liberty House and Moorbridge Court, both office buildings. The brochure for the development is here.
This view is looking west (photo: Savills)
You can sign up to join the Forum or just to be kept informed.
Please let us know your interests. The Forum page will explain more about the topic groups and special interest groups to join or follow.
Firstly, we would like to thank the outgoing chair Matthew Shaw, and his predecessor Martin McNamee for their work over the previous year. Martin kindly offered to “hold the fort” after the group was forced to split from Cox Green, the chair at that time being from Cox Green. Matthew then took the reins to Read more about From the new co-Chairs[…]
In February, we were advised that designation for our group had been refused by James Carpenter, who was Interim Head of Planning at RBWM, meaning that we could not proceed to the next stage and put forward planning policies. The reasons given for the refusal were largely about whether the group was representative of the Read more about May 2020: designation refused[…]
The Forum is required by its Constitution to hold an Annual General Meeting by end-June. The plan is to do this remotely, but first we must ask permission of the Forum’s members and give 14 days notice. Members are being contacted by email and, subject to their support, the AGM will be held on Monday Read more about Annual General Meeting[…]
We invited Judith Littlewood CBE to apply her considerable expertise and experience to the subject of “Tall Buildings” as a core feature of Maidenhead’s Regeneration. In her blog, she challenges some of the basic assumptions and asks people to learn the lessons once again of previous experiments with tall buildings. Does going tall really deliver Read more about Tall buildings[…]
It’s bad news, I’m afraid. MNF’s application for designation to prepare the neighbourhood plan for the seven unparished wards of Maidenhead has been refused. In this post, you can read a summary of the reasons given and our views on whether the decision is correct. You are invited to comment on what the next steps Read more about Designation refused[…]
The results of MNF’s latest survey – Getting Around in Maidenhead – are now available. 368 people responded and 176 left detailed comments – thank you. I’ve provided a few comments about the results in this post, but local mobility is a large subject and we will return to the data in future as the neighbourhood Read more about Getting Around in Maidenhead[…]
This post is also available as a PDF file. The pace of Regeneration is accelerating. It’s exciting for some, disconcerting for others, but there seems to be a consensus that change is inevitable. Local people have been feeling disempowered as project-after-project gets the green light with no overall town centre vision in place. The previous Read more about Place-making[…]
RBWM has opened the public consultation on Maidenhead Neighbourhood Forum’s application for Designation. It runs from 25th November until Monday 6th January 2020. Visit RBWM’s consultation portal. We encourage organisations, businesses and individuals to submit their views on two questions: Is the area applied for appropriate? Is MNF the right group to prepare the NP? Read more about Designation consultation[…]
The Maidenhead Advertiser published a second story about the Forum, this time following our application to RBWM for Designation. You can read it here. We’re pleased to receive some supportive comments from Cllr David Coppinger. The Advertiser’s online edition has our proposed plan area map included too.
Our Designation application has gone in And the Head of Planning at RBWM has acknowledged its receipt. It’s an important step on the journey A Neighbourhood Plan (NP) gives local people the opportunity to develop planning policies for their area. They are enforceable but, of course, have to be consistent with national planning guidelines and the Read more about Designation application[…]