Most work happens in the Topic Groups and Special Interest Groups. The full Forum comes together once a month, the first Wednesday evening 19:15 - 21:00, usually at Maidenhead United Reformed Church, West Street, Maidenhead SL6 1RL. The full Forum meeting manages governance, sets strategy and monitors progress. You can join a work group without being a member of the full Forum - but the more, the merrier.
You can also sign up to be "kept informed" and still pitch in your ideas when the time is right.
The Forum officers are (from May 2020):
- Co-Chairs: Ian Rose & Andrew Ingram
- Secretary: Andy Woodcock
- Treasurer: Bob Beauchamp
Management Committee : Richard Davenport, Mark Fessey, Martin McNamee, David Dyer.
Forum membership is open to all residents on the electoral roll of the designated area, people employed by or running businesses in the area, and RBWM elected members. Non-voting membership is available to residents under 18.
The five Topic Groups are the teams responsible for in-depth research, public participation and policy development. Members have a particular interest in the topic area and often have links into relevant external groups. Working meetings can take place at any time that suits the members, probably once or twice per month.
Topic Groups have access to admin support to help with publicity, organising events etc.
Each topic group should have around five members and a leader to represent the group on the management committee. The role involves listening to the public and collating aspirations, then distilling ideas into valid policies. Planning law limits what a Neighbourhood Plan can contain, but the Topic Groups have the opportunity to develop influence in the wider political sphere.
Overlaps? They are unavoidable. Topic group leads must work with each other to resolve any issues.
The Natural Environment
The plan area includes countryside, woodlands, nature reserves, lakes and water courses and gardens, all with wildlife, and greenbelt and brownfield wasteland under various uses. The natural environment is under growing internal pressure from the town’s population growth and external pressure from climate change, pollution awareness, slowly degrading waste, water table damage and the like. This group is responsible for ensuring high priority is given to long term sustainability, harmony with the natural environment and mitigating the effect of global issues.
The Built Environment
The built environment covers housing, business venues, streetscape, the public realm (squares, statues etc), heritage assets and conservation areas. It also includes consideration of green space, tree cover, biodiversity, boundaries, private parking etc that so affect the character of an area. The group may consider specific street-level communities that would benefit from special targeting.
A group concerned with people and goods on the move - how, why and when. The aim is to develop policies that nudge developers toward sharing the benefits and costs of those journeys equitably. Transport modes include walking, cycling, public transport (road, rail, taxi) and personal driving. Why people move includes work, school, leisure, shopping and business. The policies can consider parking provision and cycle storage, pedestrian/cycle prioritisation, positioning of bus stops etc.
Employment, business and retail
Maidenhead has historically been a net employer of people commuting inwards but is at risk of become more of a dormitory town. This group is concerned with ensuring due weight is given to providing employment sites for businesses of diverse sizes and sectors, dispersed across the whole town rather than concentrated in the town centre. Similarly, retail is in a state of transition from selling things to providing experiences, where clustering of people – some residents, others working in the town – is important for overall vitality.
Community facilities include meeting rooms, social clubs, faith centres, performance and exhibition spaces, community pubs, sports facilities, open space for sport & recreation, health and education. Some might be commercial enterprises covered by the Employment, Business & Retail topic group but most will be not-for-profit, with facilities provided socially. The group is concerned with ensuring provision is adequate for the growing population of a vibrant town, and that the shortfall in upgrades and renewals is identified.
Special interest groups
The Special Interest Groups exist to give additional focus to particular geographical areas or to particular subsets of the community. It is important that a forum covering such a large population can reflect the diversity within it.
Special interest groups work alongside the topic groups, by contributing ideas and evidence and testing the appropriateness of emerging policies.
Special interest groups are smaller than topic groups, maybe even just one person. Having multiple people may simply help to deal with diary clashes when topic groups meet at the same time.
Maidenhead town centre is changing more than anywhere with hundreds of millions of pounds being invested. Thousands of new people will be moving into the central area, and the existing business and retail offer will change dramatically. This group, working closely with the Employment, Business and Retail topic group, will focus on policies that help to “make the place” as a lively, successful mixed-use environment with great public realm.
Riverside / Thames Corridor
The Thames Corridor is, in many ways, Maidenhead’s shop window, having the largest collection of heritage assets and high leisure usage. But the town centre is disconnected and its spacious housing layout invites densification. The Riverside group will work to ensure the best of Riverside is conserved and links with the rest of the town are enhanced.
Both sides of Braywick Road – the park and nature reserve on one side, the current golf course the other - are subject to higher development impact. For neighbourhood planning, this group is responsible for ensuring that the developments integrate well with adjacent areas and that community facilities serve the whole town. For instance, do cycle and walking routes connect properly; are the discrete sports facilities of a good standard for a sports campus that the town can be proud of?
Only a small part of Maidenhead’s network of waterways and channels has been renovated so far. This group will encourage “blue” policies that maximise the opportunities for biodiversity, leisure use and improved public realm town-wide, potentially going beyond the core aims of the current Maidenhead Waterways charity.
An opportunity for under-18s to take a full part in the political process. The group will gather the views of the next generation about how their town should develop and feed those into real policy making. It is an opportunity to work together, establish priorities and resolve disagreement. 16-17-year-olds will probably have become electors by the time the neighbourhood plan is put to local referendum.
Wanted: All local senior schools (state, free and public) are encouraged to build this engagement into their learning paths. We are seeking a gifted educator - perhaps someone not currently teaching - to facilitate the development of the group. Extended DBS cover is required or must be obtained (we can help). Possibly paid.
A group to ensure that the additional needs of Senior people are properly considered by the Topic Groups developing planning policies. These may relate to reduced mobility, access to community facilities, housing standards and the like.