Press Release Archive:

Old Cinema Site – a unique opportunity missed? (December 2008)

The Council will be throwing away a unique opportunity to improve Maidenhead town centre if it approves the latest plans for the old cinema site.

That’s the view of Maidenhead Civic Society which, in its formal response to the planning application, said this keystone site deserved special consideration.     

“It is such an important site at the east entrance to the town centre, we have to get it right,” said Martin McNamee, the Society’s Planning Group chair.  “A towering office block is not the answer.”

In its response to the application, the Society conceded that there had been some improvements on the previous plans, including a café and terrace and better access to the Green Way and York Stream.  But these benefits, it said, were outweighed by the height and bulk of the development. 

The new building would compromise the visual corridor in a Conservation Area from Moorbridge Road and the High Street and impact adversely on Chapel Arches and the York Stream.   The Society said it would prefer to see a mixed-use development, incorporating leisure and residential or, better still, that the site be used for public open space.

Mr McNamee said: “This land is earmarked in the local plan for leisure use.  Apart from the token gesture of a café, which is probably too small to be viable, the developer plans to land us with an alien 4 to 5-storey office block.  This would dominate nearby buildings, block out light, adversely affect the historic Chapel Arches and restrict the much-needed development of York Stream.”

He said he thought it was ironic that the Council was having to make a decision on such a crucial site while behind the scenes they had a special partnership, PRoM, working on a Masterplan for the future of the town.   “The timing is far from ideal,” he said.

The Civic Society believes the site owners should liaise with the Council and PRoM and come up with something more appropriate.  Failing that the Council should compulsorily purchase the site. 

The Society has repeatedly highlighted the need for Area Development Briefs, which the PRoM Masterplan would provide, to ensure that any new development is appropriate to residents’ needs, not just the whim of speculators and the market. 

For further information: Martin McNamee – 01628 623203