Press Release Archive:

Councils Must Liaise Over Bishop Centre Redevelopment (December 2011)

Maidenhead Civic Society says the Royal Borough and S. Bucks District councils should get together, in the interests of their communities, to discuss the plans to redevelop the Bishop Centre in Taplow.
The plan to bring big high street stores to the Bishop Centre posed a direct threat to the long-overdue regeneration of Maidenhead town centre, the Society said, and could significantly damage trade in Burnham and Slough as well. The Society has submitted a formal objection to the plan which, it says, does not take proper account of Maidenhead’s own plans and flies in the face of the ING scheme planned for the town centre. ING submitted a planning application for the new Kings Triangle recently. This would include 20,000 sq m of retail floorspace with many units of similar size and potential tenancy to those proposed for Bishop Centre.
"Agents for the Bishop Centre redevelopment imply that Maidenhead could benefit from a complementary out-of-town shopping complex," the Civic Society says, "but the evidence suggests otherwise, and a direct clash is on the cards. The two schemes need to be compatible, or neither may succeed."
The Society is urging the two councils to get together to discuss them. Society chairman, Bob Dulson, who is also vice-chairman of PRoM said: "In the interests of the communities concerned, it is clear that a combined effort is required to avoid a potential conflict. This is too important simply to be left to market forces."
S. Bucks planning policy stipulates that any improvement to the Bishop Centre should be related to local need and avoid impact on other local centres but the Society says the proposals fail to comply on both counts. "For these reason we would like to see the scheme revised and we urge SBDC to refuse the application or at least to defer the decision while the proposal is reconsidered."
Bob Dulson said: "The Civic Society has long been an advocate of a collaborative approach to local planning, putting the interests of residents first. The emerging new national planning guidelines recognise the importance of this. They say that public bodies have a duty to cooperate on planning issues that cross administrative boundaries. They also call for diligent joint working on areas of common interest for mutual benefit."
The Society also criticises the design of the Bishop Centre development and has concerns about the traffic implications. It adds: "There is no evidence of desire from local residents for what’s on offer and the scale and role of the proposition is distinctly out of place."