DEVELOPERS have announced a possible decision date for the major £500 million Nicholson Centre redevelopment scheme.

The Royal Borough’s planning panel could potentially decide to approve or reject the plans at a “special meeting” on February 3, 2021.

Speaking at a public webinar on Zoom on Tuesday (December 1), developers from Areli Real Estate gave an update on the scheme – also known as the ‘Nicholson Quarter’ – with members of the public able to ask questions.

Submitting a planning application in May, the developers sought to transform and rejuvenate the quarter from a single-use shopping centre into a mixed-use space by breaking it up into zones and streets and adding shops, restaurants, homes, offices, and a multi-storey car park.

READ MORE: Maidenhead town centre planning application submitted

Rob Tincknell, development manager at Areli, said they have amended the plans by reducing some of the buildings’ mass and scale such as on King Street, reducing the number of private homes from 366 to 346 and the later living to 306.

The biggest change was knocking off three-storeys from the multi-storey car park, reducing it to 700 spaces, and moving the other spaces to other parts of the centre as the car park is never full, according to Mr Tincknell.

The amount of retail units will be nearly doubled in the centre – but some will be much smaller than current stores to “support and encourage” local and independent traders with turnover rents.

Another drastic change is planting a lot more trees – taking the total from just four trees to 173, as well as adding wild meadow roofs.

Royal Borough Observer:

The plans will also add 800 bicycle spaces and 125 electric charging points “so that every space will be able to have an electrical charging point,” said Mr Tincknell.

Dubbed “the most sustainable project that has ever been proposed in Maidenhead,” Mr Tincknell said: “This is a town that will be transformed and will set a precedent for other towns and cities in the UK.”

Two public consultations took place in March and October this year with over 3,000 people taking part from different demographics.

During the second consultation – which had nearly 2,000 responses – eighty-two per cent of people supported the development, 10 per cent weren’t sure, and eight per cent were against the proposal.

A member of the public asked if there was any room for leisure such as bowling alleys or cinema theatres.

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Rob Tincknell said they are not planning any leisure places because “they can’t afford it”.

He said: “Those uses require a huge amount of space, they’re not particularly efficient, and they produce very, very little income.

“Our overriding goal is to make this project is as viable as it possible be because there’s no point of having planning consent that can’t be implemented.”

If the plans are approved in February, the developers will hold “next stage funders” to make the £500 million scheme a reality – with some investors “already keen” on the project.

The developers also said they are talking with contractors and with the council about logistics to avoid activity in Maidenhead town centre coming to a “grinding halt”.

The goal to start development is 2022 with a completion date in late 2025.