SHOP and property owners will have their ‘rights’ stripped away to ensure “certainty” that the major Maidenhead town centre revamp will go ahead without interference.

Developer Denhead S.A.R.L is yet to start construction to redevelop the Nicholson shopping centre into 650 new homes, offices, and a new retail space.

However, disputes from shop and property owners in the town over their rights of access, light, and parking, are yet to be settled.

That’s where Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) cabinet councillors have stepped in and granted to remove rights from these third parties.

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The move is to support and provide “certainty” to the developers while they regenerate the shopping centre and keep business and property owners from interfering with the project schedule.

The process is known as ‘appropriation’ and RBWM can only approve this on land they own or have the freehold of.

'Appropriation' does not mean their properties are being taken away, but it takes away an owner’s right from the asset, such as parking, that they have previously enjoyed so it doesn’t hinder the major project.

While the northern part of the town centre, including the shopping centre, is owned by Denhead, the council owns the freehold of the southern-side, which includes Broadway car park.

Royal Borough Observer: RBWM owns the freehold on the southern part (highlighted in red)RBWM owns the freehold on the southern part (highlighted in red)

For RBWM, this process is more ideal than a compulsory purchase order on the remaining properties, which forces homeowners to sell up if their property obstructs a regeneration project, as it’s “quicker” and does not require approval from the Secretary of State to interfere with existing rights.

According to the report, it states: “Affected property owners are being engaged with but the number of existing rights means that it is unlikely that agreement will be reached with all parties.”

In return, those affected will be entitled to receive compensation, based upon the reduction of their property and loss of rights.

As the freehold of the town centre is split between RBWM and Denhead, the council will, at a later date, acquire that freehold to ‘appropriate’ the developer’s side via a sale-and-leaseback agreement. This will be completed by April 30, 2022.

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In return, RBWM will grant Denhead a 999-year lease of the development land, excluding the new Vicus Way car park site.

Speaking at the meeting on Thursday, July 22, councillor David Coppinger (Con: Bray), lead member for Maidenhead, said: “We have the opportunity to turn our town of Maidenhead into one of the finest new towns in the country.

“This paper is another step in that process as we move from a traditional, old-fashioned town centre with a vast number of shops to a far more varied centre especially in the new Nicholson’s - that meets the needs of our new and developing population.”

But Maidenhead resident Andrew Hill feared RBWM is giving “draconian powers” to the developers in form of a privatised compulsory purchase order and asked if the council should feel “uneasy” about this.

Barbara Richardson, managing director of RBWM’s property company, denied this, saying those powers are still within the council and are not being given away.