THE leader of the Royal Borough Council has defended the redevelopment of the Magnet leisure centre as an “important milestone” amid claims it looks like a “prison village”.

Earlier this month, the ruling Conservatives sitting on the Maidenhead development management panel approved plans to demolish the empty centre on Holmanleaze into 434 flats.

The scheme, known as Saint Cloud Way, involves building five buildings ranging from four-storeys to 11-storeys that will hold a mix of one, two, and three-bedroom apartments.

It also compromises 87 affordable homes, 346 car parking spaces, and developer Countryside contributing £1m in funds to improve play areas and pedestrian and cyclist access.

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However, during the meeting, the opposing Liberal Democrats and Independent heavily panned the design of the site, saying the buildings were ‘too tall’ for a town centre location and described the buildings looking like a “prison village”.

A 1,700-strong petition against the plans also called councillors to reject the scheme.

Royal Borough Observer: Cllr Andrew JohnsonCllr Andrew Johnson

Council leader Andrew Johnson (Con: Hurley & Walthams) said the St Cloud Way development is an “important milestone” for Maidenhead town centre’s regeneration.

He said: “The council is driving forward the regeneration of Maidenhead town centre, and the committee’s decision to resolve to grant planning permission for this major scheme is an important milestone in that much-needed work and our partnership with Countryside.

“With leisure facilities now provided at our state-of-the-art Braywick Leisure Centre, this key redevelopment site will help to meet local housing needs for our community.

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“One of the council’s priorities is bringing forward affordable homes on our sites. Among the 434 new homes on this site, I’m pleased to say it will deliver 87 of the 122 affordable homes that will come forward in the borough as a result of planning decisions taken this year alone – a 74% increase when compared to affordable housing completions in 2019/20.

“This major investment will also support improvements benefitting the wider area, including a new ground-level pedestrian and cycle crossing over the A4 supporting access to the town centre and a Missing Links sustainable travel route through the site, alongside financial contributions including enhancements to Maidenhead library. I look forward to construction getting underway.”