A nightclub could stand in the way of the £500 million Nicholson Quarter at Maidenhead after the planning inspector upheld an objection to a compulsory purchase order (CPO).

Developer Areli Real Estate has now said the scheme, backed by Tikehau Capital, to replace the Nicholson’s Shopping Centre with a mix of retail, offices and 650 flats, is in jeopardy after the decision that the CPO is not to be confirmed due to an objection by Lee and Dean Page of Smokey’s nightclub.

The club, based at Unit 24a in the Nicholson’s Shopping Centre, was one of 14 initial objectors to the CPO, issued by the Royal Borough in February 2022. Three were withdrawn during the enquiry, held over three days last October, leaving 11 including McDonald’s, Lloyds Bank and WH Smith.

Only the Smokey’s objection was upheld. Inspector John Felgate said in his conclusion: “I conclude that, in their dealings with the Page family, the acquiring authority RBWM and their partners Areli failed to meet the requirements of the CPO Guidance.

“They failed to engage constructively with regard to the relocation of Smokey’s, or to establish good working relations with the owners, or to treat them with appropriate respect.

“Had better efforts been made, it is possible that a mutually satisfactory relocation could have been arranged. In the case of Smokey’s therefore, it has not been demonstrated that the present proposal for compulsory purchase has been arrived at only as a last resort.”

A statement issued by Blandy & Blandy on behalf of Lee and Dean Page said: “The Page family have said they are ‘extremely sad that it took an external Inspector to note the value of our business to the local community and to acknowledge our contribution to it. That was the job of our council, and we consider that they utterly failed in that’.

“As the inspector says, ‘the failure of the authority and their partners, over a period of more than three years, to provide the Pages with any viable relocation options to keep their business alive, demonstrated a lack of genuinely constructive engagement’.

“Annabel Graham Paul of Francis Taylor Building (the barrister acting for the Page family) commented in her closing submission to the inquiry that ‘the tragedy is, of course, that it did not have to be like that… Smokey’s should have been seen as part of the solution and not a problem’.”

In a statement, Areli said: “We are disappointed in the Planning Inspectorate’s decision regarding the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) for areas related to the approved redevelopment of the Nicholson’s Shopping Centre.

“This decision will lead to a significant delay in the regeneration of the town centre, which was supported by 82 per cent of respondents to the consultation during the planning process.

“It also puts into jeopardy £500m of investment and 2,700 new jobs for Maidenhead town centre, something residents and businesses were keen to see.”

“We are undertaking a full review to understand the implications and agree our next steps for the consented and supported redevelopment of the Nicholson’s Shopping Centre.”

A spokesperson for the Royal Borough said: “The Nicholson’s redevelopment is a crucial part of the ongoing regeneration of Maidenhead’s town centre, a crucial opportunity to secure major investment that would bring significant benefits for the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of our town and wider borough.

“We are surprised and disappointed at the Planning Inspectorate’s decision. We will review the decision in full with the scheme developer and consider next steps.”

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