Regeneration of Maidenhead town centre has been unanimously approved by councillors.

The Nicholson Quarter, the mixed-use redevelopment of the Nicholson’s shopping centre, was given the go-ahead by the Royal Borough’s development management panel on March 3.

And the meeting heard Maidenhead’s regeneration is three years ahead of that of other UK towns.

The scheme, drawn up by JTP, which has been put forward by Tikehau Capital and Areli Real Estate, involves demolishing the Nicholson’s shopping centre and other buildings for 653 flats (307 of them sheltered accommodation), around 29,000 sq m of offices and around 8,300 sq m of flexible retail.

Speaking at the meeting, Areli partner Rob Tincknell said: “Our town centres are in crisis and sadly, Maidenhead is not any different. Over 15 national retailers have left the town in the last 12 months, income from the shopping centre has dropped by 80 per cent, pubs and restaurants are closing.

“However, today we have an opportunity to do something truly exciting and, unlike nearly every other struggling town in the UK, whose leaders are scratching their heads and are three years behind us, we have an opportunity to get it right now.”

The scheme, which he said would provide £500 million of inward investment to the town, is the first that will respond to the Covid crisis with larger rooms in the flats, business centre amenities and more public open space.

He said as well as first time buyers, the scheme, which includes care home accommodation, is open to what he called ‘last time buyers’.

The number of shops will be greater than currently, although the unit sizes will be smaller. That, he said, responds to public demand. The Nicholson Quarter, he reported, has 82 per cent public support.

He added: “We know this will succeed because we’ve done it before at award-winning places like Battersea Power Station and Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth.”

Afterwards Cllr Andrew Johnson, leader of the Royal Borough, said: “The £500m proposals for the Nicholson Quarter have been called the blueprint for all future UK town centre developments and I’m delighted that those plans and that investment is one step closer to reality following the approval in principle of this planning application.

“At a time when the future of our high streets and town centres is at the centre of the national debate around the economic recovery, I am proud that Maidenhead is leading the way in shaping that future by approving the UK’s first major town centre regeneration proposal following the coronavirus pandemic.

“The developer has sought to engage with the community on the proposals over the past two years and council officers have worked tirelessly with them to refine the scheme and ensure we deliver the best possible place and the highest levels of sustainability.

“The unanimous approval of the application is an endorsement of this work which has sought to deliver the best outcomes for Maidenhead and its residents.

“It is also another major site in Maidenhead that forms part of the regeneration of the town as we build a borough of opportunity and innovation, reaffirming our commitment to support the local economy following the coronavirus pandemic.

“It will bring opportunities through building and construction work right through to retail opportunities and give local start-ups the opportunity to develop.”

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