Viewpoint: Criticism of architectural quality of Maidenhead flats

Email Viewpoint letters to jamesp@baylismedia.co.uk or write to Viewpoint, Maidenhead Advertiser, Newspaper House, 48 Bell Street, Maidenhead, SL6 1HX.


Concern over the look of new blocks of flats

Maidenhead is undergoing a period of substantial growth with a number of large residential and mixed-use schemes either consented, in construction or coming through the planning system.

Four of these schemes are being developed by the joint venture (JV) between RBWM Property Company and Countryside.

The first of these schemes, ‘Watermark’, is well underway and the community is now able to see the types of developments the JV is delivering.

Having been in the property industry for over 25 years, primarily acquiring and disposing of residential-led development opportunities, I am very concerned, as a resident, worker and business owner in Maidenhead, of the architectural quality that is being delivered.

From a number of people I have spoken to who echo my feelings, the initial developments at ‘Watermark’ are being described as ‘like prison blocks’ with overbearing, oppressive buildings devoid of any attractive architectural merit.

The result of this, is that the apartments in the blocks are proving very difficult to sell and today many of the apartments remain vacant.

Some may attribute this to other issues, but fundamentally people will choose to live in an attractive building rather than an unattractive one.

The slow rate of sale will now have an impact on the expected timing of the share of capital receipts to RBWM Property Company and will lead to inevitable price reductions on the apartments.

There is, however, a short period of time to correct this.

There are numerous examples where attractive architectural styles have been proven to improve rates of sale and sale values of residential property.

For example, studies have shown that buildings with Georgian architectural design achieve around 12 per cent higher sales values, on a like-for-like basis, than any other architectural design.

With the imminent commencement of works on the second development being delivered by the JV partnership at St Cloud Way, it is essential that we take the opportunity to review what has been developed and improve the architectural styling of the buildings being delivered.

Alternatively, we run the risk of delivering more oppressive, unattractive buildings that have been over value engineering by cost consultants providing homes that people do not want to live in, offer a poor return to RBWM Property Company and create a dull, depressing public realm.

To be clear, I am not concerned with the number of units, height of buildings, parking ratios etc on the schemes.

I am solely concerned about the impact of their external appearance on the community and town.

More attractive designs really will make a huge difference to our quality of living and working in Maidenhead.

As the key stakeholder in the JV partnership, RBWM Property Company has the responsibility and opportunity to review and improve the designs coming forward in these developments.

It is very important that we do so and I would welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues with RBWM Property Company.

We do not have a lot of time to potentially alter the future appearance of Maidenhead for many years to come and avoid it becoming a cluster of ‘prison like’ apartment blocks, but I hope, with your assistance, that we can try and ensure we build a town we can all be proud of.

JOLYON BURGESS

Head of land and new homes for Oakwood Estates

Queen Street

Maidenhead


Making the most of nature at meadow

Your readers will be aware that the potential developers of Deerswood Meadow, off Ray Mill Road East, have withdrawn their planning application.

As cabinet member for planning, we took this site out of the Borough Local Plan because of the flood risk and because it was and is a wonderful natural space.

Now as cabinet member responsible for parks and countryside I can make sure that we take full advantage of this opportunity.

The first stage will be that officers, together with myself and ward councillors Chris Targowski and Greg Jones will ask local residents what they want to see happen.

This space will also fit perfectly in our drive to a greener future, and we will listen carefully to all groups so that we can ensure that this opportunity meets not just the needs for today but the needs for tomorrow.

I am very happy to listen to any positive suggestions.

Cllr DAVID COPPINGER

Cabinet member for environmental services, Parks, Countryside and Maidenhead


Authority owes me but is making demands

Since it is apparent that the staff of RBWM’s council tax payments section either cannot read, or cannot be bothered to read and heed letters sent to them by residents, may I ask you to pass on to them my response below to their bullying letter of June 1, 2022?

Thank you for your letter of June 1 (received June 7, 2022), ignoring my April 8, 2022 letter to you concerning, ‘£150 rebate on band A-D properties.’

That letter pointed out to you that, in a communication to me received on March 14, 2022, you:

“...b) told me that ‘households in council tax bands A-D will receive the £150 council tax rebate’;

c) told me, twice, that, ‘your council will confirm how the rebate will be paid in your area’.

“You will appreciate that a monthly council tax bill of £150 or so is all the more problematic for an unemployed person such as me, given the huge rise in electricity bills which will take effect from the start of April.

“Please provide me with the twice-mentioned confirmation of how I will be paid my £150 rebate.”

Ever keen to display the highest standards of customer service, you paid no attention at all to this request (which some might say should not have been needed in the first place).

Instead, your idea of value for money for taxpayers was to send me (and I daresay quite a few other council tax payers) a letter:

(i) pointing out that I had not paid the May council tax instalment (which I knew, thank you);

(ii) threatening to spend further taxpayers’ money issuing a magistrates’ court summons - in which case you inform me that a balance of £1,377.00 would be due IN ONE PAYMENT.

While I am not the sort to be intimidated by chest-beating bullies, I am concerned that such a letter is also likely to have gone to various other householders in a similar position, some of whom might allow your bully-boy tactics to panic them into making a payment they cannot afford – to someone who owes them £150; perhaps even taking out a loan to meet the cost.

What makes the Royal Borough so high and mighty that they can spend taxpayers’ money sending out such letters, without any hint of when or how they might pay over to their customers the money which Her Majesty’s Government said months ago they want those customers to have?

If the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead really think that spending taxpayers’ money on a summons for me to attend a magistrates’ court, for you to attempt to persuade a lay magistrate that justice demands that the magistrate make an order for me to pay money to you, notwithstanding the £150 of Government money owed by you to me, then good luck, and I look forward to seeing you in court!

JAY FLYNN

Moneyrow Green

Holyport


Look at the effect of environmental tax

Environmental taxes are forcing British industries to close, transferring production to overseas places (Russia) where there are no such penalties for being in business.

Her Majesty’s Treasury is penalising breweries as well as oil refineries, food processors and farmers.

Cardboard box and toilet roll makers will close, shrinking the economy HM Treasury relies on for its own existence.

Point gun at foot, pull trigger?

SUE DOUGHTY

Verey Close

Twyford


Many thanks to my kind-hearted helpers

I would like to express my heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the numerous, kind and generous residents of Maidenhead who stopped to help, or see if there was anything they could do for me, Wednesday afternoon last week, when I tripped and fell in the High Street.

I was aware that I had damaged myself and needed medical attention.

Paramedics were very busy, so there was a long wait for them to arrive.

Passers-by were bringing me sandwiches and drinks and were unfailingly sympathetic to my plight.

These were genuinely lovely people of all ages and ethnicity, reflecting our multi-racial community.

I feel that I have to make special mention of Surinder, Jack and Shirley, who stayed with me the whole time, certainly above and beyond the call of duty!

After pain relief from the paramedics we managed to get me into the ambulance car.

I was taken to High Wycombe and an X-ray showed that I had broken my L shoulder in two places.

As I’m sure you can imagine I am very much incapacitated for the time being, but can’t let the opportunity pass without saying how very grateful I am to so many wonderful, caring, people.

JOYCE BANKS

Silvertrees Drive

Maidenhead


So happy to have had my ring returned

I’d like to use your letters pages to share a heartwarming story with you.

I’m a Maidenhead OAP who now struggles to get out and about after suffering a major stroke last year.

But after returning home recently from one of my rare trips to Maidenhead’s Waitrose supermarket I realised that I’d lost a precious diamond ring.

After a frantic search and an effort to retrace my steps, it failed to resurface.

My daughter-in-law though returned to Waitrose and after enquiring at the store’s help desk was told the ring had been found by a member of staff outside the shop.

I cannot thank enough the honest young man who found my ring and brought it into the store.

We offered him a small reward which he refused, instead asking we make a donation to a charity of our choice.

In a very very troubled world, it’s so heartening to find there’s still so much honesty and kindness out there.

NAME AND ADDRESS SUPPLIED


Two police forces and a matter of poaching

Evenin’ all.

I was reading last week’s Advertiser and a rather shocking article on page 11 caught my eye. I though “Hello, hello, hello – what’s all this ’ere then?

We are all aware that certain members of The Metropolitan Police have, for the past few years been found responsible for harassing women and much worse. Some were found to be routinely using racist language. There are examples of bungled murder enquiries.

I remember the infamous Operation Midland, that was based on the accusations of the fantasist ‘Nick’, who accused various senior politicians of being paedophiles.

But now, according to our local police and crime commissioner, it appears The Met has even turned to poaching in the Thames Valley. Poaching!

Obviously, apart from the human variety, there’s not much wildlife to be found in places like Soho and the West End, but that is absolutely no excuse.

I would advise local landowners to ensure their gamekeepers maintain a close watch-out for blokes in tall pointy hats on their land, moving through the undergrowth and woods carrying shotguns.

And now The Met no longer has that ridiculous example of nominative determinism at their head, I would have expected better of them.

MALCOLM STRETTEN

Boulters Lane

Maidenhead


Growing costs, queues and travel restrictions

Oh, to share the view from D R Cooper’s rose tinted iceberg tip (Viewpoint, June 9)

Nothing but red, white and blue bunting, gilded carriages, cheering throngs and sausage-roll street parties.

Look below the surface though and a clearer picture of the state of Britain emerges.

The waiting time for serious ambulance calls has risen to 51 minutes (handy if you’re having a heart attack), an economy which is 5.2 per cent smaller, a country about to renege on its negotiated withdrawal agreement (sorry gov, says the Pinocchio PM but just because I signed it, I didn't really MEAN it), a 237 per cent increase in NHS vacancies, young people deprived of their Erasmus opportunities, dearer food, more shortages, ruined farming and fishing businesses, massively increased costs for exporters and slow snaking queues for British passport holders in Europe, since we now have third country status.

Even D R Cooper was calling the outcome of Brexit ‘a sorry story’ in Viewpoint (May 26).

All brought to us by the brigands who broke Britain with Brexit.

The time is surely ripe for the sake of the country and its people to realise this Brexit baloney was a massive mistake.

It’s time to kick out the perpetrators and start the process of rejecting isolation and being back where we belong.

JAMES AIDAN

Sutton Road

Cookham


Nuance in European rules on residence

Free movement in the European Union has conditions called the three month rule and the habitual residence test.

EU law does not demand ‘uncontrolled movement applying to people’, according to Dr Cooper on May 26.

Citizens of an EU country have a ‘fundamental and personal’ right of residence in another EU country.

They are allowed to stay ‘up to three months without any conditions or any formalities other than the requirement to hold a valid identity card or passport’.

But EU law says they should not become an ‘unreasonable burden’ during their ‘initial period of residence’.

So, their right to reside, with their family members, for more than three months comes with conditions.

They may be required to register where they are living with the local authorities.

They may have to prove that they can support themselves.

In some countries they are expected to report their presence within a reasonable time after they get there.

In some countries they have to carry their passport or ID card at all times and they can be fined if they haven't got it, but they can't be deported for that reason alone.

Students may have to show they are on a recognised course.

Pensioners may have to show they can support themselves.

Job-seekers may look for work for up to six months, but if they can't show they have realistic chance of finding work after six months then they may have to move on.

Access to benefits is limited at first.

Permanent residence is available after five years.

On top of all this, EU law allows ‘restrictions to be placed on the right of free movement and residence on grounds of public policy, public security or public health’.

It seems that Dr Cooper is not familiar with ‘Your Europe – residence rights’ on the EU’s website europa.eu.

Nor does he appear to be aware of the relevant EU legislation, namely:

‘Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States.’

PHIL JONES

Member, European Movement UK


Many people are in despair at rising cost

Slough Trades Council will be attending the TUC demonstration on Saturday in London.

We stand by our delegates, in their campaigns and action, to tell the government ‘We Demand Better’.

The cost of living crisis has escalated out of all proportion, affecting the lives of millions of people who have seen eye-watering increases in the cost of food, their energy bills and petrol prices.

It is no wonder that the use of food banks has surged and that people are having to choose between eating and heating.

The austerity agenda of the 2010 Coalition Government imposed measures on ordinary people which made life hard and sometimes impossible.

The recent and sudden changes come on top of these previous policies, compounding the effect on people’s lives.

The Tory government is run by those who have little interest in the lives of ordinary people and a Prime Minister who refers to people as ‘feeling the pinch’.

Tory MP Lee Anderson provoked fury when he stated that people need to learn how to make a meal for 30p.

The Governor of the Bank of England warned that workers should not demand higher wages as they would be inflationary.

It is not only insulting to people’s intelligence but reflects a sense of entitlement.

The trade union movement is planning for industrial action across sectors of employment.

With inflation projected to rise to 11 per cent, any pay rise below this means a pay cut to add to those already experienced over previous years.

All those who worked so hard during the pandemic have faced a pay award so mean as to be an insult to their service and dedication, e.g. three per cent to NHS key workers. No wonder people are in despair.

Meanwhile the government boasts that unemployment has come down, leaving aside its decision to make redundant 90,000 jobs in the civil service.

Job insecurity remains a vicious situation for workers whilst the P and O debacle is, for the government, a distant memory.

Our society is unequal and unfair. We only have to read the news on bosses’ huge bonuses, on the salaries of the highest earners, on the profits made by companies whilst increasing the costs to ordinary people.

The failures of this government to address poverty and to reduce such abject inequality are becoming increasingly evident in the empty promises and ill thought through policies, intended more to divert attention away from the shoddy behaviour and lack of integrity as demonstrated by Partygate.

Slough Trades Council will be at the demonstration, supporting the fight for a better life and a better future for people whilst demanding genuine action rather than policies, described on June 10 by journalist Paul Waugh in the ‘i’, as being no better than written ‘on the back of a fag packet’.

Join us in London. Join the march for change.

MARGERY THOROGOOD

Secretary, Slough & District Trades Union Council

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