Written by Joshua Reynolds.
Nobody can deny that lots of projects are getting underway Maidenhead at the moment: the Landing is finally getting under way after being pushed through by the Conservative councillors against the recommendations of the borough officers, York Road is being developed, and the Nicholsons shopping centre has been sold to a new company. But with all of these new developments comes the need to say goodbye to some much-loved businesses.
Last year, Mexican restaurant Poco Loco closed its doors to make way for the third phase of the Chapel Arches, Wally’s toy shop closed in February due to low footfall and the retirement of its owner, and Cocos bar and club has closed due to the impending development of the Landing and a lack of suitable alternative space in Maidenhead. Only last month, popular restaurant Francesco’s shut its doors for the same reason.
However, even with lots of regeneration happening around Maidenhead, we are still a long way behind our neighbouring towns: High Wycombe has the Eden Centre with lots of shops, Reading has the Oracle, lots of new office space and a recent investment in its railway station. Bracknell has just completed the first stage of the Lexicon shopping centre, which has received high praise from shoppers near and far. All these developments are competing with Maidenhead for retailers, residents and businesses.
So what’s happening with Three?
Occupying 120,000 sq ft of office space in Maidenhead, Three is a major employer in the town, attracting people to live and shop in Maidenhead.
However, Property Week reported that the company has instructed Alder King to look at offices in Reading for a possible move. We hope this comes to nothing but losing a major employer like Three would be a massive blow to Maidenhead. A big-name employer leaving our town either shows a lack of faith in the current regeneration plans, or a lack of suitable locations — or both — and we need to think long and hard about what separates our town from our neighbours.
What is our unique selling point?
Only by talking to residents and looking at our gaps compared to other similar Thames Valley towns, can we understand where Maidenhead should sit.
We believe we need markets and community facilities, creating a place where people can exchange ideas, learn new skills and become healthier — and do their shopping.
I want the council to adopt a vision for the town centre that turns it into a community hub combining entertainment, adult education and the NHS as well as quality shops.
Please do let us know what you think we can do to improve the town centre and keep businesses in Maidenhead.
Joshua Reynolds is currently researching the Future of the High Street at Cardiff Metropolitan University, and is passionate about keeping our town centres alive