Leaked documents reveal multiple Maidenhead community centres could be axed

LEAKED documents have revealed Royal Borough Council are looking at community buildings in Maidenhead town centre to see if they are ‘no longer fit for purpose’.

Official confidential papers, seen by the Observer, suggest the council will conduct two consultation periods to see if seven assets – one on Blackamoor Lane and six on Holmanleaze Road – are worth being invested in still, ‘repurposed’ for other uses, or axed completely.

The buildings and huts – which the report says are all over 40 years old – under review according to the secret documents include:

  • The site previously known as the former Maidenhead Players site in Blackamoor Lane – which was destroyed several years ago
  • Beehive Pre-School Group
  • 5th and 19th Scout Groups
  • Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses
  • 1555 Maidenhead Squadron Air Training Corps
  • Territorial Army
  • Maidenhead Ivy Leaf – which the council is a freeholder of

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The document says: “We are aware that most of the buildings are in a poor state of repair and in need of substantial maintenance, but we do not know what the potential building life expectancy is without the surveys.”

The first consultation period will start on November 30 to December 30 and the second survey will be carried out on January 31 next year where it will be brought back to a private cabinet meeting on February 25, 2021.

During the consultation process, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) will ‘engage’ with the seven leaseholders to find out what issues they are facing with the centres, what maintenance work may need to be carried out, and what services they are delivering.

Once the surveys are completed, options will be discussed with the landlords to see if the services they provide can be maintained for residents of the borough.

It could result in the leaseholders surrendering their leases in favour of an alternative option – such as relocation.

The report warns if they find the assets are “fundamentally a liability” and deemed “not fit for purpose” once the consultation periods end, the leaseholders may have to repair the buildings, admitting they “may not have funds” to do so.

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The council may have a duty to do the repair work as the freeholder – but it depends on the terms of their lease.

The community facilities review comes as part of the council’s ‘asset management review and action plan’ – which was approved by cabinet in June 2020 and sets out “the need to understand which assets need investment in order to provide essential services, and which assets are passed their life expectancy, and are no longer fit for purpose” – which includes surveying all of RBWM’s assets.

Speaking to the Observer, the leader of the council, councillor Andrew Johnson (Conservative: Hurley and Walthams), said as this confidential information was discussed in part two of a cabinet meeting – which excludes the press and public from being involved – he cannot comment at this time.

The six sites on Holmanleaze Road are located around or opposite the Maidenhead Mosque – which is not included in the report and will remain on the site – with RBWM saying it “will look to support them” if the users of the Mosque want to expand, the leader said.

As there will still be a consultation period, no firm decision has been made at this point by the council.

Royal Borough Observer | News WIndsor