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The Nicholson Quarter, Maidenhead - Areli Real Estate with JTP

Community Planning Weekends and workshops have been informing the vision to transform a 1960s shopping centre into a mixed-use masterplan, alongside outreach over social media, an app, by post and telephone.

Who is the developer/client of the project?

Areli Real Estate

 

Describe the context of this project in 250 words max. and please upload any image, drawings or reports that explain the initiative.

 

Located in Maidenhead, the redevelopment of the Nicholson Shopping Centre will be a comprehensive regeneration that will transform an outdated 1960s single-use shopping centre into a vibrant, mixed-use quarter. The project is one of the first ‘shopping centre to town centre’ regeneration initiatives in the UK, and will provide a blueprint to help address the changing landscape of highstreets in our towns and cities.

JTP led the largest community engagement processes the borough and Maidenhead has ever seen, with several thousand people, including many schools and colleges taking part. The site will be reimagined into a ground-breaking, people-focussed, mixed-use urban quarter, delivering 660 new homes, workspace for 2,000 people, flexible space for 60 shops and restaurants, and 1.5 acres of public space.

High-quality, new buildings will enclose and define new, open public realm in a more traditional urban form, reinstating the original streets and spaces lost by the development of the old shopping centre. Central to the plan will be the creation of ‘Sir Nicholas Winton Square,’ named by local residents in honour of Sir Nicholas’ extraordinary act of bravery during the Second World War.

The project brings much needed housing to the town centre, along with senior living accommodation, and smaller retail units with flexible leases. Reflecting the climate emergency, The Nicholson Quarter is one of the most sustainable proposals in the borough and includes considerable provisions for cycling, electric vehicle charging points and an extensive tree planting programme.

 

How does this project enable the community to make a meaningful contribution to a place? 250 words max. Please attach an image or other documentation of the project, or context, that supports your statement.

 

Active involvement with the community throughout the design development, extending beyond planning submission, has been crucial – ensuring the community could co-design the vision; proposals could be presented; issues could be discussed clearly and honestly; and feedback could be continually employed to develop and evolve the masterplan in an iterative way. These groups ranged from residents, community groups, local schools, businesses, online communities, politicians and local media. Through this extensive community engagement, we reached over 27,000 households, resulting in 82% support for our plans.

Engagement events and initiatives included:
-Community Planning Weekends (CPW) attended by over 500 people.
-Informal discussions and workshops with the local community, including hard-to-reach groups (Girls’ Policy Forum, students at Holyport College, RBWM Youth Ambassadors, Disability and Inclusion Forum).
-A dedicated website hosting the vision and contact form.
-A dedicated mobile phone app.
-Hands-on planning design groups.
-Report Back events and broadsheets to present and discuss the outcomes of the Community Planning Weekend.
-Business networking events.
-Community Stakeholder Update Exhibitions attended by 1,000 people.
-Physical newsletter and postcard summarising the emerging proposals sent to 27,499 addresses and inviting residents to take part in a survey. To date, 1,604 responses have been received back.
-E-newsletter sent via email to members of the public that had signed up to the mailing list.
-Press advertisements and media releases.
-Channels established on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with targeted social media ads.
-Dedicated phoneline and email address set up to receive queries.
-Posters were displayed in the shopping centre.

 

How will the community engagement be taken forward? Have you actively responded to their contribution and continued the conversation, facilitating their continued involvement? 250 words max. Please attach an image of the project that supports your statement.

 

The following points represent a summary of the key feedback from the public during the engagement process:

-92% supported independent and specialised retailers.
-87% supported more tree lined streets.
-84% said public open spaces were important.
-78% wanted to provide space for leisure, arts and culture.

All these points were addressed, details of which can be seen in the design response and summarised as:
-60 shops and restaurants specifically designed for local and independent businesses. Flexible, short-term leases to these businesses with rents linked to turnover to ensure an affordable and sustainable town centre.
-173 trees planted, bringing forward Maidenhead’s most sustainable development
-Over 1.5 acres of public open space, with Sir Nicholas Winton Square as the centrepiece.
-A single landmark building in the town centre supported by 75% of responses with plans further refined in response to public consultation comments to ensure appropriate height and density.
-30,000 sqm of new offices providing flexible co-working accommodation.

As part of our engagement and planning process we collaborated with a local, partially-sighted youth, who explained the need for comprehensive, inclusive design. For us to understand her insights, a senior member of the JTP team undertook a walkabout of the centre with a blindfold to create various degrees visual impairment. This experience provided important feedback and our plans were amended as a result.

In March 2021, planning permission was granted, and we continue to engage with the community and key stakeholders through the dedicated website and smartphone app, enabling continued feedback.

 

Please share any reports, news clippings, data or figures that support your entry, for example reach, news clippings, reports. You may also attach an additional image or document to support your entry.


The project has received a lot of local and national press coverage, especially given the current debate on the future of retail and high streets in the UK and what we can do to revive such sites. We have attached a few news clippings as examples.

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