04:24PM, Thursday 27 May 2021
The Alexandra car and coach park in Alma Road, Windsor.
Senior council figures have reassured that there will be no building developments on two popular green spaces in Windsor following the spread of what they called ‘rumours’ and ‘misinformation’.
The Windsor and Maidenhead council’s managing director Duncan Sharkey and leader Councillor Andrew Johnson (Con, Hurley and Walthams) both reiterated their desire to keep Alexandra Gardens and Baths Island clear from concrete development.
Their comments were made at a Windsor Town Forum meeting yesterday (Wednesday) night which saw Mr Sharkey provide an update on the council’s position regarding a piece of land nearby that the authority has earmarked for a potential future rebuild.
The land in question is the Alexandra Gardens coach and car park in Alma Road, with the council looking at the possibility of teaming up with a joint venture partner to develop this site and potentially relocate the parking provision elsewhere.
Political figures in Windsor have recently raised fears that the plans could include building on Baths Island, which was earmarked as part of the scheme.
An update on the coach and car park plans were initially given at a Maidenhead Town Forum meeting in March, leading to anger amongst opposition councillors that this information had not been given at the Windsor equivalent.
Mr Sharkey agreed on Wednesday that Windsor issues ‘should be talked about at this forum, not the Maidenhead forum’, but clarified that ‘there was no briefing or announcement’ at March’s meeting by Barbara Richardson, the former managing director of the RBWM Property Company.
“What the officer actually said was that the project was paused,” Mr Sharkey said. “The council looked last year, and the year before, at what might be possible on that site.
“To be very clear, this is nothing to do with Alexandra Gardens, this is about the coach park and the two car parks in that location.”
The managing director also said that it was ‘very unlikely that anything will be happening on Baths Island’, prompting a flurry of questions from opposition members.
Cllr Helen Price (TBF, Clewer and Dedworth East) asked for confirmation on whether the council is looking to build on Baths Island.
In response, Cllr Johnson said: “As long as I am leader of the council, there will be no development on Baths Island.
What there may be, and I will extend this to Alexandra Gardens itself, is some investment into improving the public realm.
“The only way there would be development on Baths Island is if the good folk of Windsor were banging on my door begging me to do it.”
Liberal Democrat councillor Amy Tisi (Clewer East) asked whether Cllr Johnson would oblige if Windsor residents banged on his door saying they did not want development on the coach and car park.
Cllr Johnson said that the council has no detailed plans for the site yet and added: “I do not want to pre-judge anything.
“There are significant challenges anyway in terms of any potential relocation of the coach park and looking to see if there is additional or like-for-like car parking within the town.
“A lot of this is theoretical at this stage. The key takeaway message from this evening is: we have no plans.”
The council leader added that ‘significant’ public consultation would be undertaken to seek people’s views if work was due on the parking areas.
Also at the meeting, councillors expressed their desire to press ahead with plans to create a ‘vision’ for the future of Windsor, similar to a piece of work being undertaken in Maidenhead, which is undergoing significant development, and will be discussed at a cabinet meeting tonight (Thursday).
Cllr Neil Knowles (OWRA, Old Windsor) said: “We are waiting to get off the starting blocks to get a proper strategic view of how we want Windsor to look in the future.”
Cllr Johnson added that the idea was something he was ‘very keen on’, while Mr Sharkey said that a vision was a ‘valuable thing’ for a town to have.
Also discussed at this meeting were the use of electric scooters in the Royal Borough. Read more on that here.
The changes could see Colnbrook with Poyle, Langley Kedermister and Foxborough wards moved from Slough to the Windsor parliamentary constituency.