Application 18/00850(16/03297) - Thames Riviera Hotel (Amended)

Note:  This is indexed under a dummy number to preserve the listing order.

Comments on Amended Application 16/03297 - Thames Riviera Hotel, Waterside Lodge and Guards House

Change of use and alterations to hotel building to create 15 apartments, demolition of annexe and replacement with new residential building containing 11 apartments, alterations to Guard House building to provide 2 x 2 bed dwelling houses and provision of associated car parking and landscaping

We commented on the original proposals under this application number in December 2016. We believe that the time delay and amendments to the original application are significant enough to warrant a new application rather than amendment.

As previously stated we object to these proposals in principle because they involve restriction of public access to the riverside with the loss of the leisure amenity provided by the existing hotel and restaurant. Regretfully, a list of Heritage Assets has not yet been drawn up for Maidenhead - but surely the Thames Riviera Hotel would feature on any such list. Access to the river is an important asset for Maidenhead Riverside and its ongoing appeal as a destination for residents and visitors alike. Privatisation via residential schemes such as this is detrimental to the Riverside as a whole.

We believe that this and any similar Riverside schemes should be required to retain a riverside bar / restaurant on the ground floor with residential apartments above. Many such restaurants exist in London - for example Oslo Court in St John's Wood. Whilst the previous demise of Skindles on the Taplow bank is quoted as evidence regarding riverside restaurant viability, there will be a purpose built Roux Brothers restaurant facility opening on that site in a few months. The number of riverside venues is limited and should be retained wherever possible.

Conversely, the supply of flats and apartments is not limited, and whilst riverside apartments will demand a premium there is currently a disproportionate oversupply of new build flats in Maidenhead. Giving up on the hotel operation is opportunistic and it is not established that there is a hotel room surplus in Windsor / Maidenhead. At the same time we understand that Arena Leisure have significant plans for a hotel development at Windsor Racecourse.

At the time of writing many documents are not available on the RBWM Planning Portal, for example the Heritage Statement and Flood Risk Addendum. These comments are therefore primarily based upon the Design and Development Statement which can be accessed and highlights the main changes between the original and amended plans.

The amended plans are an improvement on the original scheme, and we welcome the liaison between the developers and English Heritage. In particular, we welcome the retention of the architectural integrity of the Guard House and the fact that it will now be 2 x 2 bed dwelling houses rather than apartments. The eastern elevations of the hotel building (facing the river) have been improved and retain more of the existing facade. However, the northern elevations facing Bridge Road have changed for the worse. The original proposals had a traditional regular widow style and symmetry which has been replaced with much more complex window / glass arrangements of varying height.

The elevations of the block that replaces the demolished Waterside Lodge have been changed significantly, and the facade materials are lighter in tone. However, they design is still angular and modern with strong perpendicular lines. The building is reminiscent of student accommodation on the campus of a modern university. It is not in keeping with and does not enhance a Conservation Area in a sensitive riverside setting. The Design and Development statement uses the adjective "playful" to describe the architectural style. This is stretching credulity and reflects the incongruity of this design in a sensitive location.

The landscaping is very limited and the number of parking spaces has been reduced from 33 to 31 - which is inadequate for the total number of dwellings.

In summary, we continue to object to this scheme. It represents the loss of a valued riverside leisure amenity. The rectangular and modern elevations are not in keeping with the prevailing architecture of the Conservation Area. The landmark setting is at the eastern gateway to Maidenhead adjacent to the listed Maidenhead Bridge. The scale of the scheme represents overdevelopment of the site.