NIGHTCLUB owners have spoken out after they fought for their lives to keep their family-run business open amid being thrown out for major shopping centre redevelopment plans.
Planning inspectorate John Felgate blocked the Royal Borough Council’s compulsory purchase request (CPO) to acquire the lease of Smokey’s, which would have enabled the £500m redevelopment of the Nicholson shopping centre in Maidenhead.
Following a three-day public inquiry in October, Mr Felgate found there was a lack of engagement from the council and regeneration specialist Areli, who are spearheading the plans, to find alternative provision for Smokey’s, which would likely result in the nightclub’s closure.
Alternative accommodation offers were made by Areli but did not meet the needs of the nightclub, which needed an outdoor smoking area that would have doubled as a breakroom.
He said the loss of a valued facility would be a “severe blow” to Maidenhead as well as to the family’s finances, emotional, and mental wellbeing.
Commenting on Mr Felgate’s decision, the Page family, who run Smokey’s, said: “[We are] extremely sad that it took an external Inspector to note the value of our business to the local community and to acknowledge our contribution to it.
“That was the job of our Council, and we consider that they utterly failed in that”.
Meanwhile, Annabel Graham Paul of Francis Taylor Building, the barrister acting for the Page family, said Smokey’s should have been “part of the solution and not a problem”.
Smokey’s, located in unit 24a in Nicholsons Centre, initially started out as a café in 1962, and then to a cabaret venue, before changing to a nightclub in 1995. It is now run by brother Dean and Lee Page, who made representations at the inquiry.
A council spokesperson said: “The Nicholsons redevelopment is a crucial part of the ongoing regeneration of Maidenhead’s town centre, a crucial opportunity to secure major investment that would bring significant benefits for the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of our town and wider borough.
“We are surprised and disappointed at the planning inspectorate’s decision. We will review the decision in full with the scheme developer and consider next steps.”
Areli was approached for comment.