Future of Poyle is Heathrow – with or without a Third Runway
Slough’s planning chiefs have set out, in no uncertain terms, a stark vision for Poyle that links it permanently with Heathrow – even if a Third Runway¬†never gets built.
An additional 15,000 jobs will be¬†created in Slough over the next two decades, and that’s going to require land for business expansion. ¬†A lot of land in fact. ¬†An Economic Development Needs Assessment published earlier this month has projected there will be a demand for 83-180 hectares of new employment land across the borough.
And the only land deemed suitable for commercial use is … right here.
In an “Issues and Options” paper approved by Slough’s Cabinet¬†last Monday the town’s planners state equivocally that “the only area where new employment land could be created is at Colnbrook and Poyle”.
Even with the town’s housing shortage, business comes first.
The problem has been exacerbated, the Council says, by Government policy that has allowed a change of use of office space and other Class B uses to residential. ¬†But the Council also proposes to take around 35 hectares of existing employment land with plans to build 2,000 homes on various commercial sites around the town.
The Government has announced its support for building a third runway in this location which would make it even less appropriate to build new housing here.
That leaves the Green Belt.
Slough has released land for housing from the Green Belt in previous Local Plans. The last two of these sites are currently being developed and there is “not very much left”. ¬†The largest area of Green Belt remaining in the borough is in Colnbrook and Poyle.
But the area is not considered suitable for new homes due to “a number of environmental constraints” –¬†code for the¬†two-mile long concrete strip through the parish that could be imposed from 2025.
The paper says:
“The main area [of Green Belt] in Colnbrook and Poyle is heavily constrained and since this is where the third runway could be built it is not considered appropriate for housing. Land south of the M4 which contains the sewage works and Jubilee River is also not accessible or developable.”
And that, say planners, makes Colnbrook’s Green Belt ripe for the creation of¬†new employment opportunities for the town’s growing population.
In addition to providing new “employment land” planners believe the Economic Development Needs Assessment provides justification to allocate land to support the growth of Heathrow.
They want the new Local Plan to earmark the area for¬†Heathrow-related activity only:
“…it is considered that the Local Plan review should consider options to identify additional employment land in the Colnbrook and Poyle area with the intention that this land would be used for more airport related employment development”.
This option would involve releasing land from the Green Belt in the Colnbrook and Poyle area for airport related employment development
The Council, which has just finished a consultation on measures to restrict heavy goods vehicles from residential areas, wants to see what land is left after acommodating the Third Runway, infrastructure, and related development, to build more warehouse capacity. And it says: “the only area where new warehousing could be built is in the Colnbrook and Poyle area”.
Not only that but it wants the Local Plan to enshrine new¬†policies to prioritise Heathrow’s needs both in the short and longer term. ¬†It says:
- It would be premature to be promoting any additional development in the location at this stage.
- Once the future plans and needs of Heathrow have been agreed there may be scope for more warehouse type development in the Colnbrook and Poyle area.
- Given the importance of Heathrow to the national economy it is considered that development should only be allowed in this location if it can be shown that it is needed to support the airport.
If the third runway at Heathrow does not go ahead consideration will still be given to whether any additional airport related development is needed in the Poyle area to support the planned growth at Heathrow with the existing two runways. This would have to be justified by the results of the Employment Needs Assessment and be limited to meeting airport needs only, the report says.
The paper will¬†be part of a¬†public consulation in January.