McArdle site up for sale as commercial or residential prospect
The former head office site of collapsed construction firm McArdle has gone up for sale, marketed for commercial or residential development, sparking concerns.
The prospect of development hangs over a large site in the centre of Colnbrook as McArdle administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers have put the former head office site up for sale.
Most McArdle Group companies went into administration into April with the remaining doing so in July. The prospect of a buyer loomed briefly but faded. Most of the 300 employees have now lost their jobs and only a skeleton staff including security guards now remain on the payroll.
The site was identified by administrators as a prized asset with a possible value up to £4.2 million just a few months ago. However a price of between £2-3 million is believed to be more likely given the current planning conditions, irregular plot, and access restrictions.
The site includes a detached two-storey prefabricated office building and a separate warehouse, within a flat and irregular shaped plot. The overall site extends to 1.445 hectares (3.572 acres) with the two permanent buildings having site coverage of approximately 5%.
Part of the northern and eastern section of the site lies within the Green Belt, an area totalling some 1.736 acres; 49% of the total site area. The remaining undesignated commercial land totals 1.836 acres. McArdle attempted, controversially, to have the Green Belt restriction removed so that it could gain retrospective permission to expand, threatening to relocate if it didn’t get its way. It failed, but Slough Borough Council never carried out the enforcement action threatened.
Despite the breaches of Green Belt rules McArdle’s contribution to community initiatives will be missed by some. In the run up to last year’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations McArdle was one of the biggest donors to the Diamond Jubilee Clock. It also prepared new tarmac for Pippins School.
McArdle wont be missed by everyone. They regularly breached the 7am-7pm access conditions and management claimed to be powerless to stop speeding HGVs into its site, in a largely residential area. Neighbours will be watching closely to see who buys the site.
The possibility of a residential development seems remote, however.
The Highways Agency gave approval to the original development on the basis of a requirement for parking 6 lorries and 40 cars. At the peak of its operations, however, McArdle ran 66 HGVs from the site – all leaving in unison onto the by-pass each morning causing tailbacks. Slough Borough Council were powerless to act when McArdle’s lawyers pointed out the planning conditions referred to parking spaces not actual numbers of vehicles!
It is, nevertheless, unlikely that the Highways Agency would allow a significant influx of additional vehicles onto an already struggling by-pass. Access onto Mill Street from the site is already prohibited, contrary to the particulars advertised by the estate agent. It is unlikely the road could be widened to support a residential development of any scale, raising the prospect of a link road over the Colne Brook and Albany Park to the High Street.
A commercial development raises other concerns: the regularisation of McArdle’s heavy traffic movements; the permanent loss of the Green Belt taken up by McArdle; or something inappropriate to the Colne Valley setting.
Edward Symmons is the agent tasked with selling the property by the administrators.