8,000 new Slough homes to be built outside of borough
Slough Borough Council’s cabinet is set to approve a multi-pronged strategy to address the chronic shortage of decent housing in the borough when it meets next week. Top of the list will be support for a major northwards expansion of the town to find room for 5,000 of the 20,000 new homes needed, but a further 3,000 will also need to be built outside of Slough.
Slough Borough Council has launched a publicity blitz in the past week, spam-bombing residents with details of how it is intending to tackle the borough’s housing shortgage.
In a flurry of announcements both on its website and on social media platforms the council has agreed a massive cash injection into a scheme that allows it to buy up properties; has launched a “use it or lose it” policy to allow it to compulsorily purchase unused homes; and is set to approve a housing strategy that will, as expected, see a northern expansion of the borough into Bucks as its flagship fix.
Cabinet is set to approve a £25 million injection of cash into its “strategic acquisitions strategy” when it meets later this month. Through the initiative the council buys up property that can either support its regeneration plans or provide an income stream. Since the strategy was put in place in 2015, the council has spent £13.6 million on commercial properties in the town – generating an income of £596,775 during this financial year.
The additional £25 million is not earmarked exclusively for property in Slough and the council has received some criticism for not investing the money directly into new housing, rather than risk driving up prices of a dwindling available stock. Some of the properties already bought by the council include WHSmith and Savers on the High Street and Halfords on the Bath Road in Cippenham.
Cabinet is also set to approve the compulsory purchase of properties in Slough which have been empty for years, and has already identified several properties as possible purchases.
Councillor Zaffar Ajaib, commissioner for housing and urban renewal, is recommending the scheme to Cabinet. In a statement issued on Friday he said the idea was also to address anti-social behaviour issues like squatting, unpleasant smells, flytipping and overgrown gardens.
In an area like Slough where housing is at a premium and more homes desperately needed, there is no reasonable excuse for homes to be left to rot
Through the scheme local residents can nominate any properties they feel the council should add to the list by calling 01753 875392. The scheme cooincides with the council getting tough on “don’t care” landlords who leave rental properties in “squalid conditions”. Reading magistrates fined a Stevenage property company £1,500 with an additional £150 victim surcharge and costs of £1,894 on Friday for failures at Salt Hill Mansions.
As part of a new housing strategy for the borough Cabinet will commit to “vigorously use its legal powers, including prosecution” to make rogue landlords comply with their obligations”. It will also commit to ambitious new house-building targets of 927 new homes a year (more than double its current target) for the next 20 years and will spend £100 million on revamping its stock of 7,000 council homes and building 190 new ones over the next 7 years.
Probably the most controversial move, however, is Cabinet’s expected endorsement of a major new “garden suburb” of Slough to be built on Green Belt in South Bucks.
Slough’s planners have advanced a range of measures to address an estimated need for over 20,000 new homes in the borough by 2034. They have concluded that expansion of the town centre, higher density building, and various regeneration opportunities throughout the borough are not on their own going to be sufficient to meet the demand. As well as a southern expansion into pockets of Green Belt in Windsor & Maidenhead, Slough believes a major expansion of the town northwards is the only sustainable option.
11 “spatial” options for meeting the housing needs of the town’s growing population will be put to cabinet next Monday, including the possibility of developing a site west of Crown Meadow in Colnbrook. Consultation with residents in January will follow, assuming that Cabinet agrees.
|A||Expand the centre of Slough (upwards and outwards)|
|B||Expand the Langley Centre (to include land around the railway station)|
|C||Create a new residential neighbourhood on the Akzo Nobel and National Grid sites west of the Uxbridge Road|
|D||D Regeneration of selected areas:
D1 – Canal basin
D2 – New Cippenham Central Strip, Bath Road D3 – Chalvey regeneration
|F||Intensification of the suburbs|
|G||Redevelop Existing Business Areas for housing|
|H||Release land from the Green Belt for housing (edge of Slough)|
|I||Release land from the Green Belt for employment (Heathrow related development in Colnbrook and Poyle)|
|J||Expansion of Slough
J1 – Northern expansion into South Bucks (Garden Suburb)
J2 – Southern expansion into Windsor & Maidenhead (small sites)
|K||Build in other areas outside of Slough (i.e. Aylesbury)|
However a draft “Issues and Options” paper set to be discussed that a minimum of 40% of the town’s housing needs will need to be met from outside the borough:
“Initial calculations show that even if all of the identified potential housing sites in Slough, including those in the Spatial Options and others identified through the “Call for Sites”, were developed and an allowance is made for continuing small site development, there would still be a shortfall of around 8,000 houses especially in the latter part of the plan period”.
The location of any new development will have to take account of the availability of transport links from Slough. One option, the paper says, would be to develop along the B416 Stoke Road corridor. Another would be to develop along the A412 Uxbridge Road corridor. A third option would be to use Wexham Road.
However the capacity of the road network both within Buckinghamshire and Slough is seen as a possible constraint to development that “could require the promotion of non-car modes of transport”.
The cabinet meeting IS open to the public and will take place on Monday, 21st November in the Venus Suite at 2, St Martins Place, 51 Bath Road, Slough, Berkshire, SL1 3UF.