No alternative to new “garden suburb” in South Bucks says Slough Council as it also targets overflow development in Windsor
A “garden suburb” in South Bucks is still actively being pursued by Slough Borough Council as the best – and only realistic – solution to an acute shortage of land. Meanwhile, the future of Green Belt in and around Colnbrook and Poyle is being linked with the demand from Heathrow, with or without a third runway.
Slough has issued a stark warning that it will run out of land on which to build new homes within a few years.
Responding to the challenge, as it must legally do, Slough’s planning officers have set out their emerging thinking for accommodating the town’s continuing growth. In a report to Slough’s Planning Committee earlier this month they set out 7 “spatial options” which are being actively considered.
The report concludes that a northern expansion of the town into a “garden suburb” in South Bucks is still the only sustainable option, while acknowledging the risk of opposition from South Bucks & Chiltern Councils and the need to demonstrate “very special circumstances” in the Green Belt.
It is not a case of just pushing new homes elsewhere, they argue. Top of the list of options is continuing with the current strategy of building higher density housing and more mixed commercial/residential developments in the town centre. The possibility of developing a new residential hub around Langley Station is being considered. Regeneration of the Canal Basin, and possibly the Trade Sales site on the Bath Road in Cippenham, are also potential opportunities that could see major numbers of new homes built within Slough itself. Other sites identified for regeneration include the Akzo Nobel site east of Wexham Road, and the former Montem Sports Centre site.
But a major new “garden suburb” in Green Belt in South Bucks remains the only realistic option to resolving the town’s housing challenge. The shortfall in need could not be met even if every other option was pursued, the report says.
“It is considered that the development of a new ‘garden suburb’ could be a very sustainable option for providing the housing we require. Failure to achieve this could have serious impact upon our ability to meet local housing needs. We will, however, have to work with South Bucks and Chiltern Councils in order to progress this option”.
Planners are also promoting development of a small site east of Ditton Park in Windsor & Maidenhead. Windsor & Maidenhead last week announced it was delaying its own Local Plan by six months partly as a result of legal advice that it had failed to cooperate with other local authorities – a complaint made by Slough in August.
As South Bucks, Chilterns, Windsor & Maidenhead and Slough progress their new local plans over the next few years plain sailing through the public inquiry process is now one thing that none of them can guarantee.
Slough says there is little additional land that could be released from its own Green Belt beyond that which has been released already. Green Belt release in and around Colnbrook will not be considered until the uncertainty about the future of Heathrow is resolved, it says.
The paper, which was discussed by Planning Committee members at their last meeting on 7th September is part of a process to fully explore issues and options before they are put to Cabinet and a public consultation in January.