Residents mobilise against Slough’s plans to expand into South Bucks

A new social media group dedicated to fighting Slough’s plans for a northern expansion into South Bucks has already attracted well over 500 members just a few days after being set up.

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Slough Borough Council’s aspiration to build 5,000 houses on Green Belt in South Bucks look set to be fought tooth and nail following the formation of a new group to oppose the so-called “garden suburb” plan.

Stop Slough Expansion, a public group on Facebook, has already signed up 567 members, despite only being set up ten days ago.

This group says it is dedicated to the opposition of Slough’s desire to expand into South Bucks’ Green Belt and wants to establish a vocal campaign to fight the “willful destruction of the countryside”.  The idea was put forward as ‘Option J1’ in a list of options signed off by Cabinet in November.  The proposal  would destroy “an important and valuable green space”, the group says.

Over the coming months it will be important to have our voices heard as such this group will form a group dedicated to doing just that.

Slough’s planning team have projected a need for 20,000 new homes to accommodate the growth in the borough’s population between now and 2034.  However, it recognises that it has insufficient land available within its own borders and is looking to South Bucks, Windsor and even Aylesbury to accommodate the shortfall – expected to be around 8,000 homes.  

The Council wants to build a “garden suburb” in South Bucks with 5,000 homes.  It also wants to find room for another 3,000 homes outside of the borough – including some sites in Windsor & Maidenhead.

GARDEN SUBURB.  Slough's definition of a "garden suburb" means a development that would predominantly consist of family housing which would be fully integrated with the surrounding countryside, parks and golf courses. Sustainability would be key and that would require a critical mass of housing in order to support the necessary facilities and public transport links.  Slough says the necessary infrastructure and affordable housing element could be fully funded by the uplift in land prices.

Under the published plans Stoke Poges and Wexham would see large scale development, with the proximity to Wexham Park hospital being seen as particularly attractive.  Another major development would be located on Green Belt in George Green and Middle Green.  Richings Park and East Burnham are also being targeted.

Slough’s plans are nearing the end of an initial consultation, and residents have just one week left to comment.  The group is calling on members to write in to object, insisting that Slough should uphold the principles of the Chiltern and South Bucks Local Plan, currently in development, which has already discounted the areas in question for development.

The proposal from Slough is likely to destroy the character of this part of the county and in particular the areas around Wexham and Stoke Poges.

The group has labelled the proposals as “willful destruction of the countryide” and says they are unfair to the people of South Bucks “who have chosen to live in a semi rural location safe in the knowledge that their environment was protected by Green Belt”.

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Buckingamshire MP Dominic Grieve, who represents the Beaconsfield constituency, has promised to fight the garden suburb plan.  He has insisted he is “wholly opposed” in correspondence with members.  He said:

“I am wholly opposed to the proposals, which are at variance with the South Bucks local plan and would cause Green Belt loss in extremely sensitive locations, including eroding the strategic gap between the London conurbation and our area. I will accordingly do all I can to help South Bucks District Council in opposing it. I have already contacted the Secretary of State to express my concern and opposition to these proposals”.

Aside from the loss of countryside, some have complained on Facebook that pressure on Wexham Park hospital will be unsustainable; and that South Bucks is already having to build schools to support Slough children.  One has also suggested that Slough’s boundary will ultimately move north to encapsulate the new development.

In a risible backlash to Slough’s plans, group members have called on Ditton Park and Upton Court Park to be built on instead; for office blocks in Slough to be converted to flats; and for the new Arbour Park football stadium be reprioritised for housing.

If you wish to comment or object on any aspect of this Local Plan you will need to submit these by Monday 27th February by email to planningpolicy@slough.gov.uk or by post to Slough Borough Council, Planning Policy, St Martins Place, 51 Bath Road, SL1 3UF.

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