Slough offers a north-south relief road through Colnbrook as sweetener for Garden Suburb

A north-south relief road between Langley and Colnbrook, land allocated for a ‘park and ride’ at Brands Hill, a northwards extension of the Slough Mass Rapid Transit bus service, new cycleways, and traffic ‘watersheds’ to prevent private vehicles passing east-west are among the sweeteners being offered by Slough in return for its plans for a Garden Suburb expansion of the town into South Bucks.

The six new neighbourhoods proposed to form Slough's 'Garden Suburb'

The six new neighbourhoods proposed to form Slough’s ‘Garden Suburb’ would, in total, provide 7,500 new homes.

Slough Borough Council’s plans to expand the town north into South Bucks have taken a big step forward with the publication of a report that sets out – in some detail – how the huge development might come about.

Atkins, a British multinational engineering, design, and planning consultancy, prepared the 46 page report, complete with schematics, transport plans, environmental impacts and phasing, for Slough Borough Council.

The firm sets out proposals for six sustainable communities providing a total of 7,500 new homes.  Provisionally these have been labelled Wexham Park (850 new homes), All Souls Farm (950), Middle Green (1,100), Shreding Green (1,500), Canal Side (1,700), and Parlaunt Farm (1,400).

In a blow to golfers Wexham Park, Iver and Richings Park golf courses would all be at least partially developed.  But, more generally, the Green Belt would be hit hard by the scheme – if it manages to clear the not insignificant hurdles in its way, although the report promises that a new country park carved out of part the remains of Richings Park would help to reinforce the ‘strategic gap’, and that Langley Park would be extended.

If anybody thought that Colnbrook had escaped relatively unscathed (for now) from the work on Slough’s new Local Plan, while the position of Heathrow’s Third Runway through the parish remains so uncertain, think again. Heathrow’s Third Runway features heavily in the thinking behind the proposals.  In addition:

  • The proposal includes a new road running north/south east of Langley, through the proposed ‘Parlaunt Farm’ development to the A4 at Colnbrook. The road would be integrated with the transit network at this point, forming “a multi-modal corridor with potential for a high quality, continental style boulevard”.
  • A major new Park and Ride would be built on farmland off busy Sutton Lane on the SMaRT route to Heathrow.
  • A new ‘transit bridge’ could be built over the M4 and a new roundabout on the A4 London Road Colnbrook By-pass to link the new facilities.
The new north-south road, transit bridge and park and ride are visible in the plans. As well as significant traffic generation in the parish there would be significant land take too.

The new north-south road, transit bridge and park and ride are visible in the plans. As well as significant traffic generation in the parish there would be significant land take too.

The Planning Committee discussed the draft plans at its last meeting two weeks ago and they have yet to be formally endorsed by Cabinet.  However, they have been shared with councillors at South Bucks District Council have under the ‘Duty to Cooperate’.  A preface to the report by Leader of Slough Cllr Sohail Munmar and the Cabinet member for Urban Renewal Cllr Zaffar Ajaib stresses that the proposals are unpopular, strongly opposed by South Bucks – but that no objectors to the plan had been able to suggest viable alternatives.  In a move with suggests the council is trying to be as transparent as possible, it has allowed an “Important Covering Note from Chiltern and South Bucks District Councils” to feature prominently in the report.  The note spares the reader nothing: it accuses Slough of ignoring its neighbours’ evidence base, as well as a request not to publish the document at the current time.

… the Councils have advised Slough Borough Council not to publish the Draft Slough Northern Extension document

Given the alternative suggested by South Bucks, Slough’s approach here in the face of vehement opposition, appears to be an attempt to circumvent the stalled official channels and reach out directly to residents:

“… the Councils have advised Slough Borough Council not to publish the Draft Slough Northern Extension document. Instead the Councils have requested that Slough Borough Council re-consider the document in the light of the Bucks Duty to Co-operate Position Statement and comments on the draft document; to publish a memorandum of understanding setting out respective positions; undertake a correctly ordered evidence base needed to be in place in order to be able to consider the Northern Extension proposal; and to continue with discussions under the Duty to Co-operate to hopefully arrive at an agreed outcome.”

The plans, which would accommodate nearly 20,000 new residents, less than half the increase expected by 2037, have already been shared by the Stop Slough Expansion group.  So far, responses have been fairly low key, suggesting the full impact has yet to be analysed.  There has been limited criticism that empty warehousing space in the Poyle Trading Estate should be redeveloped for housing before considering the Green Belt, and also a suggestion that South Bucks residents take it upon themselves to build their own plan for a Slough that can accommodate 20,000 new homes within its own boundaries.

 

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