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Council hears plans for 330 flats with communal living and dining areas

Eyebrows were raised by members of Slough Borough Council’s (SBC) planning committee over plans for small apartments near the train station with communal dining areas.

At a meeting yesterday (Wednesday), councillors heard a pre-application pitch for plans for 330 flats across two towers with an 180-bed hotel in between it in Brunel Way.

The project on the former Octagon site would also include a gym, pubs, restaurants, a cycle store, coffee shops, a small retail unit and a 'business suite' on the ground  level with conference facilities.

If approved at a later date, the site would be run by Aberdeen Asset Management who would have 24/7 security on site.

One aim of the project is to create a public square in between the buildings which connects Slough's town centre to the train station.

Selling the idea to councillors was Bill Soper, director of architects TP Bennett, who said: "We think this will be a superb addition to Slough town centre."

The project, an example of a build-to-rent scheme, would feature smaller sized flats with larger communal living and eating areas.

"The biggest cause of depression for 20 to 35-year-olds is loneliness," said Mr Soper, arguing the communal spaces will give young professionals the chance to make friends. It's a fantastic opportunity.”

Councillor Ted Plenty (Lab, Langley St Mary's) said he was not sold on the idea.

"It didn't quite ring right to me, I can't see it happening,” he said. "I just don't get that idea at all.”

Mr Soper said the build-to-rent concept was being promoted by the government because it can help build many more residential units.

Cllr Plenty challenged the proposed maximum of 90 resident car parking spaces, saying it ‘just doesn’t add up’.

He said the absence of any space for unloading vans in the presentation 'horrifies' him.

Cllr James Swindlehurst (Lab, Cippenham Green) denied Mr Soper's claims that an increasing number of young people are not interested in owning cars.

"A lot of my friends are all very attached to their cars because they can't afford anything else," adding how he was ‘lucky enough’ to get on the housing ladder before it was 'pulled up'.

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