10:00AM, Thursday 17 January 2019
“We’re just so full up,” were the words of Slough Borough Council (SBC) planning policy lead officer, who said the town has a challenge in meeting its housing demand.
Paul Stimpson was asked questions on the council’s 2013-36 local plan by the SBC neighbourhood and community services scrutiny panel on Tuesday evening.
He told councillors at St Martins Place, Bath Road, that the borough has a target to build 912 homes per year, but is faced with a lack of space.
“Basically the problem we’ve got is a complete shortage of land for development. We’re just so full up it’s extremely difficult to do,” he said.
Mr Stimpson said that due to the profitability of upper market housing, this restricts the supply of affordable or social housing in the borough.
Councillor Anna Wright (Con, Haymill and Lynch Hill) challenged Mr Stimpson on the quantity of one and two bedroom flats in the town, asking for more larger sized family homes.
Mr Stimpson says the high proportion of brownfield sites in the borough means developers are more likely to favour more profitable, higher density blocks of flats compared to houses.
“If you’re on a greenfield site, you can, if you’re on a brownfield site it makes absolutely no sense to anyone to knock down an office or a garage or whatever to build a house,” he said.
The council is continuing to push for a northern expansion of Slough into South Bucks in the form of a ‘garden suburb’ but Bucks County Council and South Bucks District Council have expressed their opposition to SBC encroaching on their greenbelt land.
In September 2017, SBC leader Cllr James Swindlehurst (Lab, Cippenham Green) compared talks with South Bucks District Council to ‘negotiations with North Korea’.
However, SBC has been working on a joint study with South Bucks and the Royal Borough to find ways every authorities housing needs can be met.
Mr Stimpson said that the former Horlicks factory has been bought by Berkeley Homes and that the Akzo Nobel site is about to be sold.
He said: “Akzo Nobel has been on the market for some time and thy haven’t said who they have sold to. We need to know who we are negotiating with and we need to bring in partners to try and bring that all together.”
Mr Stimpson said there has been no update on the Queensmere Observatory shopping centre, which was sold in November 2016 by Criterion Capital to the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.
“Unfortunately we’ve not had a lot of news about what’s going on there,” he said.
The council will be making demands as part of Heathrow Airport’s negotiations with neighbouring boroughs over a third runway.
SBC is pushing for a ‘green envelope’, protecting Colnbrook and Poyle from airport related development and roadworks.
Mr Stimpson says the council is aiming to enlarge and upgrade the Poyle Trading Estate to take advantage of the airport’s expansion but would want to make sure access to it could only come directly from the M25.
This clashes with Heathrow Airport’s proposal to divert the A3044, east of the M25, to go through Colnbrook and Poyle, which Mr Stimpson says could create an ‘attractive rat run’ for people hoping to cut through motorway traffic.
Mr Stimpson said an expanded Poyle Trading Estate could see a larger volume of high valued products coming through, requiring highly skilled workers.
He mentioned works of arts including Picassos and sports cars like Ferraris.
”We want to see the Poyle Trading Estate, which is frankly a bit of a mess at the moment, converted into a much more attractive estate that will serve the airport,” he said.
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