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Redevelopment of former AkzoNobel paint factory given green light

The former AkzoNobel paint factory looks set to be transformed into a development featuring up to 1,000 homes and industrial units.

Logistics developer Panattoni bought the 30-acre site, near Wexham Road, for a multi-million pound sum in June last year and has since been drawing up plans for its redevelopment.

At an extraordinary virtual planning committee meeting on Wednesday, the company pledged to deliver ‘much-needed’ new homes and provide an employment site with the ‘economic engine’ to help Slough recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

But councillors voiced their concerns over a lack of open space envisioned for future residents, with fears of the two, three and four-bed homes being ‘squashed’ together on the site.

Tony Watkins, development director at Panattoni, told the meeting: “Many things have changed due to COVID-19 but one thing that has not changed is our commitment to regenerate the former paintworks site and deliver a vibrant, high quality development providing much-needed new homes and an employment site with an economic engine to help Slough recover from the impacts of the pandemic.”

Panattoni’s vision for the site is to build industrial units, including a data centre, on land backing onto the Slough Arm of the Grand Union Canal.

Up to 1,000 residential properties, including 250 classed as affordable housing, are planned for the southern part of the site, near the Great Western Railway line.

Roger Still, representing the Inland Waterways Association, told the meeting he was surprised commercial buildings had been prioritised for the land near the canal rather than homes and said the developer was missing a ‘unique opportunity’.

Councillors were told that the northern part of the site required decontamination due to its previous industrial use.

The developer opted to build industrial units on this part of the site due to the higher cost of de-contaminating the land for residential use, council officer Christian Morrone said.

Cllr Christine Hulme (Lab, Central) raised concerns that only five per cent of homes are expected to include open space.

She said: “We’ve just gone through a pandemic where the issue of space and the ability to have open space available near your home is crucial.”

The development is expected to create up to 400 jobs during the construction phase and Cllr Hulme urged these positions to be set aside for Slough residents.

Council officers said traffic modelling has been completed on the site and did not envisage a severe impact on surrounding roads but this did not include the potential permanent introduction of the A4 trial Bus Lane scheme.

In total, four councillors voted in favour of granting outline planning permission with two abstaining and Conservative councillor Dexter Smith opposing.

The finer details of the scheme, including the residential layout and open space, will be determined by future applications.

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