04:10PM, Monday 01 August 2022
The next phase in a scheme to build 1,277 homes at the Horlicks factory in Slough looks set to go ahead – following a meeting of the council’s planning committee on Tuesday (July 26).
The proposal by Berkeley Homes includes a mix of units ranging from one-bed flats to three-bedroom family homes, in buildings ranging from three to 14 storeys in height.
Phase two of the scheme – to build 701 flats across five residential blocks – will be set in motion subject to approval from the council’s planning manager.
The plans include commercial floor space, amenity space, parking and access routes.
Aquifer Gardens opened last month, the first public amenity space within the development.
The first residents moved into Darjeeling House in April, with more than 65 apartments occupied.
On Tuesday, Caroline McHardy, land and development director at Berkeley Homes, gave an update on the company’s progress in delivering phase one of the project.
The next key milestone is affordable housing, she said. By Christmas, the company expects to have 62 affordable homes on the site, with a further 167 to be delivered by spring of next year.
This is a 25 per cent affordable housing offer, which councillors at the meeting noted was ‘a significant contribution’ in Slough.
So far, £5.2million has been committed to section 106 improvements – i.e., contributions by a developer to improve infrastructure, as part of an agreement with the council.
Phase two will bring the final payment of £1.6million, improving access to Slough railway station and the town centre with an east-west pedestrian/cycle route.
There are also plans to put in more electric vehicle charging points, additional green streets and open spaces.
Cllr Pavitar Mann (Lab & Co-Op, Britwell and Northborough) said the proposals benefit from the fact that the phase one plans are already in motion.
“The proof is in the pudding – we can see for ourselves the transformational nature of the scheme and the step change in quality that this development has [brought to] Slough,” she said.
She went on to ‘commend’ Berkeley Homes for its ‘sensitive handling’ of the heritage aspects of the site, which are ‘an important part of the town’s history’.
Concerns were raised over aspects of the development such as the parking provision – 251 spaces – and the potential impacts on traffic.
However, the chair of the meeting, Cllr Martin Carter (Lab, Britwell and Northborough) said it was ‘the wrong time’ for those conversations – as these details were agreed at an earlier stage.
Cllr Haqeeq Dar (Lab, Wexham Lea) said that some circumstances have changed in the past two years since then – including climate change and how this might be offset with more green energy options included within developments.
Cllr Harjinder Gahir (Lab & Co-Op, Wexham Lea) said he ‘didn’t agree’ with Cllr Carter’s assessment of the role of the committee in the meeting, saying he believed they had a duty to ‘look through everything’.
But officers said that traffic impacts and parking provision were aspects that had already been addressed in the original outline application – and it wouldn’t have been approved if officers hadn’t considered the proposals acceptable.
The committee voted to follow officer recommendations for the application to be delegated to the planning manager for approval, subject to a few conditions.