11:18AM, Wednesday 15 September 2021
A shortage of land could lead to the council releasing green belt sites in Slough as the borough tries to figure out how to solve its unmet housing need crisis.
In a report due to be presented to councillors on the planning committee tonight (Wednesday) it proposes a public consultation to gather views on the possibility of releasing green belt sites to build family housing.
This is because there is a ‘lack of suitable brownfield sites’ and a shortage of land for housing in Slough. The council says it wants to leave ‘no stone unturned’ in the search for sites to build about 893 new homes, as set out in the local plan.
Last September, councillors were warned by Paul Stimpson, strategic lead for planning policy and projects at Slough Borough Council, that the authority is facing a ‘very serious problem’ of a housing shortfall of 5,000 homes.
Despite the Slough regeneration framework – which aims to revamp the town centre with new homes and offices – outlining plans to deliver 7,400 homes with another 1,600 identified, the council has a housing target of 15,460 over a 16-year period.
Speaking last year, Mr Stimpson said: “We haven’t really got many opportunities elsewhere because we’re protecting the suburbs and not building elsewhere.
“We a have shortfall of 5,000 houses in Slough and that’s a very, very serious problem because we have a genuine need with a young population – we do need to meet that need.
“It’s going to be a serious challenge for the local plan going forward with a plan that doesn’t meet our housing numbers.”
The council has already done an assessment on 10 green belt sites to see whether or not they are ‘suitable’, ‘possible’, or ‘unsuitable’ for housing development.
Sites that the council considers to be ‘suitable’ include land at Upton Court Farm, land east of Rochfords Gardens, land to the rear of Opal Court, Wexham Street, and land east of Wexham Park Hospital.
The council is eyeing land south of Blenheim Road where they suggested it is ‘possible’ for new homes to be built there if the council can overcome heritage objections the housing may cause to nearby Ditton Park Historic Park and Garden with mitigation.
The northern expansion – which the council seeks to add up to 10,000 homes in South Bucks – could remain an opportunity after the planning inspector concluded Buckinghamshire County Council failed in a ‘duty to cooperate’ – which effectively means they ignored Slough in their local plan.
However, Slough Borough Council has ruled out building on St Anthony’s Field, parts of Bloom Park, and north of Muddy Lane due to the loss of public space and houses on St Anthony’s Field will cause ‘significant visual impact’ upon the small gap between Slough and Farnham Royal.
Details of the proposed public consultation have not yet been finalised, but it will take place over a six week period before Christmas.
Members on the planning committee will only comment on the report where it will then go to cabinet on Monday, September 20.
This weekend’s smart motorway closures on the M4 will be shorter than usual due to separate bridge works taking place in West Berkshire (Junctions 13-14)