After years in the making and consulting with residents and stakeholders, developers British Land announced to councillors at the meeting on Wednesday that they were “a few days” away from submitting the outline plans.
Redeveloping the 1970s Queensmere shopping centre, as well as Dukes House, Wellington House, 141, 143, 145 and 165 High Street is just the first phase of major plans to transform Slough town centre.
The indicative plans include:
- Up to 1,600 flats – which will primarily be a mix of one, two, and three-bedrooms.
- 12.5 per cent of that will be affordable homes – with “review mechanisms”, meaning this could increase depending on further viability surveys.
- Up to 550 car parking spaces
- Up to 40,000 sqm office space – subject to change depending on the demand.
- 5,500 sqm – 12,000 sqm retail, food and beverage uses
- 0 sqm – 1,500 sqm live music venue/cinema
- 0 sqm – 2,250 sqm bar/hot food takeaway
If plans are given the go-ahead, demolition and construction, which will take place in phases, could start in 2023 and take 14 years to complete.
Jayme McArthur, planning director at British Land, told councillors west of the proposed redeveloped site, what they call the “town centre”, will be the “civic heart” of Slough where a new town square is proposed.
Running east to west will be the improved High Street where the retail will be placed. To the north is where the apartment blocks will be placed.
In terms of scale, the buildings will start from six-storeys in height and will gradually step up to 12-storeys as you move into the revamped town centre further. The highest buildings will be in the centre, reaching a jaw-dropping 18-storeys.
The taller blocks will be on Wellington Street, giving an “urban density without being significant in height”.
Jayne McArthur explained: “We’ve got some sensitive boundaries. We’ve been respectful of the High Street and looking at the lower-scaled development to the south and also to the church. It’s grade-II listed, and we’ve got to respect that setting.”
Four areas of public space are also proposed, called the town square, local square, the community heart, and the urban park.
The “vibrant” town square will have the facilities Slough already has such as the Curve and the church while providing new centres such as for community use or new flats or offices, should the demand be there.
Jayne McArthur said: “We feel this should be the civic heart of your town centre, drawing on some of the fantastic heritage that you have like the church and the architecture of the Curve.
“So, we feel this is a space that will attract that events programme, a place for people to come and spend time with families, food and beverage, so, really the civic heart of the town centre.”
Between the Observatory and the eastern edge of the scheme will be the community heart space. Not a lot of detail was given but British Land hopes they can do “a lot more interesting” to it and make it into a public space for residents and commuters to use as they make that north-south link through the town centre.
Sitting north of the site is the urban park, where Tesco’s can be seen from a distance, will be used as open space and a pavilion or kiosk could be erected. Events could be held there, the meeting heard.
The local space could be used for local facilities for residents to use, such as bakeries or cafes.
Ms McArthur also said they intend to build ‘green neighbourhood streets’ throughout the town with new landscaping and trees. A new “intimate” route from Mackenzie Street leading east through to the new town square is also proposed.
However, Cllrs were told a new multi-storey car park could be later proposed should British Land deliver the full 40,000sqm of office space. This could change depending on the demand for offices as the outline plans will give the developers “flexibility” if changes are needed.
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service after the meeting, Russell O’Hare, development director at British Land, explained if the proposed office space is fully utilised, this could reduce the number of flats to around 950.
He said: “As the last 18 months as shown, what you think might be right in one sense could change quite quickly. So, importantly having the flexibility to react is quite important for the development and our view on that is that it improves the long-term regeneration opportunity that exists in the town by having that flexibility built within the application.”
Consultants Hatch outlined the social and economic benefits of the plans if the developers were to deliver the “maximum scenario” such as developing the 1,600 flats.
Once completed in 2036, the new town centre could attract 3,200 people to live and work in Slough, 700 jobs will be supported onsite – 25 per cent could be for local people – and around £20m will be generated in gross salaries onsite.
Mr O’Hare also said plans to redevelop the Observatory House will come “circa 2030”.
He said: “We would probably be one-third through redevelopment of the Queensmere for us to begin to see on what that shape of the application of the Observatory will look like because what we learn about Slough and the markets move around us, it enables us to be more flexible in that approach to the Observatory.
“That’s one of the benefits of producing the approach to Queensmere is that we can be more reactive to future changes on the Observatory.”