MAJOR rejuvenation plans for Slough’s Stoke Wharf at the end of the Grand Union Canal have been given the green light – but residents and ward councillors have their reservations.
After 29 years in the pipeline, members of the planning committee have finally given the thumbs up to revamp the brownfield site into 312 new homes, new public open space, and some retail units.
Ten new buildings, ranging from two to eight-storeys in height, will be constructed, which includes a mix of:
- Studio – 31
- One-bed two-person flat – 126
- Two-bed three-person flats – 24
- Two-bed four-person flats – 114
- Two-bed mews houses (four people) – eight
- Three-bed townhouses (five people) – nine
Originally, the applicants, Stoke Wharf Developments – a partnership between Slough Urban Renewal, Muse, and the Canal and River Trust – submitted nearly 16 per cent affordable housing.
That has changed to 20.5 per cent affordable accommodation – but is still below the council’s 30 per cent minimum policy.
Nearby locals, who submitted a petition signed by 228 people, urged members to refuse the scheme amid fears it will turn their residential area into a ‘high rise city centre’, making it an ‘eyesore’.
They also feared it will destroy over 50 per cent of their open space and will see a ‘significant’ increase in traffic congestion and air pollution.
Another resident, who lives on the adjacent Shaggy Calf Lane, said no one was consulted on the plans and feared the high rise buildings will overlook his gardens and impact his privacy.
He said: “The new houses will be built five metres from our back gardens. You could literally spread your arms and touch them.
“I will have four houses overlooking my garden alone. That seriously compromises the privacy of my family. They [the future residents] will see 95 per cent of my garden.”
However, councillor Pavitar K. Mann (Lab: Britwell and Northborough), lead member for planning and regulations, begged to differ, saying not only have there been multiple public consultations on the scheme with residents – but it has also been reported on by the local press.
The applicant said they have amended the scheme by reducing the roof height and have angled the windows or made a few opaque on some of the buildings to counter the overlooking and overdominance issues.
Objecting to the plans, councillor Dexter Smith (Con: Colnbrook with Poyle), said: “I’m still concerned about the height of the development, the density of it, and what I say is overdevelopment of the site.
“We’ve got accommodation where there’s nothing bigger than three-bedrooms. Three-bedroom properties are only about 10 per cent of the total number, and yet in Slough, three-bedroom and above represents 75 per cent of the demand in housing.
“We’ve always said there’s a shortage in family housing in Slough and this isn’t contributing to it.”
Whilst the rejuvenation plans were welcomed by ward councillors, a few suggested some changes or improvements to the scheme.
Elliman Cllr Arvind Dhaliwal (Lab) requested the developers consider making the canal banks clean and safe for residents while Central Cllr Christine Hulme (Lab) was ‘disappointed’ with the 20.5 per cent affordable housing and recommended to increase it.
A majority of councillors were in favour of the scheme with only Cllr Smith voting against at a planning committee on February 10 (Wednesday).