The go-ahead has been given for a major redevelopment of the increasingly derelict old British Home Stores site in Slough.

Councillors on Slough's planning committee agreed on Wednesday to give their support to plans by WMC Slough Ltd to flatten the sprawling site which covers a large space in Slough High Street, making way for a mixed development of shops on the ground floor with offices or a gym on the first floor and 78 homes. Access would be from Herschel Street.

The official final approval will rest with the council's planning manager, subject to an agreement being reached about including affordable homes as part of the development and providing a financial contribution towards education and open space in the area.

In depth discussions have already been carried out between the applicants and council officers.

The proposed 78 flats would comprise 45 one bedroom and 33 two bedroom homes.

The old BHS store has stood empty for years and is now in poor condition, leading to growing pressure on councillors to support a redevelopment scheme.

The closure of Debenhams and Marks and Spencer in Slough High Street has driven home the realisation that old fashioned department stores are becoming increasingly unsustainable.

The council officers' report to Wednesday's meeting expressed concern that WMC Slough's plan might not provide all the answers to the area's problems. It pointed out that company had not yet identified any pre-let tenants waiting to set up shops on the grounds of their proposed new development, warning: "There remains some concerns that the completed units might sit vacant in light of the current retail climate."