SLOUGH’s town centre could radically change as we know it in 15 years’ time.

Huge plans were revealed to members of the overview and scrutiny committee on ambitious works to transform the town centre into a ‘beautiful and vibrant’ place to live and attract businesses.

The report, known as the Slough regeneration framework, sets out to deliver a ‘21st Century town centre’ where different parts of the centre are linked together for pedestrians to easily cross to such as Windsor Road, Brunel Way, Wellington Street, etc.

The plan puts emphasis on the town centre being pedestrian-friendly, encouraging more walking and cycling in and around town instead of driving by improving and adding cycle lanes/routes and footpaths and public transport infrastructure.

It claims people who drive to the High Street are less likely to spend more time in the town centre and more likely to bring ‘negative’ economic benefits than those who walk.

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A number of changes could happen to the following streets:

Brunel way – create ‘seamless and attractive’ pedestrian connections to and from the station

Civic Square – could be created in the ‘heart of the town’ where people can ‘gather to celebrate and to have fun’

Stoke Road/Wexham Road/Uxbridge Road – these three roads provide important connections to the town centre from the north where the council plans to improve and add footpaths and cycle routes/lanes discourage the use of the car

Petersfield Avenue – this provides ‘important’ links to and from major sites and streets where the council will investigate improving footpaths and tree planting to improve the street’s quality

Windsor Road – has the potential to be a ‘grand, tree-lined avenue’ as well as Church Street

High Street – could be upgraded for better pedestrian facilities

Wellington Street – developers will look at transforming the character of the street to provide better cycling and pedestrian environments

Royal Borough Observer:

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New homes

It is planned to deliver 7,400 homes across an area known as ‘the square mile’, providing a huge percentage of Slough’s housing need of 15,460 dwellings over a 16-year period.

Major schemes have or are anticipated to come forward – which are part of this enormous housing delivery plan – include the former Horlicks factory site, Akzo Nobel site, Slough Gas Works, Slough central itself, and more.

The houses and flats will provide a mix of dwellings for all residents, ranging from family homes to affordable housing.

However, planning officers have said this is still not enough and are looking at other schemes and areas in or around Slough to identify the remaining unmet housing need.

New office and retail space

Not only are new residential buildings included in the scheme – but also new offices, leisure, retail, and industrial as well.

They include:

  • 115,000 – 280,000m2 office floorspace
  • 14,000 -15,500m2 retail floorspace
  • 6,700m2 leisure/cultural floorspace
  • 5,000m2 education/innovation floorspace
  • 48,000m2 industrial floorspace

In the framework report, it states: “The traditional town centre with its shopping precinct, office quarter and residential hinterland is a thing of the past and creating a 21st century town centre means that leisure uses must be located to support the office space, and a myriad of uses from cultural spaces, schools, doctors surgeries, gyms and dentists, cafes, hairdressers and bars are needed to support the increasing number of people that will be living in the centre.”

Councillor Rajinder S. Sandhu (Independent: Upton) asked if officers were confident in delivering the framework plan where as he believed previous developers have failed to do deliver schemes like this in the past.

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Hugo Nowell, director at Urban Initiatives Studio – who presented the report – said: “You have quite a significant of developer interest at the moment and developers are talking with council officers around propositions and planning applications.

“There’s a lot of activity and if these schemes come forward, they will deliver the best quality of place.”

He added: “We’ve been working closely with them to make sure that what we promote here is going to deliver something which will bring about lasting change.

“You can never crystal ball gaze exactly on what is going to happen. You have to encourage and put these frameworks into place and hopefully that will inspire developers to come forward and bring forward development.”

The scheme is set out in four phases where the final phase could take up to 15-20 years for it to be completed.

Royal Borough Observer:

Scrutiny’s recommendations

With the emphasis being on pedestrians and cyclists, the chair of the overview and scrutiny panel, councillor Arvind Dhaliwal (Labour: Elliman) criticised the framework plans for having a lack of information on the transport system, lack of details on the mass rapid transport system, and what the congestion will look like on the roads – especially on the A4 where a temporary bus lanes trial is happening.

He said: “75 per cent of people have transportation and we still need a balance effect into the future of the town.

“A lot of development is coming from the 8,000 dwellings which we are looking for and the effects of it will have the worst effect on the town and on the square mile project.

“What I feel is, there’s not enough information – especially on the transportation system.”

He also said building storey height should be reduced to match with the existing area.

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Councillor Fiza A. Matloob (Labour: Baylis and Stoke) expressed concerns the experimental bus lanes trial on the A4 will make Slough an ‘unattractive’ place for businesses to invest and set up shop in the short and long-term.

He recommended in the framework plan, Hackney and private hire vehicles should be allowed to use the A4 bus lanes and the lanes should only be operational during peak hours.

Voting for the recommendation councillor Maroof Mohammed (Labour: Farnham) said: “Businesses are struggling to come into Slough and it is becoming unattractive now, to be honest, due to this bus lane.

“The traffic flow, congestion, and air quality isn’t improving.”

The amendment was approved with one member against.

More details will emerge in the coming months or years where it will be followed by a planning application.

The report and the amendments were voted on September 10 (Thursday) where it will go to cabinet on September 14 (Monday) for approval.