2020 HASN’T gone the way everyone planned, with TIME magazine even naming it the ‘worst year ever’ – but that hasn’t stopped major schemes from progressing in Slough.

Despite the pandemic pausing and/or disrupting many services and projects, developers were still keen to transform parts of the borough.

We look back on five major plans that were either approved or seen by Slough Borough Council (SBC) this year that will change the borough as we know it.

1,000 homes at Akzonobel

At an extraordinary meeting in August, a majority of the planning committee approved outline plans to add 1,000 homes at the ‘landmark’ former Akzo Nobel Decorative Paints factory on Wexham Road, after years of consultation and discussion.

Only the outline plans – which submitted by international real estate company Panattoni – of the development in principle were approved, which means the details of the scheme will be voted on by councillors at a later planning meeting.

READ MORE: Plan for a thousand new homes in Slough town centre approved by the council

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The scheme involves demolishing existing and decontamination of the northern part of the site to make way for new homes, shops, new public spaces, warehouses, and data centres.

The homes will be a mix of:

  • 338 one-beds
  • 377 two-beds
  • 243 three-beds
  • 42 four-beds

The homes will be built on the southern part of the site, 25 per cent of which will be affordable.

The northern part by the canal will see factories and warehouses, a move that was labelled “a shame” by both councillors Sabia Akram (Labour: Elliman), deputy leader of SBC, and Dexter Smith (Conservative: Colnbrook with Poyle), suggesting it should be the other way round.

However, the leader of the council, Cllr James Swindlehurst (Labour: Cippenham Green), made a surprise announcement at the last full council meeting of 2020 that SBC could strike a major deal with Panattoni to purchase land at the southern part of the site.

READ MORE: Call for rethink over 1,000 home plan for old Akzo Nobel site

If the “behind the scenes” negotiations go ahead as Cllr Swindlehurst expects them to, the council could acquire the residential element of the site in early 2021.

SBC plans to build 850 houses there, and “it is more likely” over 500 of those will be social and affordable family houses in order to “build away” a significant number of families and people on the council’s social housing waiting list.

300 homes on 132-144 High Street

While a formal planning application is yet to be submitted, parts of the High Street could be transformed in a major way after 2021.

Vistastar Leisure Plc, who is spearheading the project, showed their plans to redevelop 132-144 High Street into a mixed-use development.

Known as the Buckingham Way project, this includes four buildings ranging between four and 19-storeys, which includes approximately 300 homes, shops, and a health club with a swimming pool, spa facilities, and basement car parking.

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READ MORE: Slough councillors label 19-storey building "too high" for town centre

TP Bennet, the architects who designed the buildings, gave a sneak peek to the planning committee members in November to incorporate feedback to the proposal.

Whilst it was welcomed by a few, a majority agreed 19-storeys was “far too high” for the gateway location – with one councillor thinking they were “joking” when they presented it.

Cllrs recommended the size and density should be reduced to something around 14-storeys, as well as add a mix of three-bedroom flats and social housing.

A planning application could be submitted in the new year with slightly or vastly different designs after the developers undertook a public consultation and had pre-application talks with Slough Borough Council.

Langley Business Centre

Outline plans to add a huge data centre to boost Slough’s data economy with a new energy centre, homes, and shops were unanimously approved by councillors in September.

This will involve demolishing and redeveloping parts of the 6.5-hectare Langley Business Centre on Station Road.

Split into two sections, plot A – which faces Station Road – will have 60 homes as well as retail, pubs, takeaways and an energy centre.

One-hundred per cent of the houses will be affordable, the applicants said, with the energy centre accommodating 800 sqm of floor space on the northern part of plot A.

READ MORE: A boost in Slough's data economy as major plans approved

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At the meeting, the planning consultant for the application, Robin Meakins, said the proposed energy centre could help SBC in becoming a ‘pioneering UK council’ with the district heating system technology the centre will provide to address climate change.

The enormous data centre will dominate plot B, with it taking up 93,000 sqm of floor space and 150 car parking spaces, one for each employee. Offices and a sub-station will also be part of the site.

As this is outline plans, some of these proposals are indicative where finalised details of the major project will come forward at a later stage.

Slough’s Stoke Wharf development

Plans for the £68 million project could be approved sometime in 2021 as the developers submitted a planning application in November.

As part of the council’s Slough Urban Renewal – a partnership between SBC and Morgan Sindall Investments – the project seeks to rejuvenate the former Travis Perkins builder’s yard alongside the canal in the Stoke Wharf area, known as the Canal Basin.

READ MORE: Slough's Stoke Wharf development plan: It is decision time

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The 3.3-hectare brownfield site was demolished back in 2018 in hopes to build 312 homes – 48 of which will be affordable – two commercial units, and secure parking for all homes with 10 per cent of them having electric parking spaces.

The flats will be a mix of one and two-bedroom apartments, while other accommodation includes three-bed mews houses, three-bed townhouses, and studio flats.

Improvements to the canal-side public realm and to nearby Bowyer Park are also proposed.

Back in 2019, it was originally planned to have 240 homes with shops, cafes, and a community hub – but due to ‘viability issues’ of SBC paying for the demolition costs and buying out the interest of Travis Perkins Ltd, the owners of the land, the scheme became denser “just to deal with some of those viability challenges”, Cllr Swindlehurst said.

Following extensive consultations – which saw 1,400 residents taking part – the scheme was largely welcomed by the public with 71 per cent of comments being positive.

READ MORE: Massive Slough Canal Basin plan adds more homes

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However, an overview and scrutiny panel criticised the plans for being too dense and recommended the buildings should be scaled back by two-storeys.

If planning is approved, construction could start next July with an estimated completion date of December 2023.

Slough town centre

Last but not least is the massive masterplan to radically change Slough town centre as we know it in the next 15 years into a ‘beautiful and vibrant’ place to live and work.

The ambitious Slough regeneration framework plans were presented to both scrutiny and cabinet in September where it sets out to deliver a ‘21st Century town centre’ with an emphasis on making the centre ‘pedestrian-friendly’.

This means the plans will mainly focus on improving footpaths and cycle routes/lanes, public transport infrastructure, and links to different parts of the centre such as Windsor Road, Brunel Way, etc. for pedestrians to easily cross to.

A number of changes could happen in multiple streets such as upgrading or adding upgraded pedestrian facilities and connections in the High Street, Brunel Way, Petersfield Avenue, Wellington Street, and more.

READ MORE: Ambitious plans may change Slough town centre in 15 years

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It also planned to add a mix of 7,400 flats and homes ranging from family and affordable dwellings in an area known as the ‘square mile’ – which spreads across the town centre.

The major schemes contributing to the gargantuan number includes the former Horlicks Factory site, the previously mentioned Akzo Nobel site, Slough Gas Works, and more.

A myriad of thousands of square metres of offices, shops, leisure, cultural spaces, schools, gyms, doctor surgeries, cafes, hairdressers, bars, restaurants, and dentists will also be thrown into the mix to “support the increasing number of people that will be living in the centre”.

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

Hugo Nowell, director at Urban Initiatives Studio, said at an overview and scrutiny meeting in September that Slough has a lot of developer interest and the firm is in discussions with the council around propositions and planning applications to make the framework plan into a reality.

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

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READ MORE: Slough could face housing shortfall of thousands

With these major schemes collectively creating thousands of homes in Slough, planning officers warned this is still not enough for SBC to meet its 15,460 housing target over a 16-year period.

This involves building an average of 966 accommodations a year.

If current plans don’t hit that threshold, there a few back up plans such as potentially releasing 10 green belt sites on the edge of the borough or adding thousands of homes in South Bucks, known as the northern expansion.