REDEVELOPMENT at the former Montem leisure centre site is to go ahead despite concerns raised by Chalvey councillors and residents.

 Members of the planning committee approved plans to transform the demolished leisure centre into 212 homes with over 200 car parking spaces, including electric vehicle charging points.

There will be 11 apartment buildings, arranged in blocks of three and four-storeys in height plus one small two-storey block.

Twenty-five two-storey houses are also set to be built and they will be mostly semi-detached plus ‘a few’ detached and terraced homes.

READ MORE: New Slough homes could be built on demolished Montem Leisure Centre site

The housing mix includes:

  • 68 one-bed apartments
  • 119 two-bed apartments
  • 25 three-bed houses

Planning officers managed to agree with the developers on having 20 per cent affordable housing at the site, equal to 42 homes – which goes against the affordable housing guidance of 35 per cent.

The developers, Slough Urban Renewal – a property partnership between the council and Morgan Sindall Investments - say this due to viability issues and high costs of decontaminating the land as well as build costs.

Objectors feared approving this scheme would cause mass congestion and an overspill of parking to neighbouring streets.

Slough Observer: The layout of houses on the former Montem lesiure centre siteThe layout of houses on the former Montem lesiure centre site

This was the concern of Chalvey councillor Mohammed Sharif (Independent) who said this might be breaking parking policies the council has set for itself.

He said: “It’s setting the wrong precedent. If we aren’t going to conform to our own planning policy, then we might as well change the policies rather than breaking them every time.

“The planning policy clearly states outside the town centre – where the site is – two bed-room flats or houses should have two spaces and one-unit should have one space. So that’s clearly breaking the council’s policy.

“We’ve been rejecting many planning applications based on this and today we’re setting a precedent that we’re immune to this policy.”

Campaigners also feared the overcrowding of the area, an increase of anti-social behaviour that may result from this scheme, and the loss open green spaces.

However, councillor Pavitar K. Mann (Labour: Britwell and Northborough), lead member for planning and regulations, said: “This site does achieve so many of the strategic objectives of us as councillors and the council.

READ MORE: Slough councillor battling Covid-19 in hospital wished well by members

“We’ve had no strategic housing sites for many years. It is previously developed, it is a brownfield site in the main, and the scheme does seem to be providing much needed high-quality housing, including affordable housing – which does need to be given significant weight.”

But she did acknowledge the objectors' concerns, saying this is a “hotspot” for anti-social behaviour.

Planning officers added the scheme will have controlled parking zones on a few nearby streets to protect residents from a potential overspill of parking.

In disagreement, councillor Harjinder K. Minhas (Labour: Langley St Mary’s) said she wasn’t “happy” and “full of joy” with the 20 per cent affordable housing offer and the number of houses proposed.

Planning officer Howard Albertini said it was “disappointing” they couldn’t get any more affordable housing on the site and had to compromise – but they have to take into account the viability issues the developer may have.

Slough Observer: The Montem Leisure Centre back in 2012The Montem Leisure Centre back in 2012

A majority of panel members voted in favour of the application, with only councillor Dexter Smith (Conservative: Colnbrook with Poyle) against.

The meeting took place on Wednesday (January 13).

After the meeting ended, the leader of the council, councillor James Swindlehurst (Labour: Cippenham Green), tweeted: “Delighted that the total redevelopment of the former Montem Leisure Centre site was approved this evening. It will significantly improve Chalvey as a place by delivering much needed housing - prioritised for Slough residents & enhanced open space.”