POLLUTION from two large data centre’s that could impact Slough town centre was questioned by councillors after pledges were made to hit zero-carbon in 20 years.

In August 2020, members on the planning committee gave international real estate company Panattoni outline planning permission to build 1,000 new homes, warehouses, and data centres at the former Akzo Nobel site in Wexham Road.

This means a basic outline of the development has been approved in principle, but the details of the plans will be voted on by councillors at later planning meetings.

Yondr Group, developer and operator of data centres, came forward to begin phase one by submitting a ‘reserved matters’ application to approve the designs for the sites appearance, layout, scale, and landscaping on the northern part where the commercial units are.

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This includes erecting two three-storey data centres, with diesel generators, offices, lorry loading bays, 95 car parking spaces, 40 cycle spaces, storage, and PV panels.

Speaking at a planning committee on Wednesday, September 15, Robert Smith, global head of design at Yondr, said they have worked ‘closely’ with planning officers to ensure their proposal was made ‘right’ for the site, resulting in an approval recommendation.

However, Slough town centre ward councillor Christine Hulme (Lab) had concerns about further data centres being built given those buildings pump out large amounts of CO2 and the council has adopted a strategy to become carbon-neutral by 2040.

She said: “Whilst I accept that outline planning permission has been given by the council for this development, what I would like to hear from the applicant is what mitigations and further work they can do in light of the amount of C02 emissions that will be emitted from the site and whether or not any more environmental collaborative working with the council can take place in particular to offset the carbon footprint.”


The two data centres are the two big buildings to the north of the site

The two data centres are the two big buildings to the north of the site


But planning officers say the climate change policy approved in July requiring a certain amount of carbon reduction hasn’t translated into planning policy yet.

They also said the committee “missed their opportunity” to explore more climate options into the centre’s heat recovery systems during the outline planning stage last year.

A planning officer said: “It is fair to say we have been in good, positive dialogue with the applicant about future schemes and how we meet our future.”

Independent Cllr Haqeeq Dar (Wexham Lea) said the redevelopment is “not a good start to Slough” after witnessing lorries driving up and down Broadmark Road, Hazelmere Road, and Wexham Road for the last six months, causing “hell” for residents.

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He said: “This is a prime example of them not giving any consideration to the local residents.”

But planning officers say this has nothing to do with the new applicants and a management plan for the previous applicants has not yet started – but will make sure lorries don’t go through those roads by speaking to the previous applicants and the construction party.

The application was approved unanimously by councillors on the planning committee.