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Redevelopment of former Imperial House site given go-ahead by planning inspector

A five-storey office block and 217 flats look set to be built on Windsor’s former Imperial House site following a decision by a planning inspector.

Developer Salmon Harvester Properties (SHP) sought permission for the development in Alma Road last year.

But after the Royal Borough failed to reach a decision by the agreed time, the developer lodged an appeal with the planning inspectorate.

A public inquiry took place at Windsor Racecourse in March, with the council’s legal team arguing that the plans would have a detrimental impact on the character and appearance of the area if approved.

But planning inspector Michael Hetherington disagreed with a number of the arguments made against the development and upheld the appeal.

His decision letter said: “Bearing in mind that the site’s development would remove an unsightly area of vacant land, my conclusion on this main issue is that while the scheme would adversely affect the area’s character and appearance, the degree of resulting harm would be limited.”

During the inquiry, objectors to the plans raised concerns that inadequate parking at the site would lead to congestion on surrounding roads.

But the planning inspector said the 461 spaces met the council’s maximum parking standards for new developments.

He added that parking on nearby roads would be kept under control by the borough’s controlled parking zone.

Cllr David Coppinger (Con, Bray) cabinet member for planning at the Royal Borough said: "The Royal Borough development management panel rejected this planning application based on our view that the proposed development would affect the character and appearance of the area.

"While we are disappointed by the outcome we respect the Inspectors decision and understand that the national housing shortage means that difficult choices sometimes need to be made to be made.”

David Eglise, who spoke as an objector at the inquiry, added: “There were many things not weighted in our favour, including the council’s line of defence and their feeble reasons for refusal.

“However we should take many lessons for future challenges. Unfortunately allowing this monstrosity to be built will be another blight on our beautiful historic town despite thousands of signatories and hundreds of objections from residents and local institutions.

“We all tried our best, but it was always an uphill battle to get the result everyone wanted.”

The developer has made two applications for costs against the Royal Borough but a decision on this is yet to be decided.

Work on the development must commence within the next three years.

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