Slough council could release greenbelt sites for family homes

James Bagley. Local Democracy Reporter

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A consultation to gather views on the council potentially building family homes on multiple greenbelt sites in Slough was given the go-ahead.

Senior councillors gave the thumbs up for officers to set up a public survey to get comments from residents on the possibility of releasing some greenbelt sites as the council searches for available land to build family housing.

Details of the consultation are being finalised, but it will take place over a six-week period before Christmas.

The borough is facing a housing shortfall of 5,000 and is running out of space to build new homes due to a ‘lack of brownfield sites’ to meet its growing population and demand.

Sites that the council considers to be ‘suitable’ include land at Upton Court Farm, land east of Rochfords Gardens, land to the rear of Opal Court, Wexham Street, and land east of Wexham Park Hospital.

Building homes on land south of Blenheim Road could be possible, but heritage objections the housing may cause to nearby Ditton Park Historic Park and Garden will have to be overcome.

The northern expansion – which the council seeks to add up to 10,000 homes in South Bucks – could remain an opportunity. Sites such as St Anthony’s Field and in the whole of Colnbrook have been ruled out.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting, Cllr James Swindlehurst (Lab, Cippenham Green), leader of the council, said he was 'not afraid' to hear residents’ views on possibly building on the greenbelt, but stressed Slough does need more family housing and the brownfield sites aren’t delivering that.

He said: “At the moment, we are seeking views. The one thing we can be quite confident about is that people will be pretty forthcoming in giving us their views the moment we put the consultation out.

“I think what we have to be really, really clear about is some part of this is assessing what is doing the least harm, what provides the potential housing in the strongest way, and therefore it is worth seeking peoples’ views to help inform that choice.”

However, the deputy leader, Cllr Sabia Akram (Lab: Elliman), had concerns if the housing will truly be affordable for residents if the council were to go ahead with releasing some sites.

Planning policy manager Paul Stimpson said these sites can only be released via the local plan where the council can get an agreed amount of housing mix, such as three-beds and four-bedroom homes, and will make sure between 30 and 40 per cent of the mix will be affordable and social housing.

The cabinet meeting took place on Monday, September 20.

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