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Open space near Sawyers Close could be sold off to developer

James Bagley. Local Democracy Reporter

Open space near Sawyers Close could be sold off to developer

An area of open space in Windsor could be sold off to developers to build affordable homes, according to a report.

The ex-council housing estate, known as Sawyers Close and consists of 192 homes, could be either refurbished or redeveloped by the landowner’s Abri Housing Group to modernise the 1960s flats.

On the site, 173 properties are social rent, 16 are affordable rent, and three are leaseholders under the right to buy scheme.

No decision has been made if the housing group will refurbish the whole building or redevelop the homes as it will require a consultation with tenants and key stakeholders to see what the preferred option is.

However, Abri Housing Group are asking the Royal Borough if they could develop on the nearby open space, which is owned by the council, to build new affordable homes and temporarily transfer the existing tenants to them whilst the major work at Sawyers Close is undertaken.

Senior councillors, who will convene at Thursday’s cabinet meeting, have been recommended to approve the disposal of the open space land to Abri.

According to the report, the council will need to commission a report to confirm the value of the land, but states “In the case of the sole use as affordable housing, this valuation is likely to generate a nil value.”

If approved, the council could give the land to Abri by the end of June 2022.

The plans to build affordable housing on the land will be subject to a planning application.

Under the council’s own policies, open spaces are protected from development unless an ‘exceptional circumstance’ arises.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, councillor Andrew Johnson (Con: Hurley & Walthams), leader of the council, viewed the development as an ‘exceptional circumstance’ to develop on the open space land.

He said: “If there were exceptional circumstances, I would view this as an exceptional circumstance to facilitate the redevelopment of an existing affordable housing estate and provide more affordable housing – I would definitely view that as an exceptional circumstance.”

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