A council backed joint venture is due to unveil proposals for one of the south east of England’s biggest regeneration projects, a Built Environment Networking event has heard.
Andy Howell. general manager of the JV, told BEN’s Thames Valley Major Development Plans event earlier this month, that the 10-acre site for the ‘Heart of Slough’ scheme had been successfully assembled.
He said that Slough Urban Regeneration, a local asset backed vehicle (LABV) joint venture between Morgan Sindell Investments and Slough council, is planning to develop 1400 homes, 250,000 sq ft of commercial space and around 50,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space in the scheme.
Howell said that the ‘Heart of Slough’ scheme would triple the development pipeline of the LABV, which had already seen its turnover double from £12m in 2015 to £27m last year, before further accelerating to £70m next year.
He said the vehicle’s other developments include a 104 new home development at Wrexham Green, where the first 18 affordable units are due to be allocated over the next few months.
Other projects in the SUR’s pipeline include a refurbishment and ‘significant extension’ of the town’s ice arena, including a gym and café, which should place Slough on the national ice hockey map when it opens in spring next year. Howell said.
And he said SUR was starting construction next year on two Marriot hotels and 62 flats on the site of the town’s former main library building, which will be complete in 2019.
Tim Smith MBE, chief executive of the Thames Valley Berkshire local enterprise partnership, said that its main focus was securing £1bn worth of financial backing for the Western Rail Link from the Great Western Rail line to Heathrow
He said that the link would reduce journey times from the Thames Valley to Heathrow to only six or seven minutes and cut in half the number of road trips along the route, with knock on benefits in terms of reduced CO2 emissions.
Smith said there were ‘no obvious land ownership issues’ holding up the project but that progress on the project was stymied by the absence of financial commitments to projects in Network Rail’s next planning period period running from 2019 to 2024,
“We have a scheme and preferred route, but we don’t have a  billion pounds to build it.”
He said that the LEP’s priorities also included ensuring the post-Brexit retention of international companies in the Thames Valley.
“This is not to scare monger but because those international companies are part of a significant supply chain that is important to local SMEs,” he said.
Turning back to specific projects, James Lazarus, head of property development at the Canals and Rivers Trust, outlined progress on the ‘Stoke Arm’ canal regeneration project in the town.
The trust is helping to develop 250-300 homes with a mix of retail and leis at ground floor level on the waterside site.
He said that the relocation of builder’s merchants Travis Perkins, which had occupied part of the site, was complete and that a professional team appointed to take forward the scheme.
Lazarus said the partnership was finalising discussions with Slough’s planning team on how much affordable housing should be included in the scheme as well as refining the mix and size of units with a view to submitting an application towards the end of this year or the beginning of 2018.
Slough council’s interim chief executive Roger Parkin said the authority’s ability to deliver its housing completion targets would rely on co-operation with neighbouring South Buckinghamshire building on a planned garden village.
And he warned that housing delivery depended on the continued ability to access eastern Europe construction labour in the area following Brexit.
“If they are not here, it’s going to be a real challenge.”