Details have emerged of the proposed redevelopment of the Queensmere shopping centre in Slough – the first part of a massive regeneration scheme.

British Land, on behalf of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, which owns both the Queensmere and Observatory shopping centres, plans to submit a planning application in October to redevelop the Queensmere section of the site as part of its mixed-use Slough Central scheme.

Its plans include:

  • Up to 1,600 new homes – providing a mix of one, two and three bedroom units for private sale and rent with flexibility to include elderly accommodation if there is demand
  • Up to 12,000 sq m of flexible space for future shops, restaurants, community and education facilities
  • Up to 3,750 sq m of space for a potential boutique cinema, live music venue or bars
  • Up to 40,000 sq m of offices
  • A new town square next to The Curve and St Ethelbert’s Church, with new spaces to shop, eat and socialise.
  • A new urban park next to the existing HTC building.
  • A landscaped ‘community heart’ space and local square in the centre of the site.
  • New green routes and connections
  • Up to 550 car parking spaces for residents will be provided either under the podium of the new residential blocks or as a multi-storey car park.

The outline planning application proposes a cap on future building heights on the site, this includes:

  • Up to seven storeys fronting the High Street
  • Up to six storeys fronting St Ethelbert’s Church
  • Between three and 19 storeys across the remainder of the site – with the taller buildings towards Wellington Street and the centre of the site.

Semana Nota, community manager at British Land, said: “We are delighted to be sharing our updated proposals for the Queensmere shopping centre with the community and look forward to submitting these to the council shortly. We have carefully considered the feedback we have received to date from local people and look forward to continuing to engage with the community throughout the planning process.”

British Land anticipates a decision by Slough Borough Council in Summer 2022. Subject to gaining consent, its first  reserved matters application would then be submitted in Q3, 2023 and demolition of the Queensmere would follow in Q1, 2024. Work on phase one of the scheme would start in Q4 that year and the first homes, along with the town square, would be delivered in Q4, 2026.

The team on the project includes Squire & Partners as architect, Gillepies as landscape architects, Gardiner & Theobold as project manager, Kanda Consulting as engagement consultant, Icenci Projects as planning consultant, WSP as transport consultant and Turley as heritage and townscape consultant.

David Jones, managing director of Thames Tap partner Evans Jones property and planning consultancy, said: “Our town centres have changed forever post-pandemic – they can no longer be just about retail, that’s for certain. Trying to retain active frontage at ground floor level is imperative and then above that, virtually anything goes. That can be retirement, health, education, fitness and leisure, residential and I think all of that needs to come into the mix.

“If we can create developments in which people want to live, work and play, this can only serve to revitalise our town centres and give them a beating heart once again.

“The Queensmere redevelopment is a perfect example of doing just that. Retail is just one part of the jigsaw and if you get the other bits right, retail will follow.

“Landlords, businesses and local authorities need to come together and create a vision for town centres. They are unable to achieve such a scale of change on their own, it will require public sector intervention and cannot be left to the market alone.”

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