Agenda item

Slough Local Plan Annual Monitoring Report 2022/2023


The Committee received a report that informed Members about the results of the annual planning policy monitoring for 2022/23, covering the period 1st April 2022 to 31st March 2023, which included information on housing, employment, retail and the environment.  Local planning authorities had a statutory duty to produce and publish such a report and the main purpose was to monitor Local Plan policies and record key statistics on issues such as new development in the town.


Members noted the additional information in the Amendment Sheet that had been requested by the Chair, however, Members were asked to set aside the figures stated for Section 106 planning obligations and the confirmed figures would be circulated in due course to committee members and included in the final version to be published on the Council website.


Officers summarised the key headline figures for 2022/23 including that 322 net additional dwellings had been completed during the year of which 183 were ‘affordable’ housing, mainly due to those provided in the Horlicks development.  The annualised Local Housing Need figure was 825, therefore the level of completions was significantly below that assessed need.  A further 1,121 dwellings were  under construction and 1,659 consented but not started.  This figure did not include the AkzoNobel site.  100% of the completions this year were on brownfield sites and 94% were flats.  The housing trajectory to 2040 currently showed a shortfall in future years.


In relation to employment land there had been a small net rise in floorspace last year but the past trend was a reduction in floorspace.  Office floorspace take up was low and there was a significant amount of supply in the town.  Data centres dominated completions and consented schemes in the pipeline.  A new Simplified Planning Zone (SPZ) for the trading estate was being prepared.  The retail centres vacancy survey carried out in February 2023 showed an overall vacancy rate of 22% in Slough town centre, but much lower levels in district centres such as Farnham Road (2%) and Langley (2%).  Members asked a number of questions about the current position regarding the proposed redevelopment of the Queensmere shopping centre.  The Chief Planning Officer summarised the wider factors driving retail vacancy rates in town centres and updated on the planning position regarding Queensmere application.  It was noted that the Council was ready from a planning perspective to work with the developer to bring the scheme forward.  The deadline to complete the Section 106 Agreement had been extended once and was due to expire again.  In response to a request from the Chair that Members receive an update on the S106 timing, the Chief Planning Officer stated that it would be included in quarterly updates on S106 to the committee.


The Committee discussed several other aspects of the report including the importance of retaining employment land to support jobs and prosperity in Slough; the Local Plan process; and timeline for the SPZ for the trading estate.  The process and indicative timeline for the Local Plan was summarised and it was noted that it would be a lengthy and costly process starting with the evidence base.  Members would be updated and engaged at key points in the process.  In relation to the SPZ, this was an executive decision for Cabinet and a paper had been received by Cabinet in March 2023.  Work was ongoing with SEGRO and Members of the committee would be briefed in due course.


At the conclusion of the discussion the committee agreed the recommendations.


Resolved –


(a)  That the results of the Annual Monitoring Report 2022/23 be noted.


(b)  That the Annual Monitoring Report 2022/23 be published on the Council’s website, subject to the inclusion of the information in the Amendment Sheet and confirmation of the financial figures relating to Section 106 contributions.

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