The Slough Central site sits at the heart of Slough Town Centre. The site is currently predominantly retail, incorporating two shopping centres The Queensmere and the Observatory (The Queensmere Observatory) and covers an area of 14 acres – around the size of 7 football pitches.
The shopping centres were built in the 1970s and early 1990s respectively, and were an important indicator of Slough's growth during these times. However, the centres have now fallen behind the times and has suffered from the global challenges created by lifestyle changes and consumers favouring online retail. At present, the routes and connections through the centres between the high street and train station are poor, and the buildings are coming to the end of their useful life.
This creates an opportunity to redevelop this key part of Slough, bringing a mix of uses and activities, and contributing substantially to the future of the town centre.
A key consideration in the approach will be ensuring that the plans support Slough's future recovery from unprecedented effects of Covid-19.
It is crucial that the emerging vision and plans for Slough Central considers both the area and community’s heritage, along with the future of the area.
The town’s history is rooted in a strong manufacturing base and a strong sense of community is visible across and within the diverse community living, working and spending time in Slough.
However, Slough has experienced a great deal of change in the last few decades becoming a destination for tech companies from across the world. Slough’s business parks host many international technology and pharmaceutical companies, but also encourage and supports small and independent businesses.
Much of this is driven by Slough’s existing and proposed transport infrastructure including faster links to London once Crossrail is delivered. Slough is already well connected to Heathrow Airport via bus, train and car.
As a result, Slough has earned a reputation as Britain’s second ‘start-up capital’. However, the benefits of this economic activity, largely focused around the Slough Trading Estate, have not been equally felt across the population. As a result, there is significant inequality in Slough, with some communities facing substantial social and economic disadvantage.
The redevelopment of this key site in the town centre aims to create long-lasting economic growth that benefits a wide range of people in Slough, and this is embedded in the vision for the site.
As the proposals for Slough Central are developed, we are committed to engaging with the diverse population of Slough. We are speaking to different community groups that represent the diversity of the town, as well as ensuring local residents can give the Slough Central team continued to feedback.
With this reputation, Slough has become the youngest city in the UK, with an average age of 34.1 (according to reporting by Centre for Cities).
Slough is the most ethnically diverse area in the UK, outside of London. The town is built on immigration, with people coming to Slough since the 1920s in search of work. As a result, Slough benefits from rich cultural diversity.
The plans for the Queensmere Observatory site are being developed as a ‘masterplan’. A masterplan seeks to establish a vision and framework for development across large scale and complex sites, such as the Slough Central site.
An outline planning application will be submitted to Slough Borough Council. This would set out the key principles of future development on the site – range of uses and heights, range of floorspace, routes, links and spaces and a broad plan for where the buildings could be located.
Developing an outline application in this way will allow us to work with local people and Slough Borough Council to bring forward a complete vision for the site, which then allows further detailed designs to come forward in line with the vision and the principles established, while responding to needs and demands at the time.