Slough evaluates housing need

Slough Borough Council has begun work to understand how much and where the rising demand for housing in the borough can be accommodated, after a Berkshire-wide study found more than 900 homes a year will be needed.

The publication of the Berkshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) has identified a need for 2,015 homes per year in the county’s eastern housing market area, which covers Slough, Windsor & Maidenhead and South Bucks.

Slough’s share of this need is 927 homes per year, which exceeds the 550 homes the council is already committed to in its five year plan (2014-19).

Slough Borough Council will now work with its neighbours in South Bucks and Windsor & Maidenhead to decide whether the 2,015 homes needed in the eastern housing market area should be divided up in a different way.

This will feed into the new Local Plan, currently being drawn up.

Councillor James Swindlehurst, deputy leader and commissioner for neighbourhoods and renewal, said: “We are already aware of the urgent need to supply more housing to deal with Slough’s existing and expanding needs.

“Rising rents in the private sector are evidence of the demand and we expect further increases with the arrival of Crossrail.

“Our plan up to 2020 already presumes we need greater supply than identified in our most recent planning documents – but this study suggests we need even more.”

Other areas examined by the SHMA include the need for affordable housing, and how much specialist housing is needed for specific groups, such as older people and students.

“We are committed to supplying more affordable homes for local people but clearly as an already densely-built urban place with few clear sites, there are limitations on what we are able to supply,” said Councillor Swindlehurst.

“My cabinet colleagues and I will look in detail at the findings of the housing needs assessment and use these to feed into our plans, on which work has already begun,” he added.

“The SHMA will form the basis of our discussions with South Bucks and Windsor & Maidenhead, who we’re keen to work with to find a solution.”

Slough Borough Council is already building new homes – in Britwell, Chalvey and Wexham – and officers are working out how to make the best use of other potential housing sites.

Slough Regeneration Partnership – a joint venture between Slough Borough Council and Morgan Sindall Investments Ltd – is also upping its resources to allow for greater focus on developing smaller residential sites.

The council is also adapting its planning and housing policies to reflect the increasing demand.

The SHMA has been produced with the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership and the other Berkshire local authorities.

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