Plans for a Staines Tower block of more than 300 homes have been withdrawn
The council has abandoned plans to build nearly 300 high-rise homes in Staines as it considers the future of development on two key sites. The decision to withdraw planning applications on the Oast House and Thameside House sites comes after the authority abandoned plans to build affordable housing and housing in the area.
A planning application for 35 new apartments as part of phase two at Benwell House in Sunbury will also be withdrawn by Spelthorne Borough Council. On Monday, November 6, members of the council’s development subcommittee voted to withdraw planning applications for the three sites.
Four applications on council-owned land have been put on hold while the council makes a decision on whether or not to proceed with its project of new affordable council homes. The full council meeting on October 19 voted to end the council’s direct involvement in these housing schemes, which documents show will have a significant impact on the 1,700 residents currently on the council’s waiting list for housing.
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This includes key workers, young people and the most vulnerable in the region. Council leader, Councilor Joan Sexton (Spelthorne Independent Group, Ashford East) said at the full council meeting in October that the authority would continue to look to provide social and affordable housing through other routes. “This does not mean we are abandoning our commitment to meeting the housing needs of our residents,” Cllr Sexton said.
Plans for the Oast House site, including the Kingston Road Car Park, were for 184 one and two-bedroom affordable rental homes as well as a new NHS health and wellbeing centre. The council was also proposing to renovate the listed Oast House building for use as a creative arts, business and community space. While the plans for Thameside House were for 105 homes in two buildings, plus commercial and retail space.
The planning application for the multi-storey Ashford car park, which includes 42 homes over five floors and 52,000 sq ft of community and commercial space on the ground floor, will continue through the planning process. “Given the support of the local council and this committee for the current scheme, it is recommended that this matter progress to the identification stage,” meeting documents said.
Officers who recommended the other three applications be withdrawn said this meant the future of the sites could be reconsidered in order to make plans for mixed-use developments that would follow criteria set out in the city council’s local plan. The plans for Oast House and Thamesside House have been scaled back after consultation periods and “political and public objections” during planning applications.
Giving these sites “certain planning” will help remove development risks and secure higher financial returns, officials said. One report said: “A site that has been refused planning approval creates greater risk and uncertainty and therefore could have a negative impact on financial returns.”
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