Bracknell Beeches development: reduction in the number of planned dwellings

Developers took the decision to reduce the number of flats included in Bracknell Beeches’ plans after fears the buildings were “too heavy”.

Plans were submitted by developers S2 Limited in August to demolish Bracknell Beeches’ seven office buildings and replace them with a total of 377 apartments, spread across seven towers.

During a Bracknell Town Council consultative planning meeting on Tuesday January 12, developers announced changes to the scheme and how it has been adapted to meet recommendations submitted in the meantime.

The scheme has now been amended to include 349 residential units instead of the original 377 which will consist of private and affordable studios, one bedroom and two bedroom apartments.

S2 Estates director Sam Berg said: “The ambition is that we can offer a range of unit sizes so that they don’t just give away the small units at affordable prices and there are has a good mix for people stepping on the housing ladder.

But councilors Alvin Finch (Conservative, Garth) and Paul Bidwell (Conservative, Priestwood) opposed the reduction in flats as developers also cut affordable housing to 13%.

Development planning consultant, Tom Vernon said: “We would have liked to provide the 25%, but the scale had to be scaled down to respond to the various comments that have been made over the past two plus years that we have gone through. . .

“This trip has had an impact in terms of the costs and revenues that the program can sustain in terms of infrastructure.”

The reduction in residential accommodation follows complaints about various aspects of the plan raised during a public exhibition.

Tim Chapman-Cavanagh, lead designer, explained: “The majority of the changes are happening along this boundary and that was to address some of the points that were raised by the case officer and his team.

“It was felt that the height of the three buildings A, B and C was slightly excessive in terms of the residents, so there is a drastic change from the heights we had before.”

Other issues that had been raised about the original bid include landscaping and the height of the tower at the entrance to the station.

The landscape strategy has been adapted to try to maintain as many mature trees as possible within the perimeter and to protect the biodiversity and habitat of the area. This came with working alongside their in-house landscaping team.

Mr Chapman-Cavanagh, lead designer, said: “The strategy provides a landscape buffer along the edge of the boundary and any mature trees around the site, and ensures that we retain as much as ‘it is physically possible.’

“We have adapted the scheme to address the technical issues that have arisen, but this has had the effect of reducing the amount of affordable housing it can provide on the site.

“It’s finely balanced, but what we’ve been able to keep in the schematic is a dedicated block that could be shared ownership or we could pepper them around the rest of the schematic.

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Planning consultant Mr Vernon added: “As far as the tower is concerned, there is an excellent opportunity to provide a point to mark the station and this has always been a centralized part of the project.

“We felt quite strongly, there is a real opportunity to put a really high quality piece of architecture at the train station and to mark the new entrance to the train station that the scheme would bring.

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