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An Approach to Renewal in Slough

An Approach to Renewal in Slough|Queensmere 2014|Slough images in 2004

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An Approach to Renewal in Slough

In December 1960, Slough Council asked the townspeople to comment on the features they felt were lacking in the Town Centre.

In 1964 a report was issued and of course the redevelopment of the town went ahead in the 1970s.

Suters Ltd in Slough owned a lot of the land that would form part of the new shopping centre. This was basically an orchard and garden behind the old shop before it was rebuilt.

The council made a compulsory purchase order that meant this land was sold off at a very good price for the Council."agricultural land value" Suters were asked to then extend the department store into the new shopping centre and in fact pulled out of the scheme in the early 1970s (see History of Suters Ltd - 1970s ) before selling to Owen Owen in 1978. The reading of this document is most interesting as a description of one of the photos says that takes in part of the old Elliman factory (they made Elliman's Embrocation) "No-one would gather from the picture here that an acre of this land is worth a fortune."

On this page is the plan from the 1960s. John Suter always thought they had placed the A4 "Wellington Street" dual carriage way in the wrong place and should have been on the other side of the railway line. Today of course it does make a physical barrier to the Bus Station and car park, maybe they should have compulsory purchased the old Licenced Victuallers School site where Tesco is today. LVS School did sell in the end and move to Ascot. The land would have been sold as at a "commercial price" and not at "agricultural land value" that Slough Council paid to Suters Ltd.

In the proposal document the High Street would be completely traffic free and there was no mention of buses using it.

In June 2014 it is a different picture. (See further down this page)

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Click on an image below to enlarge

Some of the wording in the document has been been typed up again as it is clearer than the original

In December 1960, Slough Council asked the townspeople to comment on the features they felt were lacking in the Town Centre, the provision of which would make it a better place to shop, trade and work in. Thus, opinions were sought on what feature, such as a squaqre or concourse, would do most to achieve a town centre of real and lasting practical value and aesthetic and cil significance.

All suggestions were taken into account in preparing the proposals outlined in this booklet.

These proposals have five main objectives:-

the ending of conflict between traffic and shoppers;

the provision of a road system satisfactory for through traffic and vehicles on local business:

the provision of convenient, adequate off-street car parks:

improvement of the shopping and commercial centre so as to give it a focal point; and

to rationaloise the area within the main roads by making clear divisions between the use of land for residential, shoppingt and businesws purposes.

Slough is on the eave of change. Its shopping centre is to be rebuilt. The new core of the town will bw designed by specialiswts in the light of the expressed wishes of the townspeople.

An assurance was given, following a public inquiry in 1960 into the Council's first plan, that before revised proposals were made final, an opportunity would be given to all residents and interested persons, to examine them in detail and make suggestions.

THIS booklet is meant to introduce the proposals in a way which is really understood. Here can be seen sufficient of the proposals for you to decided whether they amount to the sort of town centre you would like to have. '' Town Centre Map and Report 1964" now on sale, and the large-scale mode which will be on display during April.

YOUR views on the plan should be addressed to the Town Clerk. It is important that the writer is clearly identified and also any other citizens associated with an expression of opinion.

FIRST the facts must be understood and the problems they present be seen in perspective. Slough grew from a small town, at the turn of the century to an industrial centre with a population of nearly 85,000. Its shopping centre is an attraction to twice that number of people, an increasing proportion of whom own cars. The town has to be adapted to meet the demands of a motorised community.

BY forwarding considered views, individually or with others, you may join in a communal effort to make our town a place to enjoy and be admired.

MORE detailed information is available at the Town Hall, Bath Road, Slough.

A town centre is a place in which to shop, to meet, to congregate, perhaps to be entertained: it is the place to seek information, to do business, to relax and play. It is these days a place where people and traffic should be separated.

FOR our town centre to meet tese needs there has to be a lot of re-aarangenent. That is why the Council plans to rebuild an area in an entirely new manner, suitable for the latter decades of the twentieth century. The most important feature will be creation of a traffic-free shopping area between High Street and Wellington Street where everyone can shop under cover.

THESE proposals also involve the widening and improvement of Wellington Street; the closing of High Street to vehicles, the re-siting of some businesses and amenities and the provision of multi-storey car parks to serve the centre.

THERE will be new features of design for the buildings and roads, such as facilities for upper floor deliveries to shops, and covered arcades on the best contemporary lines.

THERE has been delay in presenting these proposals but during the last year or two great advances have been made in town centre panning techniques which will be of great value to our project.

TURNING our ideas into reality will not only be possible if this part of the town is reconstructed as a whole and this, in turn, will involve the exercise by the County Council and the Borough Council of powers granted to them by Parliament.

These were the days when there was room in the High Street for shoppers AND traffic. The scene on the right is at the junction of Chrurch Street in 1882. Slough then had a strongger cloaim to being a safety town; it's population then was fewer than 5,000.

Now the mixture of people and vehicles has created problems. Efforts to persuade pedestrians to keep to the left on pavements and crossings and conform to signals have not been wholly successful. Present arrangements are becoming unsatisfactory.

The town square, an attractive feature of the proposals, is planned for the junction of High Street and Chandos Street. On the right is a picture of the site as it was in 1905 and below we see it as it is now. Sixty years ago the boy in the knickerbockers could stand and stare and a horse and cart could face the wrong way without causing much ado. Now a photographer has to wait for a lull in the traffic before getting a picture like this one below.

The square would help to make shopping the pleasure it should be. And not only shopping, for it would provide the point where friends meet; where the community could circulate. There would be a new post office building, a public library and assembly rooms. And no traffic in sight; but people and shops, offices and trees and flowering bushes to brighten the scene.

Here is Chandos Steet and, on its west side, the former Elliman factory - a relic of an earlier age. To the right of it in the picture is the former Drill Hall which Sir James Elliman left in trust - now owned by the town.

Seen like this, during transition to clearance and following a period of demolition the area has little to commend it. But this is the site chosen for a splendid under-cover shopping arcade.

A shoppers' paradise, as seen on the left, robs houswives and salesmen of a few grumbles. The weather holds no worries; there are no motor fumes, no road hazards and little noise.

An attractive feature is the roof, designed to pass the maximum light.

No-one would gather from the picture here that an acre of this land is worth a fortune. In it we look westwards from telephone exchange in Wellington Street.

For every car in the car park there will have to be room for many more, and that means having a multi-storey park.

Instead of the conglomeration of uses of land in the area there must be a well-ordered pattern. This is what planning is all about.

A lofty view of the model on the facing page shows (top right) the three blocks of Slough College's separated from the Licensed Victuallers School in the right foreground by the proposed bus station and multi-storey car park. The fly-over extending Wellington Street can be seen passing over the sunken roundabout on the way to join Bath Road.

The junction of Curzon Street and William Street, despite this picture is generally choked with traffic. On the left is The Western public house and on the right Slough Working Men's Club partly screening St. Ethelbert's Church.

The scene has changed little during the past half-century. The impressiveness of the church should be greatly enhanced by a new setting, as can be seen on the facing page.

The artist who drew the impression (on the left) imagined he was emerging from a subway from William Street. It looks on the sunken roundabout beneath the fly-over taking the Wellington Street extension to meet the Bath Road.

PARLIAMENT has empowered local authorities to re-design entire areas effectively and seek in that way to avoid the less attractive features of town centres which have been developed piece-meal. Thus the advantages apparent in some new towns my be acheived here.

WITHIN the boundaries of a given area the Council can control change: building proposals must conform to a master plan. Compulsory purchase may be involved. Owners and occupiers of land and buildings have a right of objection.

SLOUGH Council sought in 1959 the powers to re-develop the centre of Slough and objections to its proposals were heard at a public inquiry held in the Spring of 1960.

THE Minister of Housing and Local Government made his decision known in the summer of that yar: he accepted the need for comprehensive redevelopment but asked for further consideration to be given to road and traffic aspects of the proposals. He thought that the fullest advantage was not being taken of the opportunities offered.

THE Minister indicated that when he had been satisfied on some points he would suggest modifications to the Council's original plans. These were received recently and objections to them (as this booklet goes to press) are being considered by him. The modifications refer to:-

(a) additional land needed for the Wellington Street project, including the major intersection in William Street;

(b) the construction of a multi-level shopping area to the east of William Street between High Street and Wellington Street;

(c) the elimination of shops north of Wellington Street and from the island site between High Street and Slough College; and

(d) the location of office, business and recreation uses on the remainder of the triangle site.

INSTEAD of three successive five-year periods proposed for the redevelopment it is now planned that the work be programmed in two five-year periods.

THE effect of these modifications is shown in the comprehensive development area map and programme overleaf; from which it will be seen that the construction of the new shopping area, the extension and improvement of Wellington Street, and the redvelopment of the triangle site should be substantially completed in the first five-year period of programme.

CONSULTANT ARCHITECTS : -

C.H. ELSOM & PARTNERS

COMMERCIAL CONSULTANTS :

GODDARD & SMITH

J.A. KING,BSc, A.M.C.S, M.I.Mun.E A.M.I Struct. E Borough Engineer and Surveyor

F.B. POOLET, F.R.I.B.A, F.R.I.C.S, A.M.T.P.I County Architect and Planning Ofrficer

The historical photagraphs of Slough in this brochure are reproduced by kind permission of the Slough, Windsor and Eton Express and C.H. Greville Ltd

The Comprehensive Development Area and Programme Maps are reproduced by kind permission of the Buckinghamshire County Council

This document has been in the personal archives of Philip Suter since it was produced by Slough Council

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Queensmere 2014

View towards St. Ethelbert's Church and old Slough College buildings from Queensmere multi-storey car park - June 2014

Above - Debenhams Slough rear entrance into Queensmere shopping centre and below the side of Debenhams in Queensmere shopping centre - June 2014

Below - Slough High Street - June 2014 - Buses are not allowed to pass along this section that takes in The Observatory and Queensmere shopping centres, W H Smith, Debenhams and Marks and Spencer is a pedestrianised zone.

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Slough in 2004 (images below do not enlarge)

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Source of images, unless otherwise stated - Suter family archives

 

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