Controversial plans to build 349 new homes in Bracknell have been approved by the council despite ‘grave concerns’ by residents. 

Councillors said the plans, which officers had recommended for approval, were “exciting” before they were voted through at last week’s planning committee meeting. 

The Bracknell Beeches development, situated on Old Bracknell Lane, will see the construction of seven new buildings – ranging from four to 16 storeys and comprising 349 residential units – as well as 294 sqm of retail and community floor space, following the demolition of the existing building. 

The developer, S2, made changes to the original submission following concerns raised around the height of the southern buildings and a lack of privacy, which subsequently reduced the number of homes down from 377. 

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This meant a reduction in the number of affordable homes, with the new scheme containing just 43 – 12.3 per cent – less than half of the 25 per cent minimum target outlined in the borough’s local plan. 

The vice-chair of the committee, Councillor Michael Brossard, said what was proposed is “entirely appropriate” and whilst he “appreciates” the shortfall in affordable housing, the “viability test has been undertaken”. 

Most of the flats, 190, will be two-bedrooms, but there will also be 146 one-bedroom flats and 13 studio apartments. 

The proposal also includes designs for 401 car parking spaces – made up of 349 residential spaces and for 38 visitors – 672 cycle spaces, electric vehicle charging points, and associated landscaping, as well as a new access to Bracknell train station from the south side.  

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The chair of the committee, Cllr Colin Dudley, said the plan is an “imaginative use” of the brown field site, which is currently occupied by old two-storey office buildings – many of which are now vacant. 

He specifically highlighted the “additional link” into the railway station and implementation of a shuttle bus service going to and from the town centre. 

Cllr Tony Virgo reiterated that it was an “exciting” project and concluded that “the benefits outweigh the negatives”. 

However, the application had 66 objections lodged against it, namely around the continued height of the buildings, the overall appearance and parking provisions, with just two comments in support of the plan. 

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A resident of Old Bracknell Lane, Dr Eleanor Sleep, said the fact that the council had “neglected to account” for the number of objections submitted “concerned [her] greatly” and urged the council to reconsider. 

The Bracknell Forest Society, an independent group that focuses on local development, welcomed the amendments but criticised the “overbearing” nature of the plans on existing residential areas. 

In contrast, another resident of Old Bracknell Lane said the development is an “excellent idea” and the new homes would help “solve the housing crisis” in the borough.