In 2018 Slough has celebrated being named the best place to work in the UK for a second year running (Glassdoor 25 Best UK Towns & Cities to Work In). So, Slough Urban Renewal (SUR) reflects on some of the major milestones it has reached over the last year and celebrates all that’s good about this vibrant and changing place.
In 2018 alone, SUR has delivered some major projects. From enhancing a number of the town’s schools to delivering some impressive leisure facilities, and much needed housing for Slough’s residents, there has been a lot of positive change.
Creating more school places for Slough’s children
Over the last year, SUR has delivered some significant improvements across four local schools, increasing their capacity and improving their facilities – works at Claycots Primary School, St Mary’s Primary School, Priory SEN and Wexham Secondary School were all completed in 2018. These improvements have provided the schools with modern new facilities, but also allowed them to offer more places to more children. Claycots has gone from a two-form entry to a four-form entry school, while the project at Wexham Secondary School will enable it to increase its current 5.5 form entry (FE) to an eight-form entry - significantly increasing the number of school places available and providing better places to learn.
Over the four projects, 65 new classrooms have been created in addition to new sports halls, study areas and staff accommodation. Along with a standalone single storey SEN resource base at the Priory, the school has benefitted from a new sensory room, meeting rooms and an external play space, while Wexham Secondary School and its pupils are now enjoying a new three-storey teaching block, with 6th form centre and library. All of this has been delivered through SUR and forms part of the Council’s multi-million-pound investment in primary and secondary school buildings to provide enough places for Slough’s current and future young people.
Getting more people, more active, more often
Slough’s leisure offering has been greatly enhanced. In 2018, SUR delivered the major extension and refurbishment of the Ice Arena (which opened to the public in April), the Salt Hill Activity Centre (which opened in May) and the Langley Leisure Centre (which opened in July). New facilities at the Ice Arena include a fully refurbished ice rink, café, climbing wall, gym, party zone and changing facilities. While works at Salt Hill Park have seen the building transformed from a bowling alley into a state-of-the-art indoor activity centre. New facilities here include a six-lane ten-pin bowling alley, trampoline park, soft play, indoor high ropes and caving centre. In addition, Langley Leisure Centre is now able to offer visitors access to a significantly larger, 100-station fitness suite and renovated group exercise studios, in addition to a newly tiled swimming pool and regenerated spa area, with steam room and spa pool. All these new leisure facilities have been proving popular among residents, as well as attracting visitors from further afield.
Helping Slough to meet the need for more homes
SUR has also made significant headway in the delivery of new homes within the town. Wexham Green, SUR’s second residential development of 104 family homes is now nearing completion and has been selling well, with the final few homes to be released for sale in early in 2019. Its ‘combined sites’ initiative, which is designed to directly meet the Council’s need for more housing within the borough continues apace. Through a portfolio of small sites, SUR will build over 130 homes across 25 sites, transforming a series of disused, small sites into new council housing. In 2018 alone, phase two reached completion, having delivered 16 new dwellings, phase three (25 homes) is now well underway and works on phase four have just commenced for another 36 homes.
Award winning schemes for Slough
As recognition for some of the projects SUR has already delivered for the town, the partnership has secured some notable awards. In 2018 SUR’s Milestone – its first ever residential development, was shortlisted for a Thames Valley Property Award. Arbour Park, the new community sports facility, was a double Regional winner at the Local Authority Building Control building excellence awards and SUR won the new RESI Joint Victories Award – which aims to celebrate the very best in joint venture schemes.
However, at SUR the focus is not just on delivering great projects but about giving back and having a positive impact in the communities, where it operates. As such, it aims to make a difference to Slough residents by supporting community initiatives and events and providing additional employment and training opportunities. Over the last year alone, SUR has created 25 apprenticeships, provided over 800 local school pupils with ‘Build up your Business’ days and reached over 1,000 pupils via its numerous Career Information, Advice and Guidance initiatives.
What’s more, other Local Authorities are looking to emulate the partnership model, which has been achieved by Slough Borough Council and Morgan Sindall Investments Limited. In 2018, SUR hosted 11 visits from other Local Authorities, keen to see The Curve, Ice Arena and new schools and homes, while exploring the benefits of strategic property partnerships.
Andy Howell, General Manager at Slough Urban Renewal (SUR), said: "There is no doubt that 2018 has been a great year for both SUR and for the town. The new and improved leisure offerings give residents access to superb new facilities, encouraging more active and healthy lifestyles while making Slough a leisure destination in its own right. As we work alongside the Council to address the current housing shortage, we have continued to deliver more new homes (both private and affordable), as well as significantly enhancing a number of the schools, enabling them to offer more places to local children. At SUR, we are closely aligned with the Council’s strategic regeneration objectives and as we move into 2019, with many exciting commercial projects in the pipeline, our focus remains very clear, to encourage people to live, work and stay in Slough."
Leader of the council, Cllr James Swindlehurst, added: “This is a fantastic list of achievements and confirms SUR as one of, if not the, most effective local development partnerships in the country. Whether it's building homes for our residents, improving and expanding school facilities for our children or regenerating Slough by transforming sites with iconic buildings SUR sits at the heart of our plans to move the town forward.”
In 2019, SUR has a number of new projects, which are set to further enhance the town for the benefit of its residents and visitors alike. With plans afoot to deliver new hotels, residential and commercial space on the former library site, a significant regeneration project planned to transform the existing Slough canal basin and further residential and commercial projects entering planning, there is still plenty to look forward to.