Demolition of existing building - construction of a new Grade A office block with associated cafe, communal roof terrace, car parking, new pedestrian access and landscaping.
We objected to the previous application for this site last year - 19/01660 which was refused. The reasons for refusal were that the height, bulk and mass of the building were out of scale and detracted from the character of the location. The scale, appearance and proximity to the Grade 2 listed Wilderness buildings caused substantial harm to the setting. We agreed with those reasons - in particular the predominance of an isolated 10 plus storey office block to the north of St Cloud Way.
This proposal is a significant improvement. The height has been reduced by 11 metres - by removing two floors plus the rooftop parapet. The footprint of the building has been reduced and the building line has been stepped back on the western and northern frontages. Consequently, the visuals within the Design and Access Statement illustrate a much improved aspect of the listed buildings when viewed from the southwest.
However, 8.5 storeys is still too dominant. The application states that the proposed height is lower than The Point which is diagonally opposite on the Cookham Road roundabout. However, The Point is the eastern part of a series of three buildings on the town centre side of the ring road. St Cloud Gate is an isolated tower on the north side. The application also states that the upcoming Countryside development of the Magnet/Holmanleaze site will be of a similar height to the proposed St Cloud Gate. Early indications of this scheme are more modest in height. A further reduction of two storeys would be more in keeping with the setting.
The introduction of a cafe facility on the ground floor is to be welcomed as it will create a focal point of interest on the north side of the ring road, to the benefit of nearby residents and visitors to the two doctors’ surgeries. Parking provision is important in attracting new office tenants and it is feared that the proposed spaces may be inadequate - although this would be improved if there were two less floors of office space.