The £450 million Heart of Slough project
is intended to become a leading European and national focus and cultural quarter for creative media information and communications industries by creating a mixed-use complex of world-class multi functional buildings, visual landmarks and an outstanding public space in the Thames Valley.The HeART of Slough
- Create a major cultural quarter and be a showcase and celebration of cultural diversity for multi-cultural talent and for sustainable community living.
- Encourage the retention of SME, freelance and micro-business talent in the Slough and the Thames Valley
- Become a centre of R & D excellence for the creative, information and communications sectors to ensure multi-media and new technologies become embedded within the area and stimulate a flourishing local economy to create jobs and wealth
- Contribute to meeting serious South East housing shortages, in particularly in social and family housing
- Regenerate an area which, although apparently economically buoyant, has suffered
long term long term decline to improve well being and prospects of the residents, particularly those from black and ethnic communities.
World-class urban renaissance and design will be a major feature of the initiative, bringing
creative, visual and commercial focus to a town, which has not been publicly ‘visible’ in the past hopefully giving it an international profile.
The mixed-use development is currently envisaged to take the form of a star, with an elevated central piazza rising from the two main sites across the current central roundabout to create an open-air amphitheatre for gathering, displaying public art, and cultural festivals, opening into a covered multifunctional space for performance, exhibition and film production at the bottom of a flagship building, the Creative Hub which is currently out to architectural competition.
The Creative Hub building which will become an iconic focus of the cultural quarter comprising the following physical spaces:
- Café, restaurant and retail at the base of the building link to Identities - a multicultural interactive space as a core feature of the creative hub, Identities will be the first UK focal point to profile people and cultures from the diverse range of UK communities. Focussing on multiculturalism and diversity, it will be an interactive and multidimensional experience, drawing on stories, memories and visual images of past and present, and encapsulating the visions and aspirations of the future Identities will reach virtually across the UK and globally.
- The Digital Village – a state of the art digital learning library offering front of house direct and e-information systems for voluntary, private and council services.
- The Enterprise Hub and Move on Space for ICT and creative industries integrating workstation and office accommodation for business innovation. Business Link Services include specialist business support and mentoring services for the specific needs of the new media start-up companies such as attracting venture capital.
- The Creation Space is home to the Creative Academy, a learning hub and centre of excellence for lifelong, digital and distance learning for creative industries and ICT. Information, communications technologies and stunning state of the art image projection facilities will be an integral part of the Creative Hub, as a ‘state of the art’ learning magnet, with interlinked streams of informal and formal learning.
A Healthy Living Centre
and facilities for older and young people are included in a second flagship building rising from the other side of the piazza entirely dedicated to housing with some retail facilities at the bottom of the building. A total of 800-1,000 housing units including innovative work-life housing provisions will be constructed within the development, creating a high quality urban living environment where people want to live, can afford to live, are able to access services from, and which adds to their quality of life. Setting the benchmark for future housing in Slough it should act as a catalyst for further high quality, high density, sustainable housing developments locally. The central piazza will then descend through external landscaped sanctuary gardens, staircases and slopes into three distinct quarters – the South West residential quadrant and a North East quadrant commercial and office quarter; and a North West quadrant - university quarter and possible international conferencing facilities.
Based on figures from similar regeneration projects such as Millennium Point, Cardiff, the Lowry Centre, Manchester and the Tate Modern, London, the Heart of Slough Project predictions include:
- Half a million projected direct use by adults, young people and companies.
- Catchment user increase to 4 million from current 30,000 commuters arriving in Slough daily.
- Employment increase through indirect generation of 5,000 –8,000 jobs over five years based on figures for similar buildings and developments and 1,000 jobs during construction and establishment.
- Rise in land/ residential values impact: unknown but predicted at 20% based on Tate Modern, London figures.
- Rise in visitors numbers : potentially 250,000 – 500, 000.
Previous projects have shown that iconic flagship buildings set around positive multi-functional locations flourish and continue to attract funding to them. Central spaces are often the most visible and dynamic indicators of local fortunes and local authorities now recognise the importance of improving the quality of economic, social and cultural life in towns and cities and of moving towards more sustainable urban centres.
Alongside London, the South East is the second most significant UK location for creative
and cultural economic activity both nationally and internationally. Its economy, worth £108 billion is growing more quickly than that of the UK. Slough's transport links close to the border of Greater London include the M4 and M40 motorways, proximity to worldwide connections via Gatwick, Luton and Heathrow including Terminal Five just fifteen minutes away by car and London’s Cross Rail link will provide direct access from the west of London to the City and the east. It makes Slough an ideal location for those working in "The City", but looking for affordable accommodation and as such it attracts a large number of young professionals and families alike.
The Heart of Slough offers a unique opportunity to redefine the design and standard of town centre living in Slough and will also help to provide better links to the High Street which itself is being revitalised as part of the £106,000 Art at the Centre visual revamp project. The Heart of Slough strategy aims to improve the quality of life within Slough making real inroads into physical regeneration which is key to the revival and future prosperity of Slough. Work is scheduled to start on site in 2007. Time for Ricky Gervais to move The Office!