Comer Homes' radical plans for 3M buildingBy Hugh Fort
January 13, 2012
One of Bracknell’s most hated eyesores could be reduced to rubble in the summer if plans for an “iconic gateway” to the town are approved.
Comer Homes, owners of Winchester House in Bond Way, better known as the former home of 3M, have confirmed they are just weeks away from submitting the final plans for a spectacular development.
The plans for a block containing 311 flats, shops, restaurants and a gym will be submitted to Bracknell by the end of January.
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There is already planning permission in place for two new blocks on the site.
However, the company wanted to change the design as SOM Architects felt the two blocks would look too much like the current building.
The new design will be higher than the 3M block and includes underground parking. The plans also propose knocking down another eyesore, the adjoining car park, and replacing it with a new parking block.
If successful, the developer will also provide a new home outside the block for Bracknell Market as well as a large garden area both outside and on the roof of the development.
Robert Sheppard, senior engineer for Comer Homes, said: “We’re looking at providing an iconic building for north east Bracknell.
“At the moment, the big, ugly empty office gives a strong feeling of 1970s’ Bracknell.
“Our plans suggest demolishing it and replacing it with a modern building which will provide an iconic gateway to the new Bracknell.
“There is an application in place, but we felt the new blocks would look too much like the old ones and so we took them away and came up with this design.
“We want to move away from the wall effect the building provides.”
Firsas Hnoosh, architect for SOM architects, added: “We hope the building will start next year and will take around three years to complete, finishing in 2015.”
The rubble would be used as hardstanding for the development and the glass used to provide windows for the new flats.
The plans were on show to the public at the site of the derelict, empty office block on Thursday and Saturday last week.
Simon Light, who lives in Elderborough Close in Bullbrook, said: “The plans are certainly better than what’s here at the moment.
“My concern would be a lot of people living there and increasing the traffic and also whether there will be the demand for housing when it’s finished.”
Doreen Godling, of Horsneil Lane in Priestwood, added: “It’s so big, that’s one concern.
“But my husband and I are open-minded.
“We’re of the thinking that anything would be better than that horrible office block and even worse car park.
“I just hope if this is permitted it might kick-start the rest of the town centre redevelopment.”
Bob Gilbert and his wife Sue, from Kennel Lane in Priestwood, also had a look at the plans.
He said: “We think these plans are fabulous.
“That office block is a horrible eyesore, it’s been empty for years.
“There are far too many empty office blocks in Bracknell and perhaps more people will look to knock them down and build houses if this is successful.”