04:53PM, Thursday 11 November 2021
Demolition is now underway for the former Hitachi HQ in Whitebrook Park in Lower Cookham Road.
The Japanese company’s European headquarters was on the site for 30 years but it outgrew its offices there.
Last month, plans to convert the HQ into 88 flats were refused by the council. This was one of a few rejected proposals for the site this year and last year. The latest proposals by developers Ashill Urban also included 120 car parking spaces, 18 visitor spots, and at least one cycle parking space per apartment.
As the plan was simply to convert the existing site from offices, it did not have to go through the full planning process – but instead, needed to meet certain conditions to get approved. The same is true of the demolition.
Permission to demolish the building was granted in April, under the condition that Hitachi sought permission to remove affected trees from the tree protection plan. Some trees close to the main office building would be removed as part of the demolition.
Hitachi applied to demolish the HQ before but this was refused because no one had completed an ecology survey – this examines what habitats and species exist at the site before a planning application is submitted.
As the site is adjacent to Battlemead Common, it may have been an ‘optimal habitat’ for a range of creatures.
“The building could host roosting bats (and) there is a risk that the proposals may impact upon priority habitat and protected and priority species,” Royal Borough officers wrote.
This time around, the ecological survey was completed and showed that the main building had ‘negligible potential’ as a habitat.
Demolition is now in progress, limited to the main building (out of seven buildings on site) and including the removal of asbestos roof tiles.
There will be displays at Windsor Racecourse and Legoland, local fireworks in Burnham and Twyford and smaller displays at schools in the Royal Borough.