A LARGE new development which could change the face of Marlow town centre has received the backing of the town council after members studied the plans.

Shanly Homes wants to build knock down the office complex on the corner of Spittal and Dean Streets and replace it with a three storey mock-Georgian building containing flats, shops and restaurants.

Plans for the project have divided opinion since an application was submitted to Wycombe District Council in February.

Objections have been made to the traditional design "apeing" classical architecture, while neighbours have complained about the overdevelopment of the site, which would also include four three bedroom houses to the rear.

But Marlow Town Council’s planning committee, which acts as a consultee on planning matters, has raised no objections to the proposal Committee chairman

Cllr Ian Wernham said the members were in favour of the change of use from office to residential, and that complaints over the extra traffic were unfounded.

He said: "Most of us were quite happy with the application, I think the general feeling is that the building proposed would look better than what is there at the moment.

"Also, in a small way it would help to meet some of the housing demand we have without encroaching onto green fields.

"We looked at the number of dwellings and in terms of the number of people it is less than the office block could hold so it wouldn’t make much difference overall.

"Also, if people are living there then they will be coming and going at different times and not all leaving the office at 5.30 like cars from the offices."

Shanly Group mainatins the current Windsor House office block is "dated" and there has been no uptake from tenants since it was vacated in ...

The plans would see 14 new homes in total, including retail and/or restaurant space on the ground floor.

But despite support from the town council, the new building continues to receive criticism from neighbours and town organisations.

The Marlow Society is the latest to voice its concerns, with chairman Martin Blunkell writing to WDC to object over increased traffic, parking problems and noise ditrubances for the new residents from nearby pubs.

And a major worry for the society centres on the hazards caused by refuse lorries parking outside the block, which is located next to two roundabouts and two zebra crossings.

He said: "We are bombarded in the application with statistics which suggest that traffic flows will be fine. In the morning the queue into the town from the north and east will impact on egress which was not a problem when Windsor House was offices having a morning ingress only.

"In spite of showing how the site allows the entry of a waste collection lorry do we really think the contractor will waste time backing in or turning on site. Of course not! A major obstruction will be created on the corner of a normally congested roundabout."

Former WDC leader Alex Collingwood, who represents Marlow, has raised fears over the size and appearance of the building, and has requested the plans to be discussed in full by the planning committee.

Shanly Group has defended the criticism of its large project, saying both the appearance and layout of the new build has been carefully considered.

Nathan Craker, development manager told the MFP: "We have given a great deal of thought to the design of the new development on the site of Windsor House; having taken on board both the heritage and vernacular architecture of the area we are very proud of the design our team has developed for the scheme.

"We take on board all the comments made in response to our application and look forward to hearing feedback from Wycombe District Council in due course."