Meadows & Country Park

I’ve found out a little more about the Meadows; it would appear that a care home operator has acquired the site. The conclusion I draw is the obvious one; they intend on building a care home.

I’ve no idea why the path across the new country park hasn’t been done yet. I was assured it was going to have started by the end of May. I have sought an answer.

Control of the country park hasn’t yet been vested in WBC and at this stage, they are thinking of what to call it. I think the working title is Brookwood Farm Country Park. On the basis that the Brookwood Farm housing estate isn’t in Brookwood or Heathlands and the country park is, I think the name is inappropriate. Brookwood Country Park (the obvious choice) is already used in Knaphill on the other side of the A322, so that is ruled out.

WBC have asked the Brookwood and Bridley Neighbourhood Forum for some ideas. To that end, at the Brookwood School Fayre next Saturday, representatives of the BBNF will be on hand with a couple of surveys, one of which is asking for possible names and gauging popularity of various potential  names. Pop along and give your view.

Cheers.

Kevin

The Meadows and the Wessons Site

The Meadows is the old NHS building between the Esso garage and The Nags Head. It’s been unused for about three years. It’s become an urban exploring site for some, a hang out for others, a place to rob the copper piping of, and a site to vandalise for no reason by the unscrupulous.

I have, in the past, asked WBC if there was any chance it could be acquired and turned into key worker accommodation or flats for young people to rent. It’s finally been acquired and the boarding has been put up in preparation for development.

What I do know is that WBC haven’t acquired the site, and so I don’t have a clue who has bought it or what they intend on doing with it. We shall have to wait and see what sort of planning application comes forward.

Incidentally, it is officially in the Knaphill ward and not Heathlands so I don’t have much, if any influence. It used to be in the old Brookwood ward and is not in the Brookwood and Bridley Neighbourhood Area.

Some of you will remember the controversy around the Wessons site about three years ago.  As I’m sure many of you will be aware, the former Wessons site has been a blot on the village for many years. It was the most contaminated site in Woking Borough and the pollution it created was deadly to wildlife and a significant inconvenience and health hazard to nearby residents. A developer came forward with a proposal to remediate it but there was a penalty the village would need to accept.

People have been concerned about the height of the development and that it is too high. I look at it, and can see why people think that, especially when viewed from Sheets Heath Lane. What I’ve done is ask the Planning Enforcement team to check the development is following the agreed plans, which I can confirm they are. I’ve also looked into whether the contamination problem has been resolved.

For those of you unaware of the issues caused by the site, during the lifetime of the yard, creosote had been allowed to seep into the ground. This in turn entered the groundwater which caused localised environmental damage.

Due to the heavy clay soil conditions, and the length of time that the contamination had taken place, remediation of the ground would be difficult. However, by taking a pioneering approach to the remediation, a solution was found. This involved mixing the contaminated soil with a binding agent that would ‘lock in’ the contaminants which created an impermeable barrier that has stopped any further leakage into the watercourse.

Since remediation of the land, the Council has not received any reports of contamination. Tests has shown that it is not leaching out and the subsurface has been used as part of the foundation for the new building.

Following the successful remediation of the Wessons site, this process has been used across the country, ensuring historic contamination issues don’t continue to pose a risk to local residents and the wider environment; nor blight the future use and sale of the land. I find this quite satisfying, knowing the process was first used in Brookwood.

Cheers.

Kevin

Coblands Site

I’ve been appraised of what officers think makes the Coblands site viable, given the improvements I wish to see to the crossroads, and the opportunity to implement a local first policy on the properties. The three most important issues that residents have communicated to me over the past few years are physical restrictions on the size of the Traveller site, improvements to Brookwood Crossroads, and houses for local people. This development would not get my support unless I could go back to residents and say we’ve achieved those aims.

The draft site plan which I believe will be submitted as a planning application is for 126 houses / apartments. This is fewer than the 140 I was originally told it might need to be which means the lobbying I’ve done has had a positive effect. The bulk of these properties have 2 bedrooms, a significant number have 1 bedroom, about six with 3 bedrooms and three with 4 bedrooms. 60% of the 126 will have a local first policy which is good news for young people in Brookwood or those with a strong connection to Brookwood, together with anyone that wishes to free up their much larger property by downsizing. This local first policy is one I hope to see properly developed and rolled out across the borough.

I’m going to outline what I think people will be concerned about and what I’ve done to try and mitigate those problems.

Automatically people will be concerned about the additional traffic. To a point, I agree, but I think the improvements to the crossroads will in the main stop the crossroads becoming any worse and will in fact improve throughput. It’s predicted that at least an additional ten cars westerly, and seven cars easterly will get through the crossroads on each cycle. The Coblands site isn’t going to produce that many cars every three minutes. In fact, SCC have laughably stated that it won’t make a material difference to the crossroads, but they conveniently ignore the cumulative effect of development over time which has had a material impact and as far as I’m concerned, we now have reached critical mass and something has to be done. Developing Coblands creates the funds necessary to achieve this.

I hope some young people from Brookwood will move out of their parental houses and move to this site. Where I live in West Hill Close, six out of the ten houses have adult children living with them. If some of these people move to Coblands, they are not going to add to the traffic as they already use the roads, and it may help with some of the on-street parking issues in Brookwood.

As the number of young families fall in the village, simply because they are unable to afford to live here, so do the number of children from the village attending the school. This means that to keep the school viable, children come in from the surrounding areas, frequently being driven in. More children living at Coblands will hopefully allow for a higher concentration of Brookwood children using the school which assuming the parents walk rather than drive, will assist with the overall traffic issues.

The amount of parking contained on site is very much debatable as to whether it will be sufficient. I simply don’t know whether it will be enough or not, but I have responded to the Parking Standards SPD consultation raising that very issue. I’m aware the BBNF have also raised a similar issue. I have asked for dedicated motorcycle bays with anchor points to be provided and I’m assured they will be. I strongly believe that motorcycles are part of the solution to congestion rather than part of the problem. I am on the Local Development Framework committee this year and will be influential in pushing these kind of issues as subsequent WBC policy is developed.

I accept that some local services, like Doctor’s surgeries might see a slight increase in use because of this, but I’m not convinced it will make a substantial difference.

The blocks of apartments will be three storeys. This has been reduced from four as I made it very clear that I would oppose the entire development if there were any four storey buildings. Brookwood is a village and the highest buildings are officially two and a half and if this development was along the length of Connaught Road it would be totally unacceptable, even with three storeys. My work with the BBNF has been driving forward towards an emerging Neighbourhood Plan which states a maximum of two and a half storeys for Brookwood village along Connaught Road and its off-shoots.

I’m slightly disappointed there are no bungalows, however bungalows tend to be a poor use of land, hence their high values. What the BBNF and I have done, is create an emerging policy to protect the existing bungalow stock in Brookwood village, making it harder for developers to demolish any bungalows and build houses instead.

Assuming the Traveller site is physically constrained, the crossroads are improved and a local first policy is implemented, I will be supporting this when it comes through as I believe it to be in the best interests of the majority of residents in Brookwood, especially the next generation. I accept that you may not agree with it as it doesn’t benefit you.

I’m very happy to talk to anyone that wishes to raise any points with me as there may be stuff I’ve not thought of which I need to pick up with officers, please contact me through the usual channels.

Cheers.

Kevin

Coblands, Path and Parking Standards SPD

Nothing exciting to report on Coblands. If you’ve been past there recently then you know that steps have been taken to fully secure the site.

I have been informed that the expected planning application will be in by the end of June and that as a large development, it will have a target decision time frame of 13 weeks. As soon as it goes live I shall put the link here. It will go to Planning Committee, probably either September or October.

One of my key goals and something I’ve been pressuring people on is the make up of what ends up there. Still nothing is set in stone, but it will be a development of primarily one and two bedroom apartments and houses, with a few three bedroom houses added in. There will be a local first policy on everything that remains controlled by WBC / Thameswey indefinitely.

I am still lobbying certain key people as this is slight deviation from normal policy which I hope will become standard policy across the whole borough.

40% of the dwellings will be sold at market value. This funds the improvements to Brookwood Crossroads and subsidises the delivery of the affordable dwellings.

40% of the dwellings will be affordable to rent at a level of around 60% – 95% of market rate following WBC’s standard policies.

20% will be classed as affordable but sold at a discount to local people with protections in place to ensure they stay classified that way.

Getting 60% odd reserved for local people first is a major achievement and the 20% at an affordable to buy for local people is a first in Woking.

I accept some people will be opposed to it, but I hope the majority will see this as delivering good improvements to Brookwood, real benefit to the residents of the Brookwood and Bridley Neighbourhood Area and I hope people support it.

A kick-off meeting of WBC officers will be held next week with Cala Homes to thrash out the final details of the new path across the new Country Park. Work will have begun by the end of May, and may well start sooner. The path surface will be the same at the bonded canal path.

I have submitted my representations to the Planning Policy team regarding the Parking Standards exactly as written previously in this blog. Thank you to those residents that have provided input. Don’t forget you are free to respond yourselves at: http://www.woking2027.info/supplementary . You have another week.

That’s it, cheers.

Kevin

Proposed Response to the Parking Standards SPD

This is my proposed response to the consultation which WBC is currently running regarding the Parking Standards SPD. I’ll probably submit it in the next week or so.

In general I support the aims of the document and have no reason to comment on any areas other than residential parking, motorcycle parking and places of worship.

  1. The previous parking standards have caused significant problems in the borough and the loss of desirable green verges in Brookwood as they have been turned into ad-hoc parking which ruins the look of the village. Where small developments occur and with the support of immediate residents, some consideration should be given to converting some grass verges to proper paved allocated parking.
  1. Where there are large developments with circa 25+ dwellings, the ratios could cause some problems if many of the dwellings are starter homes and have one or two bedrooms. There is a need across the borough for small dwellings which will suit young, growing families. For example, an estate of 100 houses, of which 80 of those are a combination of flats/houses of one or two bedrooms will have insufficient spaces to allow those estates to grow satisfactorily. In instances such as this, a ratio of visitor parking should be defined to ensure there is sufficient room to take the slack. The current proposal says visitor parking is encouraged, this should be investigated further and an appropriate ratio mandated.
  1. Motorcycles and scooters are part of the solution when considering congestion and sustainable modes of transport. Motorcycles will typically have fuel consumption far in excess of many cars and rarely sit idling in traffic. There are no diesel motorcycles, but there are electric motorcycles. The Parking Standards SPD takes none of this into account and it should in all use classes.
  1. In developments of large sites with in excess of circa 25+ dwellings, consideration should be given to providing some motorcycle parking provision with ground locks to assist with security. These small bays should be in good sight for security purposes otherwise motorcycles are often parked on pavements or take up full sized car parking bays.
  1. Where a place of worship has a congregation, which is not local to the building, insufficient on-site parking can cause significant problems to the surrounding roads as many worshipers frequently park with little regard for local residents. This situation is experienced often at the Kingdom Hall Of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Brookwood and the Shah Jahan Mosque in Maybury. Where new or replacement places of worship come forward, consideration should be given to the location that worshipers travel from because one space per ten worshipers is clearly insufficient unless worshipers are bused in. All places of worship in instances like this should have a travel plan in a similar way to a school.

Please let me know if you have a view on the above so I can reconsider my response.

Cheers.

Kevin

Proposals on Brookwood Crossroads

A couple of weeks ago, I covered the Joint Committee and discussed the potential improvements to Brookwood Crossroads.

I have a map of what is currently being considered as achievable. Crucially, it doesn’t involve knocking down West Hill Cottages which is a good thing.

 

I like this proposal and I have been in discussion about losing the bus stop, and the grass verge outside 1 West Hill Close. This will see two parking spaces lost, but if the verge is converted to parking, it will generate three, so a net increase of one space which is desperately required at this point along Connaught Road.

This would be a significant improvement for local traffic, will mitigate additional traffic from the Coblands development and with luck reduce the 20 odd minute wait it can take to exit the village some mornings.

I don’t know when this will go out to consultation, but I expect it will be sometime towards the end of the year. Implementation is at least two years away, and I hope to see it in place before the decade is out.

Cheers.

Kevin

Parking Standards Supplementary Planning Document

WBC has just gone out to consultation regarding parking standards for developments. The consultation period ends on 22 May 2017. Further details may be found here: http://www.woking2027.info/supplementary

In summary, this has nothing to do with parking on the road and the standards around that; that is a SCC issue which I have already fed into and will soon be out to consultation. Although it is indirectly linked as I’ll explain below.

The previous Labour Government introduced maximum parking standards in an effort to lower car use. Commendable as that aim was, unfortunately, it has not done that, but what it has done is enable poor developments to occur with insufficient parking, thus dumping more cars onto roads when parked. The current Government has changed the guidelines, and this consultation is WBC’s take on it.

As Councillor, I will be submitting a response and working with the Brookwood and Bridley Neighbourhood Forum so that the BBNF can also respond if it wishes to do so. I encourage anyone who has a view to also submit a response. It’s easy to do and details can be found on the link above.

I expect this policy to be in place for at least a decade, so now’s your chance to influence this important subject which affects all of us one way or another.

Cheers.

Kevin