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.