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.