Brookwood Railway Station

A few people have asked me about the potential ticket barriers that may be installed at Brookwood Railway station and I’ve been gathering some facts before doing anything else.

South Western Railways rightly want to protect their income from the people that bunk the trains. I wholeheartedly agree with SWR doing that. They’ve also made a commitment to the government as part of the franchise that they will improve their performance at collecting fares. This has led them to figuring out where they are most losing money and putting in infrastructure to resolve this. Brookwood station is one of the stations they have identified that they know has a high level of evasion.

Their proposals have pros and cons. I’ll outline the proposal first.

A bank of barriers will be installed diagonally inside the current ticket hall. The existing double entry doors into the hall will be permanently locked. A mechanism will be installed at the cemetery entrance and the ramp entrance on platform one to prevent access with an intercom system in place to allow access. A new entrance will be opened up next to the outside telephone box.

SWR are obliged to man the station from 06:00 to 22:00 where there are barriers. I do not know if this includes Sunday.

Enabling works are scheduled to begin in January with the actual ticket barriers being installed around March.

The only positive I can think of is that the station will be manned for 16 hours a day which may prevent some anti-social behaviour and is certain to stop the visiting drug dealers from using Brookwood as a distribution hub.

My obvious concerns are regarding access to the cemetery, access for people with mobility issues and people with push chairs. I’m also concerned that the Victorian nature of the station won’t be taken into account as some carbuncle is bolted on to the front of the station. I suspect the capacity of the barriers will fail to quickly accommodate half a train alighting at Brookwood from Waterloo and that a significant queue will build during peak hours.

WBC are very concerned about access to the cemetery as are the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The cemetery is Grade I listed and recently won the Large Cemetery of the Year award (who knew?) as WBC’s intention is to restore the cemetery to its Victorian roots as a Victorian park land. A jolly fine job is being done of that by the way.

I am in regular contact with the Regional Development Manager at SWR and have  emailed him my extensive concerns. I have also raised my concerns with WBC and to that end, a meeting has been planned between various stakeholders, including representatives of SWR for the 31 October to have a more detailed chat.

That’s everything I know at the moment and I have raised a number of questions regarding the long term viability including a few ‘what happens if’ type questions.

I’ll report back here after the meeting next week.

Cheers.

Kevin

Site Allocations Development Plan Document

WBC published the latest Site Allocations Development Plan Document (SADPD) proposals on Wednesday in preparation for a full Council meeting next Thursday with the principal recommendation that the site allocations as documented are submitted to an inspector for approval. This process is known as Regulation 19.

Previous incarnations have been following the Regulation 18 process which has involved two extensive consultations with the public to occur.

The SADPD provides two time periods which explain the preferred locations for future development to occur both in the urban area and those sites that will be taken out of the Green Belt to allow further development. Those time periods are 2022 – 2027 and 2027 – 2040.

The 2022 – 2027 period in the document are sites that assuming development proposals are forthcoming will be developed, and the 2027 – 2040 proposals are for sites that are to be safeguarded for future development, but may never be built out depending on needs at the time. This is a process the Council is required to do by law. For Brookwood, there are no proposals for the 2027 – 2040 period so we can expect no development other than minor changes to the already built area.

The original SADPD in 2016 was rather devious with its treatment to Five Acres (GB02) in my opinion as officers decided that as Five Acres was owned by two individuals it was actually two separate sites in practice. This allowed officers to consider doubling the number of authorised pitches to around 30. The reality was, and as evidenced by all previous documentation produced by officers, the site was run as one site. I campaigned ferociously against this disgraceful plan and achieved some significant victories.

Even now, Five Acres has 13 authorised permanent pitches, and two temporary pitches, although they are currently not in the location planning permission has been granted for.

The proposals for Traveller accommodation at Five Acres in the SADPD are for an increase from the current 15 pitches to 19 pitches, an increase of four overall. There will likely be an additional transit pitch at Five Acres allowing some flexibility for visitors to legally visit.

I believe that this is the best outcome we could have achieved for Brookwood and is approximately 11 fewer that had previously been suggested. The planning application for these 19 pitches, moving the 15 from the approved location and the additional four,¬† is currently making its way through the system. I currently ignore the fact that the bulk of the work has already been done, but I’m not ignoring the illegal pitches at the back of the site. Incidentally there were two when I went past on the train earlier in the week. The Planning Department are dragging their heels on this, and now with the publication of the Regulation 19 SADPD, they will struggle to justify doing nothing about it.

The other area to impact Brookwood is GB01, which is the old Coblands site and surrounding land area. Obviously everyone has seen what has been going on here for the past couple of years. GB01 suggests the site will take 93 dwellings at a dph of 35. A planning application is in for this site with the proposal to build 126 dwellings, to include changes to Brookwood Crossroads with an emphasis on improving the throughput for local traffic. I have blogged extensively about this in the past.

As ever, if you have any questions, please contact me.

Cheers.

Kevin