You may have read about the HGV driver issue that is hitting areas of business nationwide. A combination of factors has meant that the Council’s waste contractor is unable to field enough drivers to make all the waste rounds this coming week.
The decision has been made to prioritise the residual (black bin) and recycling (blue bins) ahead of garden waste. This means that there will be no collections of garden waste this coming week, so please do not put your bin out. We expect to continue to struggle across the summer period.
Amey has a driver promotion scheme, but has been unable to get any new drivers promoted due to the lack of HGV testing going on over the past 16 months. With current drivers taking their summer holidays, and the lack of HGV drivers in the market, it has meant we’ve been impacted.
Recently Traveller ponies have been grazing on land within the country park running along side the canal in Brookwood. Whilst this location is preferable to other areas the ponies have been grazing recently, it’s still illegal grazing.
I’ve been working with officers to achieve a licensing scheme that will enable a different field in that area that has road access via the A322 to be used for ponies. This work is ongoing.
What is beyond unacceptable is the driving of vehicles along the foot path to access the ponies. The path has not been designed for vehicles, the two bridges are not maintained and may not hold up structurally to vehicles and it’s clearly dangerous to other users of the path.
I met up with officers yesterday to work out the best way of preventing the vehicle access. This is urgently being addressed and I should see the plans by the end of the week. I expect solid posts will be installed in the middle of the path at the entrance by the pavilion at the Knaphill end, and also from the canal. These will likely be wood, with sufficient reflective markings to prevent collisions. Access will still be possible for double width buggies.
An application for housing on the Coblands site was submitted several years ago and went nowhere other than for some consultees to submit some comments, particularly around drainage. After the Traveller site was granted permission in February, I received notification that the existing housing application had been withdrawn.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and a new application has been submitted and subsequently validated. The application is PLAN/2021/0248 and is for the demolition of the four houses and the building of 128 residential units. All houses are two storeys, with four small apartment blocks that are three storeys.
The image below gives a good impression of what is being proposed.
The site will deliver 64 affordable units, with 20 of those being for sale, and the remaining 44 for rent. This is precisely 50% which is better than the amount suggested in the WBC Core Strategy.
The remaining 64 units will be sold at the market price, and effectively these will support the affordable units, as well as make contributions to the road network that needs some work by the crossroads.
I think the design and access statement is worth reading as it gives a good overview of what is being proposed and can be accessed through the planning portal using PLAN/2021/0248 as the search string.
There will be play areas, each house will have a garden and there will be space for residents of the flats to access.
Parking wise, there are more parking spaces than there are units with 197 spaces planned. Will this be enough? Probably not, but then again, the more parking provided, the more cars it seems to attract. Each unit will have a space, with some of the larger houses having more than one space.
The units will be highly sustainable and will probably be far more efficient than most of the housing stock in the village.
Is it perfect? Not quite. Is it a good use of the site? Absolutely and I am very much in support of it as it achieves things people have spoken to me about over the past few years; namely the prevention of the Traveller site expanding across the entire site, the building of a lot of affordable homes (the majority of which are one and two bedroomed), and improvements to the crossroads.
The crossroads are not part of the application as that is in train elsewhere through the Joint Committee process. The other area being worked on is the concept of the ‘local first’ priority order which is also not part of the planning application. These two issues I will continue to pursue.
Overall I’m glad this has finally made it to planning and I hope it goes through so we can finally get the whole site stable.
Tonight at the Planning Committee the application to regularise the Traveller site at Five Acres came through with a recommendation to approve.
I wrote at length last month about the whole Coblands site and how I was hoping to see progress with the Traveller site, the fly-tipped waste, the new housing and the infrastructure changes to the crossroads.
The Traveller site is the first part of the jigsaw and although not a member of the Planning Committee, the Chairman graciously allowed me to speak. I spoke in support of the application tonight but also raised my concerns around the illegal pitches that have popped up there. Regularising this site will enable the Local Planning Authority to take action to remove illegal pitches and I will be pushing hard for that.
I’m pleased to say that the application was granted. We won’t see changes overnight but progress is finally being made.
The Coblands site is still bogged down in the planning process and I’m still wary of giving any dates as to when things may change. The site is in the Green Belt. To us in Brookwood it’s brown field, but to the Local Planning Authority (LPA), the land cannot be built on without special circumstances, and the owner of the site, Thameswey (A WBC housing company) has not been able to convince the LPA to let it develop the site. The LPA has doggedly resisted developing here.
In defence of the LPA, their view is that if they were to grant building there then it would potentially open the flood gates to other land owners that are itching to develop in the Green Belt. That means the correct process needs to be followed. The process to start developing this site begun around 2012/2013 with a Green Belt review that recommended it as a potential development site. In the 2015 Site Allocations Development Plan Document (SADPD) it was listed as a development site, and it went to public consultation where there were mainly favourable views on developing the site. Not so other sites around the borough, and the SADPD process is still lumbering along with the most recent consultation by a Government appointed Inspector ending just before Christmas.
The Inspector basically has the final say on the SADPD and I see no reason why he won’t recommend the site comes out of the Green Belt which will mean that Thameswey no longer needs to demonstrate special circumstances. The land is due to come out of the Green Belt in 2022, so I am confident that by attrition, the LPA will get its way and delay any development until then at the earliest.
Personally, having seen my children forced to leave the borough due to a lack of housing, it’s a failure that the young adults in Brookwood that wish to stay in Brookwood have been denied that opportunity over the past decade due to planning rules created in the 1950s that need reform. On the plus side, over half the dwellings will be affordable, and there will be a policy on those dwellings that at least gives people with a clear connection to Brookwood a shot at living there when a dwelling becomes available.
The Traveller site also needs regularising and a planning application was submitted in 2017 to do just that. That application is still pending consideration whilst waiting for the planets to align.
In my opinion, it’s all been held up due to officer time being focussed elsewhere. This has bothered me for ages as it really has been an impossible task to try and get the senior officers of the Council to focus on this site. We had an elected leadership change last October and the new leader Cllr Azad is as keen to see this site developed as I am and, as soon as possible. In November her words to me were ‘Watch this space’. Cllr Azad is also one of the Councillors for Brookwood so there is a good chance something will happen over the course of the next 18 months. She and I visited the site immediately after the first lock down over the summer and I gave her chapter and verse on the situation and history.
This leads me to the rubbish being dumped there. Simply put, there is no point in clearing the fly-tipped waste until development starts as it will just attract new fly-tipped waste and the costs to dispose of it will be racked up again. It’s an eye sore certainly, but Environmental Health do keep an eye on it and if there were concerns they would force Thameswey to clear it.
Basically, we need to be patient, the Traveller site will be regularised, the waste will be disposed of, the housing will be built, and the road and crossroads will be modified to ease network pressure. We might get some progress later this year, we certainly will over the next two.
Residents are still experiencing anti-social behaviour at the station, as sadly predicted four years ago when the additional level was added.
I’ve been working with Jonathan Lord MP (he has more clout than I do), and we’ve been calling for a joined up approach, as the piece meal approaches taken in the past have been largely a failure.
The Crime & Community Manager at South Western Railway has been proactively engaged with residents, has visited the Railway Station car park and taken the issue up with the British Transport Police. As a result of this, the BTP have had a greater presence in the car park and have responded more proactively when they have been contacted recently. They have taken personal details of the people and have promised to follow up repeat offenders. He is also contacting the company who operate the car park to ask them to monitor the car park more regularly.
The BTP are keen to take statements from any residents who want to lodge a complaint. If you are able to provide additional evidence, please come via me in the first instance and we’ll go from there.
As usual with anti-social behaviour, action only occurs when residents consistently complain. There has been some good progress in recent weeks, but momentum must be maintained. If you are disturbed by anti-social behaviour at the station, please call it in.
Evidence collected by the BTP shows only a small number of complaints have been made which is why little action has been taken previously. The simplest way to complain to the BTP about the anti-social behaviour at the car park is via text to 61016. There is also an online form: http://www.btp.police.uk/contact_us/report_a_crime.aspx
I’ve been asking the Council to do something about the potholes down Sheets Heath Lane for a while. It’s a difficult road to deal with as it is actually in private ownership, however I do believe the Council has a responsibility to keep good access to the recreational ground.
Fortunately, this past week, some of the worst areas have been filled in with what looks like good quality repairs. I’m hopeful that they last and that the better surface doesn’t encourage people to drive too fast.
Thank you to all those that have emailed or phoned me regarding the electronic speed sign that was mentioned in this months’ Brookwood News.
A number of points have been raised and locations suggested and what I will do is take them away and discuss it with Cllr Azad (our Surrey County Councillor) and the Surrey Highways Team.
That won’t happen in the immediate short term, so please continue to raise suggestions. With a fair wind, I may be able to bring a case that another sign is allocated to Brookwood out of Cllr Azad’s budget next year.