Surrey County Council are carrying out a review of public transport and is inviting everyone to give their views on services provided in the county by completing a short questionnaire:
If public transport is to improve, or at the very least not decline, I think it is important that as many people as possible complete the questionnaire. I have done so and it took me under ten minutes.
I’ve been notified that possibly commencing from 5 January 2015, there will be some road works along Connaught Road laying data cables. This will cause some disruption as a two way traffic light system will be in place. If we are lucky, it will see through traffic find an alternative route, so it may prove better for us for a short while. I don’t know exactly when it will start as the works in Brookwood are part of a project running cables from Farnborough to Woking.
Finally, Happy New Year!
The following two planning applications have been verified with the war cemetery item likely to go before the Planning Committee.
- PLAN/2014/1349 – American Cemetery Reception – Erection of a toilet block to north west of the car park
- PLAN/2014/1372 – The Corner House, Bagshot Road – Subdivision of existing dwelling into 1No 4 bedroom and 1No 5 bedroom dwelling
Last week I mentioned the SCC Transport Review and posted a link to a questionnaire. For those that don’t want to fill in the form, on Saturday 10 January, from 1.30pm to 3.30pm, the SCC’s roving bus will be visiting Cawsey Way, Woking, to promote the consultation and give residents the chance to have their say in person.
The WBC website has some confusing information regarding bin collection this week. My understanding is that our bins will be collected tomorrow (Friday) this week. Service should be back to normal next week.
Verified planning applications includes an application from last week, the applicant being Surrey Wildlife Trust around the management of the land to the north and south of Brookwood Lye Road. I don’t usually include tree related applications, but this seems worthwhile as it is a major area of natural habitat in Brookwood. Also included is an application from Guildford Borough Council where WBC are being consulted on regarding Wisley airfield. Added for interest.
- TREE/2015/8022 – Works to trees covered by TPO
- PLAN/2015/0006 – 315-317 Connaught Road – Retrospective erection of a single storey rear extension.
- PLAN/2015/0033 – Land at Wisley Airfield – phased development of up to 2,100 dwellings
I earlier gave notification of the cable laying works going on in the village (I’m still trying to establish if it is this project that has already ripped up Brookwood Crossroads), however I now have firm-ish dates for the closure of the tunnel between Pirbright and Brookwood. This is currently slated for the half term holiday of 16 – 20 February. Notification sent to me has stated the tunnel will be closed to all traffic except pedestrian. I assume it won’t be for the full five days.
I’ve been a bit busy lately and not had time to update the blog.
Verified planning applications back to January.
- PLAN/2015/0006 – 315-317 Connaught Road – Retrospective erection of rear single storey extension
- PLAN/2015/0083 – Brook Farm, Blackhorse Road – Demolition of existing stables and barn and erection of replacements.
- PLAN/2015/0167 – Jubilee Villa, Bagshot Road – Proposed single storey rear extension and loft conversion. Creation of front porch.
- PLAN/2015/0072 – Petrol Station, Brookwood Crossroads – Retrospective change of use from petrol station to Subway
- PLAN/2015/0164 – Sixpenny Buckle, Clodhouse Hill – Proposed new roof to existing garage
- PLAN/2015/0209 – 33 Heath Drive – Erection of single storey extensions to front and rear
It’s been relatively quiet recently, although I have had various meetings through my involvement with the Brookwood and Bridley Neighbourhood Forum, and I’ve spent some time in Sheerwater understanding the Sheerwater Regeneration proposals.
This coming Thursday I am off to London to attend a course entitled ‘Addressing the Social Exclusion of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Communities to Reduce Inequalities’ along with a Byfleet Councillor. I am having to take a day away from my paid freelance employment and I expect to claim the Loss Allowance if I can figure out how to.
During January and February I claimed no expenses except my usual allowance and IT allowance.
The following large-ish planning applications have been verified recently:
- PLAN/2015/0270 – 109 Connaught Road – Erection of a single storey rear extension.
- PLAN/2015/0293 – Hampton Manor, Heath House Road – Proposed single storey side extension
- PLAN/2015/0294 – Hampton Manor, Heath House Road – Conversion of garage roof space to form accommodation
I’ve had a resident contact me recently about parking and to what extent enforcement officers should be ticketing vehicles during the CPZ times. I want to ensure that the rules are evenly applied, so if you have been ticketed, think it wasn’t justified but paid up anyway, please let me know. Don’t forget, if you can’t avoid having your vehicle parked in the road between one and two o’clock, the council is usually accommodating if you contact them first.
There are plans afoot to bring raft races down the canal in August on the Brookwood Lye bend. These plans may extend as far as using Brookwood Country Park to celebrate Brookwood and Knaphill with the two villages putting on a show. Nothing is solid yet, but if you’d potentially like to have a stand, please contact me.
I’ve claimed a £100 loss allowance for the day I was in London on council business in March, although not received it yet. Beyond that, I’ve been paid my allowance and IT/Comms allowance as usual.
I’ve reported the light out in West Hill Close and the ever sinking sink hole repair in Connaught Road. I thought the lights were supposed to be self reporting, but with the light in West Hill Close having been out for a week, it either isn’t self reporting or it’s low on the list of priorities. If you need to report a highways issue, use the SCC website: http://online.surreycc.gov.uk/env/hews/hews.nsf/atozrtf?openform
Tomorrow night is the Brookwood / Knaphill Police Panel meeting in Knaphill. Starts at 19:30 in Stef’s café. I will be there.
In the last hour or so, Connaught Road has been closed to through traffic as the sink hole is back.
I can say I’m surprised, for two reasons. A) I called this in over a week ago, and B) I received an email around two o’clock today from Highways saying ‘I am pleased to advise you that the works have now been completed’.
I’ve just spoken with the chap on site (ten o’clock pm) and he says a gang will be there in the morning to assess the situation. It is his view the road may be closed for a few days but should certainly be open again by next week.
Please keep an eye on my blog for updates.
Umm, Thames Water have confirmed there is a collapsed sewer down Connaught Road.
I have made strong representations to our SCC Councillor who has already taken it up with the SCC Cabinet member for Highways, John Furey. I have specifically asked the following four questions:
- Why did it take SCC so long to do anything? (After I informed them of the problem over Easter).
- Why did I receive confirmation the work had been done yesterday afternoon?
- Why did we have to wait until the road collapsed before anything is done?
- What is being done about buses through the village?
I’ve stressed how much this impacts the businesses in the village, and how much confusion and congestion it causes at either end of Brookwood.
The latest date I have is an estimate of 27 April for the road to be re-opened. That’s two weeks, distinctly unimpressed.
The photo below gives an idea of the scale of the problem. Almost expecting Bazalgette to jump out! Sums up part of the problem for me. The sewer system is Victorian and clearly not fit for purpose. I shall lobby SCC and Thames Water to find out if there are plans to bring improvements across the village. Surface water is a constant problem, and that is due to a lack of capacity.
I’ve been trying to arrange a meeting with the head of Highways for our area for a few weeks. My plan has been to bring changes to the station area of the village, which fortunately are less problematic at the moment due to Connaught Road being closed. However once the road is open again, I shall be meeting with the officer to properly look at Brookwood Centre, parking controls and also the extremely dangerous problem caused by a blind bend on Heath House Road. Please contact me if you want me to raise a problem I’m currently unaware of.
I have some answers to my original questions I posed to SCC. The timeline I’m aware of at the moment runs thus:
Many people reported the problem in the run up to 9 April, including me.
SCC initially investigated on that date and notified Thames Water on a four hour response.
Thames Water visited the site the same day.
Road collapses four days later.
SCC have since asked Thames Water why they didn’t act immediately on 9 April.
It could be that earlier intervention would not have altered the eventual outcome, but it still seems to me that a dangerous situation was allowed to slowly develop when it could have been halted early on.
I’m tempted to suggest everyone’s involvement in this is brought to the Overview & Scrutiny committee when the new municipal year begins in May.
I spoke with the gang on site today. They think it should be fixed by next Friday. That is a few days later than originally planned, but could be completed sooner if everything goes well.
The hole is now over five metres deep (approx. 18 foot for those that prefer real measurements) and considerably wider than the previous attempt.
I’m also informed there will be a manhole cover put in place with direct access down to the sewer. This is good news and is probably worth the extra pain with the road being closed for a few days longer.
Since WBC took over the running of Brookwood Cemetery late in 2014, work has been ongoing with the job of fully understanding what needs to be done to bring the cemetery up to scratch. As part of this, a survey was commissioned to understand the situation with trees and their safety. I’ve taken calls in the past from people concerned about trees, but having works done was impossible to achieve due to the ownership situation.
Over the course of the next few months, a total of 205 trees will be felled, with 78 of those happening very shortly. A number of other trees will have further work done on them to ensure visitor safety. The plan will be to replace trees once a suitable strategy has been worked through.
If you have concerns or questions, I’m happy to answer what I can and put forward questions to the relevant officers. I’m sure everyone is aware that the press make things sound far worse than they actually are.
Starting from early June, it is intended that highways works will be undertaken in Blackhorse Road, Heath House Road & Saunders Lane at the crossroads. The plan is to make the junction safer by rebuilding the islands at the end of Heath House Road and Saunders Lane. The bollards on the islands will be more visible to Blackhorse Road traffic and with additional lighting will hopefully make the junction safer. Finally after the recent drainage works have been completed the kerbing will be raised and a new raising layer put down to minimise flooding. This is dependent on some works being done by UK Power Networks near the junction first so the dates could slip. This will result in temporary awkward road closures.
I made no claims for expenses in April, although I was paid my usual allowances and I received the Loss Allowance I claimed in March for the training course I went on.
Last night I attended a briefing regarding the Green Belt and the sites officers propose for development between 2016 and 2040.
There are no significant changes proposed to Brookwood and the immediate surrounding area except sites I already support. Specifically Coblands and Five Acres. Brookwood will remain the only village in the borough of Woking still fully surrounded by Green Belt.
The following documents will be going to the Executive next Thursday with a request that a full six week public consultation is started. The documents can be found here: http://www.woking.gov.uk/search/committee/search?IW_FIELD_TEXT=ap0604*&IW_SORT=TITLE&IW_DATABASE=chain_executive
The consultation will begin in June, and I urge everyone to have a read and comment. I will be commenting as the ward councillor and I am aware the Neighbourhood Forum is likely to respond also.
Several people have asked me about the former Wessons’ site as progress seems to have ground to a halt. The short answer is I have no idea so I have put a call in to the Environment chap at WBC and the developer for an update.
This afternoon I have a meeting with a chap from SCC Highways regarding the railway station area of Brookwood and the dangerous junction at Clodhouse Hill and Heath House Road. A number of people have given me their opinions on this and the Neighbourhood Forum yielded views, so I hope to have an encouraging conversation. I will report back in due course.
I’ve still not been able to get hold of the developer, however I have had a lengthy email conversation with the chief Environmental officer.
The reason the site is at a standstill is because a three month monitoring period was enforced after the initial remediation works were undertaken. The remediation works have been completed and have far surpassed the targets set by WBC. The remediation has also managed to significantly improve the contamination beyond the actual boundary. There will still be creosote smells occasionally, especially after heavy rains although once the flats are built and the site encapsulated in concrete, those smells should cease. It is expected that natural attenuation of creosote will take around 1,500 years (quite how they work these things out is beyond me), and the former Wessons’ site is well over 95% there already after the investment made by the developer. If you want to know more technical related information, please send me an email.
I had a great chat with the SCC highways officer that manages our patch. We spent over half an hour sitting outside Brookwood Club watching the shenanigans that occur as the station car park empties. We did witness some poor driving not helped by the road layout. As I am now on the SCC/WBC Joint Committee this issue will be formally raised as the solutions we discussed are not impossible to achieve. The Neighbourhood Forum is also tackling this issue and will work with both SCC and WBC to try and make the area safer and less frustrating to navigate. Nothing moves quickly so improvements will be years rather than months.
At Clodhouse Hill, we were fortunate enough to randomly meet up with a resident who was able to reiterate to the officer some of the problems that exist at this junction with Heath House Road. The problems here are very difficult to resolve as Highway rules and best practice prevent all the obvious traffic calming solutions being implemented. We will continue to plug away and try and keep the issue at the fore front of officer’s minds.
I’m away for a few days after this weekend but I will be responding to emails, it just may take me an little longer than usual. I’ll be shot however, if I answer the phone.
Finally, I’ve claimed no expenses during May, although I have received my usual allowance and IT / Comms allowance.
The following planning application of note has been verified:
- PLAN/2015/0603 – Telecommunications Mast adjacent to railway bridge, Bagshot Road
The application appears little more than a replacement mast with a small increase in height. I don’t object to this. If you wish to do so, please email email@example.com
Really important: the Council goes out to consultation on 18 June regarding future development sites it thinks are suitable from effectively now until 2040. This does impact Brookwood as there are proposals for the Coblands site and Five Acres. I have been working with officers and continue to do so in regard to these proposals. I don’t currently agree fully with what is proposed and urge people to directly respond themselves so that the voice of all people in Brookwood is heard. The documents go live on the www.woking2027.info site on Thursday. I will be making sure this is publicised in the Brookwood Newsletter and that as many people as possible are aware. I know the Brookwood and Bridley Neighbourhood Forum will be submitting a response in due course. Once full Council ratifies this in the next year or so, this will make up a significant part of the strategic planning policies and it will be too late to shape it further. The consultation period runs for six weeks ending at 5PM 31 July 2015.
Woking Borough Council has today begun the consultation process into the future Site Allocations Development Plan Document (SADPD). The documents can be viewed here: http://www.woking2027.info/allocations
The strategic plans documented here are the officer’s attempts at ensuring that the Council housing objectives are met by finding suitable sites both brownfield, and where necessary in the Green Belt. The timescales for this goes up to 2040 with land released from the Green Belt from 2022.
Brookwood will still be the only village in the borough to continue to be surrounded by Green Belt with the majority of the ward still in the Green Belt. The primary change is a relaxation of the Green Belt at the Coblands and Five Acres site. I support this.
I have concerns around the site allocation plans that are being suggested and have done, and will continue to speak with officers to ensure that what happens in Brookwood delivers the best possible outcome for Brookwood. This will be a challenge.
Your input is essential. In the most simplistic terms, your chance to influence the next 25 years must be done within the next six weeks and by 5PM 31 July 2015. Once this rolls through Council at some point in the next year or so, it will be too late to effect any real changes.
I have been liaising with the Brookwood and Bridley Neighbourhood Forum to ensure that the Forum is aware of the facts and the processes from here.
Someone else will respond, but if you want your view heard, you must respond. All details are on the above website.
I’m happy to discuss my views with anyone who asks and I will be submitting a response based on conversations I have with residents.
The following planning application has been verified over the past couple of weeks:
- PLAN/2015/0612 – 33 Percheron Drive, Knaphill – Single storey rear extension.
I have put some flyers regarding the Site Allocation Development Plan Document in the Post Office and I have a bound copy of the SADPD should you wish to view it. I have assisted the Brookwood and Bridley Neighbourhood Forum form its response to the consultation and this will go out to members of the Forum for comment prior to the Forum AGM which is towards the end of July.
I’ve not claimed any expenses other than my allowance and IT / Comms allowance. It’s that time of year again, and I have submitted my request for a box of paper and a laser printer cartridge.
I was made aware last night of a proposal from Network Rail to add an additional storey to the Brookwood Station car park. I’ve done plenty of digging around this morning and can confirm the proposals are true and live with a completion date around 18 months time.
This has been something that I’ve dreaded coming through as it always seemed inevitable it would. For obvious reasons this will cause distress to residents in the village. Not least the visual impact for those immediately next to it, but also the fact that Brookwood residents simply don’t need the parking as we typically walk to the station.
Brookwood is being penalised due to Government and Network Rail being unable to figure out a coherent rail strategy in the South East. Increasing parking spaces at Brookwood is no solution to the real issue of too much development and insufficient infrastructure to support it. Especially when considering the lobbying going on to reopen the direct line from Camberley to Woking which would significantly reduce the amount of cars coming to the village from outside.
I don’t have full details, but believe it to be a proposal to increase the capacity by 150 spaces by adding a single storey deck to the car park. I am waiting for the project manager from Network Rail to come back to me.
Although I am sympathetic to the visual amenity aspect, I’m far more concerned around the clear and obvious issue that the roads in Brookwood simply can’t cope with an additional 300 vehicle movements in one day.
Network Rail are able to undertake this development under the Permitted Development rules so there will not be a planning application coming forward. It will just happen when they are ready.
At the moment, I’m trying to understand if SCC Highways have been consulted and will move on from there. I have consulted with the Neighbourhood Forum.
Not a particularly good day.
I had a meeting yesterday lunchtime with representatives from Network Rail, their Planning Consultants and South West Trains. This post is in three parts regarding this situation. What is planned, the impact of this and what am I doing.
The plan is to add a single deck on the half of the car park closest to the railway line. SWT believe this will yield between 80 and 100 spaces. The whole car park cannot have an additional deck added as emergency service vehicles and service vehicles need to be able to access the equipment at the far end of the car park. Meeting this requirement while adding a complete deck would mean the height of the structure would be too intrusive. Rough timescales are to begin construction in February and completion is expected to be around five months later. The car park will be closed during this period. Those with season tickets for the station and car park will be able to park at nearby stations and (I think) tickets will be valid from those stations.
There are two areas that I see potentially impact Brookwood. The visual impact of the structure and the increased traffic drawn to the village. I’m satisfied that the visual impact on nearby residents backing on to the car park will not see any difference. NR own the bushes and hedge that forms the border. There is no plan to do anything to this. Fleet station has recently had a car park upgrade and the residents expressed visual concerns, a compromised solution was made, and I’ve requested that visual solution is the start point at Brookwood.
Traffic wise, we are obviously likely to see an increase of vehicle movements per day around two times the number of spaces.
The reality of the planning situation is that NR have Permitted Development rights within the area of the station. In the same way that residents usually have PD rights, this means that they are able to make the changes without having to bring forward a planning application. WBC have expressed a concern regarding the visual impact of the structure on nearby residents when confirming the PD rights.
Many of us that live nearby will be automatically opposed to the proposals, the primary reason being that there is no benefit to Brookwood, only pain. I don’t think you are wrong. However as Network Rail have Permitted Development rights we already know we hold a losing hand. WBC can’t stop it, SCC can’t stop it, our MP can’t stop it. Pleading with NR via a petition isn’t going to stop it. I believe we need to work with NR to try and get some concessions.
The meeting yesterday was held to test that idea. The Neighbourhood Forum has indicated that it would like to see improved push chair and disabled access to Platform Two as well as a revised highways layout around the station entrance and exits. I raised both of these points yesterday and neither were met with negativity. Whether they can be achieved as part of this project is another matter.
I know WBC are keen for the access issues to be improved to Platform Two as I have had discussions regarding access since WBC acquired the cemetery. I have been given the names of the individuals responsible for station accessibility in NR and SWT and will write to them today.
Improving the road layout is a slightly different situation as at the moment, NR are able to do what they want to do without altering the highways. Proposals that might impact the highways (beyond increasing congestion) are subject to much more control. This will require input from SCC. NR have gone off to look at redesigning the access and traffic management around the station. It is clear that changing access arrangements during the car park closure is a sensible idea, it all depends on what SCC demand as to whether it can be achieved at the same time. I have already written to SCC.
From here, all I can do is prod people regularly to keep our issues at the fore front of minds. All parties were keen on a pragmatic approach, so whilst I know not everyone is going to be satisfied, I hope we are able to get something good for Brookwood out of the situation.
Woking Borough Council is one of the leading authorities for recycling in the country, with over 60% of our waste being recycled. A sound recycling policy is good for the environment, and keeping Council Tax increases to a minimum.
In the past year, additional costs of around £70,000 have been charged back to the Council due to contaminated waste. It is true that if contamination in a lorry load is detected, the whole lot ends up in landfill. This genuinely costs all of us more money. There is currently an upward trend in these occurrences.
Officers have implemented a new policy to try and lower these costs. You would have seen the tag applied to the bins last week.
In future, if contamination is discovered in a bin, a letter will be sent to the address concerned advising on what should be in the bin. A second letter will follow if contamination is again discovered in a bin subsequently. A Neighbourhood Officer will likely make a visit to help the resident avoid contaminating the whole lorry load. Eventually Biffa will refuse to collect kerbside from households that are incapable of correctly sorting waste.
I believe this will cover all bins, so non recyclables in the blue bin is the primary concern, but food waste in the black and blue bins is also a problem.
I’m told that there are a couple of areas in Woking that seem consistently unable to get it right, but neither of them are in Brookwood. So I expect any problems here will be relatively isolated.
It’s in all our interests to make waste collection work better and I support the Council’s initiative and will work harder myself to make sure I get it right (my green bin was refused recently for being too heavy).
The following planning applications have been verified.
- PLAN/2015/0735 – High Trees, Bagshot Road – Erection of two storey side and front extensions, together with single storey side and rear extensions.
- PLAN/2015/0740 – 1 Lawfords Hill Close, Worplesdon – Erection of a part two storey part single storey side extension and single rear extension.
I believe the former Wessons site has been sold on to another developer, although I don’t have any firm evidence of that. I suspect a new planning application will be forthcoming in the future.
If you’ve thought of getting involved in the shaping of the village and the local area, now is the time to join the Brookwood and Bridley Neighbourhood Forum. There’s a lack of people able to help draw up plans with more volunteers needed who show initiative and a willingness to drive the project forward. The Forum’s AGM is on 30 July at 19:30 in the Small Memorial Hall.
Over the previous six weeks or so, the following planning applications of note have been verified:
- PLAN/2015/0895 – Woodside Cottage, Heath House Road – Demolition of existing house and erection of a replacement dwelling.
- PLAN/2015/0931 – 60 Heath Drive – Permitted development for a single storey rear extension.
- PLAN/2015/0946 – 1 Elphinstone Close – Permitted development for a single storey rear extension.
- PLAN/2015/0813 – 112 Connaught Road – Proposed first floor rear extension to form a two bedroom flat over the existing commercial units.
The two permitted development applications are included although permission does not need to be sought. I’ve included them here for information purposes.
0813 is from the Wessons site flats developer. I don’t know all the facts, but I believe the levelled site has been sold on as it, but the developer held on to the commercial units and is now looking to make changes there.
Rumours circulating suggest the station car park may be closed from October to allow for the additional storey to be built. I’ve had an email this morning from the SWT project manager and can confirm that is not correct. The current view is that we are still looking at a February / March start date as most likely.
When the boundaries change next year WBC is looking to ensure the polling stations are in the right place. I’ve had a look at the proposals and they seem sensible to me and I’ll submit a response saying so soon. If you wish to look at the proposals for Heathlands and submit a response, all the information you need is here: http://www.woking.gov.uk/council/election/electoralareas/pdpr15 Deadline is 25 September.
That’s about it, I’ve claimed no expenses during July or August except my regular allowance and IT/Comms allowance. I did receive a box of paper and toner cartridge during this period however.
This weekend sees a number of Woking heritage sites open to the public free of charge. These are usually sites that are not open or have an admission fee. Further details can be read here:
Brookwood Cemetery is one of the sites and on Sunday there are guided walks from midday. Well worth a visit in my view.
I Apologise for not updating the blog for the previous month. To be honest, I’ve been shockingly busy, yet strangely, haven’t really had anything to write about. However…
Several people have spoken to me about the new Cala Homes built pathway between Brookwood Farm and the canal. I’ve also had people contact me outside of the borough about this pathway. Essentially the views I’ve had are that it is not fit for purpose, dangerous to animals and unsuitable for cyclists.
I’ve done some digging around and the situation surprises me. Essentially Cala Homes were conditioned in the planning application to build the pathway after n amount of homes had been built. This is pretty much a standard way of ensuring that infrastructure is built in a timely fashion. In addition they were conditioned to build a bonded path suitable for all forms of pathway traffic, a bit like the path in Brookwood Country Park.
The pathway clearly isn’t suitable for all forms of pathway traffic as it isn’t bonded (and I’ve had that view communicated to me by people who know about these things). So there is a breach of planning there.
In addition, the pathway has been built far sooner than it should have been. Ordinarily, the pragmatic approach here would be to consider ourselves lucky it had been built sooner and just start using it. However, technically, this is also a breach of the planning conditions.
So, as it stands right now, Enforcement is involved and will deal with these breaches of planning. When I know the outcome, I shall post it here.
Most residents can’t not have noticed that there are now ponies on Brookwood Lye. This land is owned by Surrey Wildlife Trust and is a conservation area due to it being one of the few remaining wetland areas in Surrey. The locks on the gates were hacked to allow the ponies on to the area and is clearly not sanctioned by SWT. It is impossible to know who dumped them there, but it is unlikely to be of local influence. I’m not sure what SWT are intending to do as it is an expensive business to remove them and SWT is a charity with limited funds. One of the problems faced is that being a wetland, the area will become seriously boggy in a short period of time and that isn’t healthy for the ponies. As soon as I have any information I will write it to this blog.
Apart from the above, it has been relatively quiet. I’ve claimed my usual allowance and IT / Comms allowance in September.
There is an event coming up Saturday 7 November at 10am to 12noon which is a free information event for private tenants. Your rights as a tenant have changed recently with enhanced safety and security key aspects. There will be two drop-in sessions, one starting at 10am and the other at 11am. The free event will deliver a series of short talks on key tenancy issues covering:
- your rights and responsibilities as a private tenant
- recent and important changes in legislation, which affect your private tenancy
- top tips for managing and avoiding common household issues, such as damp and mould
It takes place in the Griffin Room at HG Wells Conference and Events Centre, Woking.
Those of you watching the webcast of full Council last Thursday will have seen me catapulted into the Chair position of the Sheerwater Regeneration Oversight Panel. I had intended to stay quiet at Council and only mumble the occasional agreement to items. Nontheless, I’m honoured that people think I’m capable of such a tough task.
Sorry for the lack of posts for this past month, for unexciting reasons I ended up unable to log on. Now resolved.
No planning applications of note in the previous month, one garage conversion and new garage, and one ground floor extension are about the most major.
The BBNF has recently issued its second questionnaire. This is a more detailed questionnaire focusing on what the BBNF Management Committee believes to be valid aims the Forum should pursue and proposals for how to meet some of those aims. The intention is to establish the views of residents and then we’ll have a clear direction for how to create a worthwhile Neighbourhood Plan. We’ll also have some subjects that people feel strongly about that are not planning related but require some form of lobbying which is a role the Forum will undertake. The Questionnaire can be downloaded from http://bbnf.org.uk/ or collected from The Post Office / Bakery.
I will be standing down as Chair of the Neighbourhood Forum in December as it is likely I will be standing for election next May in the new Heathlands ward. The BBNF must be an independent body free of any claims it is influenced politically. It’s up and running now, I’ve done my job and now it is time to hand it over to someone who can continue to progress its aims free of any party politics. I will obviously continue in my role as the Cllr member of the Forum. If you’d like to take the role on, can you make contact and we’ll discuss.
I was extremely honoured to be invited by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to the unveiling of the new Brookwood 1914-1918 Memorial on 4 November in the presence of His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent.
The ponies on Brookwood Lye are looking in a very sorry state. As that area is a wetlands and is substantially a bog over the winter period, the ponies will clearly suffer. Whoever dumped them there should be ashamed of themselves. Surrey Wildlife Trust owns the land and I will get an update from them early next week.
At the beginning of November, I had a meeting at the Station with Network Rail, South West Trains and SCC Highways. This was to discuss timeframes for the double decking, to continue to push for step free access to platform two and to try and move forward on reversing the entrance and exit. Firstly, the timeframe has been pushed back to a start date sometime around August. There is nothing to report regarding step free access, although those of you that have completed the BBNF questionnaire will know it’s raised there. Finally, the entrance and exit reversal still has the support of all parties, but there are a couple of logistical issues and the obvious fact that no department has any money to spend on it. However, I haven’t given up on it, and as part of my role on the SCC/WBC Joint Committee have managed to get this on the agenda. This is a crucial milestone and fills me with confidence.
I’ve worked really hard since I was elected three and half years ago to try and help the residents of Five Acres better their environment and ensure they feel they are as well integrated into village life as they wish to be. It was a substantial knifing in the back when the Site Allocations DPD was released in June and it has gone a long way to undoing a lot of that work. For those unaware, the Council intends on cramming as many people on the site by almost doubling the number of pitches. I am wholly opposed to this as my representations to the Council will show when they are published.
At the moment, there are four illegal pitches stationed there in addition to the legal 15 and as those of you that have complained to me about it will know, the Council has so far refused to enforce. This is completely unacceptable, there cannot be one law for some and another law for others. I have written in strong terms to senior people making it clear that I want to know what and when something will be done to remove the illegal encampment.
I have spent some time in Sheerwater since I became chair of the Sheerwater Regeneration Oversight Panel. Once for lunch to meet up with some residents, a visit to the Oasis cafe combined with stopping off at Regen Central for a chat with the staff of New Vision Homes. Finally, I attended a public meeting on Wednesday evening to answer what questions I could on the regeneration.
Other than receiving my allowance and IT/Comms allowance I have claimed no expenses in October or November.
The verified planning applications from the previous month:
- PLAN/2015/1299 – Single and double side storey extension and double and single storey rear extensions following demolition of existing garage, kitchen and bathroom.
- PLAN/2015/1264 – Change of use from A1 shops to 1×2 bedroom flat.
PLAN/2015/1264 is an interesting application. It’s the old dog grooming/hairdressers/tattooist shop. Ordinarily, I’d automatically oppose this as Brookwood needs to retain the remaining commercial shops otherwise the village will eventually die. However this application seeks to keep the existing shop fronts and remove over half the commercial floor space to become a self contained flat. This could well work in favour of Brookwood if the commercial space is smaller (lower rent) and especially with a living unit immediately behind. There is the issue of a lack of parking however. This will be the second flat in this building to be applied for this year without any parking. That is unacceptable.
As predicted, the Brookwood Lye is now flooded, performing the job it has done so for centuries and it is clear to laymen that the ponies are suffering. As I’ve blogged about previously, the land is in the hands of Surrey Wildlife Trust and they can’t afford to apply for the eviction notices. WBC officers are satisfed the ponies are not suffering, and I’d frankly be amazed if the RSPCA have even bothered to attend the site (I know it has been reported to them). However, I shall contact the RSPCA myself and see what they intend on doing.
I’ve been really busy recently with the Brookwood & Bridley Neighbourhood Forum management committee. The BBNF had arranged to have a meeting with Ray Morgan (WBC Chief Executive) just before Christmas to discuss Brookwood, including Five Acres, the crossroads and the station entrance and exit. The initial results of the second questionnaire were discussed as it is useful for Mr Morgan to understand the view of residents. It was a very useful meeting and there will be a further meeting in the village during January to discuss things further.
I’ve claimed no expenses in December but I have been paid my usual allowance and IT/Comms allowance.
It’s the last day of the year and next year brings huge change from a Councillor perspective in Brookwood. In May the Brookwood ward will cease to exist and Brookwood will be wrapped up into the largest ward in the borough to include Barnsbury, Hook Heath, Mayford & Sutton Green. There will be three ward councillors. It will be interesting times for the three new ward councillors and I think a difficult area to look after.
Finally, I wish everyone a happy New Year and with luck 2016 will turn out the way you want it to.