Monthly Archives: July 2015
I’ve been informed that there will be further diversions around Onslow Crescent, Shaftsbury Road and Pembroke Road for two weeks from Tuesday 11th August, so the County Council can take forward highway maintenance and resurfacing. The work will take place between the hours of 8:30am and 5:30pm and is not expected to take longer than two weeks.
As with the repairs on White Rose Lane, access will be maintained for residents and emergency services although any other vehicle found to be obstructing the highway will be moved to a suitable location after all reasonable efforts have been made to contact the owners.
While I appreciate this will cause some inconvenience, I am told that the work is necessary and residents will of course benefit from the resurfacing of parts of these roads, which is long overdue.
At last week’s meeting of Full Council, I asked a question about homelessness in Woking. The question was prompted by a number of representations from residents who have highlighted the increase in rough sleepers underneath the canopy on Albion Square and in the tunnel underneath the railway station. Some of the people camped out have been begging aggressively around the station and along Guildford Road, creating a nuisance and intimidating atmosphere for residents and commuters.
In my question, a copy of which can be found here, I asked whether vulnerable people in Woking were slipping through the cracks and not getting the help and support they needed to avoid being made homeless.
I received an answer from Cllr Colin Kemp, the Portfolio Holder for Housing, who explained that the council was working closely with the York Road Project, which receives funding to support those facing or experiencing homelessness in the borough. Cllr Kemp explained that the York Road Project engages in active outreach to ascertain the reasons why people are sleeping on the streets, so it can get them the assistance they require. He also confirmed that rough sleepers able to sustain a tenancy are eligible to go on the housing register and can receive financial help through a bond scheme to help them find a place to stay. Those who are not sleeping rough but are concerned they could become homeless as a result of personal circumstances can go to the council for short term support and if necessary can be placed in emergency accommodation.
As a supplementary question I asked how the council was dealing with the issue of aggressive begging. Cllr Kemp noted that the police will speak to those responsible when complaints are received. However, he said that the council had received intelligence that those responsible were often from outside the borough, with the fact Woking is quite prosperous meaning the town is seen as a magnet for professional beggars from London and elsewhere.
I am pleased that the Executive is taking this issue seriously and that those facing homelessness are not being left to slip through the cracks.
I’ve just received notice from Surrey County Council that White Rose Lane will be temporarily closed to traffic between the junction with Ashwood Road and Cleardown for five days, starting from this Wednesday 22nd July. The purpose of the closure is to enable the highways authority to carry out urgent repair works.
The restrictions will only operate when traffic signs are displayed, and access will be maintained for pedestrians, business and emergency vehicles and those living in the area. Access will instead be diverted via Ashwood Road, Heathfield Road, and through the Hockering, and so residents in these areas may notice more traffic than usual.
Should residents have any complaints about these works, they can contact Surrey Highways on 01483 517514.
I have today written to Woking Borough Council to express my opposition to the inclusion of the Oriental Road car park in the council’s Development Plan Document (DPD). This document, which can be read here, sets out how the council intends to meet its target of building another 4,964 homes in Woking between now and 2027. The council has suggested that the car park could be used to build a high density tower block with aroud 220 new flats to help meet Woking’s housing needs.
While I agree that, with the demand we have for new homes in Woking, we need to look at whether we can meet our needs through brownfield land and sites which are already developed, and I accept that the bulk of new houses and flats in the borough will be built in the town centre, I believe Oriental Road is not a suitable location for the kind of high rise flats which we have seen elsewhere on Guildford Road and around the station. The houses along Oriental Road are small and suburban in character and a big flatted development would be totally out of keeping with the surroundings. Should the council decide that the car park is fit for a large scale housing development, it would go against a previous promise that Oriental Road should retain its distinct and peaceful character with one or two storey family homes rather than high density buildings.
I am also concerned that removing capacity at Oriental Road car park and replacing it with further housing could exacerbate problems with traffic and parking around the station. Woking station is extremely busy and can be gridlocked in the mornings and afternoons. Removing the car park without first putting in alternative provision would be a recipe for chaos.
Although no planning application is expected to come forward for the site within the next 11 to 15 years, and the land is not currently available for residental development, it is important that residents in Oriental Road make their views known if we are to protect the character of the area in the future. I’d encourage everyone, not just in Oriental Road, but all over the borough, to engage with the consultation and have their say.
The deadline for responses to the consultation is 5pm on Friday 31 July and residents can view the draft DPD at www.woking2027.info.
Residents living near the old St Dunstan’s church off White Rose Lane will have received a letter from the council in the last few days advising them of a new planning application on the site. A plan has been submitted for landscaping and beautification changes to accompany the proposal for a residential development of 91 flats with retail units and amenity space, which was approved by the Planning Committee in 2012.
There is a long history of contentious planning applications on the St Dunstan’s site, which remains an under-used brownfield site that would benefit from some form of house building. I have always felt that any development at this location needs to be in keeping with the local area and similar to neighbouring properties on White Rose Lane and around from the post office on the corner of Oriental Road. My colleagues and I successfully defeated a proposal for a 23 storey building in 2010, and were able to negotiate with the developer over the height of the currently approved planning consent, securing a reduction from 17 storeys to a much more acceptable range of between 7 and 11 storeys.
The current application does not represent a material change to the plans that were agreed a few years ago and so it will be dealt with under delegated powers rather than going to a full Planning Committee. However, residents are still able to make representations and can have their say through the council’s public access planning portal, or by contacting the planning department by post or email. The deadline for responses is Wednesday 22nd Juy and any comments received will help inform officers’ decision on whether to recommend that the application be granted and on what conditions to attach to the approval if it does go through.