Development Plan Document
Woking Borough Council has published the responses it received to its consultation on the Development Plan Document (DPD). The DPD is perhaps the most important consultation exercise that the council has carried out in the last decade. It sets out the key sites where the council believes it can meet the future housing requirements of the borough and where development is likely to take place over the next 20 years.
The consultation has been contentious due to its proposal for a modest adjustment to the green belt in order to deliver more housing in areas such as Hook Heath, Pyrford and Mayford. However, the DPD has a wider significance beyond the debate about the green belt. It is essentially a manifesto for how the council would like to see Woking develop and what we want our community to look like between now and 2027. Sites for residential and commercial development have been identified in every ward in the borough and you can read the full set of proposals here. Inclusion within the DPD does not indicate that a planning application is likely to come forward in the near future, but rather gives an indication about what is likely to be proposed and what kind of development the council thinks is most appropriate for that site.
The consultation identifies several locations for housing development within Mount Hermon. Some of these are relatively straightforward, such as the flats and shops along Guildford Road and opposite New Central. Other locations, such as the Aggregates Yard and the old St Dunstan’s site, will cause debate and there will need to be some consideration about what housing is likely to be acceptable. There are also proposals contained within the DPD to which I have strongly objected, such as the suggestion that the White Rose Lane post office or the Oriental Road car park could host high rise residential developments.
You can browse the responses that the council has received to the consultation here, and you can read my own submission here. The next step will be for council officers to review the representations that have been made and then submit a revised document for discussion. There will then be the opportunity for further comment on the revised version before the DPD is submitted to the Secretary of State later in the summer.
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.