I’ve been informed by Surrey County Council that the area around Oriental Road, Heathside Crescent and Station Approach will be subject to temporary traffic closure on the evening of Monday 2nd May, from 9pm to 6am, to allow BT access to carry out repairs and install new customer connections. As is usually the case, access will be maintained for pedestrians, residents, and emergency services, while advanced warning signs will be displayed ahead of the work being carried out.
I hope that this work will not be too disruptive for people living near the station but if residents have any complaints then please do let me now and I will be happy to raise any issues with the utility company.
At a meeting of the Joint Committee between Woking Borough Council and Surrey County Council last night, officers were asked by local resident Marianne Meinke whether it would be possible to carry out speed monitoring along Oriental Road.
There are some specific challenges regarding parking and speeding at Oriental Road, with the street being very congested both at the bottom end near Woking station, and at the top end by the entrance to the Shah Jahan mosque and the Lion Retail Park. Due to the large number of cars which park on the pavement near the mosque, pedestrians often have to walk on the road at this point, while the lack of a crossing or design features means that vehicles can travel quite fast along the middle stretch of road. This is particularly dangerous given how narrow the pavement is, and the fact that this route is used by schoolchildren and those walking into town.
Through the Joint Committee my Conservative colleagues and I have been able to deliver traffic calming measures in places like Park Road and Old Woking Road, and I successfully pressed for the County Council to commit to feasibility studies for speed restrictions on Mount Hermon Road, East Hill and Maybury Hill in the next financial year. Oriental Road is already being monitored through the council’s Speed Management Plan, while the Joint Committee’s work programme contains a proposal to try and alleviate problems with speeding traffic.
Should I be re-elected in May then I will continue to press both the county and borough authorities to commit resources and do more to tackle problem areas on roads leading into and out of the town centre.
There have been several complaints about the parking situtaion at Woking station, both on the town centre side of the railway line where taxis frequently park across or block bus stops, and on the south side, which is frequently gridlocked and poorly designed, with insufficient space meaning that taxis often back out onto Oriental Road or Station Approach. This is confusing for motorists and creates a dangerous environment for pedestrians.
I raised this issue at last week’s meeting of Full Council, and asked what steps the council is taking to ensure the current parking restrictions are adhered to, and what consideration is being given to long term changes at Woking station so that the parking, taxi and public transport infrastructure is appropriate. In response, the Leader the Council said that evening patrols take place each week on one side of the station to deter and enforce against illegal parking.
Over the longer term, the area around the station is subject to a proposed £13m redevelopment bid, and, if approved, work could start as early as Autumn. As Chairman of the Licensing Committee, I have been active in questioning council officers about how the taxi facilities will operate, particularly given concerns about the overspill onto Oriental Road. There are also detailed, if still unconfirmed plans, to move the tax rank further down High Street towards the bottom end of Chertsey Road, while the aspiration set out in the Development Plan Document is for a complete redesign of Woking station. The council will consult on these plans in due course once they have something specific to take forward, and I will continue to take a close interest and be actively involved in these discussions.
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.