White Rose Lane
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.
Shortly before the election I held a meeting with people who live in the properties at the bottom end of White Rose Lane towards the junction with Old Woking Road. Residents have been campaigning for additional measures to reduce the speed of traffic coming into Woking from the east of the borough. Although White Rose Lane already has a number of speed reduction features built in, the numerous blind curves, the narrowness of the road and the lack of a proper footpath beyond the Jack & Jill steps makes it a particularly treacherous route for pedestrians.
Earlier in the year residents submitted a petition to Surrey County Council calling for the introduction of a 20mph speed limit. Unfortunately, that proposal was not accepted on the grounds that very few roads in Woking have such a low limit.
My County Council colleague Liz Bowes and I are currently working with officers to explore what could be done to install a footpath which would run from Toad Hall in White Rose Lane to the corner of Old Woking Road. There are, however, a number of obstacles which need to be looked at carefully. There are uncertain land ownership issues, with part of the highway and pavement being owned by Woking Borough Council, other parts being owned by Surrey County Council, and others being privately owned by residents. There is also the lack of a consensus in favour of a footpath, with some residents being strongly opposed. The fact that this part of White Rose Lane is so narrow also presents logistical difficulties, and, even if a solution can be found, there are a lot of demands on the highways budget and the project will need to compete with other areas which are also looking for funding.
As a first step, Councillor Bowes and I have arranged a meeting between White Rose Lane residents Surrey County Council officers Alan Milne and Keith Patching, to take place on Tuesday 16th June. The purpose of this meeting will be to identify ownership of the land running along White Rose Lane and to discuss ways in which we can either reduce speeding along the road or make pedestrian access safer. Separately to this, I have also contacted Serco and asked them to carry out remedial work on the shrubbery between Toad Hall and the White Rose Lane Nature Reserve so the road can be made easier to navigate for those walking along this route.
Once this meeting with highway officers has been held we will be able to decide the next best steps. I will continue to keep residents updated and ensure they are a part of the discussion.
A number of residents have complained that the footpath running from White Rose Lane and the Hoe Stream to St John the Baptist School and Old Woking is in a bad state of repair, with trip hazards from overgrown branches and hedges and the poorly maintained fence. The route is difficult to navigate, particularly for elderly people, during the daytime and is unwelcoming in the dark.
My fellow ward councillor, Cllr David Bittleston, and I have taken this matter up with Serco and with the officer responsible for neighbourhood services to see if we can get some remedial action taken. We will update residents as soon as we have anything to report.
This week I will be presenting a Notice of Motion to full council to try and secure a regular schedule of maintenance at the White Rose Lane Nature Reserve, which runs through the woodland beside the Hoe Stream and connects Woking Park to Hoe Bridge School.
The nature reserve is a site of interest to local walking and rambler groups and is home to a significant variety of wildlife including owls, bats, deer and various species of rare fungi and wild flowers. Over the last few years volunteers have been working to carry out scrub clearance and removal of the invasive Himalayan Baslam, which if left uncontrolled could spread across the site and overwhelm the native flowers and fauna.
My Notice of Motion calls on the council to recognise the potential of the White Rose Lane Nature Reserve to be an important amenity and local attraction in Woking. If the motion is approved, the council will identify options and allocate resources for landscaping and improvement so that the nature reserve can be enjoyed by both residens and visitors to the borough.
White Rose Lane will be closed for two weeks from today while Affinity Water replace some of the pipes underneath the road between Barrens Park and Wendella Close. Residents who live further along White Rose Lane towards Bylands and Rosewood will have to use an alternative route into town up Maybury Hill or Old Woking Road then along East Hill.
The disruption is inconvenient but necessary to allow Affinity Water to carry out these much needed repair works. I have been given reassurances that the work will be completed in good time. I will be monitoring reports of any noise or disruption to residents and will be happy to take up any complaints from residents directly with the company.
Several residents have reported that the foliage at the entrance to Rosewood has become overgrown and is blocking the line of sight for vehicles attempting to exit onto White Rose Lane. There is concern that the lack of visibility could result in an accident involving either traffic going too fast along White Rose Lane or children and parents using Rosewood as a drop off and collection point for St John the Baptist School.
I have been in touch with Serco who tell me they have added this location to their priority work programme and will carry out the necessary maintenance and pruning back of the hedge in the next few days.