I am pleased that following my comments and representations, the Planning Committee voted this week to reject an application for a 7 storey block of flats on York Road. While I strongly believe that we need to deliver more housing in Woking, and accept that Mount Hermon will have to take proportionately far more development than other parts of the borough given its proximately to the town centre, I felt this application was unsuitable for its location.
As I made clear in my comments to planning officers, I felt that the size of the building was out of keeping with other residential properties around York Road and Mount Hermon Road. Allowing this application would have created an unacceptable precedent that would have seen high rise development stretch further and further along these streets, while the suggested parking capacity was inappropriate for the number of units being delivered.
The owner of the site has used the local press to indicate that, regardless of whether approval was granted, he had no intention of going ahead with plans to develop the site. Whether this is the case, it is entirely possible that this location will see another planning application in the future. I will continue to listen to residents and ensure that their views are taken into consideration, and that the housing development which we do need is sustainable and appropriate for the area.
While out delivering my last newsletter, I spoke with a number of residents on York Road and Mount Hermon Road who complained to me about Surrey County Council employees parking inappropriately while visiting Quadrant Court. The problem has been exacerbated by the small number of parking spaces available on York Road and the fact that many commuters use the street to park when travelling to the train station. I understand that residents have complained directly to the County Council and that a survey has been set up to see whether a consensus can be reached on a potential solution.
I have written to Surrey County Council asking them to be more considerate and reminding them of their responsibility to be good neighbours and not inconvenience those living nearby. I’m also aware that there is a proposal being discussed which could see residents only parking bays installed on York Road, which would mean that local homeowners get first priority during the times of peak demand when people are travelling to Quadrant Court, and would certainly support this initiative.
Some residents have contacted me to express their opposition to an application to demolish the two storey house next to Consort Court on York Road and replace it with a large tower block with 47 flats and 30 parking spaces.
I have three concerns about this application. The first is that the size of the proposal is out of keeping with similar properties in York Road. Although the New Central flats are just around the corner, properties on York Road are smaller with more unique features and we generally do not have kind of larger developments such as those seen around the station at this location. I would like to see the distinct character of both York Road and Mount Hermon Road maintained and would not wish this application to set a precedent for more tower blocks on these streets in the future.
Secondly, there is an issue with loss of amenity due to such an overbearing development. Residents at Consort Court have stated that he new building comes very close to their boundary and wlil leave them feeling ‘hemmed in’. Ideally I would like to see the number of floors on the new building reduced so that it is consistent with other properties at the top end of York Road.
Finally, I believe that there is a lack of sufficient parking space for the number of dwellings proposed. The developer may anticipate that many of the new residents will use the train to commute to work and so will not require a car, and the council does wish to encourage people to use other means of transport, but realistically we have to accept that people own cars and will want to drive them. I am also concerned that the addition of so many additional homes at quite this narrow part of York Road will exacerbate problems with congestion and traffic flows.
I have made representations to council officers and let them know my views, and very much hope they will listen to residents’ concerns. I will also take a close interest in this matter when it comes before the Planning Committee later in the autumn.