Woking Business

THE redevelopment of Woking town centre has moved an important step forward with retail giant Marks & Spencer signing a lease for a two-storey 50,000sq ft food and clothes store in the plush Victoria Square complex.

The deal means that the superstore is now a certainty for the base of the £460million development that will include a 196-room Hilton Woking hotel and 390 apartments.

David Ayre, Property Manager at Marks & Spencer, said: “We’re really looking forward to work starting on our store later on this summer.

“M&S Woking will bring shoppers the very best of M&S’s clothing and food products – as well as outstanding customer service.”

The Victoria Square development, comprising the former Woking Market, Post Office, Globe House, Woking Fire Station and part of the existing Wolsey Place Shopping Centre, will be delivered by Bandstand Square Developments Ltd, a joint venture between Moyallen, owners of Peacocks Shopping Centre, and Woking Borough Council.

Various stores in the Wolsey, including Boots, will be moving over the next six weeks to help to ease the building.

Council chief executive Ray Morgan said he wanted to emphasise that the town centre was open for business during the inevitable disruption, including road closures and diversions.

Mr Morgan said that residents were being put off from coming into the town centre because of negative headlines about the changes.

He said there was a particularly difficult day in January, but that was mostly down to problems on the M25 that had knock-on effects.

“We do want to discourage through-traffic; using the A320 as a cut-through from the A3 to the M25. But we want to encourage people to continue to come into the town for work, leisure or retail therapy,” Mr Morgan said.

He said there would be further announcements about changes to the roads, including having a bus lane on the far left of Victoria Way between Lockfield Drive and the pedestrian crossing near the New Victoria Theatre. There would be a bus stop near the Bedser Bridge across the Basingstoke Canal to allow easier pedestrian access to that part of the town.

Mr Morgan said that the new apartments would be for rent only and would cost about £1,800 a month for a two-bedroom home.

He said these would be aimed at couples, aged in the 22 to 38 bracket, who both had jobs and might want to share with another couple.

There would be other accommodation in the town centre that would be targeted at people with lower incomes.

STUDENTS aiming to be Formula 1 engineers have been given a big boost by a Woking businessman.

Billy Gallon, boss of the Buckingham car dealership in Albert Drive, Sheerwater, has stepped in to support a motor racing team run by Brooklands College.

The extra funding will enable the college’s motorsport engineering degree course students to travel around Britain to compete throughout the 2017 UK Formula Vee championship season.

Billy – (MD Buckingham of Guildford – third on the left) with his staff, together with Jake Hockley (Driver) and the team from Brooklands College.

Their car, a 130mph single-seater based around Volkswagen parts, is owned and driven by cyber security company chief Jake Hockley, 39, and all the maintenance is carried out at Brooklands.

Now students, many of whom hope to work in F1 after graduating, will be able to look after the vehicle during race meetings at circuits including Silverstone, Brands Hatch and Oulton Park.

The team will be known as Buckingham Brooklands College Racing.

Mr Gallon, 59, said: “This is a wonderful and exciting opportunity for Buckingham to put something back into the local community.

“It will also help to bring along Britain’s next generation of engineers, who are sorely needed by the motor trade, both on the track and on the road.

“It makes sense for Buckingham, as VW dealers, to have a connection with a nationwide championship for cars that use VW parts.

“Apart from anything else, being involved in a racing team should be a lot of fun for me, my family and our workforce.”

Students Dominic Connors and Adam Burch, both 19, are among those who believe the project will be an important stepping stone to F1 or other international motorsport championships.

Dominic, whose ambition is to become a top racing car designer, said: “This is a great way to get there.

“This sort of racing is where companies and teams look for future employees and even by itself it will give me a really good experience of working with a team.”

Adam, who hopes to become a data analyst, added: “It’s 100 per cent about experience in the motorsport world, so every race I attend will go on my CV and will definitely help me to land a job after graduating.

“To be able to say I’ve helped to run a team at a track is so much better than just saying I’ve been in a workshop.”

The team is stepping up to a full season of racing after dipping a toe in the water last year by undertaking a limited campaign without sponsorship.

Its value was shown when one of the students involved, Toby Cook, landed a job with the renowned M-Sport team, which ran World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier to victory in this year’s Monte Carlo Rally.

NETWORK Rail and South West Trains have published detailed information to help passengers plan their journeys in advance, ahead of some major disruptions taking place this summer.

As part of an £800 million Railway Upgrade Plan, between 5 and 28 August Platforms 1 to 9 at London Waterloo will close. And while Platforms 20 to 24 will temporarily re-open, significantly fewer trains will run right across the network.

Construction will also start on extending Platforms 1 to 4 to accommodate longer trains on suburban routes, a crucial part of the Waterloo & South West upgrade, which will provide 30% more passenger space during the busiest times of the day.

The majority of stations will have fewer services while a small number will be closed.

Becky Lumlock, Route Managing Director of Network Rail, said: “We’re in the midst of the largest upgrade at Waterloo for decades and this is a significant part of the plan. Currently the majority of our engineering work is behind the scenes, but in August we have a number of critical pieces of the programme to complete.

“This means big changes and we want passengers to be equipped to plan ahead. Waterloo is the busiest railway station in Britain and numbers are continuing to grow. We therefore need to increase capacity.”

Christian Roth, Managing Director, South West Trains, added: “We are doing everything we can to inform passengers and businesses more than six months in advance so they understand the possible impact, whether regular commuters or infrequent travellers.”

Anthony Smith, Chief Executive of independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: “Passengers have a simple message: ‘provide me with clear information about how my journey will be affected, how it will impact on me and what alternatives are in place’.

“It is reassuring to see Network Rail and South West Trains are committed to understanding more about their passengers’ needs.

“Staff need to be on hand to provide passengers with information to minimise disruption.”

In addition to the works in August, there will be works at London Waterloo on some weekends from Easter through to October. More details will be published closer to the time but passengers are reminded to continue to check ahead.

The information is available online and includes more detailed travel advice for each station, draft service information and a special ‘at a glance’ train service map.

In addition, Network Rail and South West Trains are starting a large passenger roadshow, with 61 events in stations and on trains until 15 February.

FOR more details and to plan your journey, pick up an updated leaflet, visit www.southwesttrains.co.uk/wswupgrade or search ‘Waterloo Upgrade’ online.

SURREY Heath and Runnymede councils supported each other’s applications to be included on the Government’s garden villages list, it has emerged.

While the communities near Fairoaks Airport and the former military land at Longcross were unaware of the bids for nearby huge housing developments, the two authorities were co-operating on their ‘expressions of interest’.

On 28 July last year, three days before the Government deadline for garden village bids, the councils’ chief executives exchanged similarly worded letters saying they will work with each other on the developments.

Both bids cover a small part of each of the neighbouring boroughs, so it would natural for the two councils to co-operate on the potential developments.

But they were doing this at a time when the communities that would be affected had not been consulted and had no idea that garden villages were being proposed on their doorsteps.

The former DERA, or Chobham Tank Factory land at Longcross has long been designated in Runnymede’s local plan for a new ‘village’ in the Green Belt. It is jointly owned by developers Crest Nicholson and the Aviva insurance conglomerate, which had an existing plan for 1,300 homes on the military test track land.

The Fairoaks garden village bid, however, came as a complete surprise to the Chobham community, including the parish council. It was made public only after Surrey Heath MP Michael Gove asked the parish in November for its views on a potential garden village at the airport.

This week, Mr Gove was ignoring further requests from the News & Mail for comments on why he got involved and for his views on the garden village bids.

While Runnymede has made its application freely available on its website, Surrey Heath is refusing to release its bid, saying it is an ‘exempt’ document.

Surrey Heath also declined to comment further on the failed Fairoaks bid, saying only that it will consider a planning application for housing on the airport land if one is made.

DRIVERS are facing months of disruption in Woking town centre as roads are closed or made one-way during work connected with the major building developments.

Diversions and a temporary closure will make Victoria Way a road to avoid. Surrey County Council has warned of ‘major traffic impact with significant delays [that] can be expected in the surrounding area’.

The key commuting route will be closed westbound from the Brook House roundabout to the Chobham Road junction from 11 to 19 February during the laying of heating and cooling pipes for the Victoria Gate office refurbishment. No diversion route is advised.

Church Street West will be closed in both directions between 30 January and 6 February with diversions in place.

In addition, from the end of this month, The Broadway and High Street, adjacent to the railway line, and Cawsey Way will be made one-way. This will mean that there will be no entry into Cawsey Way from Victoria Way, with diversions in place.

These changes will be in place for at least nine months during the demolition of existing buildings and their replacement by the £460 million Victoria Square development.

The alternative route to The Broadway will put further pressure on Victoria Way as traffic is sent northeast to the Brook House roundabout and then onto Chertsey Road and Stanley Road.

In addition, work began this week on an entrance filter lane for Hoe Valley School, with a lane closure and temporary traffic lights on Egley Road. The speed limit will be cut to 30mph during the roadworks, which are expected to last eight months.

Other ideas being considered include the reconfiguring of the congested High Street/Cawsey Way with access to Victoria Way moved to the site of the former Market Square and High Street closed to all traffic except buses and bicycles during the day and evening. Cawsey Way would then be redundant and removed, paving the way for more development and open spaces. The taxi rank outside the railway station, which causes significant traffic congestion, would then be moved to The Broadway with extra bays at the eastern end of Goldsworth Road.

A bus lane on Victoria Way with a bus stop near The Lightbox are also being considered.

SOUTH West Trains recently took delivery of the first of its 30 new Class 707 high density inner suburban five car trains.

The Desiro City (707101) rolling stock is now under wraps at Clapham Junction after vandals sprayed it with graffiti shortly after its arrival.

It was hauled by two Class 37 diesel locomotives from Dollands Moor freight year near Folkestone after making its journey through the Channel Tunnel from the Siemens testing centre at Wildenrath near Dusseldorf in Germany.

The new trains will be seen on the Woking to Waterloo line but will mostly run on the route from London to Windsor & Eton Riverside.  Costing £210 million the new trains are expected to enter service across the network from June this year.
One railway enthusiast recently spent £2,550 securing a cab ride in of one the new trains at the Siemens test track in Germany after SWT offered it on eBay.

HOEBRIDGE Golf Centre, near Old Woking, has opened its newly refurbished gym after a £250,000 investment at the venue.

The renovations to the Gym at Hoebridge, previously known as Horizones Health and Fitness, received a complete makeover with the introduction of state-of-the-art Matrix equipment, ‘My Ride’ spin technology, and refurbished changing rooms and fitness studios.

Hoebridge Senior General Manager Mike O’Connell said: “The investments made at Hoebridge have enabled us to provide an even better service to our many members and visitors.”

“The refurbishment to the Gym at Hoebridge is the final stage in an extensive project to enhance the facilities we have on offer here, and invite more people from the area to enjoy the social, health, and leisure benefits of visiting Hoebridge.”

Over the last 12 months, nearly £500,000 worth of investments have been made at the club with enhancements to the centre’s events facilities, including the installation of a function suite that was opened last year for recreational and business use.

Hoebridge has three separate golf courses, Footgolf facilities, Mr Mulligan’s Pirate Golf, a gym, and two multi-purpose function rooms, both available for hire.

For more information on Hoebridge, visit www.hoebridgegc.co.uk.

ainsley-harriott-lorenzo-montuori

ONE of the very best takeaway dishes in Britain can be found in Knaphill, according to a national competition. The seafood pasta at Lorenzo Deli on High Street earned Lorenzo Montuori a place as a finalist in the Best Takeaway Chef in Britain category in the British Takeaway Awards.

Lorenzo didn’t get first place in the BTAs, which are run in association with Just Eat, but was delighted to have appeared at the awards ceremony at The Savoy in London last week.

 

“I would like to say thank you to my customers for nominating me,” he said.

As a finalist, Lorenzo had been invited to to Cactus Kitchens in London, home of the BBC1 show Saturday Kitchen and Michel Roux Jr’s cookery school, to cook his seafood pasta for the competition judges, including celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott and businesswoman and Dragon’s Den star Sarah Willingham.

The dish of shellfish and squid includes parsley, basil, chilli and lemon zest.

Lorenzo said: “I enjoy cooking seafood pasta and the customers enjoy eating it. I keep the recipe simple, light and low calorie. This recognition pushes me to do better and increase my knowledge further.”

AMAZON’S fast delivery service, Prime Now, is offering to deliver a range of Christmas jumpers at short notice to customers in the Woking area.

The festive sweaters can be purchased in time for office parties and company meals using the service’s mobile app, with delivery available in one or two-hour windows.

christmas-jumperSame day, two-hour delivery is at no additional cost; delivery within one hour of ordering is £6.99. The service is available seven days a week, morning until night.

PRIME members can download the app, which is available on iOS and Android devices. Visit www.amazon.co.uk/primenow for details.

IT WAS brisk business at West Byfleet’s Super Saturday event last weekend, when traders and charities attracted shoppers to buy locally – especially for festive purchases.

Hundreds of people converged on the village centre to seek out bargains and specialities, and to support their local shops and stalls run by community groups.

Choirs from the Marist Catholic Primary and West Byfleet Infant Schools provided entertainment and Father Christmas made an early visit.

Gloria Wier who makes Christmas Decorations, with examples of her skill.

Gloria Wier who makes Christmas Decorations, with examples of her skill.

West Byfleet & Pyrford Residents’ Association presented a cheque for £300 to pay for the village Christmas tree and also for a tree in tribute to the late Jerry Kane, a ‘traditional’ manager of the NatWest Bank branch.

Jerry, who was well known in the village, sadly died unexpectedly from a heart attack at the age of 54 on 22 November. His memorial tree is outside the bank in Station Approach.

A special calendar featuring ladies from the village who dared to bare all in aid of the Dennis Ralph Foundation was being sold by Beate Ralph and her son Steven.

Beate’s three-and-a-half-year-old son Dennis died of a brain tumour in 2007, and the charity was set up to support families who have someone who is suffering a serious illness.

Jonathan Lord MP with Father Christmas and Pauline Hedges.

Jonathan Lord MP with Father Christmas and Pauline Hedges.

The Belles of West Byfleet calendar is available via the foundation’s Facebook page.

Also raising money were the 1st West Byfleet Guides, selling Christmas wares to help pay for a trip abroad. They have a page at easyfundraining.org where shoppers can support the group with donations while shopping online.

West Byfleet Business Association did its bit for charity when it handed over a cheque for £700 to the Woking & Sam Beare Hospices. The money, raised at the association’s Summer:Live event this year, was accepted on the charities’ behalf by Woking MP Jonathan Lord.

One of around 300 MPs supporting the Small Business Saturday campaign nationwide (www.smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com), Mr Lord told the News & Mail: “West Byfleet was in a wonderful festive mood on Saturday with an array of stalls and stores doing a great trade.

“Shoppers and visitors had a good time being entertained by Father Christmas and the excellent school choirs and, among the stalls raising funds for local charities, the local scouts and brownies produced some impressive homemade gifts and decorations.”

“It was wonderful to see West Byfleet businesses and charities coming together to make a very special event.”

Refreshments were also on sale including burgers provided by JL Butchers of West Byfleet and Christmas pudding-infused vodka from the Animals Asia charity stall.

This year’s could be the last Super Saturday in the village for some time due to work starting on the site of Sheer House.

The seven-story building in the centre, which currently houses offices, a car park, shops, banks, chemists, coffee shops and the Post Office, is due to be demolished and the land redeveloped.

Business Association Chairman Pauline Hodges told the News & Mail: “We may not be able to hold this event again for a couple of years until all the demolition and rebuilding work is completed as there probably won’t be the space we need.”

During Super Saturday, the association surveyed visitors about their parking needs, as spaces will be severely limited once the Sheer House car park is closed. The association will be talking to Woking Borough Council about how extra spaces can be provided during the redevelopment.

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