Owners of businesses in Woking’s Church Path want the development of the Albion House site suspended due to the effect it could have on their staff and customers. They say noise, dust and dirt during the work will be intolerable and also fear there could be asbestos pollution. Five owners have signed a letter to Woking Borough Council asking for the planning permission granted to be suspended until they are properly consulted and their concerns addressed and resolved.
The businesses are the Cellar Magneval wine bar, The BED Bar club and entertainment venue, Boz’s greengrocers, Jetta Lebanese restaurant and Grosvenor Billinghurst estate agents. Their concerns rest on the redevelopment of Albion House, which was built in the 1960s and was once the town’s tallest building.
Property company Wrenbridge has permission to refurbish and re-clad the offices and retail building to provide 50,000sq ft of office space. The business owners told the council: “Planning consent has been granted both for the development and the erection of scaffolding. This appears to have happened despite no statutory notice being given to local business operators and therefore no consultation with them. It follows that no account has been taken of the serious and possibly catastrophic damage they are likely to experience.”
The letter says that neither the council nor the developers have explained how they will be compensated during the 18 months of development. It adds that dust and dirt will spread to the surrounding area, there will be extreme noise from pneumatic equipment and possible further pollution as asbestos is removed from the building.
Cellar Magneval and Jetta have outdoor tables for customers which will be affected by any noise and potential pollution. The outdoor displays of at Boz’s could also be covered in dust.
Air quality monitoring during the work is also a concern as one of the owners has been advised that this will take place monthly. “Clearly this is insufficient and likely to be ineffectual, as it is unlikely that the project will be suspended once started even if significant levels of pollution are found,” the letter says.