Fury over plans for more homes

IT WASN’T just the gloomy weather that brought a black cloud over Knaphill recently – residents are deeply downcast about recent proposals for properties in what is already a high-density housing area around the former Brookwood
Hospital site.

Developers Taylor Wimpey have submitted an application for two four-bedroom houses on the small slice of open space at the entrance to Florence Way ‘opposite numbers 54 and 55’.

DOWNCAST RESIDENTS – Councillor Melanie Whitehand with residents Paul and Nina Skinner from Florence Way

DOWNCAST RESIDENTS – Councillor Melanie Whitehand with residents Paul and Nina Skinner from Florence Way

Paul and Nina Skinner have lived at number 54 since their house was built 11 years ago. Paul said: “What has been uppermost in my mind is that we have always been led to believe that the land could never be built on.

“The original implication was that this was because of contamination. We have never been told otherwise, whether it has been cleaned up or not, so the plans came as a bit of a shock.”

The narrow road off Redding Way is the only vehicle access to both Florence Way’s 55 houses and the impressively gated entrance to the 60 apartments of Florence Court in the adjacent buildings (Brookwood Hospital).

People living in these two developments are furious that only a handful of residences were formally advised of the plans – none in Florence Court – when in fact the new housing would impact the lives of everyone there.

So far more than 40 comments have been submitted on Woking Borough Council’s website – all strongly objecting to the proposals.

A number of residents have said they bought their homes on the assurance that the piece of land would remain an open space in perpetuity. With parking already a major issue on Florence Way and the huge volume of traffic to and from both developments also a factor, residents say any more housing would just be a step too far.

Sydney Shore CBE called a meeting with local councillors on Thursday on behalf of Florence Court Residents’ Association. Councillors Melanie Whitehand and Debbie Harlow are totally behind them.

Cllr Whitehand said: “Florence Court is a lovely historical site and the council have an obligation to retain the views. As a councillor, I believe I should support residents in helping to make the council recognise that. There is also a serious safety issue that the build would create a dangerous blind spot for people driving around the corner.

“The houses would not be in keeping with the surrounding architecture, either. That land was guaranteed by the developers to always be landscaped as a green space and now they seem to be going back on their word.”

Sydney said: “It would be a case of cultural vandalism if they were built.

“It had been agreed by the developers that the space be landscaped to afford good views of the mid 19th-century buildings as part of Woking’s heritage. Trees have been planted and are making good progress.”

Nina added: “There isn’t enough space as it is with cars parked on front lawns and on both sides of the road as you go further into the estate.”

Privacy, safety, noise, being overlooked and feeling confined also contribute to the long list of objections. Nina said: “The proposed houses would look directly into two of our bedrooms and the sitting room. The planning application must be rejected.”

Ward Cllr Saj Hussain cannot pass comment because he is on the Planning Committee, but he did say: “We have to respect representation from residents who are very concerned about the outcome of Florence Way. There is also the aspect of Florence Court being of local historical interest. Residents are clearly troubled about the plans.”

Two previous applications have been thrown out. The first because of contaminated land; the second because plans for three houses were considered too dense.

To view PLAN/2014/0754, or to add a comment, visit www.woking.gov.uk/planning. The expiry date has now been extended from August 20 to September 4. It is thought the plans will be discussed on September 30.

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