COUNCIL chiefs want to debunk the ‘myths’ revolving around proposals to redevelop Sheerwater.
Hundreds of residents from Sheerwater piled into an independent public meeting last week in response to Woking Borough Council’s £250 million Regeneration Project.
Around 350 residents and key stakeholders attended the Bishop David Brown School wanting answers from the council and social housing managers, New Vision Homes.
Portfolio Holder for Strategic Development, Councillor David Bittleston, said: “I’d like to thank the community for an excellent turnout and for raising concerns during a constructive meeting. We acknowledge there are many issues, myths and rumours surrounding the proposals.”
The meeting had been called in response to the public. A petition of nearly 500 signatures had been put forward hoping to halt the regeneration. Cllr Bittleston said: “There were questions that at this stage we could not answer, but when we have the information we are committed to responding in full.”
However, he did emphasise the council’s commitment to the project. He added: “The feedback will be considered, but the regeneration of Sheerwater remains our intention.
“A big concern was from owner occupiers about how we value their properties. To clarify: independent valuations would be carried out by a Royal Institute Chartered Surveyor.
“If owners don’t agree with that valuation, they can have their own by a RICS – called a ‘red book’ valuation – without blight on the property [as if there was not going to be a regeneration]. We also propose to add 10 per cent as a homeless payment and reasonable moving costs.
“As agreed by the council in July, New Vision Homes will develop a masterplan for an application submission later this year. This is an unsettling and uncertain time for many, which is why we are committed to an ongoing consultation before submitting the plans.
“I’d urge residents to continue to engage with us and New Vision Homes as these develop.”
The council said the scheme aims to make better use of the land, with the potential to provide about 300 new homes and replace around 600; a total of 900.
However, Yvonne Swallow, who lives in Sheerwater and whose home is under threat, said: “After last week’s meeting, I still feel residents haven’t been listened to. Calling the area ‘deprived’ means having nothing, yet we have shops, good education with two schools and two nurseries, doctors, dentist, a park, football pitches, athletics track and more – we already have everything we’ve been offered, so we are not deprived.
“It is an excuse to move people off the very estate the council put here in the first place, sacrificing everyone’s homes, lives and memories. Many residents have lived here more than 30 years.
“The only thing we will be gaining are 300 houses which will mean overcrowding and more traffic. We are happy within our community. There should be no regeneration.”