development

MORE than 1,500 letters of support for plans to redevelop the Woking FC stadium and build associated housing have been delivered to the borough council.

Rosemary Johnson, the club chairman, delivered the 1,513 letters last Friday helped by Kelvin Reay, the club’s football liaison director, and Sam Loxton, the commercial director.

Rosemary Johnson, the Woking FC chairman, delivers letters of support for the new stadium and housing to the council offices, helped by Kelvin Reay, left, and Sam Loxton. Picture by Terry Habgood

More than 1,300 came from people in Woking and the surrounding area, with others from as far as Tanzania and New Zealand. Some 184 people wrote from The Netherlands.

The council has received 629 objections and eight comments of support on its website containing details of the main planning application, for a new 9,000-seat stadium and 1,048 adjacent flats in five buildings between three and 11 storeys.

A secondary application, involving moving the David Lloyd health club to Egley Road and building 36 new houses, has received 333 objections and one comment of support.

Mrs Johnson, said outside the council chambers: “We are delighted to have received over 1,500 letters so far in support of this scheme. More than 200 of these are from outside England, which shows our small club has international appeal. When they come to Woking for games they are supporting the wider Woking economy.

“The plans for Woking Community Stadium are about more than just a building. Although the development will give a much-needed cash injection to the club and attract investment into the game, it is actually about more than even football. The keyword is ‘community’, for this scheme will benefit the whole community.”

For the full story get the 16 January edition of the News & Mail, and see letters on page 10

HIGH-RISE developments could go up across the borough if the current plans for Cardinal Court, the housing development next to Woking Football Club, go ahead, say campaigners.

South Woking Action Group (SWAG) is seeking to scale down the planned building of 1,100 one and two-bedroom flats in Kingfield, which will help to pay for upgrading the Cards’ stadium to Football League standards.

MP Jonathan Lord addresses the meeting alongside Katie Bowes, centre, and Monique van Bellen

“If the development goes ahead as suggested, this sets a precedent for this scale of development in other low-lying areas of the borough and surrounding areas,” said Katie Bowes, a SWAG committee member.

SWAG held a public meeting last Saturday and is planning to ask questions at the Woking Joint Committee meeting at Woking Borough Council next Wednesday (25 September).  The group will also present a petition to a full council meeting on 17 October, currently signed by 584 people, calling on the council to “stop [the] extreme proposal” contained in the development plan.

Katie, who will present the petition, said the group was not seeking to halt any development of the area and football club, but wanted it to be respectful of and in character with the local community.

“We want to work with the relevant parties on the development. We want to be involved and heard and not have decisions made ‘in the interests of the local community’ without our input,” Katie said.

For the full story get the 19 September edition of the News & Mail

BANDSTAND SQUARE is set to receive a £150million facelift, Woking Borough Council has announced.  

Council chief executive Ray Morgan, flanked by leader of the council John Kingsbury and key stakeholders from Woking Shopping, also revealed that Marks & Spencer would act as the anchor store in a gleaming new 60,000 sq ft unit.

An additional 60,000 sq ft of space will be occupied by other retails in a project that is due to break ground in spring 2014.

TOP MARKS - Marks & Spencer will be the site's anchor store

TOP MARKS – Marks & Spencer will be the site’s anchor store

Woking Borough Council will cover 50 per cent of the overall cost of the development, with the remaining funds being drawn from outside funding partners.

Mr Morgan said the outside parties would be finalised by December this year and confirmed that Marks & Spencer was the ‘vital trigger’ to their involvement.

He added said: “We are delighted that Marks & Spencer have agreed to become our anchor store.

“This project has come from understanding what the town desired and is another step to improving Woking town centre.

“It follows our core strategy and we are pleased with the amount of retailer interest.

“Everything is geared towards trading in time for Christmas 2017.”

Director of Woking Town Centre Management Tim Buckley said: “This is a massive step forward for the town and is a demonstration that Woking is open for business.”

A planning application for Bandstand Square will be submitted early in the new year with approval all but assured. And 190 apartments, plus a new business-class hotel, will also rise up with building work estimated for completion in 2017.

It is estimated the development will generate more than 1,000 new jobs and will complete the integration of the Wolsey Place and Peacocks shopping centres.

Customers will be able to circulate through the two centres with an “enhanced quality retail experience”.

But the project is not without its stumbling blocks.

Construction cannot begin without first relocating the fire station from its current home in Church Street.

Council chiefs also confirmed that an alternate road system will need to be installed, thus creating a need to rehome Woking’s bustling market stalls.

With the acquisition and subsequent demolition of the former Post Office and Globe House in Victoria Way, Gala Coral staff will also need to be suitably relocated.

A spokesman for the betting company said the council had their full backing.

They said: “The council has kept us informed about its plans and we are in discussion with it to relocate our employees during 2013.

“This will enable the site to be cleared in preparation for construction in 2014. It is most encouraging that the council is leading on improving the town and at the same time taking care to retain existing employment.”

 

DELIGHT - councillor Graham Cundy

DELIGHT – councillor Graham Cundy

A COUNCIL framework for how Woking as a borough will evolve over the next 15 years has been declared ‘sound’ by an independent planning inspector.

The policy, also known as Woking 2027, will guide future developments in the town, help outline where jobs will be created, highlights commercial opportunites, and also acts as a template for residential builds and environmental protection.

Andrew Seaman, appointed by the secretary of state to undertake the evaulation, also said that Woking’s core strategy is “legally compliant, subject to modifications, and should be adopted.”

The approval comes as a huge relief to portfolio holder for planning policy councillor Graham Cundy who said the framework could be integrated into council plans as soon as October.

He said: “We are absolutely delighted to have such a positive response from the planning inspector to our core strategy.

“The core strategy will now be considered for adoption by council at its meeting in October.

“If adopted, it will form the council’s planning policy framework for managing future development within the area.”

Initial core strategy plans were drawn up in 2010 when residents and local businesses and organisations were consulted on a draft of how the borough should move forward.

The feedback was infused with additional council research before a core strategy document was produced.

This document was subject to further consultation during the summer of 2011, before it was submitted to central Government the following December.

A special public inquiry was conducted earlier this year in which the framework was scrutinsed by Mr Seaman.

But following five days of examination and various consults with key stakeholders, the inspector gave the strategy his support.