woking borough council

PLANS to widen the Guildford Road in Woking town centre to a dual carriageway moved closer with the announcement of a £90 million government investment.

The money will come from the Housing Infrastructure Fund, with the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government saying on Tuesday this week that the project will “unlock plans” for up to 4,500 new homes in Woking.

Plans include the widening of Victoria Arch over the A320

The widening of Victoria Arch over the A320 to accommodate the wider road could also lead to improved rail links through the town, including a possible extra line and expanded railway station.

Kit Malthouse, the Housing Minister, said: “For decades, governments of all stripes and types have not built enough new homes, and we need to see urgent action to turn that around.

“This £95 million investment in Woking town centre will mean the town is ready to support thousands of much-needed new homes.
“We are making money available in Surrey so we can build more, better, faster and meet our ambition to deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.”

Last year, Woking Borough Council announced that it was working in partnership with the county council on plans that would include widening the road and arch to relieve town centre traffic congestion and make journeys quicker and more reliable.

Although funding is now in place, there are several hurdles to cross, including the work receiving planning permission and possible attempts to block it by residents and businesses.

It was estimated that the work could start towards the end of this year, but the timescale seems very tight.

For the full story get the 13 June edition of the News & Mail

THE Woking Town Wharf has been officially opened, providing residents and visitors a base from which to explore the Bastingstoke Canal.

Councillor Colin Kemp, Woking Deputy Mayor Cllr Saj Hussain and his daughter Faaria Sahi with Basingstoke Canal Society Chairman Philip Riley

The wharf was created last year funded by Woking Borough Council and Surrey County Council with a contribution from Basingstoke Canal Society.

The facility is intended to attract visiting boaters to stop off in Woking as well as create an attractive area for all to enjoy by the canal side.

It also provides a base for the Woking trip boat Kitty and accessible trip boat Maggie G, which have provided a new visitor attraction in the centre of Woking enabling all visitors and residents to have an opportunity to explore their local waterway by boat.

For more details and pictures get the 6 June edition of the News & Mail

WOKING’S Muslim Burial Ground Peace Garden has won first prize in a national awards scheme.

The walled garden, in woodland on Horsell Common, has been named winner at this year’s Local Government News Street Design Awards.

The Mayor of Woking, Cllr Beryl Hunwicks, accepts the award from Laura Sharman, with representatives of the council, Horsell Common Preservation Society and terra firma Consultancy

It came top in the Urban Green Space category, gaining recognition for Woking Borough Council, along with landscape architect terra firma Consultancy and Horsell Common Preservation Society.

The awards, organised by Local Government News magazine, recognise best practice and innovation in street design schemes.

The burial ground, off Monument Road, was established in 1917 as a cemetery for Allied Muslim soldiers who died of their wounds in this country during the First World War. There were further burials in the Second World War.

The remains of the soldiers were later transferred to Brookwood Cemetery and the site fell into disrepair over the following years.

In 2013, Horsell Common Preservation Society and Woking Borough Council came together to create a special place of remembrance celebrating the vast, and vitally important, contribution made to the Allied war effort by armies of the Indian sub-continent.

The peace garden was opened during an act of remembrance the Earl of Wessex on 12 November 2015.

Local Government News editor Laura Sharman said: “The judges were extremely impressed by the scheme, which achieved nearly perfect scores for its high quality design and meeting the objectives set out in the brief.”

For the full story get the 30 May edition of the News & Mail

WORK on the Sheerwater regeneration scheme is expected to start within a matter of weeks. Revised plans were approved, subject to conditions, at planning committee last week.

Council approved the release of £42 million for the first phase of the scheme.

A WALK IN THE PARK – Green space is at the heart of the Sheerwater regeneration

Cllr David Bittleston, leader of Woking Borough Council, said: “Council agreed to the regeneration of Sheerwater in May 2013 and it has taken much longer than anticipated to get to the point of actually building something. 

“I would like to thank the residents of Sheerwater for their help in shaping these revised plans. I know for many it has been a worrying and frustrating time, but now that we have received the final green light, we can quickly get on with delivering this exciting project, which will provide better homes and better outcomes for the whole community.”

Cllr Bittleston continued: “My intention has always been to deliver the new sports and community facilities prior to building new homes, and last year, Council agreed the release of funds [£26 million] for the new swimming pool, leisure centre and 3G football pitch.

“Hopefully, terms will be agreed with Bishop David Brown School in the next couple of weeks so that work on this important part of the project can start in June.”

The Canalside project will create nearly 1,200 new homes, almost half of which will be affordable housing.  It is a 74-acre development of contemporary homes set within distinct neighbourhoods built around a large central parkland area – the development’s “green heart”.

A new community hub will provide amenities including shops, a doctors’ surgery, nursery and community centre, in addition to the new sports facilities.

The phased project is expected to take six years, completing in August 2025 if everything runs to schedule.

For more details on the regeneration of Sheerwater, please visit www.woking.gov.uk/sheerwater;  
https://www.thamesweygroup.co.uk/work-to-start-on-canalside-the-regeneration-of-sheerwater/

For the full story, including details about the scheme, get the 18 April edition of the News & Mail

WOKING’S firefighters are urging the public to sign a petition to halt plans which would see one fire engine with a crew of just four covering the borough at night.

They are also asking people to lobby their councillors and MP as part of a campaign against a reduction in night-time fire service cover across the county.

Local firefighters are worried that proposed cuts will lead to an increase in preventable deaths and injuries

The cuts are detailed in a Surrey Fire and Rescue Service proposal which would see seven whole-time appliances left un-crewed between 7am and 7pm. During this time, 23 engines would be available instead of the current 30.

The reorganisation – called Making Surrey Safer – plans for Woking, Guildford, Camberley and Spelthorne stations to each lose one of their two engines and single-appliance stations Egham, Painshill and Banstead to close completely at night.

The Surrey branch of the Fire Brigades Union is leading the campaign against the cuts, which it says will cause more preventable deaths and injuries and increase the time it takes to get fire crews to incidents.

“There may be fewer house fires than in the past, but 74% of all deaths in fires occur at night, when we need to maintain our cover for that reason alone,” the union’s Woking representative, Graham Whitfield, told the News & Mail.

“We are inviting councillors to come and meet us to find out why we think the cuts will be dangerous, for the public and firefighters.

“We are the troops on the ground and have to deal with members of the public when there is an emergency. If the councillors knew exactly what we do at incidents, then they might change their minds about the cuts.”

He asked the public to visit the station’s Facebook page to find the email addresses of councillors they should lobby and to sign the FBU petition at
https://petitions.surreycc.gov.uk/Fire-Cuts/

For the full story get the 18 April edition of the News & Mail

IT’S been 17 years in the making, but Woking fans will now get the opportunity to meet with the new developer for the proposed Cardinal Court stadium development at Kingfield.

With the various cross-party working contracts all signed, Woking’s board of directors are inviting fans to attend a special fans’ forum at Cardinals Bar on 16 April to learn more about the proposed plans to future-proof the National League South club.

For many, it will be the first time that they will have the opportunity to pose real questions to the project team after years of speculation as to what a new Woking Community Stadium project might comprise.

Speaking exclusively to the News & Mail, Wayne Gold, owner of GolDev Woking Limited, which is coordinating the proposed redevelopment of the Kingfield site in south Woking, is pleased with the progress to date.

He said: “When I first met representatives of Woking, they gave me their views and aspirations for the club.  Similarly, I gave my views in terms of ideas and we reached an agreement in principle.  I then went away to pull together the various components.

“There’s a lot of land interest at Kingfield and there were a lot of individual parties that had an interest through one means or another; however, we have now been able to get everyone on board contractually.

“We (GolDev) have since exchanged contracts with the football club and Woking Borough Council and we’re now proceeding with the planning application for the Kingfield site.

“Therefore, it’s the right time to properly engage with fans now that we have something we can share with them and discuss,” he added.

For more information on the time of the fans’ forum on 16 April, please go to www.wokingfc.co.uk or call the club on 01483 772470.

For the full story and further details of how to get involved get the 11 April edition of the News & Mail

WOKING Borough Council should make a stronger response to the proposed reduction in cover at the town’s fire station, says a councillor who was once a firefighter.

A firefighter tackles a house fire

Ian Eastwood, a Liberal Democrat member for Goldsworth Park, spoke out against Surrey Fire and Rescue Service’s reorganisation plan at a meeting of the council’s executive committee.

The committee was told that Woking would have two fire engines on call during the day, but only one during evenings and night-time. The same cut would be made at Camberley and Guildford, which send appliances to help if there is a serious incident in the borough.

But Mr Eastwood, who was a part-time firefighter at Chobham for several years, said the night-time cuts could put lives at risk.

“Having just one engine for Woking at night, when we will soon have several tower blocks in the town centre, will not be enough. I know the towers will have sprinkler systems, but if several people need to be rescued from a high-rise fire, it will be very difficult if back-up engines have to come from a distance.”

For the full story get the 4 April edition of the News & Mail

A LEADING Conservative Woking borough councillor has joined the Liberal Democrats, less than a month before crucial local elections.

Graham Chrystie, who has represented Pyrford for eight years, accused David Bittleston, the council leader, of curtailing debate within the Conservative group and proceeding with projects which lacked transparency.

Cllr Graham Chrystie has accused the Conservative party in Woking of failing in transparency and openness

“The Conservative Party in Woking is failing on openness, proper consultation and financial disclosure,” said Cllr Chrystie. 

He added he was surprised that the Conservative administration seemed to be proud that Woking has borrowed more money than almost any other local authority in England. 

“I cannot in conscience remain a member of the Conservative Group,” Cllr Chrystie said.  “I now feel I can work more effectively for my ward residents and deliver what local people want, within the Liberal Democrat group, where I can operate within an established, harmonious and effective team.

“Residents have not been properly consulted on key decisions such as plans for a pub/restaurant on West Byfleet Recreation Ground, a site held by the borough only as a trustee for local residents.”

He will cross the floor for the final council meeting of the year this evening, effectively leaving the council under no overall control of any single group. The Conservatives will have 15 councillors, the Liberal Democrats nine and Labour and Independents three each.

For the full story get today’s (4 April) edition of the News & Mail

A BYFLEET resident is alarmed at the increasing amount of “laughing gas” sniffing taking place in the village recreation ground’s car park.

He says the area is often littered with nitrous oxide bulbs – mini cylinders – as young people congregate there to get high on the gas.

Empty mini capsules used to contain nitrous oxide gas were found discarded in the Byfleet recreation grounds car park

The resident, who asked not to be named, says the recreation ground is not being properly looked after.

There is a graffiti on the skateboard ramps and a large puddle, caused by a blocked drain, has been forming in the car park for two years.

“The nitrous oxide sniffing has been going on for months, but the debris from it has never been as bad as it is now,” he said. “I called Woking Borough Council about it because the ground was littered with bulbs and six or seven of the boxes that they come in.”

Nitrous oxide bulbs, which are commonly used in whipped cream machines, can easily be bought online at around £9.50 for 24. Some retailers state that they are for food use only and restrict sales to over-18s, but others have no age restrictions or warnings.

For the full story get the 28 March edition of the News & Mail

A PETITION to protect Green Belt land in Woking borough from development has been delivered to Parliament and will be sent to James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Housing. 

SPECIAL DELIVERY: Lynn Cozens, Fiona Syrett, Cllr Amanda Boote, Jonathan Lord and Gary Elson.

The 1,250-signature petition was presented to Woking MP Jonathan Lord, who added his signature.

Byfleet and West Byfleet councillor Amanda Boote, along with local campaigners Fiona Syrett and Lynn Cozens and Gary Elson, deputy chairman of the Byfleet, West Byfleet & Pyrford Residents’ Association, were given special permission by John Bercow to present the petition at the Speakers’ Door.

The petition was organised in reaction to the Site Allocations Development Plan Document (DPD, approved by Woking Borough Council on 18 October last year.)

Cllr Boote said that the petition and the council’s consultation over the DPD will now go to an independent inspector to make a ruling.

“We will hear if we are successful later in the year,” Cllr Boote said.

For the full story get the 28 February edition of the News & Mail