Anger over housing plans

LIBERAL Democrat councillors have slammed proposals to build yet more housing on Rydens Way – this time on one of the last remaining pieces of green space in the area.

Nearly 150 people from neighbouring properties attended the William Lacey Group’s public exhibition at the Old Woking Community Centre during a two-hour event on Tuesday last week.

COULD BE A SITE FOR SORE EYES – Lib Dem Cllrs Will Forster and Louise Morales in front of the remaining open land on Rydens Way
COULD BE A SITE FOR SORE EYES – Lib Dem Cllrs Will Forster and Louise Morales in front of the remaining open land on Rydens Way

The pre-planning consultation revealed the developers’ plans to build 15 two and three-bedroomed houses, and four two-bedroomed flats on the open land near the community centre and Woking College.

The project also involves encroaching on a section of the highway, Rydens Way, itself. It has been said that there would be provision for some affordable homes, although this has not yet been set in stone.

These plans have been called Rydens Way Phase Two and follow the recent and continuing construction of 42 homes on the other section of the street. This Phase One created a great deal of controversy at the planning stage due to a ‘lack of transparency’.

Then landowners, the William Lacey Group, submitted their application which Woking Borough Council refused. The developers took the case to appeal and the council lost.

The Thameswey Group, which is owned by the council, subsequently bought the site and the development went ahead. Of the 42 properties, 24 were for the open market, while 18 were designated for affordable housing.

In the case of the current Phase Two proposals, roughly two-thirds of the land is owned by Surrey County Council and almost a third – the general space directly south of the community centre  – belongs to the borough council, the remainder of which, divided by a dirt track, is owned by the William Lacey Group.

The Lib Dems told the News & Mail that at a recent full council meeting, the Conservative-led authority said they were working with the developers and supporting the plans. Lib Dem Borough Councillor for Old Woking, Louise Morales, said: “I really worry about over-development in the area and road safety if these plans are approved.

“This is the last remaining open green space on Rydens Way. I feel the proposals are unsafe as the developers want to build in an already very busy and small area – part of which is, effectively, a roundabout.”

Lib Dem Cllr for Kingfield & Westfield and County Councillor for South Woking, Will Forster, added: “Along with about 150 other local residents, I attended the William Lacey Group’s exhibition. Residents are clearly opposed to losing this green space.

“There is also a big worry about lack of parking provision in the proposals. Many cars park on Rydens Way at the moment, especially those using Woking College, and the new plans show no provision for that.

“If and when the developers decide to submit a planning application, it will be met with significant opposition from both Louise Morales and I, as well many local residents.”

However, it could be some time before an application is formerly submitted to the council as William Lacey Group Chief Executive, Chris Lacey, told the News & Mail: “The community consultation was a great success with well over 100 local residents attending.

“The purpose of the event was to gather feedback from the local community and we will review the proposals in the light of the comments we have received.”

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