Independent inquiry suggested for stadium plans

AN INDEPENDENT inquiry should be held into the processes behind the planned Woking FC stadium and associated homes, the chairman of the Woking Borough Council’s overview and scrutiny committee has said.

Cllr Debbie Hughes told the committee this week that assurances that due process had been applied could not currently be given, and that the planning application should not be considered by the council until after a government inspector had delivered his full report on changes to the local plan.

An artists impression of the new stadium

Cllr Hughes said a task force looking at how the development plan had been handled had written a draft report and that the contents, with recommendations, will be revealed at the next overview and scrutiny committee meeting next month.

The government inspector has written to the council’s planning department, as reported in the News & Mail last week, saying that the Woking local plan should include an “indicative housing yield” for the Westfield site. It is understood that this could equate to around 130 homes, but the football stadium plan includes 1,048 adjacent flats, which would pay for the new 9,000-capacity ground.

The stadium and flats application is believed to be on schedule to be considered by the planning committee on 17 March, but Cllr Hughes’s recommendations add to pressure for this to be deferred.

The government inspector included a reference to the Westfield site in the local plan in an interim letter to the council before presenting his full report, which could take weeks or months to complete.

Cllr Hughes said that the task force’s work was the largest piece of scrutiny work the committee had undertaken.

Details of its draft report and the recommendations will be made public on 23 March. The next planning committee meeting after the one on 17 March is in early April.

For the full story get the 27 February edition of the News & Mail

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