Independent review supports concern at tower blocks plan

RESIDENTS’ opposition to the Greening Goldsworth Road development plans has been reinforced by an independent report paid for by a crowdfunding campaign.

The group of more than 60 from Oak’s Road and Vale Farm Road, close to Goldsworth Road, raised over £4,000 to fund the review and claim that based on its findings, even with a slightly reduced height of the development’s tower blocks, the plans for Greening Goldsworth Road remain unsuitable for Woking town centre and its community.

GETTING THE MESSAGE ACROSS – Patrick Lonergan and Bernadette Fischler make clear residents’ opposition to the Greening Goldsworth Road plans

The independent assessment identified a series of major concerns including density, quality of design, impact on the surroundings, and access to sun and light.

Nigel Hartley, owner of Chestnut Planning, who conducted the independent assessment, said: “It was a pleasure to assist local residents and we have indeed identified a series of concerns. I think it is commendable that residents take an active interest in development in their area.”

Bernadette Fischler, who lives close to the future development, describes concessions on the plans by the developers – to reduce the height of the tallest highest building by four storeys (from 41 to 37) and the total number of flats by 36 in their planning application – as “a token gesture”.

“At the end, the highest of the five tower blocks still has three more storeys than Victoria Square, which is supposed to be the jewel in the crown of Woking town centre,” she said.

“This doesn’t even come close to addressing our concerns around dwelling density, separation distances, availability of sun and light, impact on surrounding areas, fire safety, you name it. I hope nobody in Woking council believes that this is what real consultation with local residents looks like.”

Cllr Mohammad Ali called on the two main political parties “not to turn blind eye to the WBC policy violations that we are still seeing in the development proposals” and urged them to “uphold genuine concerns” of local residents.

He said: “I want to see this area developed and see Woking progress,and that includes adding more affordable homes, but the proposals as they stand do not provide what we need and create extremely high density which is four times the figure in our core policy.

“In addition, it is the members of the leading party in Woking who had called Victoria Square the landmark,” Cllr Ali went on.  “The new leader has said that it is not a standard for height, meaning developers should go for less height, but contrary to that this current proposal negatively impacts Victoria Square, as is abundantly clear.”

Local resident Maurice Sauer said: “Especially in the aftermath of the COVID pandemic and the economic recession, we have to take a hard look at what is really needed in Woking town centre.

“More people will be working from home and so individuals, couples and families will require affordable housing. I doubt these expensive, tiny and often quite dark flats will match these needs.”

For more information, visit www.wokingobjectors.uk, which details residents’ objections and a related petition to Woking Borough Council.

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