Stadium and flats plan now rests with inspector

AN APPEAL against the rejection of plans to build a new 9,000-seat Woking FC stadium and more than 1,000 adjacent flats now rests with a planning inspector, following a public hearing.

Inspector David Wildsmith is preparing his report after hearing from all sides involved in the GolDev proposal that was rejected by the borough council planning committee in June last year.

An artist’s impression of the planned football stadium and the blocks of flats

The inquiry, held remotely online, finished with closing statements on Tuesday.

Katie Bowes, speaking on behalf of the South Woking Action Group (SWAG) formed by local residents which has campaigned against the proposal, thanked the inspector for giving the group the opportunity to present its views, facts and evidence.

“There is nothing more meaningful to us that live and work in this area than to have a voice, and to be heard,” she said.

“SWAG supports the council in opposing this appeal,” she said. “The detrimental impact this development would have is not outweighed by any community benefit – none of the evidence supplied by the appellant changes our views.

“We welcome development in south Woking, and indeed investment in Woking Football Club, but not in the form of this unjustified vast local development.”

Mr Wildsmith had heard the current parking situation in the area was already appalling, she said, and if the development were allowed to proceed the situation would be greatly exacerbated.

“The appellant has claimed there is substantial support for the scheme. If so, where are they? None of this support has been present during this inquiry. The opposition to the appeal from the council, the community and Woking Football Club is extremely clear,” said Mrs Bowes.

“For the benefit of the community, the football club and Woking borough, SWAG strongly urges the inspector to recommend to the Secretary of State to refuse this appeal.”

The development was rejected by the council’s planning committee In June last year by eight votes to nil with one abstention, with objections over the planned size and scale of the high-rise flats, which would have ranged from two to 11 storeys.

Barrister Kevin Leigh, summing up for the developer, GolDev, said a public-private partnership developing the football club site would provide more affordable housing than has been built in the borough since 2012. Affordable housing was desperately needed and demand for it was outstripping supply.

The plan had been recommended by council officers and senior staff but was opposed by councillors who had misguided views and a woeful lack of planning judgement, he said.

For more on this story, get the 27 May edition of the Woking News & Mail, in shops now

Recommended For You

About the Author: Editorial Team