Tallest tower block would have only one staircase

PROPOSALS for a 37-storey residential tower block in the Goldsworth Road development have attracted comment for the building having only one staircase.

Planning permission for five tower blocks was granted when a Planning Inspectorate public inquiry allowed an appeal by Goldsworth Road Development LLP– the vehicle by which developers EcoWorld London delivered the plans – against the decision of Woking Borough Council to turn down the initialapplication in January of last year.

An artist’s impression of the proposed redevelopment. Picture from JTP/EcoWorld London, by Atelier 78

The plans coverland on both sides of Goldsworth Road near itsjunction with Victoria Way.

The 37-storey block will be Woking’s tallest tower, three storeys higher than at Victoria Square.

However, Graham Chrystie, a former councillor and past chairman of the Woking Borough Council planning committee, said: “Woking Borough Council decided shortly after the Grenfell disaster to modify their Victoria Square development to add a second staircase to each of its two Victoria Square tall buildings, at considerable cost.

“New legislation to enforce this was anticipated but the council took prompt and decisive action without awaiting legal backing.

“It is noted that just one of the Goldsworth Road high-rise buildings has two staircases, and the tallest one, at 37 storeys, has only one.”

In response, an EcoWorld spokesperson said: “Throughout the planning process EcoWorld London has worked to ensure the scheme is in full accordance with all necessary and recommended guidelines.”

A plan of the new tower blocks, looking along Goldsworth Road to the town centre, with the Victoria Square construction site in the background

When the News & Mail approached Surrey Fire and Rescue Service for its views, a spokesman replied: “In general, information supplied at planning stage is not sufficient to make comment on fire safety measures. This usually comes once we have the plans under the Building Regulations consultation.

“Under current legislation, the fire and rescue service is not a statutory consultee under the Town and Country Planning Act. We do provide comments, when asked, related to access and water supplies.

“Our role starts at the building consultation phase and even then Building Control can choose to take a different approach to ensuring the fire safety of the building.

“This being said, we do engage as much as possible to ensure that when the buildings are occupied, they comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.”

One of the other blocks in the developmentwill deliver a new shelter for York Road Project, the Woking-based charity which works with the homeless.

Its chief executive, Cherisse Dealtry, said: “York Road Project has played a crucial role during the pandemic, providing support to some of the most vulnerable people in Woking.

“Our current night shelter on York Road is not fit for purpose, and this has proved even more of a problem in the wake of COVID, so we have been delighted to work with EcoWorld London’s team on designing a new facility and now to see the plans going ahead.

“The town centre location, close to key support services, is exactly what we need.”

Recommended For You

About the Author: Editorial Team