Development plans go to appeal

RESIDENTS of Mount Hermon West were disappointed last week to learn that a previously rejected application for a development at the Park Cottage site has reared its ugly head again.

On November 25, they held a protest outside Woking’s civic offices in anticipation of the Denton Homes proposal being discussed that evening by the council’s  Planning Committee.

BLACKNESS LANE –  ‘is little more than a footpath’, says a disgruntled Cllr Forster, inset
BLACKNESS LANE – ‘is little more than a footpath’, says a disgruntled Cllr Forster, inset

The objectors were overjoyed when, with the backing of local Liberal Democrat Councillors Ian Johnson, Liam Lyons and Will Forster, the plans to build nine town houses with associated access and amenities in Blackness Lane were thrown out.

At that time, Cllr Forster told the News & Mail: “The lane is more like a pedestrian path to Woking Park than a proper road – it is not a suitable access for nine houses. We must make sure no development that has to use it as an access ever takes place.”

Now, with an appeal currently in progress, he added: “Residents and I are very disappointed that the developers decided to drag this issue out further. It is not wanted locally and would be completely inappropriate.”

Roger Charters, Chairman of the Blackness Lane Campaign Group and resident of Poplar Grove, had compiled a comprehensive report with pictures for the original application, illustrating reasons for refusal.

He said: “We were aware it was only a stay of execution until the applicants decided to appeal. We believe Woking Borough Council have to present all the information and objections already in place, and that only new information can be submitted to the Inspectorate at this stage. So I have produced a supplementary report to the traffic analysis I submitted last time.”

Signatories to Mr Charters’ report include Chairman of the Woodlands Community Group, Frank Davis; Chairman of the Poplar Grove Residents’ Association, Mike Davison; and Rob Perry, who runs Blackness Lane Residents’ and Business Group.

Mr Charters added: “We are in close co-operation as the Park Cottage proposal has wide implications, not only to Woodlands and Woodlands Court properties, but also to all residents who use the Blackness Lane footpath for access to Woking Park, as well as traffic using the junction with the A320.

“My current report presents new, conclusive information that it needs only two vehicles preparing to enter Blackness Lane from the Woking direction to cause a major traffic hazard in the 120 metres between the point on the A320 at which the lane becomes visible, and the junction. This is even without considering vehicles from the west.

“If these houses go ahead, the traffic this will generate up and down Blackness Lane will result in a serious accident on the Guildford Road without a doubt.

“I need access into Poplar Grove and, like the other residents, I do not want to be rear-ended, or worse. To date, there has been no traffic in Blackness Lane other than pedestrians.

“It is, after all, only a footpath. Arguably, the conveyance covenants the land to the people of Woking as part and parcel of the park.

“Nearly 150 protesters are determined to resist this proposal with everything at our disposal, including the law if necessary.

“Our petitions have been supported by people from all parts of Woking, from Hermitage Road in the west, Horsell in the north, Pyrford in the east and Kingfield in the south, as well as the overwhelming majority of neighbours.”

Mr Charters also pointed out that the only information submitted to date by the applicant on highway matters relates solely to the widening of Blackness Lane, the provision of sight lines along it and the provision of passing places.

It does not address the wider problem of traffic on the A320 Guildford Road and the junctions of Constitution Hill, Blackness Lane and Claremont Avenue. Nor has consideration been given to entry into Blackness Lane for traffic approaching from the west (Guildford direction).

Mr Charters insists: “The proposal should be rejected because the applicant has failed to present any information to Woking Borough Council or Surrey Highways authority on the effect the development will have on prejudicing highway safety, or inconvenience to other road users.

ALL new representations should be in by February 3. PLAN/2014/0858 or PP-03546733 under ‘Park Cottage’.

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