WOKING Borough Council will ask the government for almost £58 million to complete three unfinished phases of the ambitious Sheerwater Regeneration Project and so conclude the council’s involvement with the original scheme.

The News & Mail understands that the government commissioners, who are working alongside the council under its Section 114 Notice, are fully supportive of the move.

With that in mind, elected members of the council will today (Thursday, October 12) be asked to approve a new plan for Sheerwater shaped by local residents in a recent public consultation and the advice of external property consultants Avison Young.

In July, the council ended its development agreement with ThamesWey and announced it would not commence any further phases of the £495m project. Two phases of the consented scheme have been completed.

A six-week consultation gave residents the chance to have their say over what should happen with the remainder of the regeneration site.

Speaking about the new plan, Cllr Will Forster, deputy leader of the council and portfolio holder for Sheerwater, said:  “We received over 500 survey responses from people living in and around the regeneration area, roughly a third of that community.

“It shows that the new council is winning back the trust of people who feel they weren’t listened to the first time round. We are listening, and it’s clear from the survey that residents will be satisfied if we complete the phases under construction but not the rest of the consented scheme, which was too big and too disruptive.

“But residents don’t want the estate left as it is, with boarded-up homes, people left isolated in empty apartment blocks and roads which are barely accessible.  

“I wholeheartedly agree, and we have put forward a robust case to government to draw down funding from the Public Works Loan Board that was previously agreed by this council.

“It wouldn’t be good for the community and it wouldn’t be value for money for the taxpayer if we don’t complete the three phases already started. In total we are asking the government for £57.7m to finish these phases and conclude the council’s involvement with the scheme.  

“The new plan for Sheerwater is to begin an extensive programme of refurbishment financed by capital receipts, land transfers and the sale of pockets of land for redevelopment.   

“We think we can refurbish roughly 100 properties in Woodlands Park, Hennessey Court and Spencer Close, along with the sheltered units at Woodlands House, which will be retained by the council for social housing.

“And we will look to sell the blocks of flats along Dartmouth Avenue, Devonshire Avenue, Forsyth Path, Loder Close and Spencer Close for redevelopment.   

“There is only one block of flats (129 to 139B Devonshire Avenue) which, due to its proximity to Broadmere Primary School, is unsuitable for redevelopment, and refurbishment is likely to be the only viable option.  

“Sheerwater residents want their community back, and as soon as possible.”