THE £115 million Victoria Arch widening scheme is on the point of being scrapped.

A report recommending that the project should not proceed has been published ahead of the meeting of Woking Borough Council’s (WBC) executive on Thursday next week (October 5).

The report outlines that Homes England will stop funding the scheme, which has a projected £53m-£54m spending increase above the original £115m budget.

Executive members will review the recommendations to formally close the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) Grant Determination Agreement and discuss the project closure requirements.

These include works to recover funding for the remaining project costs, consider development opportunities for the Triangle site on Guildford Road, withdraw two planning applications for the downside goods yard, and work with partners to improve the state of the arch and adjacent highway.

The likely closure of the scheme concludes the project review, conducted from July 2022 to June 2023, to provide a re-evaluated engineering proposal within the scheme’s agreed budget. The review determined the scheme is no longer viable.

If the recommendation is approved, Homes England will not seek to recover the £34m grant funding paid to date and it will consider reimbursement for outstanding and reasonable project closure costs, estimated at £9.5m.

Cllr Will Forster, Woking council’s portfolio holder for key projects and deputy leader, said: “Given Woking’s critical financial situation, both the council and government have concluded the Victoria Arch widening scheme cannot be progressed. It is clear the council needs to draw a line on this project.

“If the recommendation is supported, many residents and businesses will be pleased the original plans for the Victoria Arch project will not go ahead, which involved this key road being closed for over three years.

“I would like to extend my thanks to the project team and partners who have undertaken significant works to rescope the scheme. The engineering and impact studies will remain valuable intellectual property of the council. These will be used to inform any future utility works and, if sufficient funds come forward, to progress a future scheme.”

Cllr Forster continued: “The demolition of the Triangle site should not have started without having a plan in place and owning all the properties in the area.

“We understand people’s concerns and frustrations regarding its current state. The visual amenity is unacceptable and it is our priority to improve the site as soon as it is feasibly possible.

“However, I must be up front about the site’s medium-term future. This is an issue which is not going to be solved quickly.”

The Victoria Arch widening scheme has long been an aspiration of Woking council to deliver complex highway reconfiguration and enhancements using the Triangle site, aimed at unlocking additional housing capacity within the town centre and giving Network Rail the opportunity to replace the ageing railway bridge.

In 2018, WBC, with Surrey County Council, submitted a funding bid to the government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund. 

WBC’s bid was formally approved in June 2019 and a £95m grant was offered and a contract for the grant signed between the two authorities in March 2020.