Saturday, 3 October 2015

Aldi for Arthur's Bridge?

I've heard a few rumours in recent months about a possible retail development on Arthur's Bridge Road or Horsell Moor.  Those who know the area well will be aware that there is an LA Fitness, soon to become a Pure Gym after a takeover, that abuts Arthurs Bridge Road and Horsell Moor. Next door is Jewsons builders yard and then White Knight laundry.

LA Fitness is due to close from 5 October to 21 October to be fitted out as a Pure Gym.

White Knight laundry has closed and moved to Reading and there is an application with Woking Council to build 34 retirement apartments on the site.

This week's Woking Advertiser carried a front page story on the possibility of Aldi coming to Woking and suggested the current LA Fitness and Jewson's sites as possible locations.

A popular supermarket would generate traffic and is likely to add to parking problems in the area. Not everyone is a fan of Aldi but its popularity appears to be increasing.  Aldi got the Which Supermarket of the year award in 2015 and has collected many other accolades in recent years. 

As yet there is no planning application and no firm information about this potential arrival.  I will keep you informed if I hear any new on this.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Planning Application In for Horsell Moor retirement apartments

Update 3 October

The application for retirement flats on Horsell Moor is now on the council's planning website reference PLAN/2015/0989. I am rather puzzled by the dates on the application.  The planning website says the application was received on 7 September and validated on 9 September. However when I searched for the application, having received communication from Pegasus Life on 18 September, the application did not appear. It did not appear a week later when I posted about the application to demolish the laundry buildings. I first learnt it was up on 2 October from a local resident on Twitter. 

The building plans
As set out in my earlier post (below) the building will now be 4 rather than 5 storeys high. I am pleased to see it is two storeys next to homes on the dog leg of Horsell Moor running to Step Bridge Path.  Four storeys still seems very tall in this location and it will overlook the Cricket club and children's playground on Horsell Moor.

Elevation of proposed apartments

Traffic and Parking Impact
Pegasus Life commissioned a travel survey which concluded that only 66% of parking capacity is taken up so there are plenty of parking spaces for the new development.  The survey was taken from 7am to 7pm on a Wednesday in March so takes no account of a busy Sunday afternoon when Woking and Horsell Cricket Club is used for cricket matches or a busy Saturday afternoon when there is a football match or a Thursday evening in the summer when the club house is booked out for parties. Although of course there is no right of any resident to the parking space outside their home this survey also fails to account for where these spaces might be in relation to existing residents who need parking spaces on the road.

One parking area mentioned is outside the Cricket club which is used for a pre-school on term-time week days. Increased parking in this area would not be welcome for parents and children.

The application proposes providing 0.9 parking spaces per flat, that is 31 spaces for 34 flats. Flats will be a mix of one and two bedrooms.

Affordable provision
Developments on brown field sites are supposed to provide 40% affordable homes, but guess what, that's not going to happen. The developers say:

"The requirement for 40% affordable housing provision on the site would not reflect the circumstances and realities of the site in this context"

They will be talking to the council about payment in lieu but this is subject to a 'viability assessment'.

Consultation is now open on the application. If you want to have your say you can feedback on the council's planning website or email or write to the council. Make sure to quote the application number PLAN/2015/0989

Update 25 September

No planning application for the retirement apartments on the Council list as yet. However Pegasus Life has put in a planning application PLAN/2015/1032 to demolish the laundry on Horsell Moor (thought they werent' doing this until November (see bottom of page).  A letter that accompanies this application does say that the application for the new apartment block was submitted to the Council on 4 September.  I will keep an eye on the planning applications and let you know when the Council has verified that application. Looks like the demolition will be a long job.  The application refers to work starting in November and finishing next April.

I heard tonight from Pegasus Life that they have submitted a planning application to Woking Council for retirement apartments on Horsell Moor. 

You may have seen my previous blog post from late May when I reported back on the exhibition about these plans to put retirement apartments on the site of the old White Knight laundry.  At that stage Pegasus Life were seeking to erect a building which reached 5 storeys at its highest point, tapering down to 2 storeys.  The facade was to be brick on the upper levels with light stone cladding on the ground floor. 

I am pleased to see that the plans have been revised as a result of feedback from residents.  the tallest point of the building is now proposed to be 4 storeys and the building will all be brick fronted.  Pegasus life go into some detail in their communication about the style of brick that will be used to fit in with neighbouring properties 

"The bricks we will use will be hand fired. Hand-fired bricks are different to standard machine-fired bricks that are used in most new developments. They are all individual and have slightly different colours and textures."

I do wonder about parking provision at the site and if this will impact the local area. There is essentially one space per apartment so any visitors would immediately add to the number of cars in the area.

Woking Council will need to process the application and it is not yet appearing on their list of registered applications. I will update with the application number when that information is available.

Pegasus Life also point out that they are likely to apply to demolish the old laundry buildings at the end of November.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Where to vote in 2016

Woking Council has just provided details of proposed new polling districts to fit the new ward boundaries.  Each polling district has a polling place - where you cast your vote on election days. A consultation on this can be found here and is open until Friday 25 September.

As outlined here and here there are new boundaries for Woking Borough Council wards next year.  Elections on the 5 May 2016 will be contested on the new boundaries.  All 30 of the new seats across 10 borough wards will be up for election.

Horsell will be just one ward in future, rather than two wards.  It will cover an area of most of Horsell West ward (losing Merrivale Gardens and Hedgerley Court to the west and the top end of Brewery Road including the car park, Kingswood Court and Alwyne Court and the Broomhalls to the east) and the Horsell East part of the former Horsell East and Woodham ward (except for the first section of Chobham Road between Victoria Way and Horsell Rise, The Grove and Ferndale Road).

Polling districts in Horsell ward change very little, the map shows the split - indicated by a purple line. The central area of Horsell vote at the Evangelical Church in the High Street as now, everyone living from the Arthurs Bridge / Church Hill / Brewery Road roundabout going east vote at Trinity and those in the old Horsell East vote also continue to vote at Trinity. 

Polling Districts of new Horsell ward
Currently Trinity has two polling places in one, with separate voting areas for those in the Horsell Park area of Horsell West and Horsell East residents.  Whilst it is important for the Horsell Park area to have a polling place at this end of the village there is no good reason for these polling stations not to be combined under the new boundaries. Having been at the Trinity polling place I know that both of the old polling districts are not busy for much of the day and combining them would reduce the staff needed whilst not having a negative impact on voters. This was not possible in the past when Horsell had two separate wards but could easily be achieved now and I am pleased that my suggestion via the Lib Dem representatives on the Council has been taken on board in the proposals.

Crazy Canalside ward

The crazy thing about the changes that the Boundary Commission made to the boundary plans submitted by Woking Council is that people living within literally a few minutes walk of Trinity Church in places such as Broomhall Road, The Grove and the flats in Brewery Road will no longer vote there.

The Canalside ward that these roads are being put into is a very long and narrow ward and that requires a large number of polling districts and polling places. The proposal is for these electors to cast their vote at The Lightbox.

Polling Districts of new Canalside ward

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Concern as LA Fitness to become a Pure Gym

The pool at LA Fitness in Horsell
LA Fitness has run a leisure club at the junction of Arthur's Bridge Road and Horsell Moor since 2001.  Having got through a planning application with low membership numbers they managed to increase the number of members allowed, first to 3500 then to 5000 back in 2006.

Residents of Arthur's Bridge Road and Abbey Road in particular have suffered from overflow parking from LA Fitness and disturbances in the evening as members arrive and leave the club.

Pure Gym takeover
In May of this year Pure Gym took over LA Fitness.  This business deal was referred to the Competition Commission who gave it the go ahead a few weeks ago. The Horsell branch is now to be converted to the Pure Gym format. The pool  is closing and I understand there will be changes to the classes offered. LA Fitness will close between 5 and 21 October for refurbishment then open as a Pure Gym. There is a notice about this on the LA Fitness website.

Pure Gym has a different operating model to LA Fitness. Rather than a contract customers pay on a monthly basis and the facilities are very much gyms rather than leisure clubs, with a lot of machines available.

The key concerns for local residents are on any increase in the disturbance they suffer already, particularly as there is older people's sheltered housing just across the road from the facility.

  • A Financial Times article suggests Pure Gym aim to increase membership by 60% so could we be looking at an application to increase membership from 5000 to 8000? What impact would that have on local roads?
  • Will Pure Gym apply for 24 hour opening? This raises concerns about disturbances through the night and in the early morning and possible security worries if the extended hours leads to groups hanging around outside.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Commercial to Residential in Horsell

Close on the heels of the closure of White Knight laundry on Horsell Moor came the end of the line for Cable Electric in Well Lane.  It is sad to lose two local businesses within a few months but the demise of these remaining commercial properties in residential areas was not unexpected.  It is  good to see that we do have flourishing small businesses in the High Street with the recent arrival of a new pet shop, the fishmonger and fruit and vegetable shop.

The developers who bought the laundry site held a consultation event on their plans for this location at the end of May.  They plan a development of 33 'apartments' aimed at older residents.  This seems a reasonable use of the site but as I set out in an earlier post the 5 storey height that this development is suggested to reach at its highest point is out of proportion with the surrounding area.

I had heard a suggestion that the Cable Electric site may be a location for more flats but I see that an application for 2 houses has been submitted. The plans are for a 4 bedroom and 3 bedroom house, both with garages.  The application is PLAN/2015/0808 and full details can be viewed on the Woking Council web site.

The representations of the proposed houses seem to fit in well with the existing streetscape.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Horsell Civic Space saga now a blame game and safety risk

The latest twist in the saga of Horsell Civic space came last week when a Planning Inspector ruled against Woking Council's request for a footpath diversion order. The Council had wanted to divert the footpath which runs between the side of the Village Hall and the rear of the Bowls club.  A diversion would have taken the path across the top of the gardens and then between the bowling green and the edge of Queen Elizabeth Gardens.

Waiting for a decision on the request to divert the footpath has been the Council's reasoning for not removing the infamous mound and finishing the landscaping in the area.

The Council's press release on the outcome of the footpath diversion application referred to a resident's challenge leading to the refusal of the order. The press took this further putting the blame on the resident in their article.

What the Council failed to mention in their press release was that the diversion order was refused because it did not meet the criteria required under the relevant order.  The Planning Inspector pointed out that for the order to be successful the diversion had to be necessary for the planned work (in this case the new scout hut and an extension to the Village Hall).  The Council did not show this and so the order had to be refused by the Inspector.

Safety Risk
Once the order was refused the Council seem to have removed the fencing that cordoned off the 'mound'.  This is rather puzzling as the barrier was there in the first place as a safety measure.  I was concerned when I saw this had happened last week but my concern grew when I was given the photographs below, taken after local schools let out today.

Is the mound stable?

This picture show young children playing on the mound. Is is stable enough to allow this to happen?

Could a child fall into
the drainage ditch

The next picture shows a drainage ditch, created to stop run off water from the mound going into neighbouring gardens. A child could easily fall from the mound into this ditch.

Exposed drainage
The final picture shows exposed pipework in the drainage ditch.  This could hurt a child who falls in or trips in the ditch.

I have emailed the Council's Chief Executive raising my concerns about this tonight.

Apparently contractors removed some of the wrong pieces of barrier and left some of the wrong pieces.  The Council is now putting this right.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

5 storeys high on Horsell Moor?

As I highlighted here a couple of weeks ago the laundry site in Horsell Moor is closing and and a developer wants to put retirement apartments on the site. Pegasus Life is the developer and Lexington Communications are managing the consultation process.

I attended the exhibition for the proposals today and learn that 33 apartments with a day time concierge and 34 parking spaces is being suggested.  The development would be a mix of 1 and 2 bedroom flats and plans show a pleasant central garden area. 

The building will be a reasonable 2 storeys high closest to homes on Horsell Moor but this will be stepped up to a massive 5 storeys facing the cricket green. This is explained as fitting in with other industrial units nearby.  

Well here is Jewsons next door. Nowhere near 5 storeys high.

Then there is LA Fitness. Again nowhere close to 5 storeys high.

You have go up to Victoria Way and look at Century Court, the flats facing the town centre, to find a 5 storey high development.

Five storeys will be vastly out of keeping with the houses and other buildings nearby.  Allowing a developer to build so high could create a precedent for future developments in Horsell.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Proposals for Retirement Apartments on Horsell Moor

White Knight laundry in Horsell Moor -
proposed site for Retirement Apartments

PegasusLife want to build retirement apartments on the site of the White Knight laundry on Horsell Moor. The laundry plans to close this summer and move its work to another White Knight site.

PegasusLife has yet to submit a planning application to Woking Borough Council but Horsell already features on the PegasusLife web site and local residents have just had notices about a consultation event through their doors.

The consultation on the proposals is being run by a London based PR company Lexington Communications.

A consultation event is planned for Tuesday 26 May at The Lightbox from 2pm to 7.30pm.

This is the day after Bank Holiday Monday and during the school half term.  I have written to Lexington pointing out that a number of people who may be interested in PegasusLife's plans may well be away on family breaks or visiting family at this time.  I will advise of their response when I receive it.

Update - reply received from Lexington Communications
I received the following reply in response to my email to Lexington Communications querying the date of the consultation event:

"Thank you for getting in contact about our consultation for the proposed retirement homes on Horsell Moor. Our consultation process shall continue after the exhibition event taking place on 26 May and we will be more than happy to issue the information exhibited via email or post to anybody that is unable to attend, so that they can view and comment upon the plans at their own convenience."

The email address for Lexington Communications is

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Lord backs development at Horsell Common

Interesting to see in the local press that Woking's MP Jonathan Lord has given his support to McLaren's latest expansion plans at Horsell Common.  McLaren has applied to almost double its current footprint on land designated for public access.

The company wants to build a new research facility to include a wind tunnel, workshops, meeting, teaching and training rooms.  I blogged here with the details of the application which is expected to go before Woking Council's planning committee this month.

I'm a little surprised that our MP appears to have fully supported McLaren's plans without considering the impact on residents or the natural habitat. 

Existing Planning Permission

This application follows a successful 2012 application for land across the A320 from the existing site.  It seems there are too many issues with the site that already has planning permission so McLaren have decided on a new application next to the existing site.  The company say they would sign an agreement not to go ahead with the currently approved plans if the new application is accepted

Questions and Concerns

Whilst welcoming the employment and innovation that McLaren bring to Woking I have a number of questions and concerns over  this planning application.

McLaren have permission to build across the road.  Having put local residents and the Council through all the work of dealing with and responding to that application what are the real reasons for starting again in a new location?

McLaren say the new development plans replace the permission they were given for the other side of the A320 and that there would be  legal agreement on this. Would this be a watertight agreement or could further development happen anyway?  We are still yet to see a visitor centre, agreed in the first development on Horsell Common.

Why did McLaren not inform Horsell Common Preservation Society, who own the freehold of some of the land, of their plans until the application was being submitted.

The application involves land covenanted for public use when McLaren was first given permission to develop in the green belt back in 1996.  A public footpath will have to be re-routed, we are told temporarily, but given it cuts right across the proposed new site would access ever be returned?

The application says that more parking is needed on site.  This suggests that McLaren may not be within its agreed level of traffic movements.  Surely if the company is looking for a sustainable future and to provide local employment they should already have been promoting other forms of personal or public transport rather than increasing traffic to the site.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Surrey Tops the Table ... of pothole claims

Surrey paid out quarter of a million on
pothole compensation last year
Being top is not always best and that is certainly the case when it comes to Surrey County Council and potholes.  
Our local highways authority tops the table for 

  • The number of compensation claims made as a result of potholes on local roads; and 
  • The money paid out in compensation as a results of these damaged road surfaces.

Surrey had 4000 claims last year, way ahead of the next authority in the table with 1500 fewer at 2500.

Surrey paid out a quarter of a million in compensation claims to 842 of those who made a claim.  That is £300 per successful claimant.

Across other authorities in the top 5 for claims on damage from potholes the average number of claims is a little over 2000.  That is only half the level of claims in Surrey.

What is Surrey doing with our money if it isn't fixing our roads?

Friday, 23 January 2015

Apologies for more roadworks but it is dangerous

Damaged road around drain cover

With apologies for causing yet more roadworks on Woking roads I reported this damage around a drain cover to Thames Water in the week.

As you can see in the picture the tarmac around the drain cover is cracking up badly.

There is a real risk of broken pieces of tarmac flying up and hitting a road user and a particular danger to those on two wheels as the holes around the cover grow.

Sadly Thames Water haven't done anything to fix the road yet but they have put some barriers around the damage to keep road users safe.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Boundary Commission chops chunks out of Horsell

Disappointing news from the Boundary Commission.  The national body, which reviewed Woking's borough ward boundaries, has announced its final decision. The Commission has ignored public opinion and chopped chunks out of Horsell.

The new Horsell ward boundaries from 2016
I blogged back in July about the Commission's proposals for Horsell.  I set them out again below.  Sadly the proposals are now the final decision and will be our new boundaries from 2016.  

The only change from what was proposed in the summer is that The Grove, Ferndale Road, parts of Chobham and Brewery Road (including the WWF Living Planet Centre and The Lightbox) and the Broomhalls will go to a new ward whose name is now Canalside rather than Sheerwater

Boundary Commission proposals for The Grove, Ferndale Road, Chobham Road, Brewery Road and Broomhalls 
The Boundary Commission proposes that part of the eastern edge of Horsell West ward and a little of the west of Horsell East ward move out of Horsell to a new Sheerwater ward.  The area involved (shown below) is the beginning of Chobham Road, from Victoria Way (including The Lightbox), The Grove and Ferndale Road, Kingswood and Alwyne Court on Brewery Road, Brewery Road car park and the WWF Living Planet Centre, Broomhall Road, Broomhall Drive and Broomhall Lane, the Wheatsheaf Pub and several houses to the north of the pub.
The Commission has confirmed its decision to move Merrivale Gardens and Hedgerley Court to Goldsworth Park.
Boundary Commission proposals for Merrivale Gardens and Hedgerley Court
Another proposed loss from Horsell is Merrivale Gardens and Hedgerley Court. The commission wants to move this area to Goldsworth Park ward.

The new Horsell ward, as of 2016, will be a combination of the current Horsell West ward (less the areas to the Eastern boundary listed above) and the Horsell East part of the current Horsell East and Woodham ward less The Grove, Ferndale and part of Chobham Road.

There is also the loss of part of Carthouse Lane to Knaphill.  The first I heard of this was in the final decision.  I think this move may revert back to the situation prior to the 2000 electoral review.  However other roads, beyond Carthouse Lane, remain in Horsell.

With the Conservative decision to have 30 councillors over 10 wards the numbers just did not work out to keep Horsell and Woodham together.  But, chopping out parts of Horsell is simply illogical and totally ignores local community.

You can read the Boundary Commission's report in full here or see a summary here, where you can also view the ward maps and input your own postcode to check your ward.

Could the Horsell Splash finally be over? - Update

Not such good news on the Horsell Splash. It seems Surrey County Council has abandoned the installation of a drain as they found an electricity cable where it was planned to put the drain.  As an alternative an additional soakaway is being dug on the other side of the road.

Surrey doesn't have a great record on keeping these soakaways clear so it may be hopes of a puddle free road were premature.

I am delighted to see that the Horsell Splash may finally be over.

I began work in 2012 to get Surrey County Council to fix the flooding that occurs around the entrance to Brewery Road car park, Kingswood Court and the pedestrian crossing to Footpath 19a.

My blog post from back in April 2013 summarises my efforts to that date on this and other flooding issues in Horsell.  

Last year there was some concerted work by Surrey (funnily enough at around the same time of year) and a blockage was identified which stopped water flowing away.  I blogged about it at the time. 

Surrey have finally got around to clearing the blockage and adding a new drainage channel on Brewery Road.

What a relief it will be not to have to run the risk of an unwelcome shower after heavy rain in this area. 

Thursday, 11 December 2014

McLaren to expand on current site?

McLaren's current footprint on Horsell Common
I learnt today that McLaren has submitted a new planning application (PLAN/2013/1297) for an 'Applied Technology Centre" as an extension to its existing 'Production Centre'.  

It seems this application is intended to replace the outline planning permission received for development of an 'Applied Technology Centre' back in 2012 (PLAN/2011/0823).

The description for the new application (see below) indicates development on the current site, that is to the west of the A320.

"Development of an applied technology centre of 57,000sq m (G.E.A.) as an extension to the McLaren Production Centre, to include an aerodynamic research facility, workshops, research and development space, offices, meeting rooms, teaching and training space, vehicle preparation and assembly spaces, together with terraced car parking and two car park decks, cycle parking, a replacement helipad, and service areas. Associated earthworks and re-contouring of the open parkland, hard and soft landscape and infrastructure works, including an electrical substation and foul water pumping station."

The previous outline planning permission was granted to allow building on the opposite side of the A320 (to the east) and to connect the two sites with a tunnel.  Description for that application below.

"Outline planning application for a new applied technology centre of up to 60,000sqm floorspace, together with hard and soft landscape proposals, earthworks including creation of new lakes, a new vehicular access, an underground circulation tunnel, vehicular and cycle parking, service areas, and associated infrastructure and works including a foul water pumping station and electricity substations. | Land East Of The A320 Chertsey Road"


I am puzzled that the application was received by Woking Council on Friday 14 November and was then validated on the following day - a Saturday.  I know workload is heavy in Planning but I hadn't realised staff worked on Saturdays.

Notification to neighbours of this validated application only went out this week, on Tuesday 9 December. Responses are due back by Tuesday 6 January.  Why so long to let residents know about a validated application?

As of today, Friday 12 December there are no details of the application, other than the summary description on the planning portal.

With the previous, approved, application McLaren ran consultation events at The Lighbox.  Will they do the same this time around?

Could McLaren possibly have timed this application for the busy Christmas period when residents and other interested parties may have other things on their minds?

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Vodafone try again on Horsell Way mast

Schools are breaking up for the summer holidays so it must be time for a planning application to add to the Horsell Way phone mast.  Sure enough a new application for the Vodafone mast in this peaceful Horsell street has been registered with Woking Council.

It is Planning Application 2014/0805 which was received by the council on 11 July.  The application seeks to increase the height of the existing phone mast, add 2 extra cabinets at ground level and move the mast within the area.  In the process mature trees will be removed.

This is just the latest of many applications relating to this mast.  A number of the applications have been submitted with more than one coinciding with summer holiday periods.
Horsell Way where Vodafone want a
new larger mast

Strangely the planning application only shows one previous application for the site.  A very similar application was made in November last year and refused by Woking Council.  The application was rejected because information was not supplied on the effect of installing a new mast the many trees on the green are

The original application for a mast at this site was refused in September 2006 but allowed on appeal in February 2008.  in July 2010 Vodafone wanted to extend the mast to share with another operator.  I blogged at the time that applying to extend the mast at this site was ignoring an agreed site on Horsell Common land, disguised by trees and away from homes and schools.  i was delighted to be able to report just a month later that no further application for Horsell Way had been received from Vodafone and that they were exploring the Horsell Common site.

Unfortunately, as far as  I know,  there has been progress on the Horsell Common site and Vodafone came back first last year and now again this year with an application.

If you are concerned about this application please do email, comment on line or write to Woking Council about these plans.