Conservation wins the day

On Tuesday, 27th November, Elmbridge Borough Council Full Planning Committee overturned the decision of the sub-committee which deals with planning decisions in Weybridge, and refused permission to build ten flats at the junction of Balfour and Devonshire Roads.

The position of the proposed building, in Weybridge Town Centre Conservation area, is just beyond the junction of Church Street and Balfour Road, opposite St James’s Church. This is a significant view for those entering the town centre from Heath Road.

The Full Planning Committee found that:

“The proposal by virtue of its bulk and mass, emphasised by the fact it would be raised from ground level on a podium, would be out of character and would harm the streetscene. The proposal would therefore have an adverse impact on the conservation area and not preserve its character.”

Representations against the development had been submitted by the Weybridge Society and the Vicar of St James’s Parish Church along with many local residents.

The the application details are here and actual decision is here.

Surrey’s Parking Review Strategy

See also:

Surrey County has changed the way it reviews parking across Elmbridge – again.  In 2015, they set in place a process for strategic reviews of parking in each of the nine towns in Elmbridge on a three yearly basis.  Weybridge was the second town to undergo a strategic review and found that county essentially ignored the wishes of residents and the advice of borough councillors in Weybridge Riverside. Understandably, this left many people disappointed and angry. County’s decisions did not reflect the needs of residents in town centre streets and appeared to be based on flawed logic.

The current approach

The three-year review approach was abandoned by county in 2017, with county reverting to annual reviews across the whole of Elmbridge.  In preparation for this year’s review Andrew and Vicki discussed parking issues with residents of each street.  Whilst views differed from place to place and, at times amongst residents of the same street, it was clear that certain streets needed prompt action this year.  People have been waiting long enough.

Officer recommendations

However SCC officers have recommended parking control changes in the following streets:  Beales Lane, Devonshire Road, Fortescue Road, Grenside Road, Grotto Road, High Street, Manor Court, Mayfield Road and Thames Street.These are mainly additional double yellow lines for safety reasons:For more information click here.

Streets with schemes that have been recommended not to proceed or where the officer recommendation is ‘no further action at the current time’ are: Baker Street, Balfour Road, Beales Lane, Broomfield Court (further work suggested but set to progress), Church Street, Dorchester Road, Gascoigne Road, Glencoe Road, Heath Road, Heathside Road, High Street, Jessamy Road, Layton Court, Limes Road, March Road, Minorca Road, Old Palace Road, Parkside Court, Portmore Park Road, Radnor Road, South Road, Thames Street, York Road and West Palace Gardens.  Details are listed here.

Can we afford to lose Weybridge Children’s Centre

Surrey County’s financial difficulties are putting at risk one of the most useful and effective community services in Weybridge – the Sure Start for All Children’s Centre, based in Churchfields.

Who needs help?

Surrey says that the closure of this, and other centres is necessary as it wishes to target those children “most in need”. Sadly, the way need is assessed is based almost wholly on national measures of disadvantage which ignores the very real needs and risks to well-being presented by more hidden needs such as unrecognised post-natal depression, domestic abuse and the simple isolation experienced by new mothers in commuter centres like Weybridge.

Why place matters

I spoke this week with the Leader of Weybridge Children’s Centre and came away convinced of the need for there to be high quality services available for children and families in most towns in Elmbridge. Daphne described to me the subtle ways of encouraging reluctant parents to attend the centre, and then access further services, which comes about thanks to informal encounters out and about in town. This is just not possible when parents have to travel to another town.

Weybridge’s centre is very special

Daphne and her deputy also filled me on on the range of innovative programmes they have introduced in Weybridge, which have been adopted by other centres and which have participants from other centres, including: a brilliant 7-week post-natal course; a paediatric First Aid course (only centre to run one) and an NHS facilitated 8-week Cognitive Behavioural Therapy based mental health course for mothers with post-natal depression.

What does OFSTED say?

In 2015 OFSTED visited the centre and found:

“One of the most notable features of their work is how successful the staff are in helping mothers and families become more capable.  This goes well beyond mothers and fathers learning how to become better parents.  It has a track record of helping parents to access education and progress to paid work.”

“The centre leader has done a sterling job of maintaining high-quality frontline services alongside inducting new staff and ensuring it is ‘business as usual’ for families during a period of significant change.”

“Her work is highly respected and valued by partners and parents alike.”

“The centre has been recognised as an ‘excellence in
practice partner’ by the health care provider for its work with parents at their child’s developmental check.”

“Targeted one-to-one support for children and families is effective and highly valued. Parents described staff to inspectors as ‘caring, sensitive, non-judgemental and patient’.”

Case files are of good quality and show the tangible impact that staff interventions have, particularly in empowering families to take control. Parents, including those from priority groups, build skills and confidence from attending specific programmes that help them to manage their children’s challenging behaviour positively.”

“The outreach work provided for the relatively high number of children and families who are in most need of support is extremely effective in enhancing their health, safety and well-being and
sustaining their involvement with the centre until their needs are met.”

“The centre provides access to high-quality services for most adults identified as needing help to improve their education and skills. Initial entry-level English courses are delivered by the college at the centre, where a crèche is provided by centre staff.”

Can we really let this disappear without a fight?

Read more on the centre’s facebook page give your opinion to Surrey here

Urgent Treatment Centres – What to expect

New Urgent Treatment Centre Opens at St Peter’s

From 31 October, there will be an Urgent Treatment Centre, based at St Peter’s Hospital, serving patients of the North West Surrey CCG.  This is the closest such centre for residents of Weybridge.

Which conditions are treated at Urgent Treatment Centres?

Urgent Treatment Centres will treat minor injuries, and illnesses that require urgent treatment, these include:
• minor illnesses
• minor cuts and grazes, including those that require stitches
• minor scalds and burns
• strains and sprains
• bites and stings
• minor head injuries
• common infections, such as chest, ear and throat
• minor skin infections/rashes
• minor eye conditions/infections
• stomach pains
• minor broken bones such as toes, ankles, wrists, fingers and suspected fractures.

What if you cannot judge whether your case is minor or more serious?

Patients will be assessed at the Urgent Treatment Centre and then treated in order of medical need, including being referred on to A&E.
If your condition is assessed as minor and urgent (requiring immediate attention), you will be seen by an appropriate clinician in the Urgent Treatment Centre
If your condition is not urgent or immediate, you will be referred back to your GP.
If you are seriously ill, you will be referred to the Emergency Department which – at St Peter’s Hospital – is located next to the Urgent Treatment Centre.

Weybridge town meetings

In my May 2018 election literature I promised to run town meetings, if elected.

My ambition is to try and establish a kind of forum where residents and businesses in Weybridge can come together on a regular basis and talk about the kind of Weybridge we want for the future.

Why did I want to do this?

I am committed to trying to enable generative and creative conversations. Conversations which bring people in at the early stages of developing anything new in the town.

All we need is YOU!

We need your ideas, your input, your voice and your help.

  • Shape what happens to the town.
  • Influence and support ideas and plans.
  • Get support from the others and the council for for your own ideas and projects.

We will talk about:

  • The spaces we use.
  • How we get about.
  • How we support people and keep them safe.
  • Our local economy and business.

And we want to know from you:

  • What do we love that we want to protect?
  • What do we need to make better?
  • What would we rather do without?
  • What can you do and what help do you need from the council?

Let’s bring the community together and create a future for Weybridge that we all want.

Reshaping Weybridge Town Centre

A community hub in Weybridge

At the recent Portmore Park and District Residents Association meeting, Weybridge Surrey County Councillor, Tim Oliver spoke about ideas for developing Weybridge town centre. Surrey County and Elmbridge Borough officers and NHS property services have already met to talk about creating a Weybridge Hub on the Weybridge Hospital site.  .

Services on the site?

So far, we have no firm idea of what is meant by a hub on this site. Current thinking includes relocating Weybridge library and Weybridge Centre for the Community to the hospital site. Of course this will be alongside the redevelopment of the site for GP practices and community health services.

And then?

Some people are also in favour of creating more town centre parking spaces by paving over the old bowling green at the entrance to Churchfields Recreation Ground (Park).

So far, there has been no mention of where the much used and highly valued Children’s Centre fits into the ideas being discussed.

We will watch and report on developments.

Let us know what you think

We also invite people to let us know how they would like to see our town centre develop.  You can do this in person and hear others’ views at our next town meeting on Thursday 11th October, starting 7.30 pm, at the Centre for the Community, Churchfields Place.

Out of hospital services in North West Surrey

Residents of Weybridge have been invited by the North West Surrey Clinical Commissioning Group (the CCG) to contribute their views on plans for out of hospital services in our area. The launch of this engagement is an event on Tuesday 2nd October, running from 3-8 pm at the Ship Hotel.

What services for Weybridge?

While the focus of the engagement goes beyond just the Weybridge Hospital rebuild, it is particularly pertinent for Weybridge. The CCG notice about the events says: “Following this engagement we will be better placed to determine the services that will eventually go into the new healthcare facility that will be built on the site of the old Weybridge Hospital.”

Register to attend

CCG staff will be able to give attendees a greater opportunity to put their views if attendance is spread out. People wishing to attend can sign up in advance and select a 30 minute time slot.

Weybridge Town Meeting

On Monday 2 July, about 60 people met in the Weybridge Centre for our first open town meeting.

The idea behind this meeting was to provide a space where issues, suggestions and improvements to the town could be discussed. And where the agenda was compiled by the participants and not by local politicians or interest groups.

And that’s what happened!

How did it work?

People suggested topics which were captured on a chart: 25 topics in under 5 minutes. Too many for a meeting but there were overlaps and obvious connections. We bundled together similar topics and we got down to six clusters.

What did we discuss?

People formed groups to tackle the topic they were most interested in and the meeting set off to have conversations about:

  • Traffic and parking
  • The High Street and development
  • The Weybridge allotments development proposal

What the groups came up with

Traffic and Parking

Participants described a range of interconnected traffic and parking issues, often differing from road to road:

  • residents disrupted by school run traffic and parking
  • residents not finding overnight parking in roads with limited capacity
  • dangerous rat run traffic through residential roads
  • insufficient daytime parking for workers and shoppers
  • intrusive town centre through traffic.

The group welcomed the Weybridge Society and WTBG research into worker parking needs. They agreed that it needs to be augmented with traffic flow research to inform conclusions. They felt that more off-street parking is needed, not necessarily multi-storey, and liked the idea of worker park and ride from Brooklands.

Participants agreed that a wider strategic review of parking and traffic is needed. The review must reflect the varying needs of residents in different roads.  It must also address the imperative of managing rat run traffic.

Other suggested initiatives included better safer cycle routes and footpaths; schools doing more to encourage children to walk and cycle to school; and creating more pedestrian-friendly areas around the town centre. The end of Baker Street could be pedestrianised, at least at weekends.

The High Street and development

  • Baker St pedestrianisation came up in this group and was viewed positively
  • the town’s conservation areas are treated inconsistently and Quadrant Green is neglected. Both could be used better and made more attractive.
  • the High St could be reshaped to allow for safer cycle passage and a general reduction in speed would enable better flow of pedestrians
  • there is a need for more seating in the High Street
  • opening up High Street to the park and allotments would link existing amenities and increase use.

The group noted that Weybridge benefits from having most of its public services located in the town centre.

The group also referred to two existing townscape projects. There is the Weybridge Society initiative on the town centre, which is being branded WRAP – Weybridge Rebuild and Advance Project. And there are plans for improvements to pavement and street scene at the east end of the High Street, from Elmgrove Road to Waitrose.

The Weybridge allotments development proposal

  • there was general agreement to resist the sale of any part of the allotments by the Weybridge Charity. “When they’re gone they’re gone!”
  • the Trustees’ plan for raising funds through sale and development seems to be poorly thought out and there are alternative options which should be considered.
  • the allotments need to be better publicised and integrated into town activities.

ACTION: Vicki Macleod to support groups to engage with the Trustees and find an alternative to the proposed sale

We didn’t get around to discussing Policing, residents’ safety, disabled access, or affordable housing as topics in their own right but they were all mentioned in the course of conversations. These will be put back on the table at a follow up meeting in September.