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.

Weybridge On-street Parking Changes 2018

See also:

This post deals with the parking schemes that Surrey proposes to implement, subject to the agreement of the Surrey Local Committee meeting at 4pm, Monday, 26 November, 2018 in the Civic Centre.  These scheme will be formally ‘advertised’ as they stand. This is the first stage of public consultation on these schemes.

Streets to have changes – mainly additional double yellow lines for safety reasons:

  • Beales Lane
  • Devonshire Road
  • Fortescue Road
  • Grenside Road
  • Grotto Road
  • High Street
  • Manor Court
  • Mayfield Road
  • Thames Street

DYL = double yellow line, in other words no waiting at any time.

Devonshire Road

In Devonshire Road make the existing advisory disabled parking bay into a mandatory bay at any time, Blue Badge holders only, No time limit’. To improve compliance with existing bay.

High Street

Modify existing loading bay on the High Street to allow all vehicles to load/unload
here, not just goods vehicles as at present.

Manor Court

Manor court to introduce a DYL around the inside of the ‘island’ (access
to the flats). To prohibit parking which prevents access to the flats. To improve
safety.

Fortescue and Mayfield Junction

At the junction of Fortescue and Mayfield introduce DYLs to prevent parking
which obstructs sightlines to improve safety at the junction.

Roads around St George’s Junior School

In Beales Lane the addition of a DYL to prevent parking which causes obstruction to the carriageway and/or footway.

Grenside Road introducing an DYL  at the junction on the west side to prevent parking which obstructs sightlines. To improve safety at the junction.

Grotto Road extend existing DYLs  at the junction with Grenside Road to improve sightlines and safety at the junction.

In Thames Street the addition of a DYL in between existing restrictions near Montrose Walk and Portmore Park Road because it causes obstruction to traffic on the carriageway and poses a safety hazard to anyone wishing to use the footway at this location. Introduce ‘No Stopping Mon-Fri 8:15-9:15am and 2:30-4pm School Keep Clear’ on the opposite side of the road from the end of the existing school keep clear to the buildout opposite the access to Portmore Park Road. To improve traffic flow and safety during school ‘pick up and drop off times’.

Weybridge Parking – Permit Schemes

See also:

This post deals with those parking schemes, requested by residents in the Weybridge Parking Review in 2018, which Surrey Highways officers have recommended to be rejected or for there to be ‘no further action at the current time’. These recommendations will be agreed or rejected at the Surrey Local Committee meeting at 4pm, Monday, 26 November, 2018 in the Civic Centre.

Rejected Scheme

Layton Court.  Residents request a permit scheme and a conversion of grass to hard standing. 16 signatures from 11 households- indicating support by 69%.  The road space directly in front of Layton Court can only accommodate 5 or 6 vehicles, so it does not seem feasible to restrict this to permit holders only and make it available for all 16 households in Layton Court. Taking a very low average of one vehicle per household means that there would be 16 permits sold and only 6 spaces. The creation of hard standing on the verges is not a ‘parking review’ issue. This would need to be considered by the local area highway team, although there is essentially no funding available to meet these kinds of requests.  Officer’s recommendation – do not proceed.

Schemes recommended for no further action at the current time

Dorchester Road.  A request for a resident permit scheme.  Survey indicates 85% support for the scheme.  The county council looked at a permit parking scheme for Dorchester Road in 2015/16 as part of the Weybridge parking review.  The idea was not progressed based on the feedback at the time.  See ‘Town Centre’ petition for further information about parking in this area.  Officer’s recommendation – no further action at the current time.

Gascoigne Road.  A residents’ request permit scheme. Support is 91% (in fact 100%).  The county council looked at a permit parking scheme for Gascoigne Road in 2015/16 as part of the Weybridge parking review. The idea was not progressed based on the feedback at the time. See ‘Town Centre’ petition for further information about parking in this area. Officer’s recommendation – no further action at the current time.

Limes Road.  To have controlled parking at all times or as close to it as possible. Officer’s recommendation.  Because discussions are ongoing about the possibility of providing more off-street car parking space, and we therefore do not feel it is appropriate to bring in further large-scale parking schemes in the town centre at the current time.  No further action.

Minorca Road.  To have controlled parking at all times or as close to it as possible. Officer’s recommendation.  Because discussions are ongoing about the possibility of providing more off-street car parking space, and we therefore do not feel it is appropriate to bring in further large-scale parking schemes in the town centre at the current time.  No further action.

Scheme was recommended for further development

Broomfield Court.  A request for a resident permit scheme.  Resident’s survey had 15 signatures from 14 households from 18 properties, proving 78% support.  Many of the properties in Broomfield Court do not have off street parking.  This scheme seems to have a lot of support and as the area is reasonably self-contained we do not consider parking displacement to be a risk.  Officer’s recommendation. Develop proposals for a parking management scheme including permit parking to operate in part of the road. Carry out informal consultation. If sufficient support for the idea is shown, refine proposals as necessary and progress to formal advertisement.

What’s happening with the new Weybridge Cinema?

Much needed town centre development

Weybridge residents are looking forward to having a new independent cinema at the site of Weybridge Hall. This might be the first of several enhancements to the life of the town centre. However, people have expressed concern over the lack of any update and apparent delay in the development moving forward.

Why the delay?

Recently published council papers (Item 6) now show that there have been unanticipated costs which which will impact the overall budget needed. These arise from removal of asbestos and the proposed approach to effective sound proofing. The cabinet will be considering this on 4 July and will make recommendations to full council.

Culture and Affordable Housing

The plan for this development is to deliver a cinema with around 100 seats, plus affordable housing units above. These will comprise four one-bedroom and one two-bedroom units. These units will be affordable for rent properties.

Clearly residents and businesses in Weybridge are keen for this development to the evening economy to go ahead. We are keen to enhance the social and cultural life of the town which is great to live in.

Keeping you informed

We will provide an update once a decision has been taken.

 

Your Personnel Planning Alerts

Planning Alert

Registering your account

If you would like to receive alerts for planning applications in your locality simply click here. Alternatively, go to the Elmbridge borough website and click on the “My Account” at the top right of your screen.  On the next screen register your details. You will then be given the option of getting planning application alerts.

Choosing your planning alerts area

You will then be given the option of choosing the extent of the area that you will be given alerts – up to 500m.  I would recommend choosing the maximum area because you can always cut it down later if you find there are too many alerts.

You can also take up other options relating to changes to local services.

More Planning Information

If you would like more planning information at Elmbridge, for example to find a planning application to how to object to a planning application click here.

Parking and New Developments

Granting planning permissions to applications with insufficient parking has become a big issue in recent years.  The picture above shows office parking which could soon become gardens for four-bedroomed houses – leaving little space for parking cars.

Although I have campaigned on this since becoming a borough councillor, it has taken me a while to persuade my Conservative party colleagues that has the power to stop such developments if it chooses to do so.

The convention was that as Surrey county is the highway authority for Elmbridge if county decides that a planning application has no significant impact on transport and if that was the only reason for refusal then the borough would have to permit the development.

My contention is that Surrey county only considers two aspects: highway safety; and, impact on congestion.  The third aspect: parking is considered by county to be a borough concern.

Yet my committee often voted to permit planning applications that clearly had significant, if not severe, impact on the availability to park locally.

Recently two planning applications have come before the borough’s south area planning sub-committee (which serves Weybridge) which, if permitted, could create further demand for on-street parking in areas of particular parking stress.  The first application was for a reduction in off-street parking for the conversion offices into four proposed four-bedroomed houses in Thames Street; and the second was, again, the conversion of offices into flats in Baker Street.  In both cases I proposed that the applications be refused on parking grounds and fortunately my colleagues agreed.

Planning Compliance

One of the items on the Liberal Democrat/Residents administration’s to do list was to deal with the number of cases of planning infringement.  We launched the planning compliance team with new resources to ensure greater planning complaince

In the last calendar year 336 planning compliance investigations where closed.  Of these investigations:

  • 167 were found not to be a breach of planning control
  • 62 had the breach resolved due to borough intervention
  • 43 were matters referred on to county, building control, Environment Agency, Environmental Health/Care etc.
  • 40 resulted in grants of planning permission
  • 14 were found to be duplicates of existing cases due to variation of address description
  • 10 were closed on expediency grounds

In the same period:

  • 4 Enforcement Notices were served,
  • 4 Planning Contravention Notices issued,
  • 2 Breach of Condition Notices served,
  • 1 Temporary Stop Notice issued,
  • 2 High Court Injunctions granted.

If you want to have a matter deal with by the planning compliance team please complete this form online as it helps reduce potential duplication of cases.  For more background information click here.

Local Plan – consultation results

The borough has published a preliminary report based on the responses it received to its local plan strategic option consultation. You’ll find the full report on the borough website.  There were 3,436 responses all in all from Elmbridge residents and the majority of those came from Cobham (1,800) and Ditton (1,299). Unsurprisingly, not many came from Weybridge.

GREEN BELT IS SACROSANCT

The vast majority of responses opposed any amendment to the Green Belt boundaries in order to meet housing needs. Green Belt was considered sacrosanct and respondents did not see any exceptional circumstance for tampering with its boundaries. A minority supported the borough’s view that there needed to be a balance between protecting Green Belt and meeting housing needs. A number of sites were put forward in both urban and Green Belt areas where development could take place. Many opponents of the release of Green Belt felt the borough had not done enough to identify opportunities for much higher densities in existing towns and centres. However, people living in densely developed areas opposed further development.

ASSESSMENT OF HOUSING NEED

A large number of respondents disagreed with the borough’s assessment of housing need and felt it did not take account of insufficient infrastructure and environmental constraints. Many also suggested that the impact of Brexit had to be considered.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Many recognised that housing in Elmbridge was unaffordable. But the majority did not consider this an exceptional circumstance for developing in the Green Belt. Significant
doubts were expressed about whether the borough had enough power to secure affordable housing and many felt it was not for the borough to intervene in the market in
high value areas.

INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENT

Many suggested that impact on infrastructure should be comprehensively assessed before any new homes are built. What’s more, a majority argued that improvements to existing infrastructures should be made regardless of possible development. The borough is grateful to residents for the many substantial and thoughtful responses received and the borough is now considering their impact on the local plan regarding housing in Elmbridge.

40 Acre Field Claygate Planning!

It is with great trepidation that I write an article about 40 Acre Field as it is indeed a complicated and controversial subject for the residents of Claygate and the respectable owners or renters of this plot of Green Belt land.

This blog is to provide a clearer picture to the edited version that has been published in the Claygate Focus.

In 2013 after being elected for the first time, one of my earliest issues was the sale, division and consequent devastation of 40 Acre Field. This quiet backwater nestles between the A3, Bridleway 34, Common Lane and Holroyd Road. It is possibly one of the last pieces of green belt which separates the village of Claygate from the London suburb of Chessington! This once beautiful tranquil setting soon became a subject of immense concern to Claygate and especially the residents of Common Lane.

Little did I know what a long, difficult and emotional journey this would be!

These pictures are taken from the end of Common Lane at the junction with Bridleway 34

1.Pre 2013

2. March 2015

3. May 2015

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Local Green Spaces are protected from inappropriate development unless ‘VERY SPECIAL’ circumstances outweigh potential harm. Ref:  DM20

Since 1963 there has been a deed between Barwell and Elmbridge borough that does NOT give full right and liberty to the Landowner or his successors to pass and repass with or without vehicles down Common Lane.

Common Lane is a private road owned by Elmbridge Borough Council (EBC). The constant toing and froing of vehicles to the numerous plots on the field via this access point, that had previously been closed for many years, has inconvenienced other users and residents. Common Lane is little more than a dirt track directly adjacent to Claygate Common. Despite the efforts of EBC countryside officers to maintain the surface and keep it free of potholes and flooding, there has been considerably more damage to this lane in the last few years. This has substantially increased the financial maintenance costs to EBC.

Access alone is not the only issue, burnt out cars, fly-tipping and various forms of anti-social behaviour eventual led to the decision of EBC to close the small car park to the public in 2017. This decision is not related to the legitimate users of 40 Acre Field that own or rent plots to graze their horses. The perpetrators of these problems are simply exploiting this relatively quiet secluded backwater but also create further costs to EBC.

The individual purchase of the plots has seen, what many consider, a detrimental transformation of this field. Access remains difficult due to the poor drainage which for most part of the year leaves it almost impassable because of flooding, unless you have a four wheel drive vehicle which inevitably causes further damage to the land.

Two planning applications for plots 11 & 12 (2015/3788 & 2016/1567) were refused by East Area Planning sub-committee (EAPS) and have resulted in a costly High Court Judgement and a Judicial Review. As the applicants failed to appear at the latter on Tuesday 11th July 2017 it was decided that all the evidence would be taken into consideration and a final decision would be returned by early September 2017. The decision is that the appeal against EBC has been dismissed. The applicants now have to remove their caravans from their plot within the agreed allotted time. Costs were not awarded to either the applicants, the borough or Claygate Parish Council (CPC).

Application 2016/2062 which has 100 objections was discussed at EAPS on Monday 4th September and a personal permission was suggested by myself and CPC. This will now be decided at the next borough full planning meeting in October.

As things now stand we have what was once an open field divided into numerous plots by fences for the individual landowners. Although many consider this unsightly, there is not a simpler less intrusive method to divide this field. Multiple shelters were added (before any sale was made) and these are absolutely permissible as long as they are on skids that ensure they are easily moveable. Many trees were also removed from the field (before its sale) opening it up to increased noise from the A3 and making it vulnerable to strong winds blowing across the land as well as flooding which has always been a problem.

Routes have been cut across the field so owners can access their plots and their livestock. Original gateways have also been re-opened for the same reasons although there is some controversy over access rights. Local residents may not like the changes that have taken place but the owners do have a right to protect and graze their animals within their plots.

However a large barn like structure has been erected. A retrospective planning application 2016/2062 is under consideration and the plight of an ailing hose has been considered with much empathy.

Travellers in two caravans have been residing on their two plots and have undergone retrospective planning applications (2015/3788 & 2016/1567) Along with other distressing issues residents have been extremely concerned about this long term complicated situation. These issues have impacted not only on the local residents but also on the people who legitimately own or rent the land to graze their horses.

Change has inevitably occurred with the sale of these plots, fences have been erected, there are numerous shelters and inevitably more vehicles. Some changes must be accepted following the sale of this field but EBC have and will deal with any aspect that is not permissible.

There has however without doubt been a detrimental effect on the flora and fauna of this once much more beautiful and tranquil area.

Planning Compliance

One of the four key goals for the new Liberal Democrat/Residents administration was the improvement in planning enforcement.

Two measures have already been put in place: to ensure a more communicative service; and, the redrafting of the Elmbridge’s Planning Enforcement Charter in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The borough is to rename the team as the Planning Compliance Team. This would put greater emphasis on ensuring people complied with plans, conditions and the law, with enforcement being the end result in only the minority of cases.

The new team will have access to a branded vehicle in order to remove incorrectly placed estate agents boards and other illegal advertisements, which they were currently unable to do as easily and regularly using staffs’ own vehicles. In addition, staff will also have their own uniform, in common with other borough staff carrying out compliance activities.

The new team will introduce regular ‘surgeries’ and/or participation in existing events such as Let’s Talk Elmbridge in order to provide a greater and more visible presence with the public.

To achieve this the number of compliance staff will be increased 33%.