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.