Conservative administration at blame for letting proposal progress

June 25, 2020 12:54 PM
By Cllr Ann-Marie Barker

Anne-Marie Barker (Woking Lib Dems)I am very sad for Woking Football Club that planning permission for their much hoped for redevelopment was refused at this week's planning committee. I would have been even sadder if planning permission had been granted. The flawed development plan put forward would have had an unacceptable impact on the local area whilst being in no way guaranteed to give the club the sustainable financial future it needs.

I am very disappointed to hear the Chairman of the football club suggest my colleagues who represent the Hoe Valley ward are responsible for the failure to secure planning permission.

If blame for the situation the club now finds itself in is to be attributed it must lie at the feet of the Conservative administration at Woking Council. Those who have run our local Council for the last 13 years let this proposal progress as far as it did. How could plans that were rejected outright by the cross-party Planning committee have been put before that committee? Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Labour and Independent all voted against the plans for sound planning reasons.

The plans went against a number of Woking's planning policies, including height outside the town centre, mass and bulk and not fitting into the local environment. If these plans had gone ahead, as well as dominating the skyline of Kingfield, it would have opened the door to developers building to this height in other local communities.

The proposed development aimed to secure the financial future of the football club. Could the club really cover their costs by taking rent from retail units that would not attract passing traffic and a meeting room or events space with a limited number of parking spaces. Having added a higher number of affordable units and provided a cycle and electric hook up for each unit would the developers really make the profit they would want?

It is time to look to the future. Woking is proud of its football club. It is part of the community. So many want it to succeed. I would like to meet with the club, SWAG and other local interests at the earliest opportunity to discuss the way forward for the club. We owe it to our community to find a solution.

Cllr Ann-Marie Barker

Contact Cllr Barker on 07885 231878