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South Woking Action Group (SWAG) Press Release

16th December 2021

South Woking Action Group (SWAG) is delighted that the Planning Inspector and Secretary of State, in their detailed decisions published together on 14th December 2021, agreed with us that the Goldev scheme for 1052 flats and a 9026 seat stadium on the Kingfield site was inappropriate and consequentially refused it planning permission on appeal.

SWAG were represented at the Appeal in May 2021 inquiry by Neil Jarman, Katie Bowes and Andy Caulfield.

The Inspector concluded that the proposed development of flats would be out of character with the area of predominately one and two storey residences around the site. He agreed with SWAG that the proposed residential density of 336 dwellings/ha was that which might be reflected in Woking Town centre, not the suburb of Kingfield & Westfield (part of Hoe Valley), where densities of 30-40 dwellings/ha could be expected. He firmly rejected Goldev’s attempt to use a lower housing density figure by including the football stadium in their calculations. The high density inevitably led to a scheme involving tall buildings for which the inspector concluded there was no policy support outside the town centre.

Whilst Goldev had claimed the schemes elevations to Westfield Avenue reflected the Willow Reach development, the Inspector saw the error in this. He agreed with SWAG that the reality was Westfield Avenue would have been impacted unacceptably by the oblique views between the blocks rising up to their full height of up to 11 storeys, as well as views at other locations. The overall bulk of the blocks was also an issue for him.

The inspector further recommended refusal for the mix of residences in the scheme which were to be 99% 1 and 2-bedroom flats. The scheme alone would have increased the population of Kingfield & Westfield (part of Hoe Valley) from 6,000 to 8,000, but barely provide any family accommodation, leading to an unbalanced community. To comply with Woking Planning Policy he concluded that around 61% of the market dwellings and 25% of the affordable housing at the site should be 3-4 bedroom as SWAG had sought. He considered Goldev’s scheme to be “woeful” in this respect.

With respect to parking the inspector felt the issues identified by SWAG with the proposed residential parking could be addressed by suitable planning conditions if the scheme was satisfactory in other respects (which it was not!). With respect to stadium parking he concluded that this was an existing problem and that the provision of extensive new parking would be inappropriate. He noted the travel plan proposals from Goldev. Woking FC did have issues with the stadium parking, but the inspector noted their earlier apparent support for the scheme.

With respect to the proposed moving of the David Lloyd Centre to Mayford, the inspector noted all parties agreed that the proposal represented inappropriate development in the Green Belt. He concluded there were no very special circumstances to justify allowing such development. The loss of trees was also a concern to him.

The Secretary of State accepted and firmly agreed with the Planning Inspector’s recommendations that he should reject Goldev’s appeals and dismiss their applications.

Neil Jarman who led the planning inquiry team for SWAG said:
“I was pleased with the thoroughness of the Inspector’s report, that the Secretary of State Michael Gove agreed with him and refused the appeal. It was an entirely inappropriate scheme for this location. The hard work put in by SWAG and others has paid off. SWAG continue to be grateful for the support they received from Hoe Valley and Heathland Councillors, as well as the diligence of the Woking BC Planning Committee in refusing the planning application which had been promoted by former Council officers. The many letters and emails from local residents opposing the scheme all helped SWAG. Going forward Woking Planning Committee will still need to make a decision on Goldev’s second scheme for residences without a new football stadium. This appeal decision provides good reasons as to why that application should now be refused too.”

Katie Bowes said:
“It was clear to residents, from the very first presentation of plans, which was AFTER Woking Borough Council and Woking Football Club were already contractually engaged, that the proposed scheme was designed to satisfy agendas outside of the genuine interests of the community at large. We welcome investment and development of the Kingfield site, but in a respectful, sustainable and balanced way. We hope that any proposed development of this site and indeed others in ‘villages’ takes on board the need for planning merit and preservation of character.”

Andy Caulfield said:
“The strength of SWAG throughout these entirely misconceived plans – aggressively pushed through by the former Tory Council leader, fully supported by his group, and former WBC senior officers – was our community coming together to oppose this nonsense. The fact that we persuaded the planning committee, the football club and now a planning inspector and secretary of state fully vindicates all we have said since 2019, even in the face of quite vicious personal attacks from PR machines and their nominated local keyboard warriors at times. Thanks to everyone for all you did for our community, especially my fellow committee members throughout.”

“South Woking Action Group represents local residents and football fans from Hoe Valley and Mayford neighbourhoods and beyond who are concerned and object to the proposed tower block development proposed at the site of Woking Football club.

We seek to work with Woking Football Club, Woking Borough Council and developers to find an optimal solution to future-proof the Football Club. But not to the detriment of the local area, in terms of overdevelopment and unsustainable pressure on local infrastructure and services.”

https://southwokingactiongroup.org.uk/

Our Original Mission

South Woking Action Group represents local residents and football fans from Hoe Valley and Mayford neighbourhoods and beyond who are concerned and object to the proposed tower block development proposed at the site of Woking Fooball club.

We seek to work with Woking Football Club, Woking Borough Council and developers to find an optimal solution to future-proof the Football Club. But not to the detriment of the local area, in terms of overdevelopment and unsustainable pressure on local infrastructure and services.

See more representations of the Cardinal Court Proposal.

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