Our Sources

At South Woking Action Group, we are committed to transparency. We are a community group, made up of residents and open to all. Our aim is to give a voice to residents and stand against over-development that threatens the fabric of our community.

Compressing lots of information and some complex concepts into a simple, readable graphic takes time. Too much information can clutter the graphic and make it lose its impact and message. Here is a compilation of our infographics with extra explanation, information, and our sources. We’ve tried to keep it simple and to the point. If you’d like more information, want to challenge the information, or would like to send us some information, you can contact us at our Facebook Page and we will get back to you.

Each of our infographics have a code, such as “A1”, on them which refers to the coding below (only our first few don’t. They are marked N/A on this page).

 

A1 - How much debt does Woking Borough Council have?

Debt values:

The values for local government debt in the graph were sourced from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) live data tables. The tables are published monthly, and use data provided by local authorities (i.e. they’re not estimates). Unfortunately, there’s a slight lag in publication, so, the data presented in the graph are from September 2019 – the most recent at the time of analysis. The ONS also publish a more readable bulletin here that summarises local government debt.

For Woking’s total debt (£1,276,950,000), the Council’s most recent Green Book value (see page 36) was used (30th November 2019). The September value was used in the graph to allow comparison with other local councils, but, the ‘total debt’ used the most recent value to allow up-to-date information for residents (a difference of -£632,000: a -0.05% change between September and November).

It should be noted that the “debt” values given are for the borrowing from external sources only. They don’t take into account other liabilities.

Population values:

Population was taken from the ONS 2018 mid-year population estimates. Again, this was the most recent source of official population estimates available when calculated.

A more detailed explanation of the £250,000,000 loan facility agreement can be found below (N/A – The £250m Loan Facility). The sources can be found here and here.

Why was Median used?

For those that don’t know: the median is just the middle value. All of the values are ordered from smallest to largest, and the value that falls in the middle is the median. The median was used because it is less susceptible to extreme values (both high and low). By using the median, it’s possible to give a fairer representation of borrowing because it is robust to skewness – the mean (where you add up all values and divide by the number of values) is more easily affected by skewness. The data is skewed (Fisher-Pearson Coefficient = 3.76), so the median is a better measure of the average in this case.

How was the graph calculated?

To find the ‘per resident’ borrowing, the total borrowing was divided by the population estimate. The total borrowing was taken at the September 2019 measurement and divided by the most recent available population estimate (mid-year 2018). The Census is once a decade, so, unfortunately there are only estimates between Census data. According to ONS, the Public Works Loan Board has a more accurate measure of borrowing from them. Because we wanted total borrowing from a large volume of local councils, we used the ONS data. We had the data for Woking Borough Council, however, to ensure consistency (and avoid having to go through hundreds of documents), the national data were used. Each council’s ‘per resident’ value was calculated and ordered from smallest to largest. The highest 10 values and median were then extracted for graphing. We also included Guildford, as it is a well known local council in the area (though three of the ‘top 10’ councils are in Surrey). Transport for London was omitted from the calculation.

To give greater context for Woking’s debt, here’s a graph that includes all of the councils:

A2 -

There’s nothing here at the moment. It’s probably because we haven’t published this infographic yet. When it is published, we will update this page with its information. If you think there should be something here, try clearing your browser cache and reloading the page.

A3 - 60% of need is for houses with 3 or more bedrooms

According to the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (2015), Woking’s housing need is for 60% with 3 or more bedrooms. In the affordable market, 25% of need is for 3 or more bedrooms.

The composition of the flat types in the proposed development is best summarised in the Financial Viability Assessment. Using these figures (of the 1,048 units, 5 are 3 bedroom flats), it can be seen that just 0.5% of the development is for 3 or more bedroom units. There are no 3 bed units in the affordable housing block.

Current need is 60% (just over) and the current plans deliver 0.5% (just under). However, the actual scale of this development is unnecessary in the planning context. In the most recent Five Year Housing Land Supply position statement (2019), the land at Kingfield is  allocated for just 40 dwellings (not 1,048). With this level of development, the Council is still on track to over deliver on housing targets. The report only counts the sites that are either completed (such as Willow Reach), have planning permission (such as Sheerwater), and those that are allocated in the Site Allocations plan.

In addition to the sites included in the FYHLS (terrible acronym) position statement, the Council has been allocated a £95m grant from the Housing Infrastructure Fund. This will allow the development of an extra 3,304 homes on top of the existing future housing supply. This means that the Council will be further in excess of the remaining housing requirement of 1,619 dwellings.

This is not to say that new housing shouldn’t be built. Demand for housing is high and the need for new homes is unlikely to decrease any time soon. Instead, it means that in planning terms, and in the terms of national planning policy, it will be harder to justify the need for developments that are excessive in their context.

Considering this, we do not think that the Kingfield development can be justified.

A4 -

There’s nothing here at the moment. It’s probably because we haven’t published this infographic yet. When it is published, we will update this page with its information. If you think there should be something here, try clearing your browser cache and reloading the page.

A5 -

There’s nothing here at the moment. It’s probably because we haven’t published this infographic yet. When it is published, we will update this page with its information. If you think there should be something here, try clearing your browser cache and reloading the page.

A6 - Is false advertising a 'material consideration'?

Whether an advert is misleading is for social media sites to decide. We believe misrepresentation in the planning process undermines the purpose of the public consultation required by law. If you think you see a misleading advert, report it using the social media’s report function. You can also report them to the Advertising Standard Authority.

For a look at the policy that requires engagement with the community, see the Statement of Community Involvement.

A7 - Our sewers can't take it.

The potential waste water issue was identified in the Environmental Scoping Assessment (May 2019). The area is classed as having “serious” water stress. In the report, the developer commits to discussing a waste water strategy with Thames Water and asks for it to be scoped out of the assessment. Despite this request, drainage and water resources were required to be included in the assessment. Woking Borough Council was responsible for consulting on the issue but made no representations. You can view the EIA scoping decision here.

In their comments on the application, Thames Water identifies the issue as significant. They goes as far as to suggest no properties are occupied until upgrades are completed. They also note that not enough time was provided to reach an agreement with the developer.

The developers expect construction of block 1 to be completed in just under 2 years according to their schedule (page 20). The typical timescale for sewage works is 2 years (Appendix E). A delay in sewage could lead to a delay in occupation. A delay in occupation could affect the costs of development through lost income which is relied upon to fund the development. The build failing leads to the Council losing up to £250,000,000 plus interest (see N/A – The £250m Loan Facility) of public money.

A8 - Essential Contacts

The developments at both Kingfield and Egley Road will go to the planning committee for determination.

You can find out more about Woking’s planning committee here. In national and local guidance they may be referred to as the “Local Planning Authority”. Once the consultation period ends on 10th January 2020, the planning officers will consider all of the evidence submitted. They will then set the date for the meeting in which the application will be decided. The planning Officer will present to the committee on the merits of the application, and the objections sent in. Only one member of the public may speak against the proposal at the meeting, limited to 3 minutes.

A9 - A note on vandalism

After some of our banners around the neighbourhood went missing, we decided to issue a statement on the thefts due to the crucial timing of the acts.

A10 - Save our community spaces

We received a request to remove this post by Meadows F.C. We want to support our community, and so we were happy to take down our post. You can still access the newsletter that they sent out here.

There has been a great amount of discussion caused by this post. We have had accusations of ‘conjecture’, and we never aim to mislead any member of our community. We do our due diligence on all of our claims – if anyone points out any inaccuracies then we are always happy to edit, update, or retract our claims accordingly.

We have based this claim on two legal documents issued by Woking Borough Council in response to pressure sustained by our Group’s community. The first is the Agreement for Lease and the second is the Implementation Agreement. Woking Borough Council is the landowner and current financier of the project, and as such has been responsible for the signing of contracts with the developer, GolDev Woking Limited.

An additional letter was presented to Council in the 12th July Executive meeting in Part II.

In the two legal agreements, the Council allows anyone authorised by the developer access via the Loop Road Sports Ground – “to pass and repass with or without workmen, equipment and materials”. In the Executive letter to Council CEO Ray Morgan, GolDev director Wayne Gold states “we do require the edge of [the Loop Road Sports Ground] for the construction traffic”.

As the two agreements are legally binding documents between Woking Borough Council and GolDev, and we are not aware of these being amended or superseded, we used these as our evidence base. The letter to the Council CEO states that the access is required.

In the application, the Environmental Statement Volume 1: Main Report, Chapter 5: Demolition and Construction states “For the majority of the works, there will be two site access and egress points for vehicles onto Kingfield Road and Westfield Avenue”. It is ambiguous as to whether Loop Road will be used. The legal agreements in place, and the ‘required’ access via Loop Road suggest that it is likely that the developer will seek a post-consent (post-planning decision) approval for access via Loop Road which does not necessarily have to go via committee, and can be made under delegated authority.

There is no legally binding reassurance that the Loop Road Sports Ground is fully excluded from access plans. There is no reason to think that this access will not be sought.

N/A - The £250m Loan Facility

On 31st January 2019, Woking Borough Council signed an agreement with the developer GolDev Woking Limited. Council voted to loan them up to £250,000,000 of public money to finance the development. GolDev Woking Limited is a company set up as a partnership between developers GolDev Limited and Dukelease and is the company that will be leading the development.

As seen in the agreement and at Council, the security for that £250,000,000 is a debt placed on the land which the Council already owns (for a more to-the-point answer see question 19 here). The Council acquired the stadium for £2,000,000. The loan is also secured on the assets of GolDev Woking Ltd. A company which at their most recent accounts (31st March 2019), were worth £100. There was no tendering process by the Council.

A £250,000,000 loan to a company worth £100.

This means that if the build fails, the developers walk, or the flats cannot be sold, the local taxpayer could lose £250,000,000 plus interest (the money will be borrowed on top of the £1.276bn debt (see page 36) that the Council currently holds).

Is this taxpayer’s money?

Yes. Local taxpayers are liable for the Council’s borrowing through the treasury. Most of the money Woking borrows is from the Public Works Loan Board. The PWLB loans money to Councils with the approval of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The Council itself sets its borrowing limit, and the Council should be satisfied that they can pay it back. You can read further here.

Our money is at risk over this development. If the developer goes bust, or the build fails, the Council must still pay back any money borrowed to finance the finance arrangements plus interest. Public money must be used to do this. The example in Northampton shows the risks of uncontrolled borrowing. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has an in-depth article about the risks to Councils who are involved in development.

N/A - CCG Post

This infographic challenges the advert posted by GolDev on Facebook. Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are responsible for procuring certain local NHS services including GP services.

The North West Surrey CCG is responsible for the area. It’s not practical to explain the structure of the NHS here, but, essentially, all GP’s that offer NHS services must be a part of a CCG.

In order to become a member of a CCG a number of processes must be completed. The NHS commissions services based on need, national and local strategies, cost, and many other aspects. Each must be examined before a service is commissioned.

As a group, we don’t believe that a GP surgery embedded in a football stadium makes sense – although we are not healthcare experts. The developers have claimed that a GP practice will be based within the new stadium.

After inquiring with the CCG, they posted a press release that explains they have not engaged in “detailed discussions” with the developers. This is despite the developers’ presentation of a new GP practice as a done deal.

Based on the most recent releases of the developer, the GP practice will “signifcantly” reduce waiting times for services with a patient capacity of 14,000 patients.

The 14,000 figure is the potential capacity assuming that the entire space is used as a surgery. However, the developers are exploring the use of part of the space as a pharmacy or dentist. This would reduce the capacity.

Even at 14,000 the capacity would be under Surrey’s healthcare strategy aim of 1 practice to 30,000 patients (Surrey Infrastructure Study, 2017). Additionally, the aim is to co-locate community services to produce healthcare hubs.

Of course, it is possible to put a GP surgery in a football stadium. But, a healthcare provider would need to overcome the difficulty of match day operations, providing sensitive services in the context, and the accessibility requirements of healthcare..

N/A - Quote from the WBC CEO

This statement is drawn from the response by Ray Morgan (Woking Borough Council CEO) to a supplementary question asked at Executive Questions on 21st November, 2019. The quote was transcribed from the webcast which is only available for 6 months after the meeting. The supplementary question asked was whether the Council’s priority was the viability of the new Stadium as a community asset, or of Woking Football Club. The Executive replied that the Stadium as a community asset was likely to be the Council’s priority.

It was intended to use the quote from the Council Leader, David Bittleston. Unfortunately, the wording did not allow for a legible and succinct quote, and so it was decided to settle for Mr. Morgan’s quote instead.

He gave a historical account for the development. Whilst no explicit decision has been taken recently, it means that there has been no official decision to depart from the historical direction.

 

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