Support from the Planning Inspectorate!!

Former Cafe Rouge, Queens Road

At last a Planning Inspector has agreed with a decision of your local councillors with regard to off-street parking provision! 

As anyone who lives in Weybridge Riverside or in the triangle near Queen’s road knows, parking spaces for residents are at a premium. This acute pressure on both day and night time parking is known technically as ‘parking stress’.

Councillors Vicki Macleod and Ashley Tilling have long argued that planning permission should not be granted to developments which do not provide adequate off-street parking.  The development at the former Grotto pub is a case in point.  

More recently, fellow councillors on the committee have agreed with your local councillors and this has led to a number of proposals being turned down because of inadequate parking – for example one in Baker Street and another in South Road.  Both of these refusals were turned over by national Planning Inspectors and the developments went ahead, with inadequate parking or indeed in South Road, no parking for residents of the new builds. 

In August last year, the local planning committee refused permission on three applications for flats in the old Cafe Rouge building (2020/0265, 0473 and 1288) because of inadequate parking.  We were notified on Thursday 1st April that for the first time in our memory (and we don’t think this was an April Fool) the committee’s refusal on the grounds of inadequate parking provision was upheld by the Inspector.  In summing up his observations and reasoning, the Inspector said:

“I therefore find that the proposed development would be harmful to residential living conditions through increased parking pressures on nearby local roads. It would conflict with Policy DM7 b) of the Elmbridge Local Plan Development Management Plan April 2015 which seeks that the proposed parking provision should be appropriate to the development and not result in an increase in onstreet parking stress that would be detrimental to the amenities of local residents.

This is a major step forward for Weybridge as it now gives Inspectorate backing to our arguments on the need for adequate off-street parking provision to be made for new developments in and near our town centre.

This gives us hope that we may again get Inspector backing in the case of Clive House in Queen’s Road (2020/2438).  Here, the planning committee on Wednesday 30th April refused permission for an additional floor to be built on top of the existing building and one of the reasons given for refusal was lack of adequate off-street parking. The second reason for refusal was the harm to the character of the area because of the imposing mass that would be created by adding another floor.

 

Wey Road and Round Oak Road

Many residents of Weybridge are beset by difficulties in finding space to park their cars, especially in some of the older streets around Weybridge town centre.  To alleviate this difficulty some streets have sought and been granted on street parking controls, and these residents usually find themselves paying Surrey County (SCC) for a Resident’s Parking Permit.

Currently, and bizarrely, Surrey Highways is now consulting Weybridge residents on a proposal to introduce on street parking controls in two roads where there is no on-street parking congestion.

There is no highways reason for the scheme that has been proposed for Wey Road and Round Oak Road:

  • there is very little on-street parking in these roads, so no need for restrictive controls; 
  • most houses and flats in these roads have ample off-street parking space; 
  • there are no safety issues caused by the small number of cars which do park in these roads.

In short, there is no need for on-street parking controls.

Many of the residents in the two roads concerned do not want this scheme introduced as they have no objection to the small number of cars which do park in these roads. Surrey County Council Elmbridge Local Committee have allowed the scheme to be considered despite the proposal falling outside the normal way of approaching such schemes i.e. via the formal SCC annual review of parking.

The highways officer saw no reason for introducing on-street parking controls, but is bound to put forward a proposal as the Local Committee agreed to consider it. There are other streets in Weybridge that are not being considered despite there being severe parking related congestion.

If you would like to make your views known you can do two things:

  1. Join the “Wey and Round Oak Road NO CPZ” action group by emailing saynotocontrols@gmail.com
  2. Fill in Surrey’s online survey by clicking on this link.  

Write your own reason for objection (question eight in the survey) but, in general, the reason is quite simple, parking controls are normally introduced to meet concerns about the four main parking criteria:

  • Safety
  • Access
  • Congestion
  • Parking stress

Even a casual observer would recognise that Wey Road does not fall into any of these criteria (except at the entrances which have been dealt with already). That is why the Surrey’s parking officers rejected the proposals outright when they undertook last year’s review.

 

Planning refusals: 85 Queens Road (former Café Rouge)

85 Queens Road: four applications 2020/0265, 0473, 1288 and 1333

At the South Area Planning Sub-Committee held on Thursday 20th August four applications for changes to the former Café Rouge building were considered. Three of these were for more residential accommodation on the site and one was for extending restaurant seating space. The planning procedure allows a developer to make multiple applications for the same site but requires that each application has to be taken on its own merits. In this case there were two very similar applications, one to provide five flats on the site, the other to add three flats. The planning committee could have permitted both and it would then be up to the developer to choose which one to implement.

The application to convert the first and second floors into four flats and add a flat in a rear extension whilst retaining a smaller restaurant (2020/0265) was refused. Councillors believed there would be a significant increase to the parking stress already experienced in this location, particularly in Princes Road and South Road. This was in light of an application for nine flats on the Wessex site in South Road, recently permitted on appeal, and concerns over the cumulative effect this could have on demand for parking spaces. 

The developer had also applied to build a mansard roof with dormer windows (2020/0473) for a two-bedroom flat. Councillors raised concerns about the increase to perceived overlooking of gardens and properties on South Road. However, it was deemed there were insufficient technical grounds to support this reason to refuse. The argument was that, as there were already windows on the second floor, windows in the mansard roof would not add to overlooking. Additionally, the separation distance was greater than the 22 metres recommended as a minimum separation distance between facades. Despite the building not being a locally listed building, i.e. a heritage asset, the majority of councillors supported refusal due to the effect the roof would have on the character of this unusual art deco building and on the overall impact to the local street scene. 

A further application for three additional flats (2020/1288) was rejected for the same reason – parking stress – as that for the five flats. 

Finally, the application for an extension to the restaurant (2020/1333) was approved given that, under the current Covid-19 circumstances, additional space in the restaurant could be of significant benefit to the long-term success of the business.

 

 

Planning appeal upheld: St Catherine’s, Thames Street/Beales Lane

St Catherine’s, Thames Street: application 2019/0386

PA Housing, who administer the majority of social housing in Elmbridge, made an application last year to demolish the two storey, brick built St Catherine’s House on the corner of Beales Lane and Thames Street and replace it with a part two and part three-storey building for 28 residential dwellings: 9 x 1 bed, 13 x 2 bed and 6 x 3 bed units.

The Area Planning Sub-Committee refused the application on the grounds that its height and mass would harm the character and appearance of the area as well as its adverse effect on traffic flow and increase to parking stress. There were also concerns on overlooking and loss of privacy to houses opposite on Beales Lane. The developer appealed and the Planning Inspector arranged a hearing at which all parties could express their views. The Inspector also visited the site and the surrounding area.

After quite a long wait, we were informed that the appeal was allowed and planning consent given.

 

 

Town Centre Traffic – a radical approach

A Radical Approach to Town Centre Traffic and Regeneration

We often wonder what will help our High Street survive and thrive. In Weybridge, through traffic is a significant negative feature and we believe that removing this traffic, which simply goes through our town, would help our High Street flourish.

Why and how would we do this?
One of the many things we have learned through the Covid 19 crisis is the value and importance of our open spaces – Churchfields Park, The Cricket Green and, for the more adventurous, Desborough Island. These have proved invaluable and well-used. What we lack in Weybridge is town centre open spaces and we will need these to help re-establish the once thriving cafe culture of our town.

The questions are where to have open spaces and how will we create them?
We are talking here about pedestrian spaces in our town centre. And in Weybridge, this would mean stopping traffic driving through the town centre itself. Impossible? Too radical to even think of!!?

Well, let’s think about it for a moment before we dismiss the idea. And let’s think in terms of how could this benefit the town, its businesses and its residents? Let’s think also in terms of what town centre services local residents will want to be able to access by car, what habitual behaviours may we need to modify and what we already do differently because of the pandemic? How many of those working at home will continue to do so? Quite a few we believe. How many of us now walk or cycle to do our shopping? Do you remember in March and early April, amidst all our concerns about the virus and how we would cope in lockdown, the bliss of a quiet, traffic free High Street? We could have this again and permanently, or something close to this.

Through traffic or a piazza and performance space?
Much of our congestion in Weybridge is caused by people driving through our High Street to get somewhere else. This does not build a thriving town. This through traffic would cease and find other routes if we created a small piazza straddling the High Street between Lloyds Bank and Robert Dyas. This could be a space for enjoying an outdoor coffee and chat – rather like Singaporean food courts, where you can buy from anywhere.  Flexibly designed, it could be transformed into a performance space. There would, of course, have to be a route through for emergency vehicles, as we see so often in European towns with pedestrianised centres.

Which services do we absolutely need to get to by car?
Clearly some people need to use a car for all services, but all these would still be accessible, just sometimes with a slightly longer journey. With less traffic this need not be slower. For local people, access to medical services with parking will remain an important element, and of course will be possible with this plan, as access to Churchfields Car Park remains open.  Banks will continue to be accessible from Churchfields and, with quieter streets, it may even be possible to increase short stay on-street parking, especially for Blue Badge holders. Truly, the only downside is a slightly longer journey for some, and for most doing this there will be the benefit of quieter roads.

But  . . .  
By now you might be wondering who loses in this scenario and what will happen to local traffic wanting to access the other end of town? And won’t new rat runs be created?

For sure the whole town wins from a re-energised centre, cleaner air, a place for people to gather safely. There would still be access to Churchfields Car Park from Church Street and Balfour Road and to Baker Street from the High Street (though this might be managed so that there was only one lane and pavements in Baker Street were widened, creating a second open space).

The level of traffic would be very much lower and Baker Street would no longer be a rat run used by people in a hurry to get somewhere.

The people most likely to lose out are the households on and off Heath Road who will lose direct access to the supermarket end of the High Street. If they wanted to drive to shop there, they would have to travel via the Station roundabout and Hanger Hill and approach via Monument Hill. This would put two (?) miles on their round journey.

It’s also the case that residents on and off Baker Street would need to take a longer journey to exit Weybridge along the A 317 and to get to the medical centre by car.  But improved pavements could mean that some, who would prefer to walk there or use a mobility scooter, would be safer.

What about new rat runs?
For such a change to work, residential streets which could become alternative routes for through drivers will need to be protected. This can be done. Streets we have identified as needing protection are: Portmore Park Road, and streets off it, and Elgin Road. Can you think of others? The simplest form of protection for these would be barriers or ‘rising’ bollards which are controlled to allow residents, their carers and visitors to pass into the street. This can be done using number plate recognition.

Other issues?
Yes, this would be a bold move! Maybe there are other problems associated with this idea.  But isn’t it time we adjusted the balance in our town?

EBC Finance – Covid 19 Implications

Elmbridge Borough Council’s finances are facing a perfect storm caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. A report from the Deputy Chief Executive was reviewed by the Council Cabinet  at its meeting on Wednesday, 10th June. The situation was described as a “huge challenge for the current year as well as the medium and long-term finances.”

The pandemic has resulted in the Council having to spend more than it planned and, at the same time, receiving less money than it expected. The recommendations in the report to Cabinet included a review of “all discretionary and non-essential spend” in the current financial year and of the current capital programme.

The Council does have money held in reserve for unexpected events but the recommendation to the Cabinet calls for the Council to “limit the draw on reserves to mitigate the deficit and have plans in place to replenish the reserves being used, over the medium term.”

The Council has needed to fund more activities as it responded to the pandemic for example more “meals on wheels” and housing for rough sleepers; increased costs are faced in order to carry out normal operations, e.g. PPE is required, additional cleaning necessary and equipment purchased to assist staff in working remotely. 

The council has three main types of funding. In 2018/2019 the contribution from each was:-

Income – from Charges & Rents                  £17.2m
Tax – Council Tax & Business Rates            £16.2m  
Other – Grants, Reserves, Bank Interest      £3.7m
Total                                                              £37.1m

In a normal year the largest part of the Council’s funding is income from charges, e.g. motorists pay to park in a council car park and businesses pay rent on Council-owned properties.  

The report forecasts that the Council will lose £6.7m of funding from income in the 2019/2020 financial year. That reduction in income is 18% of the funding and expenditure that the council had planned.  

The income reduction is caused by lockdown closures. For example there was no income from parking charges and the leisure centre was closed. Businesses in council owned properties also faced lockdown disruption and are unable to meet their full rent obligations. 

The government has provided the council with extra money to help meet the costs of pandemic related activity. But it is not clear that the government is going to assist the council in the important matter of its loss of income. The Deputy Chief Executive’s report notes that “The Secretary of State having initially given assurances that all financial strain of councils will be met by the Government, it is increasingly clear now that it is expected that Districts and Boroughs will have to manage/absorb their loss of income.”

The report also notes “that it is widely acknowledged that the impact of this pandemic is not going to be for just  3 months or until the lockdown is lifted but likely to go on for at least 6 months or even longer and it is unlikely to return to anywhere “normal”.  This will undoubtedly create a structural hole in our finances forever”.

The financial future for the council will depend on how quickly or how slowly the local economy recovers from the pandemic shock. The council faces financial uncertainty on many fronts. These include to what extent income from charges and rents recovers and how well the funding from council tax and business rates returns to normal compared with previous years.  

 

Vicki Macleod for Weybridge in the Surrey Elections 4th May 2017

On Thursday 4th May, you have a  chance to elect a new councillor to represent Weybridge on Surrey County Council.

Your local Liberal Democrat candidate is long term Weybridge resident Vicki Macleod.

You may know Vicki from her work in our local community, perhaps from her five years chairing the Friends of The Weybridge Centre charity. or as a school governor.

Vicki‘s priority is to give Weybridge a stronger voice for better delivery of the services local people need, including:

  • Better maintained and safer local roads and pavements
  • Local school places for Weybridge children
  • Responsible budget management by Surrey County Council

Many people see Surrey County Council as remote and inefficient with its history of mismanagement. Vicki will work with other councillors to put pressure on the administration for more effective financial management and for budgets that reflect local needs.  Her longer term aim is to see some of the services currently run by Surrey brought into local Elmbridge control.

Read more at elmbridgelibdems.org.uk

 

Surrey’s Parking Proposals For Weybridge

I have just been told that Surrey is to publish its proposals for parking on Friday.  Do give your views on Surrey’s Plans.  Look at Surrey’s proposals with its reasons for change.  Two sets of maps: north and south.

Double-yellow-lines-on-a-road-and-pavement-curb-2101582Surrey is advertising its parking proposals for Weybridge on Friday, 30 September 2016, by way of a press notice published in the Surrey Advertiser.  There now follows a four week period during which anyone may object, support, or comment on the proposals.

Surrey staff will be on site on Friday erecting street notices at the locations affected. Surrey will also send postcards (with a copy of the street notice on the front, and the relevant drawing on the rear) to properties fronting any proposals (about 460 in total), and make hard copies of the plans available in the library, borough and county offices, as well as on it website.

Surrey will also be writing again to all the residents that it consulted in May/June 2016 regarding the permit area F. This includes Cedar Road, The Crescent, Dorchester Road, Gascoigne Road, Elmgrove Road, Holstein Avenue, Monument Green, Mount Pleasant, Oakdale Road,  St Albans Avenue  and Thames Street.

The deadline for comments is 28 October, and people who would like to object, support, or comment, may do so via Surrey’s online form (from Friday), or in writing to

Weybridge Parking Review
Surrey Parking Team
Rowan House, Merrow Lane
MERROW
GU4 7BQ

surrey-parking-plans-2016

Surrey’s Parking Proposal – Little Change

Double-yellow-lines-on-a-road-and-pavement-curb-2101582On 27 June 2016 at the Surrey Elmbridge local committee it was agreed that Surrey’s proposals on parking in Weybridge would be revisited at a meeting between Weybridge Councillors for Elmbridge and Surrey’s representatives.

As preparation for the meeting, it was agreed that Weybridge residents would be invited to send their comments on Surrey’s proposals.

This meeting took place on Thursday 27 July.

Despite the voiced and accepted understanding of most of those present at the June Local Committee meeting that the July meeting would encompass more than minor amendments to the proposal, Surrey’s representatives refused to accept any changes which would have added to or significantly changed the proposals they presented in June, proposals which were returned to them by the committee for further consultation and rework.

This means that the voices of your Weybridge Councillors on Elmbridge and representations from local residents and business people were not heeded.  A slightly amended version of Surrey’s proposal WILL be put out for final consultation in Weybridge (aka endorsement) in September.  During this consultation changes may be made but only to reduce the restrictions and not to extend them.

For your information, the outcome achieved in the meeting was as follows:

Going through each map in turn (you will find the map number in the bottom right hand corner of the page).  When I say no change I mean that the Weybridge meeting Surrey produced no change from the original proposals.  They might still be changes from the current markings we have today.

Map 1.  No change. My request for Beales Lane and Grenside Road were turned down but the school hatching around the school entrance in Glencoe Road could be looked at later.2016 Parking Map1 Thames Street

 

Map 2.  My request for the inclusion of Dorchester Road which had been accepted in June, got challenged by Surrey in the meeting – however it was finally accepted on the basis that residents could indicate their wish not to be included in the CPZ during the public consultation. In Dorchester Road, Elmgrove Road and Gascoigne Road the residents’ parking is to be shortened to 8am – 6pm (from 8am – 8pm) and short-stay parking shortened to 10am – 4pm (from 8am – 8pm).  This to apply to all bays.  A request that there should be no short-stay bays in Gascoigne Road – a cul de sac – was accepted.  My request that there should be short-stay bays in Grotto Road and residents’ parking in Glencoe Road, Mount Pleasant and Radnor Road was turned down.2016 Parking Map2 Dorchester

Map 3.  In Oakdale Road residents’ parking to be shortened to 8am – 6pm (from 8am – 8pm) and short-stay parking shortened to 10am – 4pm (from 8am – 8pm). This to apply to all bays.  No other changes.

Map 4.  In Elmgrove Road, Holstein Avenue and Oakdale Road the residents’ parking to be shortened to 8am – 6pm (from 8am – 8pm) and short-stay parking shortened to 10am – 4pm (from 8am – 8pm). This to apply to all bays.  A request that there should be no short-stay bays in Holstein Avenue – a cul de sac – was accepted.  My request for Monument Green to be included to enable a higher turnover of vehicles was turned down. No other changes.2016 Parking Map4 High Street

 

Map 5. No changes made in the meeting.

Map 6. In Minorca Road the residents’ parking to be shortened to 8am – 6pm (from 8am – 8pm) and short-stay parking shortened to 10am – 4pm (from 8am – 8pm). This to apply to all bays.  Surrey would not consider Wey Road and Round Oak Road.  No other changes.

Map 7.  My request on behalf of Limes Road residents was taken heed of to an extent. The parking restrictions will not though go into the early evening. My request for Heath Road to be a clearway to increase safety for cyclists was turned down.2016 Parking Map7 Limes

Map 8. No changes. My request for Curzon Road to have residents’ parking and for Belvedere Close, Fortescue Road and Heath Road to have some extra restrictions at residents’ request was turned down.

Map 9. No changes.

Map 10.  No changes. My request for Oatlands Drive to be designated a clearway to forestall cars now parking in Queens Road parking there was turned down.

Map 11.  My requests to make Queens Road to be at least 7m wide for cycle safety – at least during the rush hour turned dwon.

Map 12.  My request for short-stay parking outside Glass’ Offices turned down along with my request for removal of parking restrictions in Princes Road to reduce its role as a rat-run.

Map 13.  No changes.

Map 14.  My requests for the new restrictions in Pine Grove to be only placed to allow residents to exit their properties turned down.

Map 15.  A request for the extension by one car length to the restrictions at the Egerton Road and Cavendish Road junction accepted.

2016 Parking Map15 Egerton

Map 16.  A request for the restriction outside Gower Lodge, Gower Road to be placed on the other side of the road agreed.  As were extensions to the corner makings on Old Avenue.

Map 17.  No changes.

Map 18.  No changes.

Map 19.  No changes.

Map 20.  A request for the extension to the restrictions on Brooklands Road to be extended to number 41 accepted.

2016 Parking Map20 Egerton

Parking Meeting – 14 July

Oakdale RoadAt a well attended meeting hosted by Weybridge Lib Dems, residents from across Weybridge discussed parking issues in Weybridge generally and specifically the Surrey Council Council proposals for parking in Weybridge for the next three years.

The meeting believed that consultation had not been full enough, that there was an absence of strategic thinking and that the changes made did little to address the overall issues faced by Weybridge residents, workers and businesses.

Several voices at the town meeting called for a more fundamental and strategic review of parking needs and provision in Weybridge and stressed that this must included consideration of increasing off-street parking (an Elmbridge responsibility).

Feedback from discussion groups are reported under the following themed headings below: general, schools, car parks, controlled parking and other.

General

  1. Strategic approach for better movement of traffic and safety for all road users.
  2. Lack of parking for workers is the number one issue.
  3. Parking controls cause displacement and causes workers to park further and further away from the town centre.
  4. There should be incentives for workers not to park in the town.
  5. The controlled parking in the town centre and Portmore Park causing more drivers to park in Grotto Park – particularly Old Palace Road. Making it dangerous for cyclists.  Grass areas now being parked on making the town less pleasant than it could be.
  6. Street privatisation not the answer to displacement parking.

Schools

  1. Schools should be looked at in their own right – specific issues across all. Most school exacerbating other problems.
  2. Accessing additional areas: for example, the field behind St Georges School for drop off and pick up or staff.
  3. St George’s School should be obliged to provide parking and have responsibility for managing drop-off and pick-up.

Car Parks

  1. Park and ride for workers in Weybridge from Brooklands or Runnymede Centre. Use incentives such as a reward card.
  2. Spaces do exist but aren’t accessed.  For example, a Weybridge Hospital are virtually unused at by staff at night and weekends and could be used by residents
  3. Build a multi-storey car park at Churchfields, the hospital or the station with park and ride.
  4. Convert open spaces into car parks: the meadow in Churchfields Avenue or Whittets Ait Green.
  5. Businesses should subsidise workers’ parking in car parks in Weybridge.
  6. Better utilisation of car parks: for example, Churchfields pushes people to park on street. Squeeze more cars in with specific spaces for small cars.  Restrict Churchfields to 2-3 hours which would increase turnover to shops as well.

Controlled Parking

  1. Mark-up up bays to help drivers park more considerately (no charges) just lines to help avoid overhanging other people’s off-street parking.
  2. Limit controlled parking zone to two hours only somewhere between 10am and 4pm.
  3. Limit no parking from 10-11am and 2-3pm to limit all day parking.
  4. Residents’ only parking from 6pm to 8am – overnight.
  5. Oakdale/Elmgrove Road allow two-hour parking for non-residents – 10am to 3pm
  6. Inconsiderate parking near drives and corners.
  7. Offer business user permits for specific streets.
  8. Comprehensive restrictions for residents’ permits – only one per house or flat. Hugh premium for extra cars.
  9. Send parking enforcement to particular hot spots at strategic times. For example, school streets at school times and Limes Road etc in the evenings/weekends.

Other points

  1. Encourage residents to rent out off-street space.
  2. Parking in Monument Road makes it difficult for pedestrians to pass, particularly when children are coming out of school.
  3. It would improve the High Street to have fewer parking places.
  4. 20mph zone is ignored and not policed – especially bad in Portmore Park Road and St Alban’s Avenue.
  5. Car Share scheme.