Weybridge highways improvements

Weybridge Transport Strategy: £5 million for Weybridge’s streets

A public consultation took place early last year on plans to improve the streets in Weybridge town centre to make them safer for pedestrians and cyclists and to improve traffic flow at some junctions. The total cost of these improvements comes to £5 million with money coming from SCC and EBC’s Strategic CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) fund. As a result of the consultations, the proposals to close Elgin Road and Old Wharf Way to traffic were removed.

Due to the M25 junction 10 programme, which should finish by the end of this year, the programme has been divided into two phases. Phase 1 works will be less interfering to traffic and will be co-ordinated with National Highways to limit the effect of any J10 restrictions or closures. Phase 2 works will have a more significant effect on traffic flow and will be scheduled for early next year.  

We understand that Phase 1 works will include: 

  • Pavement and cycle lane improvements on the High Street between Elmgrove Road and Baker Street; 25/04/24, 1 day;
  • Improvements to Monument Hill/Baker Street priority junction; 23/04/24, 2 days;
  • Work on the Bridge Road/Old Wharf Way junction; 12/02/24, 20 days;
  • Installing a Manby Lodge School crossing (scheduled during the August school holidays). 

Phase 2 plans include improvements to the A317 Balfour Road/Church Street mini-roundabout, to the Monument Hill and Monument Green junctions, the Balfour Road/Portmore Park roundabout and the Church Street/Minorca Road junction.

Weybridge Hospital site

Are we closer to a re-build?

The plans showing a two-storey building with GP services on the ground floor and clinics, diagnostics and children’s and mental health services on the first floor, are currently being reviewed after feedback from the planning authority, Elmbridge Borough Council (EBC). Replacing the walk-in centre is not in the plan (due to having an Urgent Treatment Centre at St Peter’s) but there will be a Same Day Urgent Care access hub which will be available only for booked appointments via the GP or 111.

The intention is for NHS Property Services to proceed with a full planning application in the spring for building to start this summer. The aim is for the building to be handed over to the NHS for fitting out in the winter of 2025 and for it to be opened in spring 2026 when the portacabins will be removed.

Elmbridge Parking Review

SCC have proposed some changes to parking restrictions in the Borough and would welcome feedback to the proposals. The closing date for feedback of this review is 22 December.

Street notices have been put out where changes are proposed and residents of properties fronting the proposals have been notified in writing of changes planned in their area.

Full information and a link for feedback is available on SCC’s website: Elmbridge parking review 2023 – Surrey County Council (surreycc.gov.uk)

The proposed orders are also available for inspection at Esher Civic Centre, the Highways Depot in Merrow, plus libraries across the borough.

Surrey Police Crime Commissioner spends £3 Million while officer numbers are slashed

Through several Freedom of Information requests, the Liberal Democrat Party has discovered that Surrey’s Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner (PPC) has cost the taxpayer £3.2 million since 2019, paying out huge sums for social media and office costs as community police officers were removed from patrolling streets and dealing with crimes.

Since 2021, Surrey Commissioner Lisa Townsend has had three staff members to run her social media presence and has increased her office costs by £180,000 – the equivalent of seven community police officers (PCSOs). Yet since Townsend was elected, Surrey has slashed 39 community officers from the streets!

In April, Liberal Democrat Leader, Ed Davey, called on the Government to scrap commissioners amid falling community officer numbers. Since 2019, England and Wales have lost 1,284 community police officers, despite tens of millions spent on PCCs. The costs of the country’s PCCs could have funded an additional estimated 3,830 community officers on an average salary of £26,634. It is shocking to see a local Conservative politician waste so much money on social media and office costs whilst officer numbers are slashed.

According to discussions with the office of the PCC recently, the recruitment of PCSO’s by Surrey Police ground to a halt last year to hit savings targets. Whilst recruitment has now resumed, it will take some years to return to previous levels.

Council concerns over the expansion of the ULEZ

From Elmbridge News. Click here for full article.

After a limited period of consultation, the Mayor of London announced last November that London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) would be extended this year from inside the North and South Circular roads to cover all London Boroughs. Whilst Elmbridge has a policy of improving our air quality, through our Air Quality Action Plan, we think a large number of residents and businesses will be impacted by our proximity to Kingston Borough: companies working in Kingston and residents visiting the shops, open spaces, leisure facilities and NHS services.

  • Many of our residents and businesses will be impacted by the ULEZ £12.50 daily charge, and potential large fines for non-compliant vehicles.
  • This is being introduced without the much-requested expansion of TfL’s rail zone 6 beyond Hampton Court and Thames Ditton to include stations such as Esher, Walton, Hersham, Hinchley Wood, Cobham, Oxshott, Claygate, Weybridge and others.
  • the scrappage scheme to help London residents change to compliant vehicles will not be extended into Elmbridge.

In December 2022, we continued to address our opposition to the Mayor of London and have recently received a response from Shirley Rodrigues, Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy. Ms Rodrigues states that Transport for London (TFL) are open to discussing extending zone 6:

“The council resolution raised the issue of extending zone 6 into parts of your district. TfL are constantly reviewing and developing transport provision and are open to discussions with Surrey County Council and Elmbridge borough Council in order to discuss potential holistic transport strategies.”

On the matter of access to NHS services, exemptions and discounts, Ms Rodrigues writes:

“I am happy to be able to inform you that not only have the existing grace periods been retained they have been extended until October 2027. The Mayor also extended the scheme to create two new grace periods for Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles and for recipients of the standard rate mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and certain other specific state benefits, these will also run until 2027. It is not necessary to be a resident of (Greater London) to benefit from these schemes.

“I can confirm that we have retained the arrangements to ensure that NHS patients with an impaired immune system who need to go to essential medical appointments can be reimbursed if they have had to pay the ULEZ charge during their journey. The reimbursement applies to the person who paid the ULEZ charge for the vehicle who transported the patient to the hospital, who may be a friend, relative or carer rather than the patient themselves. The reimbursement is administered by the NHS trusts directly. Again, it is not necessary to be a resident of the GLA area to benefit from this scheme.”

 

The EBC Environment portfolio

Elmbridge is to slash the carbon footprint of big CO2 emitter Xcel Leisure Centre as part of its commitment to fight climate change. 

In July 2019 the Lib Dems on Elmbridge Borough Council initiated a local focus on the Climate emergency which was approved by full council and, following an audit, the council adopted its first Carbon Management and Reduction Plan in 2020.

In May last year I had the privilege of taking on responsibility for the Environment Portfolio and was keen to make speedier progress on implementing proposals in this plan. Working closely with officers and with the cross-party Climate Change Panel, we have secured sufficient money within the council budget to take forward a number of exciting carbon reduction measures. With nearly a million pounds allocated in the February budget, we are now in a position to move forward with projects including: installing solar panels on the Civic Centre and Community Centres; additional insulation at Community Centres and installing electric vehicle charging points at these locations. EV charging points will also be installed at Churchfields car park, Weybridge, over the next few weeks and later this year at Drewitts Court, Walton.

Significantly, we will be installing solar panels on the roof of the Xcel Leisure Centre – the Council’s biggest carbon emitter. We expect this will give an annual saving of around £50,000 and 77 tonnes of CO2 and expect to recoup the cost of the installation within six years. I have also been promoting the installation of a trial solar carport at the Civic Centre car park which will be a solar PV canopy over ten parking spaces and generate 26,000 kWh/yr to offset the building’s electricity consumption and save some £4,000 and 7 tonnes of CO2 per year.

With fuel prices going up, I am reassured that the Council has made sound decisions for both climate reduction and future cost savings.

Cllr Ashley Tilling

New station car park cycle ‘sheds’

Those who have visited the car park on the town side of the station recently will have noticed two new cycle storage facilities. The near one in the photo is for general rail traveller use which is in addition to the racks next to the ticket office. The far one is going to be used for a ‘collect and ride’ scheme operated by the Brooklands Business Park; this aims to encourage workers to travel by train and then cycle along the new Brooklands Accessibility path to their offices and workplaces – another way of reducing vehicle emissions and traffic congestion.

Community Infrastructure Bids 2021

Community Infrastructure Project Bids

On Monday 14 June, the Elmbridge Borough councillors for Weybridge and Oatlands and Burwood Park sat down to try and distribute around £202,500 from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) fund across 20 bids for funding received in 2020 and 2021.  The total value of the bids submitted was over £1,257,000.  This presented quite a challenge to your councillors at the Local Spending Board meeting.

What sort of projects?

The nature of projects requesting bids ranged from those submitted by Surrey County Council for local highway junction and cycleway improvements; those submitted by Elmbridge Borough Council for improvement of community assets and the majority, those from community organisations, charities and sports clubs, for improvements to their facilities and buildings.

For councillors this was a challenging task and one which we knew would result in disappointment for many of the organisations involved. Many very worthwhile projects were not granted any funding. See further below for details about the bid scrutiny process.

So which bids were actually granted funding?

In the event, nine bids were allocated funding as follows (see details of the bids below):

Application 1 – Seven Hills Road Footway/Cycleway (Surrey County Council) – Full grant of £50,000

Application 2 – Re-Surfacing of Car Park and Provision of Bike Rack (St Mary Oatlands Church) – Partial grant of £15,000 of the £30,000 sought

Application 3 – Baker Street Junction Improvements for Pedestrians (Surrey County Council) – Full grant of £25,000

Application 4 – Brooklands Community Park – Car Park Extension (Elmbridge Borough Council) – Full grant of £32,500

Application 6 – Scout HQ Repair & Camping Equipment Store (1st Weybridge (Brooklands Own) Scout Group) – Partial grant of £6,500 of the £22,500 sought

Application 8 – Cricket green improvement works (Weybridge Cricket Club) – Partial grant of £44,5000 against the £84,500 sought

Application 9 – Weybridge Men’s Shed (Weybridge Men’s Shed) – partial grant of £12,047 against the £34,803 sought

Application 10 – Walton & Hersham Arena Pitch Improvements: Floodlighting (Walton & Hersham Youth Football Club) – Full grant of £8,690.22

Application 13 – Hydrotherapy Pool Improvements (Walton Leigh School) – Partial grant of £8,341.85 against the £25,000 sought.

The bids in more detail

Seven Hills Road Footway/Cycleway (Surrey County Council)

The proposed project would replace the existing footpath with a larger multiuser path. It would enable increased safety and capacity for residents and formalise usage for both pedestrians and cyclists. It would also improve traffic flow as vehicles won’t have to overtake cyclists. The project will provide a key nonmotorised user (NMU) route in the area and promote active travel. The majority of the funding has been secured, and the CIL application is for the remaining £50,000 for the project.

Re-Surfacing of Car Park and Provision of Bike Rack (St Mary Oatlands Church)

The project proposes to resurface the existing car park using eco-friendly methods, improving the layout, and subsequent flow of traffic, and to install a bike rack to encourage more usage of sustainable travel to the facility. The facility and car park are used by a variety of users, including community groups and nearby schools, so the project will improve usage and safety. A portion of the funding has been secured, and the CIL application is for the remaining £30,000 for the project.

Baker Street Junction Improvements for Pedestrians (Surrey County Council)

The proposed scheme is to improve the crossing facilities for pedestrians at the two junctions of Baker Street with the A317 (eastern end – Monument Hill and western end – High Street). The improved alignment of the routes will improve safety and the ease of usage for pedestrians, which will encourage more residents in the area to choose active travel means. Over half of the funding has been secured and £25,000 in CIL funding is being requested for the project.

Brooklands Community Park – Car Park Extension (Elmbridge Borough Council)

The proposed project is to extend the car parking provision by 50 spaces, as well as improving the flow of the current car park to eliminate the current requirement for users to reverse out, which will improve the safety of all users of the park. £32,500 in CIL funding is being requested for the project.

Scout HQ Repair & Camping Equipment Store (1st Weybridge (Brooklands Own) Scout Group)

The project proposes to install a new externally accessed storage area and improve the drainage to reduce the flooding in the building’s hall facility. The new storage area would enable the outside space and the hall to be used separately by different groups at the same to increase the capacity for the community to use the space as well. A portion of the funding has been secured, and the CIL application is for the remaining £22,500 for the project.

Cricket green improvement works (Weybridge Cricket Club)

The proposed project seeks to upgrade the pitch and area surface through groundworks and the installation of an irrigation sprinkler system, which will reduce the flooding risk to parts of the site and enable more usage of the pitch and area through the year. A portion of the funding has been secured, and the CIL application is for the remaining £84,500 for the project.

Weybridge Men’s Shed (Weybridge Men’s Shed

The project is project is to fit out the newly built shed with resources and utility connections to provide a space for those dealing with social exclusion, loneliness or depression to come for wellbeing support and community inclusion in the area. £20,756 in CIL funding is being requested for the project.

Walton & Hersham Arena Pitch Improvements: Floodlighting (Walton & Hersham Youth Football Club)

The project is for portable floodlights and storage which will increase the time that users can play on the pitches throughout the year by the various teams and groups, providing an increase in the usage of the pitches and decreased pressure on other lit pitches in the surrounding area. £8,690.22 in CIL funding is being requested for the project.

Hydrotherapy Pool Improvements (Walton Leigh School

The project proposes to upgrade the changing and shower facilities for the pool to enable better wheelchair access and increased usage by the students and community members using the specialist facility. A portion of the funding has been secured, a funding application is awaiting confirmation, and the CIL application is for £25,000 for the project.

The CIL bidding and scrutiny process

All bids for funding need to meet criteria set by the council. These are designed to evaluate the suitability and value of the projects in the context of CIL funding. Bids are score against the criteria and ranked accordingly. The criteria used are:

  • The extent to which the project mitigates the impact of development within the Borough
  • The level of benefits to residents, including evidence of community support
  • The level of match funding attached to the project
  • Value for money of the scheme and added value that CIL could deliver, and
  • Deliverability

In a year when there was a significant gap between that amount of funding sought versus the amount available, the scoring system had a significant impact. This meant that the highest scoring bids were more likely to receive funding. Additionally, one of the allocation rules is that the CIL funds are available only for a year and that there should be a high probability that the total cost of the project will be raised by the bidder, so that the project is carried out within a year. (See above, deliverability within the year is one of the criteria for bids).

Funds are retrospectively paid to projects at project completion and project spending is scrutinised by council officers to check that the funds given were spent in accordance with the bid specifications.

Where do the funds come from?

Elmbridge charges developers a tax for new development known as the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

National government said this new tax was to be raised for the purposes of providing new or improved infrastructure in Elmbridge.  The new tax began in April 2013 and has raised a considerable amount in the eight years since its introduction.

The money raised is split so that Elmbridge retains 75% for strategic infrastructure projects and 25% is given to towns.  This is allocated to each town in proportion the the tax raised in each town, which reflects the amount of development there has been.

 

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.