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.

 

Baker Street – Covid 19 Active Travel Measures

Finally Action is Taken
Following the British government’s recent announcements, Surrey has been working to identify potential active travel schemes across the county.  The government has given councils the authority to introduce emergency measures during the coronavirus pandemic to support social distancing within towns and to promote alternative ways to travel such as walking and cycling.

Surrey has been working with their partners to identify potential locations where improved spaces for walkers and cyclists would help residents to get out and about as lockdown is gradually lifted. One site that has been chosen to introduce these temporary measures is Baker Street.  This site has been chosen because of the shops and businesses but with the narrow footways there is not enough space for pedestrians to circulate and maintain social distancing.

Surrey will be introducing a tactical closure by means of three planters across the road – between Springfield Meadows and the Borough Council car park.  This will remove all through traffic from Baker Street. The road will be fully accessible for pedestrians and cyclists to return and support the shops and businesses like yourselves, with the removal of through traffic and resulting reduced overall traffic levels helping to provide space.

Only cyclists will be permitted to pass through the tactical closure on the road.  Access for pedestrians will not be affected.  All other vehicles will have to use alternate routes to access

Access for residents of Parkside and Springfield Meadows will be via the Hifgh Street and access for Hillcrest residents will be via Monument Hill. Road access to the off street car park will be via Monument Hill. The closure will be signed on the approaches to each end of Baker Street.

What is Surrey hoping to achieve?
It’s vital that people are able to stay safe when cycling and walking, and to have the space they need to pass each other safely. This is particularly necessary in response to the Government’s strategic objective:

“Local authorities in areas with high levels of public transport use should take measures to reallocate road space to people walking and cycling, both to encourage active travel and to enable social distancing during restart (social distancing in this context primarily refers to the need for people to stay two metres apart where possible when outdoors). Local authorities where public transport use is low should be considering all possible measures.  Measures should be taken as swiftly as possible, and in any event within weeks, given the urgent need to change travel habits before the restart takes full effect

Funding
Surrey was granted £848,000 by the government to support the roll out of active travel schemes across the county, but not the full £1.69 million grant which Surrey had bid for. Surrey is therefore matching the money received from the government, so the projects can still go ahead.

Is this temporary?
These are temporary emergency active travel schemes and are intended to be for approximately three months. It is anticipated there will be additional longer term strategic active travel measures that will be prioritised and developed.

Why has there been no consultation?
These are temporary emergency active travel measures to meet the challenge of being able to stay safe when cycling and walking, and to have the space needed to pass each other safely, as we recover from the COVID 19 restrictions. This is in response to the reduced capacity on public transport and to build on the changes in travel choices that have seen a marked increase in active travel.  Throughout the development of this scheme, consultation has taken place with the publicly elected members for both Surrey County Council and Elmbridge Borough Council.  Surrey Police have also been consulted.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to consult with all affected residents and business owners about these temporary emergency active travel schemes due to the tight timescales set by the Government. However, the views of residents and business representatives are welcome and will be noted and taken into consideration.  This may lead to tweaks to the current pilot schemes as conditions settle down or issues are identified. These will help inform any changes of approach for emergency active travel measures in other locations.

What if it is not successful, will the measures be kept in place for the entire trial?
The scheme has been subject to an independent Road Safety Audit during its development, however sometimes schemes operate in practice differently to how they were designed, and safety assessed, even after the initial change has had time to settle.  These temporary measures will be continuously monitored to assess both for ongoing road safety and effectiveness at supporting cycling and walking.

Feedback from residents and businesses is vital throughout the duration of the scheme to ensure a successful outcome for Baker Street, and the surrounding community.  Comments can be by sent to Surrey via email highways@surreycc.gov.uk or by phone on 0300 200 1003.

Further Information
The Point Closure is scheduled to installed within the next 4-5 weeks. Advanced Warning Signs detailing the start date of the restrictions will be placed around Baker Street and surrounding roads to give motorists, businesses and residents warning of when the changes will start.

Up to date information on details of any works in progress, or planned to take place can be found on the Surrey County Council website here;  https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/roads-and-transport/roadworks-and-maintenance/maintenance/roads/department-for-transport-capital-funding/roads-and-pavements

 

Eliminate the bad – retain the good

The coronavirus has had a significant impact on all of us and we are desperate to eradicate it. But despite all the negative impact, can we maintain the positives that we have seen?

The environment

Many cars have been idle in the driveway and people have started walking and cycling both for their daily shopping and for their daily exercise; this has a positive impact on both the health of the individual and on the climate. There are many stories of how people are enjoying the clearer skies, whilst others talk about how they enjoy hearing birdsong now that the noise from traffic and air travel has significantly reduced.

For many years Weybridge High Street has had particularly poor air quality due to traffic congestion. Last year it was selected as one of two places in Elmbridge (the other being Hampton Court) for continuous air quality monitoring and recent figures show that average levels of NO2 have fallen from previously high concentrations of up to 55 μg/m3 to approximately 24 μg/m3 by the end of April. (National policy is that nitrogen dioxide concentrations should not regularly exceed 40 μg/m3.)

Wouldn’t it be good if our renewed awareness of our environment was translated into long term action for sustainable improvements? Can we maintain the current air quality when the emergency measures start to be lifted? Should we introduce an Elmbridge low emissions zone? Can we plant more trees and hedges? Will Surrey County Council install more cycle lanes and change all buses to be electric or fuel-cell powered? Can we encourage more children to walk or cycle to school?

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

Thames Byfleet Cycleway

Heath RoadThe Liberal Democrats along with its allies in the new coalition administration agreed in cabinet today to proceed with studies to facilitate a path/cycleway alongside the Heath from the station to Brooklands Lane.  This land is held in common and is therefore heavily protected so any proposal with have to be very sensitive to the green space.

Campaigners have been seeking such a development for over two decades and there is still more work to come.

You can check the details here.

Town Meeting on Parking

Double-yellow-lines-on-a-road-and-pavement-curb-2101582Following the disturbing lack of engagement of residents, businesses and other interested parties by Surrey in its review of parking in Weybridge, your local Lib Dems decided to host a consultation meeting in the Weybridge Community Centre, Churchfields Place at 8:00pm, on Thursday, 14 July.

Discussion will include off-street and on-street parking policies; safety, parking on main roads; the balance between shoppers, workers and residents; and, the most effective way to ration available spaces.  It will also discuss approach to individual streets such as Curzon Road, Grenside Road, Pine Grove Road and Wey Road.  It will be an action filled event and school drop-offs etc will also be discussed.

Surrey’s parking review for Weybridge was up for decision at the Local Committee meeting on 27 June.  Cllr Andrew Davis argued that the consultation process should involve more presentation and dialogue with local residents before a set of firm proposals was put forward. He was supported by colleagues across all parties.  This resulted in the local committee agreeing that Surrey officers should discuss and amend the proposal in direct consultation with your Weybridge councillors at the end of July.

The previous proposal are here.

 

Highway Maintenance

Pot HoleThe British government produced a new fund for pothole repair recently.  Surrey last year received a grant of £16,714,000 to maintain Surrey’s roads.  The amount for this year was cut by £1,391,000 to £15,323,000.  To this the national government has added the “extra money for potholes” of £1,033,000 – a net cut of £358,000 for the year.

To add salt to the wound the national government is “giving” local government part of the business rates from 2020. Not declaring that these taxes were originally raised by and for local government in the first place.

On average each county fixed 12,000 potholes last year.  At this rate it would take 14 years to clear the repair backlog in England.  Surrey’s position is worse and it would take longer.

At current rates of repair it would take 65 years to resurface our entire road network and Surrey would take longer.

We have to remind ourselves that Surrey has the wealth to repair all of our highways.  In my view it is the duty of Surrey to give priority to maintain those aspects of life that cannot be undertaken by individuals for themselves: such as highways, environment and security.

Parking Review

Double-yellow-lines-on-a-road-and-pavement-curb-2101582The timetable for reviewing parking in Weybridge as decided by Surrey is as follows:  January and February – collection of views. April and May – Surrey’s assessment, development and informal consultation.   June –  Surrey’s committee authorisation to advertise proposals.  July and August – advertisement of proposals. September and October – consideration of proposals and final decision. November and December – detailed design.  April and May 2017 – implimentation.

Heath Path

Heath Road

Another step on the way to safe travel for pedestrians and cyclists between the town and the station along Heath Road.

Surrey has never pushed for a path here because it was always considered too difficult to get permission from the owners for a path on the common.  Despite the general reluctance to make the move, I pressed for approaches to be made to the owners of the land. Officers from Surrey have now approached the owners who have given their approval in principle.

There are many more steps ahead. However, gaining this permission in principle is probably the most important.  We are now moving ahead on seeking sources of funding.  There are currently more financial pots available than there were previously. Two examples are the Community Infrastructure Levy- CIL – and the M3 Growth Fund.

Heath Road Path

Heath RoadSurrey has agreed to spend £160,000 over two years to improve safety and amenity around and approaching Weybridge Station from the town.  In some respects it has been overtaken by the new cycling plan for Weybridge (the initial station plan – remarkably – did not consider cycling).

This project is essentially a bare minimum approach to the problem given that Surrey raises insufficient funds to provide a transport network fit for one of Europe’s most dynamic locations.

The project is subject to consultation – and it needs to be because there is quite a lot wrong with it.  The main parts are:

  • Improving the unmade path on the southern side of Heath Road – this has been superseded by the current plan to make this part of the station town centre cycleway.
  • Improving the car parking opposite the Korean Church.  I am not sure that this is a good idea because it is part of the common and therefore should be removed and not upgraded. That would save £20,000.
  • Creating a one-way system for Old Heath Road.
  • Improving pedestrian crossing on Heath Road and Station Approach.
  • Resurfacing the carriageway across Diggers Bridge.

As it passes through the system I will give more details.  I’ll obviously notify you of any consultation.