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.

 

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?

New Lights in Town

Traffic LightsIs it just me or are these new pedestrian crossing lights facing the wrong way.

Surely, if you have two displays, the upper ones should facing the people crossing from the other side.

The upper displays were probably added because only having one display mean that people could not see if there were many people waiting.

I know that Puffin crossings are supposed to be an improvement on the old Pelican crossing that we are used to but like so many engineering features they can have the opposite effect.

Studies show that the new Puffins are marginally safer than the old Pelicans. What they mean is that there are fewer injuries associated with Puffins than Pelicans. Traffic engineers often confuse fewer and less serious accidents with a place being safer. One could put guard rails along the entire High Street so that no -one can cross the street without using a car.  That would make the High Street “safer” but it make it less amenable for walking.  In my view if a High Street was a guard rail there is someone wrong with the layout and design of the street.

Guard rails in High Streets, pro-car new traffic signals, poor road surfaces – it re-enforces the notion that our Surrey administration favours Chelsea tractors over walking.

The reason why Puffins have the display on the post is to make pedestrians look at the on coming traffic.  Imagine if the traffic signals for cars where placed not ahead but to the left and the right.

I am awaiting an answer from Surrey Highways regarding this replacement programme.  I hadn’t seen any thing about it in the committee papers and it was not discussed.  I hope it not a waste of money.

This picture happens to show my workplace – no not the Ship but above Waitrose.

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.

Grotto Pub Site

Monument Hill GrottoFurther planning permission for this site, which already has planning permission for nine flats, was sought for two extra flats.  I asked that planning consent be denied on the grounds of parking stress and the bulk and height of the proposal – it now being four floors high instead of three.

The majority of the other councillors felt the proposal was not out of keeping with the other buildings in the locality as Manor Court was higher as were the office blocks.  However, neither of those buildings were hard up against the highway and Manor Court is quite set back.

I was outvoted last time over the parking stress and this time the other councillors felt that as we had not refused the applicant before for parking stress we could not revisit this aspect even though the extra two flats would increase the problem.  Surrey planning staff consider that parking is not required for flats which are “near the station and the town centre”.  There will be at least eleven cars in this site and no-where to park.

I also raised concerns over the light in Albany Court.  The planning officer showed me that the proposed building would not conflict with the 25% rule.  This rule is to protect light in established dwelling in the locality.  Taking a line at 25% degree from horizontal from the ground level windows in Albany Court would not meet the proposed building.  And in any case that rule applies for only the first 15m and the proposed building was 17m away.

I was outvoted by the majority (I am the only Lib Dem on the committee and all the other were Conservatives) and outline planning permission was given.

I number of people has raised the issues of pedestrian safety on this corner.  I totally agree that the junction of Baker Street and Monument Hill needs to be redesigned but without Surrey’s active engagement this planning permission itself would not be affected. Previous planning comments here.

Broadwater Path

BroadwaterI learnt today that Surrey’s Countryside Officer has received formal notice of objection to the Broadwater Path from St George’s School on grounds of safeguarding.

I know that many people will be disappointed at this turn of events, especially given that St George’s School already has a public footpath passing through its grounds.

I trust that the matter can be resolved quickly as it was expected that the construction of the path could begin this spring.  This path, walked by many, including me, for several decades, was awarded £110,000 by Elmbridge to enable people with disabilities to progress from Weybridge to Cowey Sale with ramped bridges over the Broadwater and Engine Rivers.

This would only be the first stage because once the path was in place it would open up the possibility of public funding for essential maintenance of the lake, which is pressingly needed.

As ever, I’ll keep you posted with developments.

Junior Rangers

Junior rangerJunior Rangers are back during the February half term school holiday on Wednesday, 17 February from 10 am to 11 am in the council chamber at the civic centre, High Street, Esher KT10 9SD. Children will be making their own bird boxes to take home. Spaces are limited so booking is essential. To book, call the countryside team on 01372 474575, email countryside@elmbridge.gov.uk. Parking is available in the public car park next to the civic centre.

 

Station to Town Centre Cycle path

Heath RoadAs you may know, I have been campaigning for a range of safety measures including safe routes to school, cycleways and lower speeds and as part of this campaign I have been able to persuade Surrey set up a cycle task group for Elmbridge.  This group has agreed to focus on Weybridge’s needs first.  As part of that exercise, a proposal is being considered to build a a separate cycle path from the station via Heathside School to the town centre and eventually to the river.  Much of its route would be parallel to Heath Road.

At this stage we are only looking at a feasibility study but it is a welcome step in the right direction.

With this and other such proposal we could begin to make real improvement in our safety and well being.

A Vision for Weybridge

Town Square-01Many Weybridge residents have told me that they would like the town centre to have a focal point – what better than to pedestrianise the very centre of the town?  Give your comments.  it is just a very short strip between Baker Street and Churchfields Road but it would make a great difference to the look and feel of Baker Street, Church Street and the High Street. This would bring a whole series of benefits.

  • There would be a small piazza for people to relax in the quiet centre of town
  • Shopping throughout the town centre would be a more pleasant experience
  • Air pollution, which is current at or above legal limits, would be greatly reduced
  • More short-term parking would be available
  • Baker Street would no longer be a rat-run
  • Access to the town centre would be quicker as the through traffic would not be in the way
  • Buses would travel through the town centre unimpeded by cars.
  • The noise level would be so low that we could hear bird song rather than car engines.

It is likely that far more people could be sat across the new pavement between Cafe One and the Elmbridge Arms.  What a pleasant way to have a cup of tea or coffee in the sun.

This project would cost very little.   Many projects like this can takes years to put in place in England because of the way our governments are organised.  Responsibilities are spread between so many bodies that no-one takes the lead.

What about having a pilot first – just for next summer?  A temporary pilot would probably cost less than the consultation exercise required.  People would quickly experience the positive and negative aspects of the scheme.  Changes could be made as necessary through practical experience.  What is your view – take the survey.

Most people would consider that the biggest problem would be what happens to the traffic?  Clearly the through traffic will not be able to travel down the High Street.  Just like water, traffic always finds new ways through.  Surprisingly when changes like this are made a proportion of the traffic simply disappears but we would be wise to anticipate any problems and put in place appropriate mitigation measures.

This is simply a suggestion to set off your creative juices.  Another idea – much more expensive is here.