Heathside Numbers Increase

Heathside

 

 

 

 

 

For background on Elmbridge school numbers click here.

Although the planning application is placed before Elmbridge as the planning authority, the fundamental issue is that of transport which falls under Surrey as the highways authority.

Surrey’s views have been sought and Surrey has raised no objections to the proposal – subject to a travel plan.  Should Elmbridge refuse planning permission on transport issues alone it would be against the advice of Surrey – as the highway authority.  In that case, Surrey – as the education authority – could appeal to the national government against the decision by Elmbridge.  It is very likely, albeit not certain, that the national government’s inspector would uphold an appeal.

At present, as I understand it, Heathside School has not updated its travel plan since 2009 but Surrey has requested that it be reviewed if this application is permitted.  The people at Surrey who audit travel plans can be contacted here.  The travel plan could do with more than a little stiffening.

You can read the Elmbridge planning officer’s report here: Heathside – Officer Report 2014

Surrey decides whether the proposal meets the policies in Elmbridge’s borough local plan. It cites the policies that it feels are relevant (the three below) and Surrey therefore believes these polcies are met by the proposal.

Com4
Planning permission will be granted for proposals for new educational establishments or extensions to existing facilities provided that: (i) the existing road network is capable of absorbing the level of traffic generated;
(ii) the site is conveniently accessible to all sections of the community by a choice of means of transport;
(iii) adequate provision is made for stopping and parking; and,
(iv) there would not be a significant adverse impact on local residents.

Mov4
All development proposals should minimise the impact of vehicle and traffic nuisance, particularly in residential areas and, as far as practicable, comply with current highway design standards.

Mov10
New development with the potential to generate significant cycle use will be permitted provided that provision is made for:-
(a) safe and convenient cycle access;
(b) secure cycle parking which accords with the adopted standards; and
(c) changing and shower facilities for employees.

Housing in the Green Belt?

Suburban spreadThe national government has changed its policy in relation to providing new housing and planning law (for England only – the other parts of Britain have their own policies). This has meant that Elmbridge has had to reconsider its approach to housing development.

Why is Elmbridge in this position?
Since  Elmbridge adopted its core planning strategy in 2011, the national government has made significant changes to the way local governments have to plan for new housing through the publication of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in 2012.  A number of decisions by planning inspectors and the High Court in 2014 have called into question plans that were adopted before the publication of the NPPF.

What are these significant changes that the national government has made?
The NPPF now requires all local governments to assess, and try to meet in full, the need
for new homes in their area including looking at the potential to accommodate them in the Green Belt.

Why does Elmbridge have to reconsider its approach?
Elmbridge’s core Strategy and evidence that supports it were produced before the NPPF and so are considered to be out of date. Specifically, the approach to housing development and the housing target are based on the assumption that the Green Belt
is ‘off limits’.

How will Elmbridge reconsider its approach?
The borough will have to: find out how many more homes are needed; identify where these new homes can and can’t go including looking at the Green Belt; work with other local authorities, particularly the boroughs bordering Elmbridge over the border in London, to identify and meet the need for new homes in our area.

What is happening to current work in progress?
Work on settlement investment and development plans is halted until work on the evidence review is completed.

What will be the benefit of Elmbridge reconsidering its approach to housing
development?
This work is vital to ensure that Elmbridge has a robust and defendable local plan, and one that is in accordance with the NPPF. Specifically it will: ensure that decisions on where housing goes are made locally and not by the national government; support us in working with other local governments to ensure they provide their fair share of new homes; send a clear message that we are looking seriously at options for meeting housing need; help us to defend planning applications for new development within the Green Belt ensuring that we get to choose where and when development happens; and, enable us to plan for the infrastructure needed to support new development.

What will happen if we don’t do this work?
If the borough doesn’t do this work it would face the following risks: other local governemnts and developers are likely to challenge our plans; future plans, such as settlement ID plans, are likely to be found unsound resulting in significant and unnecessary costs to the borough; developers will start to make applications for development within the Green Belt and these will become increasingly difficult to defend; and, without an up to date plan, the borough will lose the ability to choose where housing
goes and will not be able to plan for infrastructure.

Are all the boroughs in England going to be affected in this way, or is it just
Elmbridge?
Yes, those boroughs with plans adopted before the publication of the new national government policy in 2012 will need to reconsider their approach. This applies to
boroughs with and without green belt.

What will the work tell us?
Once the work is completed it will enable us to determine either: that the housing target in Elmbridge’s core strategy, evidence base and strategy for locating development are okay and provide an appropriate basis on which to continue preparing future plans, such as Settlement ID Plans; that the housing target in the core strategy, evidence base and strategy for locating development need reviewing and a new local plan needs to be prepared.

Does this mean that development will take place on the Green Belt?
No. The evidence base will determine whether or not we need to locate development
within the Green Belt. A Green Belt boundary review would be in accordance with the
NPPF, having regard to the intended permanence of the Green Belt in the long term, enduring beyond the plan period.  When looking at the potential to accommodate new development within the Green Belt we will need to ensure that it continues to meet its key aim – preventing the spread of the London conurbation.

How is Surrey involved in all this?  transport, infrastructure, education etc?
Once Elmbridge has an initial idea of how many homes can be accommodated we will need to speak to Surrey to identify what infrastructure will be required. If there are problems that cannot be resolved through the provision of additional infrastructure then
this may mean we need to reduce the amount of new housing we can deliver.

Why do we have to work with others to do this?
The NPPF requires us to identify and meet housing need across a wider area – called
our housing market area. We will need to identify our housing market area and work
with boroughs within it to undertake this work.

When will the new work/review start?
Work reviewing the evidence will start immediately. The borough will start by identifying the housing market area and work on identifying and meeting the need for new homes,
working with local government partners. Further information and a detailed timetable is
set out within Elmbridge’s local development scheme.

How long will the work/review take?
Elmbridge will have completed most of the evidence base by summer 2015.

How is Elmbridge going to keep the burghers in touch with progress?
Elmbridge will continue to keep its burghers up to date with progress at key stages though letters, emails and community meetings. Specifically, when the work is complete and the outcome.

Where can I find more information about the review?
On Elmbridge’s website or by contacting the planning policy team via email: planningpolicy@elmbridge.gov.uk

Mobile Mast in Weybridge Town Centre

Mobile Mast

Vodafone and Telefónica plan to jointly operate and manage a single mobilephone network grid across the UK.  The aim of this arrangement is to allow both organisations to:

  • pool their basic network infrastructure, while running two, independent, nationwide networks
  • maximise opportunities to consolidate the number of base stations
  • significantly reduce the environmental impact of network development

Vodafone and Telefónica are in the process of proposing to upgrade an existing site in the Weybridge.   There is a specific requirement for a radio base station upgrade at this location to improve the 2G/3G coverage in the area and allow for future 4G expansion.

Their preferred option is to swap out the existing 8m monopole for a new 15m dual-stack monopole supporting six antennas in Ship Yard.

More details are Mobile Mast Weybridge Ship Yard.

 

Heathside School

Heathside

Surrey is seeking planning permission to raise Heathside’s school numbers. Originally Heathside School was given permission for 920 pupils but by 1996 it had increased its number, without planning permission, to 1352. On being challenged for this discrepancy it sought retrospective planning permission from the borough to increase its number in 2005. This was refused, again on transport grounds. Surrey appealed to the national government and the government planning inspector agreed to a new maximum number of pupils (the actual number attending the school at that time) on condition that the travel plan be reviewed every six months. This is a very weak condition as most travel plans are often lax in the beginning and are often unenforceable in any case.

This new planning application is caused by the need for more school places in the borough. Elmbridge has a secondary school age population of 12,000 pupils and that number is growing. Births in Elmbridge increased by 30% between 2002 and 2010 and the
borough plan indicates that up to 3,375 new homes are to be built between 2011
and 2026.  Yet Elmbridge has only four secondary schools – in Ditton (Hinchley Wood), Esher, Hersham (Rydens) and Weybridge (Heathside). It needs ten more schools of 840 pupils each (four classes in each year from years seven to thirteen).

Because of the taxation arrangements in Britain – unique in the developed world – Surrey relies on the national government for revenues to fund new schools. Unfortunately, this revenue has been reduced significantly in recent times and Surrey simply does not significant revenues of its own to build the schools it needs. So Cobham, Molesey and Walton do not have their own schools – putting pressure on those towns like Weybridge that do.

The cheap option is to increase the size of the present schools.  Heathside, originally a large 940 pupil school that has grown to 1,352 is set, should the application be successful, to increase to 1,475 pupils.

Elmbridge’s remit is purely related to the planning aspects of the project not the merits or otherwise of increasing the size of a school that has already outgrown its buildings.  This particular application will be decided on highway matters alone.

Interestingly, Elmbridge is not the competent authority when it comes to highway planning matters.  Surrey is the highway authority as well as the education authority.

The planning application is originated from Surrey which has a duty to school all of the children of the county.  The application arrives at Elmbridge which in turn asks Surrey, as highway authority, what it thinks of the application.

This puts Surrey in a difficult position – it is both poacher and gamekeeper.  Its decision must not just be one based on integrity but must be seen to be so by those most affected by the increase in numbers.

Any parent who has been anxious about their child’s school place will understand the massive pressure that Surrey is under to deliver those classroom places.

The Elmbridge planning application number is 2014/3765 and details can be found here.

Morrisons

Proposed view of Morrisons SmallThank you for all your questions and comments.  These are the answers that Morrison gave me today at our meeting.

When will Monument Hill be opened?  This afternoon.

Will all of the street work be complete?  No there will be short closures from time to time.  The pedestrian crossing is still to be finished and the landscaping will be completed in November – apparently the best time to plants trees.

What about the illumined sign at the rear of the store?  Morrisons says it will look again at the sign facing Baker Street.

What about the contractor parking problem?  Morrisons says that it has made park and ride facilities available to all contractors so if anyone finds any problem parking then call Simon Whittingham on 07964 245 239.

When will the store be opened? The intended day for the opening of the store will be Monday, 24 November. Morrisons invite ideas for the opening – any thoughts?

How will the store manage traffic after opening?  Morrisons expects a larger than usual number of visitors in the first few weeks so it has laid on extra resources to ensure that the flows are well managed.

What is the employment situation?  All the twenty or so departmental managers have been recruited and Morrisons is in the final placement stage for the general staff of 200. Most of which are very local. Morrisons has worked with the job centre next door to recruit long term unemployed people and the apprenticeships will be in place soon. further recruitment will begin soon to fill in any gaps.

Where will the staff park?  Morrisons says that in off-peak times those staff members who need to park wills use the under-croft parking at the store.  At peak times Morrisons says it will provide off-street parking (not Elmbridge public car parks).

Will there be trolley tokens to stop trolleys being left all over the place?  No there will not nor will there be any trolley mechanism to stop the trolleys leaving the store. However, Morrisons beleives that the design of the store is such that people will not take trolleys out of the store. That will be one to watch.

Will Morrison seek further planning change in the future?  Given that the Weybridge store is the only one in the country that does not have deliveries on all of its opening days, I expect Morrisons to apply again at some point in the future to have some of the delivery restrictions set aside.  Said the that I thought it would be unwise to pursue such a course until its stock with the burghers was considerably higher than it is at present. It would need to demonstrate that the local fears regarding noise were unfounded – if that be possible.

The roundabout looks awful – will Morrisons change it?  The roundabout is Surrey’s idea as is the chevron design. This is a matter that I will be taking up in due course.

Parking responsibility  On-street parking management is perversely Surrey’s responsibility (I think it should be Elmbridge’s but thee you go).  I have no doubt that a review of all local streets will have to take place once Morrisons opens.  Surrey has already said that, in Elmbridge, it will look at Walton first – there is no guarantee that Weybridge would be next – unless we all kick up a fuss.

Baker Street Traffic. This problem should abate now that the road works are almost complete.  As part of the planning application Morrisons has agreed to contribute to the traffic carming of Baker Street.  It is for Surrey to take this project forward.  I have a more radical solution – restrict motorised traffic (apart from buses and taxis) from passing in front of Lloyds Bank. That would remove through traffic completed and civilise the town.

Have I missed anything? Then please tell me.

 

Morrisons Signage

 

Morrissons Sign-01Recently Morrisons applied for six internally illumined signs (2014/1192) for the outside of its building.  There were a number of objections and now it has been withdrawn (It does not been that there was a causal link between the two).

If you look at the plans you might be surprised that there was a plan to have a sign on the Baker Street side of the building – on the other hand you might not.

Morrisons back again

Morrisons Lorry-02Morrisons withdrew their previous application to relax the planning restrictions on their site (the reference number for the previous application is 2014/0484).

Now Morrisons has applied again to reduce the conditions imposed at the time of the original planning permission.  Their proposal last time is contained in this letter.

Morrisons’ current application is 2014/1892 and their letter explains their new proposal. The differences, as far I can see, is as follows:

Night time delivery
The first application requested that deliveries be allowed all night as long as they were governed by the quiet delivery system.  This time they are not extending the deliveries overnight but they want to abolish the quiet delivery system in the evening.

Sunday, public and bank holiday deliveries
The first application requested deliveries at all times.  This time Morrisons is requesting deliveries from 9:00 to 16:00 without operating the quiet delivery system.

Plant Noise
I can see no difference between their two requests to the loosening of the noise restrictions.

It is interesting to note that Morrisons initial planning application for a store was refused and then they applied again with a modified proposal which was permitted.  This time their initial request for the removal of conditions was withdrawn and the new application is reduced in scale.

Many local people objected to such a large supermarket in the town centre.  Others, who supported the development, did so with the proviso that a number of concerns were met with the appropriate conditions. One of those concerns was the increase in noise and the other the possible increase in movement of lorries during the night.

Morrison wants to remove these conditions because it feels that they are unnecessary and unduly onerous.  Many people have told me that Morrisons should have raised this matter during its original application – it accepted it then and should do so now.

Make sure your views are known by emailing tplan@elmbridge.gov.uk, quoting reference 2014/1892, before 20 June 2014.

Please remember that I am a member of the West Area Planning Sub-committee and the Planning Committee (the committees to which these types of applications are sent) and it is my duty to examine all planning applications on their merits. Elmbridge’s staff will have already examined the application and I, like them, must only apply planning law.

In a similar fashion, any comments you make will only be considered valid if they are based on planning law.  I can point you to the relevant parts of the law or you can seek help from the Weybridge Society which is very knowledgeable on planning law.

Morrison Noise and Deliveries

Proposed view of Morrisons SmallMorrisons has withdrawn its application for the variation to the planning conditions laid down by Elmbridge.  The reference was 2014/0484  Variation of Conditions 5 (Deliveries/Servicing) and 10 (Plant Noise) of planning permission 2013/1611 (New food store).  There were 228 objections.

 

Take one last look

Monument Tree website

On Tuesday, 15 April Morrisons’ agents plan to cut down the London plane tree at the junction of Monument Road and Monument Hill. According to Carolyn Pennycook of the Weybridge Society, around 1960 the Weybridge Society (then Residents assn.) campaigned for trees to be planted in areas of Weybridge, including this location. It was decided to plant a plane tree – cost estimated to be £5 for the tree and labour, 15/- (75p) for the iron stake and £2 for the fertiliser and soil. This makes the tree about 50+ years old.

Too often we seem only to miss things once they have gone.

A Weybridge resident suggested to me that the tree could be lifted up and placed somewhere else.  This is how they do it.  Although an expert told me that our tree is a little too large for this process.