HOOK HEATH NEIGHBOURHOOD FORUM UPDATE 55
12 December 2023
Woking Borough Council finances
If you’re interested in the details then the Government appointed Commissioners published a report at the end of August; it can be found on the Government website here:
A second report is expected shortly.
However, in terms of what it will actually mean for residents of Woking, it’s not yet clear. It looks like some discretionary Woking council (WBC) services will disappear and others will have to be paid for by the users.
At the end of November, Nottingham became the seventh council to issue a section 114 notice, i.e. declare that it couldn’t set a balanced budget for the next financial year. Other councils are expected to follow so Woking isn’t unique.
Community Infrastructure Levy
The previous Council position was that there is a freeze on spending Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funds because they were not ringfenced. However, WBC have now decided that CIL funds collected post the issue of the section 114 notice can be spent, and we have therefore passed the application for improving footpaths to our Councillor.
As reported in the last Update, WBC no longer make information on CIL funds available on a regular basis. We continue to keep a shadow account based on reports in planning applications; presumably there will be a chance to reconcile this with WBC figures when finance staff have more time, post the setting of the 2024/25 budget.
Roads and railways
The railway cutting adjacent to the road bridge to St. Johns has been found to be unstable and is being stabilised by piling. Possibly not helped by the previous removal of trees.
The footbridge by the Golf Club carpark was found to be structurally unsound and in imminent danger of collapse. It will have to be replaced as it’s a right of way. Hopefully this won’t take too long as it is well used.
Network Rail have sent out the attached latter with more information and contact details.
Better news on the roads front from SCC Councillor Azad, with the northern end of Holly Bank Road repaired and an expectation that the rest of Holly Bank Road and Mount Road will be resurfaced 2024/5.
We had been disappointed by the interpretation put on a part of policy BE1 by the Inspector who heard the appeal on the application for a pair of semidetached houses at Belfairs, Pond Road in 2019. In the event the development did not go ahead so we decided to ignore the Inspector’s comments until later. When the Belfairs appeal was quoted in the planning application for Quevrue earlier this year, we decided to see whether we could get the wording of policy BE1 clarified.
Our issue was with the words used by the Inspector in 2019:
Policy BE1 of the Hook Heath Neighbourhood Plan states that where possible plot sizes should be similar to those adjacent and in other cases within 510dph.
The inspector thought that the use of the words ‘where possible’ implies that it will not be achievable in all cases and that there will be occasions where differing from this will occur. While this is reasonable, the (different) Inspector who reviewed our Neighbourhood Plan before it was made (in 2015) noted when considering this sentence that it would be open to applicants to demonstrate that compliance is not possible. This implies that he thought that an applicant would need to make a case for failing to comply; no case was made in the Belfairs application.
We have started a discussion with WBC Planning Policy Group to see if there is a form of words consistent with the first Inspector’s interpretation which could be used and incorporated in the policy as a minor modification.
At present our intention remains to launch a review next spring, starting with an announcement in the HHRA Newsletter. In the meantime, we are considering whether there is useful information to be extracted from the 2021 census. We also need to develop a communication strategy to gather the views of residents.
To add to the uncertainty, we don’t know when another revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) will be issued (it was last updated on 5 September to make changes to the section on onshore wind); however current indications are that in the short term likely revisions will have little impact on our Neighbourhood Plan. What happens if there is a change of Government is unknown.
Annual General Meeting
The combined HHRA/HHNF AGM was held on Monday 10th October at Woking Golf Club, Pond Road. All three borough councillors, our county councillor and our MP attended and answered a wide range of questions.
Local Planning Applications in the Hook Heath Neighbourhood Area
Five applications reported in the last Update have been approved by the Council.
PLAN/2023/0367 Certificate of Proposed Lawful Development for conversion of single garage to an office with insertion of solar panels, erection of outbuilding to rear of garden at Little Frankley, Sun Hill.
PLAN/2023/0496 Submission of Reserved Matters (Appearance, Landscaping, Layout and Scale) pursuant to outline permission ref: PLAN/2020/0159 (Outline planning application for the demolition of the existing bungalow and the erection of 2x two-storey three-bedroom dwellings with double garages using existing accesses from Cedar Road with the access arrangements to be determined at the outline stage) at Red Lodge, Cedar Road.
PLAN/2023/0529 Erection of a detached single storey tandem garage at La Rigondaine, The Drive.
PLAN/2023/0632 Erection of a two-storey side and single storey rear extension. Changes to fenestration and replacement of tile hanging with render at 12 Fernhill Close.
PLAN/2023/0716 Erection of 2no 2.25m entrance gates, 1.5m steel posts and railings at 3 Hurst Close.
One application reported in the last Update remains undecided.
PLAN/2022/0657 Erection of single storey extensions to the front, side and rear elevations and roof extension to increase ridge height including insertion of front dormer windows and rear and front rooflights to facilitate additional accommodation within the roofspace at Eastwood, Hook Heath Road.
The application argues that the proposed development is less harmful to the green belt than the already approved expansions together with permitted development.
One application has been submitted and approved since the last update.
PLAN/2023/0777 Alterations to existing fenestration to rear outbuilding at Little Frankley, Sun Hill.
There are two new planning applications which are currently undecided.
PLAN/2023/0846 Erection of a two storey side extension, two storey front extension, single storey rear extension and annexe, detached car port and external alterations including changes to external finishes, following demolition of existing detached garage and annexe at September Lodge, Mile Path.
Three people have written in, two to object and the third to point out that the drawings are inconsistent.
PLAN/2023/0968 Proposed single storey rear extension linking house to existing detached garage at 5 High Gardens.
This section continues to be much shorter than in the past, with new applications arriving at a much reduced rate.
Many thanks for your interest and support
Mike Cooke, Chairman On behalf of the Hook Heath Neighbourhood Forum Management Committee
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