Peeking into a Virgin Media broadband distribution box

Residents will know of the works to install Virgin media optical fibre superfast broadband connections to homes in Lightwater. I dare say, almost everyone has experienced some dislocation, some more than others. Some home owners are waiting for remedial work as the installation has been of variable quality.

Never mind, it’s the promise is 300 Mbps connection to the internet that attracts, which is quite an increase on our average speed of 17 Mbps.

We’ve all seen the grey boxes being installed in our streets. I peeked inside some as they were being installed and saw green piping – not very exciting.

Yesterday I stopped by a grey box that had an engineer working on it. Here’s the photo I took. Pleasingly the fibre optic cable was being attached to house connection points. The upshot is that the Virgin Media service will soon become available. Haven’t yet looked at the Virgin packages, will do when the service is operational. [click on images to expand]

Camberley High Street revitalisation funding approved

Surrey Heath Borough Council is very pleased to announce that it has secured funding from Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to improve the High Street and public spaces in Camberley Town Centre.

SHBC has been awarded a £3.5 million grant from Enterprise M3’s Local Growth Fund. The LEP supports economic growth of areas in the M3 corridor – stretching from Staines-upon-Thames to the New Forest, covering mid to North Hampshire, as well as South and West Surrey.  SHBC will add funds of £900k, so the total budget for the project is £4.4 million.

The scheme is an integral part of the strategy to develop Camberley as a major commercial centre.    It is estimated that the improvements could lead to an increase in the number of people coming into the town centre by 20% over a 10 year period. Other potential economic benefits expected to be generated by the scheme include more 100 jobs, with a total value of over £14m.

In addition to substantial structural improvement to The High Street, which will include widening the pavements, improving road and pavement surfaces; the project will also incorporate installation of public art and improved public seating and walkways in Knoll Walk and Princess Way.

Continue reading

Major redevelopment of the Lightwater CIU Club

I’ve missed writing about a major redevelopment in the centre of Lightwater. The CIU Club on Guildford Road in the centre of the village has applied for planning permission [Application No: 17/0610] to redevelop their site and it’s adjoining bungalow. See HERE for the planning application. Here’s what’s proposed,

Redevelopment of Club & Institute Union (CIU) site to erect part 2 storey/part 2.5 storey building(s) to accommodate new clubhouse facility (Use Class D2), retail floorspace (Use Class A1), residential use (Use Class C3 comprising 11no. flats & 3no. houses), together with 21 parking spaces, bicycle and refuse storage, following demolition of existing buildings.

The reasons the Lightwater CIU Club give to build a new club on the site are well founded, with falling club membership, and expensive maintenance costs of their existing building.

My immediate impressions are, from only a brief look at the plans, over development of the site, unproven need for a retail unit, insufficient car parking for the number of probable occupants, a characterless building design, oh, and no greenery of any kind to be seen.

This planning application is likely to receive many objections. I wonder what will be the final approved application – certainly not the density proposed. I wonder, with the developer contribution fee, if we might get enhanced car parking provision in the village centre? We do need it.

Visits update No.3: Bacton gas terminal and line of sight microwave tower

Hmmm, you visited a gas terminal? Well, no, not really. Perhaps I should explain.

I worked for Shell Expro on a project for the hook-up and commissioning phase of a southern north sea gas platform, known as South East Indefatigable. In my role I visited sites producing the topsides of the gas platform and Great Yarmouth for offshore shipping support.

Computer and voice communications from land to the offshore platforms were by line of sight microwave links. The onshore microwave link, and gas receiving plants were at Bacton on the north Norfolk coast. I never visited the site while on the project, and always wanted to.

While recently on holiday to the Norfolk Broads, I achieved my goal, and visited the Bacton Gas Terminal, and saw the line of sight microwave communications tower [it’s my photo of the tower, click to expand]. Background to microwave technology HERE.

As a vital part of our power infrastructure the Bacton site is both miles from anywhere, and immensely secure. Even my arriving in the car park drew the attention of a security guard. We did though have a lovely chat about our experiences working the the oil and gas sector – he having a longer career in it than me. Anyway, the gas platforms I worked on are now decommissioned. You can read all about the decommissioning in the paper below.

Your intrepid reporter visits Waterloo Station to experience the predicted chaos

You, dear readers, will know of my occasional reports on the progress of changes at Waterloo Station. You can read them HERE, in descending date order.

The predicted chaos was nowhere to be seen when I journeyed there last Friday 11th August. Everything was running smoothly. The new platforms in the old International Station were accessed by a new gently rising wide ramp from the main station concourse. You can see the entrance to the ramp to the right of photo 2 in the group below. Comparison with the photos in my May 18th report shows the amount of construction work completed between then and now.

In my previous report of May 18th this year, I said that the deadline for opening the new platforms would be tight. That’s how it turned out. I spoke with a station manager, whom I saw dispensing free bottles of water next to the new platforms [see photo], and asked him about their meeting the deadline date. I asked, “how close, in days?”. He replied “close”. I pressed, “a matter of hours?”, he replied, “close”, and smiled not wanting to be drawn any further. Here are my photos,


Chobham Society petition presented to Council

Surrey Heath Borough Council issued this press release on 1st August 2017, [NOTE: My photo of council chamber, not of this council meeting]

Surrey Heath Borough Council welcomed members of The Chobham Society and local residents to debate a petition presented to a meeting of the Full Council on Wednesday 26 July.

The petition, which collected enough signatures to trigger a debate at Full Council, was signed by 992 residents in the Borough, 605 of whom live in Chobham.

The petition asked SHBC not to promote or support housing development at Fairoaks Airport, a privately owned site in Chobham, but to retain it in the Greenbelt, including committing to not making a second bid for a Fairoaks Garden Village, and to encourage airport operations at Fairoaks with associated employment opportunities.

Mr Darren Rees of The Chobham Society made a presentation setting out reasons for objections to redevelopment of the site with reference to the Local Plan.

Councillor Moira Gibson, Leader of Surrey Heath Borough Council, said: “With no planning application submitted for the Fairoaks site it is too early for Members to comment on future plans for the site, but the background information and concerns presented by The Chobham Society and local residents is an important part of the process.”

The petition had been accepted by the Council for a public debate as a valid petition in March 2017, and had run for three months.

SHBC Chief Executive Karen Whelan added: “Members of the public have a right to be heard on a host of topics which are important to them, which is why the petition process exists. When issues also affect decisions councillors might have to take in the future, it is naturally important for councillors to be made aware of local opinion, whilst keeping an open mind to any potential development proposals in the borough.”

Can’t resist checking on the quality of Virgin Media trenching

My ‘nerdish’ activity used to be monitoring potholes. My latest similar activity is monitoring the trenching work of Virgin Media’s contractors installing fibre optic cables.

Apart from the residents of Ullswater Close who suffered from shockingly poor work of the initial contractors before they were sacked by Virgin Media, the work has generally been to a reasonable standard. Road and pavement works cause dislocation, and that inevitably affects some people more than others.

I’m not sure why that some of the trenching is laudably narrow, and other times not. As we’re in a block paved cul-de-sac I’m always been concerned that utility contractors re-lay the block paving carefully, and that’s been the case with electricity, gas and water companies. [See extent of electricity works below]

Learning from a commenter on this blog of concerns on trenching through block paving I went on a circular tour to check on the work. In Blackthorn Drive trenching through block paving was replaced well. In Briar Avenue the trenching is neat and narrow and in Burdock Close I had to look hard to find where the block paving had been uplifted and relaid.

However, I also visited Alsford Close and found tarmac laid in place of block paving. I image it’s a temporary fix, well, I hope it is. Uplifting such a large area of block paving looks as though it might present a problem to re-lay. Perhaps not, but I think I’ll be a busybody and contact Virgin Media’s Community Liaison Officer –, to ensure that they use experienced paviours to re-lay the blocks.