Building to start on Lightwater’s village centre building site

After a wait of six years, apart from a hiatus when Tesco placed building materials on the site, the old Lightwater Homecare site looks as though there will be buildings on the site.

The eyesore for so many years looks like coming to an end. The Surrey Heath planning application – 19/0202 – 89-91 Guildford Road, Lightwater, has been approved for 3 four bedroom, and 2 three bedroom dwellings. Below the photo of the site I took yesterday, are the site plans. I note, in reading DECISION NOTICE, that the original application was for 3 three bedroom and 2 two bedroom dwellings, later modified, without any change in car parking provision. Originally 10 places for 13 bedrooms, and now 10 places for 18 bedrooms. The modification was objected to by Windlesham Parish Council, but allowed by the Borough Council.

Please understand, I’m not against the development, after all these years waiting who would be. It’s just that I think local planners fail to consider the pressure on parking in the centre of Lightwater. Where will visitors to these new homes park, when most homes in Lightwater own two cars, necessitating on street parking.

Exhibition boards of Lightwater Club proposed redevelopment

The developers of the Lightwater Club CIU held a consultation on their redevelopment proposals last Thursday evening. I attended the consultation.

The organisers of the consultation have kindly provided a copy of all the information boards at the exhibition. [You can expand the size of the screen below by clicking on the upward facing arrow at the bottom right hand corner].

I studied the plans, and found the design generally fits the street scene of Lightwater. I do have a some comments,

  • Having a new Lightwater Club is a worthwhile addition for Lightwater.
  • I have doubts on the probable success of their proposed café, which will need to compete with the highly successful Randalls Coffee and Wine Bar.
  • I’m conflicted between the need for additional housing, and the provision for car parking. Assuming the maximum likely occupation of the town houses and apartments is 31 people, then the provision of 21 car parking spaces is insufficient. A more likely occupation might be as low as 17, making the 21 available car parking spaces acceptable. However, it’s reasonable to expect the residents of the 9 properties to have visitors, and they will probably arrive by car.
  • My conclusion is that this development will be good for Lightwater, with the proviso that I’d like to see a reduction in the overall number of properties, which will lessen the pressure on car parking.

Housing proposed for Tesco Express site

Tesco applied for planning permission to develop 89-91 Guildford Road in Lightwater in 2010. Yes, it was that long ago. You can see the history of the site HERE.

In June of this year Tesco cancelled their planned development for a Tesco Express format convenience store, and put the land up for sale. The purchaser of the land has a planning application 18/1009, for the erection of 3, three bedroom and 2, two bedroom houses together with associated access, parking and landscaping.

The site plan, see below, makes maximum use of the available space for housing. It’s pleasing that the development is for housing and not high density flats.

I still wonder about the provision for parking in the development. With 13 bedrooms and just 10 parking spaces I think parking pressures are obvious. Being generous in the likely occupation, I could easily see 16 people in the properties. With five properties and perhaps as little as two visitors by car that makes a need for 18 potential car parking spaces. It’s easy to imagine the parking overflow to elsewhere in the village centre.

I have no fundamental objection for housing on the site, even though my preference would have been for more retail/food outlets in the village – maybe a bistro or suchlike. I think fewer properties on the site would therefore be preferable. Click on the image to link to the planning application.

Objecting to a planning application: Mobile Telephone Masts

Alerted to a planning application from Vodafone & Telefonica [O2] for the erection of a mobile telephone mast near the Briars Community Centre in Lightwater, I’ve studied the application, which you can do too, HERE.

A local parish and borough councillor is organising objections to the application. I appreciate why Cllr Katia Malcaus Cooper is doing so. She’s both a Trustee and Chair of the Briars Community Centre, and naturally is protective of the Centre, which describes itself as,

Lightwater is a lovely village in the South East of England with good transport links. Our location is quiet and we have a large outdoors recreation area and are highly affordable for any event you are planning.

Over the years the centre has had numerous improvements, all down to an active management committee. So, yes, I fully understand the desire not to have infrastructure so close to the centre.

I’m ambivalent about the application, seeing the siting of the mast as inconsiderate to the centre, but am generally supportive of having a mast. Why, well, where we live we’ve been in a significant not spot for many years. Also, mobile phone coverage has for a long time been very poor, often connections have dropped, and getting a signal has sometimes not been possible. The mobile signal has improved in the last year or so, still not great, I think maybe because of mast upgrades elsewhere in Lightwater. I  see a much improved phone signal at where I live with this mast.

There are extensive supporting documents for the planning application from the agents for Vodafone and O2, and I’ve read most of them. I can see why they want to place the mast where they want to, as it provides the best mobile signal coverage to the largest number of properties. I hadn’t quite realised how much trees degrade a phone signal, and so the siting recommendation looks to minimise their effect.

The mast and associated cabinets are too close to the road, and will certainly be an eyesore in that location. My recommendation is to move the mast siting further away from the centre, nearer to the Briar Avenue / Broom Field island. The mast and cabinets could easily be placed behind the pavement in the grassy area near when the dog poo bin is located. I know it’s not moving the mast that far, but I consider it’ll be visually less impinging on nearby homes and the Briar Centre.

Below are the map of the proposed location, a plan view of it’s exact location, the objection notice, and my photo of an alternative location. Click on images to expand.

Objecting to a planning application: Highways

Now that I’m no longer a borough councillor, it’s a lot easier to stay away from planning disputes. While being a councillor I never served on the planning committee of the borough council, preferring the freedom to develop evidence to either support or help reject a planning application.

It takes considerable time and in some cases emotional energy to argue a case. For example, I argued that Lakeview Care Home’s planning application in Lightwater Road that the building was too large, and that importantly there was insufficient car parking provision. From memory it was turned down three times, and only accepted when the car parking provision was considered acceptable.

Subsequently, I think I’m correct here; the building has the capability to host regular staff training and staff meetings. Car parking on site is soon overwhelmed, such that it results in inconsiderate parking on Lightwater Road. That issue is now being addressed with a Surrey Highways application for double yellow lines to stop on street parking. This application will be discussed at the meeting of Surrey Heath Local Committee on October 4th at Portesbery School, Newfoundland Road, Deepcut, GU16. Meeting begins at 6.0 pm. [Click on image to link to agenda]

I ought to say that my view of Lakeview Care Home is wholly positive. It’s an excellent and well run facility. I even know of a couple of residents there.

The once planned Tesco Express site is being marketed

There’s an estate agent poster, from Brasier Freeth, on the hoarding around 89-91 Guildford Road, what was once an intended Tesco Express store.

Brasier Freeth have a web-page marketing the site as an investment or development opportunity. No price is mentioned on their website. Their site description includes this sentence,

It is considered possible the site may lends itself to residential or retirement housing, subject to the relevant consent.

Neither of these are wanted by local residents. If perhaps it became a bistro I’m sure that would have residents support. Fancy, we once had a DIY/hardware store in the village, only to be replaced by Tesco land-banking the site for years. What a waste.

Request rejected for extension to opening hours for proposed Lightwater Tesco Express

While idly trawling the minutes and agendas of Surrey Heath Planning Committee I came across this item, reported in the minutes of the 14th December Planning Committee.

What an arrogant and insensitive organisation are Tesco. In the original application by Tesco, now many years ago, opening hours were restricted. Not hugely though. The restrictions were in recognition of the troubling anti-social behaviour resulting from the extended opening hours of Alldays [now the Cook Shop]. At the time its late opening attracted people seeking cheap alcohol.

This isn’t the first time that Tesco has sought to extend the opening hours. It’s a relentless approach by them to get their way, irrespective of the history and concerns of the local community.

Here’s the minute item from HERE.

Application Number: 17/0730 – 89 -91 Guildford Road, Lightwater GU18 5SB

The application was for the variation of condition 3 of planning permission SU16/0520 so as to allow the retail unit to be open to customers between 07:00 and 23:00 hours Monday to Saturday, and 07:00 and 22:30 hours Sundays and bank holidays. (Additional information recv’d 18/10/17).

This application would normally have been determined under the Council’s Scheme of Delegation for Officers, however it was reported to the Planning Applications Committee at the request of Cllr Gandhum.

The agent proposed an amendment to the application at the meeting but this could not be considered by Members as it diverted from the published application before them. Resolved that application 17/0730 be refused for the reasons as set out in the report of the Executive Head – Regulatory.

  • Note 1: As this application triggered the Council’s Public Speaking Scheme, Mr Matthew Roe, the agent spoke in support.

  • Note 2: Councillor Surinder Gandhum declared he had a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest as his business was located opposite the proposal, and he left the Chamber during the consideration of the application.

  • Note 2: The recommendation to refuse the application was proposed by Councillor Adrian Page and seconded by Councillor Katia Malcaus Cooper.

  • Note 3: In accordance with Part 4, Section D, paragraph 18 of the Constitution, the voting in relation to the application was as follows:Voting in favour of the recommendation to refuse the application:Councillors Nick Chambers, Vivienne Chapman, Edward Hawkins,Jonathan Lytle, Katia Malcaus Cooper, Max Nelson, Adrian Page, RobinPerry, Pat Tedder, Victoria Wheeler and Valerie White. John Winterton. Voting against the recommendation to refuse: Councillor Colin Dougan

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.

Tesco’s reply to Michael Gove’s letter

As promised, I popped along to the Lightwater Post Office to enquire whether Surinder had received a copy of a letter in reply to Michael Gove’s enquiry about Tesco’s intentions in Lightwater.

Here’s the reply. Looks like more objections will result, re parking provision for flats, and opening hours that were restricted in the last planning application.