Old library site SOLD!

Yes folks, the old library site in Knaphill High Street has been sold by SCC to WBC for… affordable housing!

According to Woking Borough Council this offers a new lease of life and an opportunity to meet targets for housing, and isn’t it fortunate that the planning has already been approved…

Yet again Knaphill is having a development forced upon them without due consideration of the residents; this isn’t to say that we don’t want it, merely that no consideration or communication was given. It appears that WBC are determined to place affordable housing absolutely anywhere they can as long as it’s not on the doorstep of Woking town centre itself and irrespective of any infrastructure deficiencies.

There is a good note however, in that there will be a memorial garden (although no free standing edifice) created as a part of the development, due to start in summer 2013 and be completed by 2014. WBC has also attempted to acquire the derelict land behind Co-Op, presumably for an access road or additional housing, but the sale has been refused by the owner. This means that any access will have to be off the High Street, almost opposite the development at the old Clifton’s building.

Both councillor Melanie Whitehand and councillor Saj Hussain have pledged to achieving the ‘best and most pleasing development’ on this site which is good news. We have requested that plans go on display in the library for comment but no promises can be made as to whether this will happen or not.

Although the early tone of this article is a tad frustrated, it should be noted that having a memorial garden in the village centre will be exceptionally pleasing to most if not all residents and a derelict site being developed can only be good for the High Street.

Full release by WBC is here.

2 Comments on “Old library site SOLD!

  1. In principle, this is good news. The site is clearly in need of redevelopment and a memorial would not only be appropriate and fitting, but could clearly create a real focus for the village centre.

    Now for the reality check……having just veiwed the plans for the development currently approved for the site on the Council’s website, they simply don’t deliver the potential for this site and its ability to enhance our village centre.

    My reading of the current plans suggest that the memorial garden is little more than a token afterthought tucked neatly out of the way of what is quite unmistakeably a commercially led development of commercial units and open market housing, i.e. it is solely intended to maximise the financial value of the site.

    And I’m bemused about how this development can be viewed as being “sustainable” – one of the main tenets of current planning policy. Despite being in a village centre, the site has its own underground car parking with direct access onto the High Street – cutting right across the existing greenspace and pavement. And how can that possibly enhance the village centre?

    Unfortunately, permission for that development has already been granted, so there is, in reality, no point complaining.

    But wouldn’t it be nice if Woking Council actually grasped the nettle to deliver something worthwhile. Sustainable, sheltered or affordable accommodation for the elderly (which would reduce the need for car parking)? And what better location for those with mobility problems than at the heart of our village? That sort of approach would also “free up” what currently appears to be a vast waste of space dedicated to provide vehicular access and give the opportunity of providing a more “significant” memorial garden or civic area that would truly enhance the streetscene of the village centre.

    I guess only time will tell whether Woking Borough Council has purchased this site with the intent of delivering a scheme that will truly benefit the village, or simply provides yet another scheme to provide funds for other overspends elsewhere within the borough!


  2. Peter,
    I agree with all the points you make. I hope the Council will ask an architect to draw up a new plan to meet the needs of the village and not just what makes financial sense to people in the Civic Centre, Woking. I also hope that the Council would put their plans on display in our library before it goes to the Planning Committee or a Planning Officer rubber stamps any proposal.


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