Councillors express their disappointment with recent planning decisions

At a recent Council meeting both Councillor Kevin Davis from Brookwood and our own Councillor Melanie Whitehand stated that they had lost confidence in Surrey County Highways handling of recent planning applications.

The above comments were made during a debate that followed a presentation by Surrey County Highways and Head of Planning for WBC on planning and transport infrastructure. During the presentation M. Green of SCC stated that where a new development would make an impact on the current road network the policy was that any proposed transport improvements should be cost effective. Mr Green went on to say that the County had a congestion strategy and took a proactive approach to infrastructure planning and what they were seeking to provide was journey time reliability. To me this means that if your journey to work say 3 years ago took 30 minutes but the same journey now takes 45 minutes as long as the County can show that 45 minutes is a reliable estimate of your journey time the County have met their objective.

The County plan for a population increase of 9% over 20 years. The last census showed that the population in this area grew by 10% over 10 years!!!

To show how the two authorities work together the speakers illustrated their presentation with two examples one of which was Brookwood Farm.

In going through the decision making process for Brookwood Farm SCC admitted, for the first time in a public, that the development will have a significant impact on congestion in the area of the A322. The authority also confirmed that the road network within the Brookwood Farm estate will comprise of private roads and therefore issues like parking are not a responsibility of either authority, or is the upkeep of the road surfaces. The County Authority appeared to be more interested in the creation of a pedestrian/cyclist road across the farmland from the rear of the new school to the canal towpath rather than solving the problems that will come from the increased congestion on the A322.

In the question and answer session the authorities were asked why the study of the Brookwood Crossroads corridor, now being considered, was not carried out before the planning application was submitted to the Planning Committee. No answer was forthcoming.

It was pointed out to the Highways Authority that the transport assessment and the Planning Officers report totally ignored the impact the development would have on those residents who use Oaktree Road. Again, no answer was forthcoming.

Mr Devine of SCC agreed with Councillor Saj Hussain that the residents living in Sparvell Road will not see any improvements to their living standards once their road is connected to the proposed housing estate. In fact the additional traffic will have a negative impact on residents living standards. Mr Devine’s reasoning for joining Sparvell Road to the proposed estate was that it would improve the traffic flow for all motorists using the A322. So residents in Sparvell Road have to take a hit for the betterment of others.

Councillor Melanie Whitehand related the opening statements from both SCC and WBC to their handling of the development at 15 High Street, Clifton’s. Councillor Whitehand argued that Surrey County Highways had failed to follow their own methodology in the handling of this application especially in the timing of a site visit. In answer to a separate question the County Authority stated that they do carry out safety audits on changes to the road network and that these safety audits are in three parts. It will be interesting to see if a safety audit was carried ut on the Clifton’s site.

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