Will Forster

Lib Dem Spokesperson for Woking and Councillor for South Woking Learn more

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Does the Woking canopy have a future?

by willforster on 17 June, 2016

Last night, my Lib Dem colleagues and I submitted a motion to Woking Council criticising plans to remove the Albion Square Canopy less than 10 years after it was built – and we have called for the canopy to stay.

The new owners of Albion House have lodged a planning application to redevelop the office block, but are also seeking planning permission to remove the canopy.  The Borough Council will soon make a decision on the planning application and whether it, as the land owner, should give permission for the canopy to be removed.

The Lib Dems and I think removing the canopy, which cost over £4 million and has only existed for less than 10 years, would be a complete waste a money – hence why we submitted a motion to last night’s Full Council.

I have spoken to many local people who think it would be a disgraceful waste of public money to remove it after such a short period of time. The canopy has always been controversial – some people like it but some do not, the solar panels do not create the electricity it was supposed to, the square under it was not built properly and the whole thing was a pain to build.  However, I do not think Woking town centre should have to go through all that hassle again, now it is there – the canopy should stay.

Moreover, if the canopy is pulled down – Woking Council would be admitting that the canopy was a utter failure and the Council messed up on a key regeneration project.  If they got it wrong with the canopy, can they be trusted to get it right with other key projects which cost significantly more like the Sheerwater Regeneration, Victoria Square and Hoe Valley School plans?

As they are already behind schedule with most of those schemes, the answer to that question is probably a no.

I think if the owner of Albion House wants to redevelop the area, they should incorporate the canopy in its plans – not just pull it down.  We will see what others think of the Lib Dem motion at the Council’s ruling Executive on 30th June and then Full Council on 14th July.

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