Will Forster

Campaigning to be the Lib Dem MP for Woking, Deputy Leader of Woking Borough Council and Councillor in South Woking Learn more

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Residents agree new plan for Sheerwater

by willforster on 17 October, 2023

Last week, the Lib Dems running Woking Borough Council agreed a new plan for Sheerwater which was shaped by local residents in a recent public consultation.

 In July the Council ended its development agreement with Thameswey due to its severe financial challenges and announced it would not commence any further phases of the £495 million Sheerwater Regeneration Project.

A six-week public consultation was launched giving residents the opportunity to have their say over what should happen with the remainder of the regeneration site.  Last week, the Lib Dem-run Council approved a new plan for Sheerwater informed by both residents’ views and the advice of external property consultants, Avison Young.

Two phases of the consented scheme have been completed and a further three are underway, which require additional borrowing by the Council to ensure their completion.

We received over 500 survey responses from people living in and around the regeneration area, roughly a third of that community, which I feel is a good response.  It shows that people are willing to engage with us about the future of Sheerwater and that the new Council is winning back the trust of a group of people who feel they weren’t listened to the first-time round.

We are listening, and it’s clear from the survey that residents will be satisfied if we complete the phases currently under construction but not the rest of the consented scheme, which was too big and too disruptive.  But residents don’t want the estate left as it is, with boarded-up homes, people left isolated in empty apartment blocks and roads which are barely accessible.

I wholeheartedly agree with this, and we have put forward a robust case to Government to draw down funding from the Public Works Loan Board that was previously agreed by this Council.  It wouldn’t be good for the community and it wouldn’t be value for money for the taxpayer if we don’t complete the three phases already started.  In total we are asking the Government for £57.7 million to finish these phases and conclude the Council’s involvement with the scheme.

“The new plan for Sheerwater is to begin an extensive programme of refurbishment financed by capital receipts, land transfers and the sale of pockets of land for redevelopment.

“In line with residents’ views, we think we can refurbish roughly 100 properties in Woodlands Park, Hennessey Court and Spencer Close, along with the sheltered units at Woodlands House, which will be retained by the Council for social housing.  And we will look to sell the blocks of flats along Dartmouth Avenue, Devonshire Avenue, Forsyth Path, Loder Close and Spencer Close for redevelopment.

There is only one block of flats (129 to 139B Devonshire Avenue), which due to its proximity to Broadmere Primary School, is unsuitable for redevelopment and therefore refurbishment is likely to be the only viable option for that building.

We know Sheerwater residents want their community back, and as soon as possible.  I hope that’s what this new plan will achieve for them, while also showing them that we are listening and that our thinking is very much aligned with theirs regarding the future of Sheerwater.

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