Newsletter No.6 - January 2017
Dear <<First Name>> ,
Please be aware of the following activities which are likely to have a significant impact on The Triangle.
1. Clive House, 12-18 Queens Road, KT13 9XE (Planning Reference 2016/4126)
In previous newsletters we have shared our concerns over this proposed development.
Having listened once again to residents’ feedback, the TRG Committee has now submitted an objection to this Planning Application, which captures the main points made to us. We have printed it in full in Appendix 2 (at the end of this newsletter) for your information, and in case you wish to draw from it in framing your own representations.
When making your own representations, there is no need to go into the same level of depth as we have. Merely picking out the key headings with a few words of explanation would suffice.
In case you find it helpful, we have also included a ‘model letter’ in Appendix 1 (towards the back of this newsletter) which reflects the most common concerns we have heard, for you to personalise and adapt as you see fit (For example, you may choose to include only some of the points or add others of your own). A downloadable copy of this letter is available here.
If you have concerns - and most residents we have spoken to do - it is essential that you make them known to Elmbridge Borough Council Planning Department.
Please do not be under the impression that because TRG has responded on your behalf, there is no need for you to do so.
You can upload your own representations directly onto the EBC portal by putting in the Planning Reference (2016/4126).
Alternatively the EBC Planning Department can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org, in which case it is essential to include the Planning Reference (2016/4126), and your name and address. Those who prefer to do so can write to EBC at the Civic Offices in Esher, and must also include the planning reference and their address.
In addition to making a formal representation to EBC, we would encourage you to make your views known to your ward councillors - Councillors Donaldson, Foale and Harman, either by telephone or email. Their contact details are as follows:
The closing date for representations is 10th February 2017.
2. 20mph Zone and HGV ban: Petition to Surrey County Council’s Local Committee.
The canvassing of signatures for the petition designed by the TRG Committee is underway and we are pleased to report that we are receiving strong support and encouragement both from Triangle Residents and parents of children at Manby Lodge School.
What we are seeking to do is persuade Surrey County Council to introduce measures including a 20 mph zone and restrictions on HGVs throughout The Triangle.
We are currently knocking on residents’ doors in The Triangle to canvass support. If you were out when we called and would like to add your signature to the petition, you can do so at either Weybridge Cricket Club or The Jolly Farmer public house (both in Princes Road) where the petition will be on display until 10th February.
We will collect signatures until 10th February and will then make a presentation at Surrey County Council’s Local Committee on 27th February 2017.
As a reminder, the petition and the background to it are as follows:
We the undersigned petition Surrey County Council to introduce more effective traffic management measures along Princes Road, Pine Grove and York Road (South), Weybridge, aimed at reducing traffic volumes and speeds. In particular we call upon the Council in the interests of safety, reducing risks and improving the quality of life for local residents to introduce as a priority a 20mph Zone across this area, supported by appropriate traffic calming measures and restrictions on HGVs.
The three roads in Weybridge at the centre of this petition are two way through roads giving access to a residential area bounded by the strategic routes of the A317 (Queens Road) and the B373 (Hanger Hill) and the main-Portsmouth railway line. The area is characterised in Elmbridge planning guidance as ‘leafy suburban [with] generally narrow streets (around and including Pine Grove and Princes Road)’. Several short cul de sacs are accessed off Pine Grove and Princes Rd.
The road layouts raise a number of key safety concerns for residents that include:
• Wide sweeping junctions at the junctions of Queens Rd, York Rd and Pine Grove with Princes Rd encourage traffic to cut the corners at speed before entering the narrow section of roads beyond. Similar corner cutting takes place at the narrower junctions of Princes Rd and Pine Grove with Hanger Hill;
• Dangerous blind bends on the approach to Manby Lodge adjacent to the Jolly Farmer pub in Princes Rd, between the electricity sub-station and Dresden Way and between Angas Court and Daneswood Close in Pine Grove;
• Narrow carriageways along Pine Grove and between the Princes Rd junctions with York Rd and Hanger Hill (particularly outside Manby Lodge infants’ school);
• Parking in the narrow sections and on both sides of the road on Princes Rd (between York Rd and Pine Grove) and York Rd effectively reducing the carriageways to a single lane for most of the day and obstructing sight lines at key points (including for residents attempting to leave their properties);
• The absence of pavements on Princes Rd adjacent to the cricket field and on the north side of Pine Grove between Dresden Way and Windsor Walk. In addition a significant proportion of the pavements in Pine Grove are below normally accepted standards.
The safety risks to residents, pedestrians and cyclists have been compounded in recent years by increased traffic in this area. In particular:
• Traffic moves through the area at speed because the through roads are used as rat runs at peak periods by traffic, including HGVs, seeking to avoid the traffic build ups at the twin roundabouts at the top of Monument Hill which is a key junction of the A317, B373 and A3050 (Oatlands Drive) funnelling traffic either through or by-passing Weybridge town centre on its way to the M25, towards Walton Bridge or up to Weybridge station and beyond to Brooklands and the A245 and A3. The junction can be avoided by traffic of all descriptions heading towards it along Hanger Hill and from Queens Rd cutting through Princes Rd or Pine Grove and by traffic along Oatlands Drive diverting along York Road until it joins Princes Rd.
• Parking saturation exists throughout the day, along Princes Rd in particular, by employees and customers of the shops and businesses (including pubs and restaurants) and parents attending the local school. Inconsiderate parking is common, creating hazards from through traffic for residents entering and leaving properties due to blocked sight lines, and vehicles overlapping drives.
These problems are likely to be exacerbated as, for example, Manby Lodge School undergoes its planned expansion; and as more development is crammed into this area (for example at the Trident Honda site on the corner of Princes Rd and Queens Rd and the Clive House site). There is little evidence to suggest that the cumulative traffic effects on neighbouring areas have been assessed.
In 2015, in response to growing local concerns about the risks of over-development and about the impact of increasing traffic volumes and parking pressures, a Triangle Resident’s Group (TRG) was formed with a particular remit to press for action to secure a more holistic approach to handling traffic management problems in the area. Local residents recognise that ad hoc measures to deal with a problem in one part of the Triangle might simply create difficulties elsewhere and that there are constraints, including finance, on local authorities’ freedom to act as quickly as they might wish. However, the area is sufficiently self-contained to lend itself to a properly considered traffic management improvement plan that might be rolled out over a period of time.
Residents also recognise that other traffic calming measures would be needed to make a 20mph limit effectively self-enforcing. The signatories are in effect asking for the imposition of a properly signposted 20mph limit and of restrictions on HGVs as essential first steps towards creating a 20mph Zone throughout the area. This should be supported by a systematic assessment of the most effective measures needed to ensure that such limits can become self-enforcing. These measures might include, for example, the narrowing of and/or introduction of pedestrian refuges at the wide junctions of Princes Rd with York Rd, Queens Rd and Pine Grove; redesigning the junction of York Rd with Queens Rd to ensure more effective policing of the No Right turn restriction; and the role speed tables might play in slowing traffic at key points. A specific study of the blind bend problem in Pine Grove has already been agreed and the results will need to be fed in to the overall traffic management plan that emerges from this wider assessment of how to deal with the problems identified in the Triangle.
There may be other options identified in the course of this overall assessment and there is scope for some proposals, for example road narrowing, to be introduced on an experimental basis at low-cost. The signatories also recognise that the outcome will need to be subject to wider consultation to secure the widest possible buy-in from the residents of the Triangle.
If you have any questions, comments or reactions, please email email@example.com
3. Consultation on the New Local Plan
The EBC proposed Local Plan seeks to lay out where thousands of new homes will be built in Elmbridge, and will impact directly on the scale and density of future developments, associated traffic and parking issues and encroachment on green belt.
In view of the fact that the Weybridge Society will be submitting a response to reflect Weybridge’s interests, and we do not see an impact over and above that on Weybridge that is specific to The Triangle, the TRG Committee does not plan to submit a separate representation.
The opportunity still exists for residents to view the proposals on-line and to comment, and we would encourage you to do so.
You can view the documents at: consult.elmbridge.gov.uk/consult.ti/lpsoc/consultationHome or alternatively hard copies are available for inspection at:
* The Civic Centre, High Street, Esher, Surrey, KT10 9SD between 8.45am- 5pm (Monday to Thursday) and 8.45am- 4.45pm (Friday).
* All libraries in the Borough.
In addition, if you missed the drop in exhibition on Tuesday 10th January in Weybridge Library, further drop in exhibitions have been arranged for:
Thursday 26 January 7-9pm Civic Centre, High Street, Esher
Saturday 4 February 10-2pm Civic Centre, High Street, Esher
The consultation will end at 4pm on 10 February 2017.
4. TRG Website
Don’t forget that our website containing a lot of TRG-related matters is live: http://www.trgweybridge.com.
If you would like to comment on any of the above or raise any other issues with the Committee, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The TRG Committee (Nick Thripp, Dave Arnold, Lorraine Barnett, David Chiu, Ferdi Fischer, Bernadette Keane, and Alan Wright)
Appendix 1. Clive House: ‘Model Letter’ for personalisation/adaptation
The Planning Officer,
Elmbridge Borough Council,
Civic Centre, High Street, Esher, Surrey KT10 9SD
Planning Application 2016/4126 – Clive House, Queens Rd, Weybridge, Surrey, KT13 9XE
I object to the above planning application for the following reasons:
This application should be rejected.
- The proposed development- a flat roofed, monolithic 4-storey block of flats- would dominate the area. Situated in a village –like local centre, it would be of a mass and density (100+ dwellings per hectare) more appropriate to a major conurbation. It would dwarf the elegant Salisbury House and detract from the visual impact of the United Reform Church. It would tower intrusively over neighbouring residential properties in Princes Road and York Road, compromising their privacy and access to light. The building and associated parking would fill the site, leaving virtually no outdoor amenity space.
- The development would breach the existing building line created by Woodview Court and Manby Lodge School, undermining the current arrangement where the north side of Queens Road has a ‘hard edge’ with buildings close to the pavement and the south side is set back to create a sense of space. It would create a ‘canyon’ effect, exacerbated by prominent balconies thrusting the building line even further forward.
- The developers use national over 65 data to justify under provision of on-site parking. The likelihood is that people aged 60, often with younger partners, would be active economically and professionally and would be likely to have more than one car. No provision has been made for visitors, deliveries or, for the older residents, carers. Should the development be approved, the considerable burdens of traffic flowing in and out of the building and of the additional parking would fall on York Road, (south)and Princes Road, both already high stress parking areas with no additional capacity.
- A substantial part of the additional traffic would pass the rear entrance of Manby Lodge School - already very busy with parents dropping off and collecting their offspring - which would be highly undesirable in safety terms.
Appendix 2: Copy of TRG’s representation to Elmbridge Borough Council on Clive House.
TRIANGLE RESIDENTS’ GROUP
Planning Application 2016/4126 – Clive House, Queens Rd, Weybridge, Surrey, KT13 9XE
Introduction and Summary
1. This statement objects to the proposed planning application to build a detached four storey building comprising 30 flats on the site of Clive House on Queens Rd, Weybridge.
In summary, the scale, the four storey height, the mass, the building line and the density of the proposed building would be damaging to the distinctive character of the local centre and surrounding area. It would also incorporate a number of design features (eg. flat terraced roofs and prominent balconies, lack of vehicular access from Queens Road) that would impact adversely on the amenity of surrounding properties and add to traffic and parking stress in neighbouring roads. It is therefore contrary to policies set out in the current Core Elmbridge Strategy (CS1, 2, 17) and the supporting the Elmbridge Development Management Plan and the Design and Character SPD.
Location and site
2. The development of such a large block of flats is inappropriate in this location. It would contribute to the progressive and continuing undermining of the local character and would not contribute to planning objectives. The grounds for this concern are:
- The Elmbridge Core Strategy (CS1) and the Design and Character SPD (paras 6.20, 6.23) are quite clear that Weybridge ‘town centre’ which starts at the top of Monument Hill is quite distinct from the Queens Rd ‘local centre’. The SPD (paras 3.46) characterises buildings in the local centre as ‘modest with two storey buildings and attics lit by dormer windows... ’. There is a clear bias in favour of small scale development on the borough to help to maintain its character (SPD para 6.1, ‘Knowing Our County’ 2012).
- The low rise, soft-edged, set-back nature of the buildings on the south side of Queens Road is critical to defining the local character and distinctive nature of this centre. Similarly, this impression of openness reinforces the separation of the village from the town on the approach from Monument Hill. In rejecting an appeal relating to a proposal for a five storey building at 133 Queens Rd in 2008 (APP/3605/A/07/2054213) the Planning Inspector emphasised the significance of the distinction between the Village Centre and the Town Centre both in terms of the former’s lower key, more relaxed environment ‘owned by the neighbourhood’ and of preventing the town centre ‘sprawling beyond its natural limits’. Currently, approaching Weybridge from Haines Bridge, the vista opens up on the left past Salisbury House all the way past the cricket field.
- A four-storey flat-roofed block of flats with prominent balconies thrusting forward the building line would fatally damage this character. The developers eschew the use of the term ‘gateway’ that has increasingly featured in planning applications along this stretch of Queens Road. However, attempts are made in their documentation to justify a prominent building on the grounds that it would be an ‘entrance’ to Weybridge and to the Village. No explanation is given to justify why such prominence is needed. It is not even on a junction. The effect will be to swamp the distinctive Salisbury House marking the junction of Queens Rood and York Road.
Mass, scale and height
3. A development on the scale proposed cannot be justified in terms of the context for the site, the distinctive character of the local centre (CS1, 2 and 17)). The Core Strategy notes that scale of development must be appropriate and supported by adequate infrastructure. It also notes that local centres should not be considered for large scale developments. It would also be contrary to DM2 and DM10 of the Development Management Plan which seek to protect and enhance the appearance of the area and local amenity by stressing the need to understand the local character of an area, with particular regard to the scale, mass, height, prevailing pattern of built development and separation distances.
4. The mass and scale of the proposed development raise a number of issues:
- Massing and visual impact: As a flat-roofed single block development with strong horizontal lines, the impression of massing already evident in drawings in the Design and Access Statement and the display material prepared as part of the consultation exercise will be even more pronounced. The visual impact will be significant. It will present a broad wall-like frontage of 52m along Queens Road.
- Building Line: The new building will thrust the building line well forward of both Woodview Court and Manby Lodge School to the west and close the separation distance between it and the former by bringing the outer wall virtually to the site boundary. This frontage and height will create a canyon-like appearance of a continuous and oppressive wall of buildings on the approach to the Queens Road-York Road junction.
- The building will present a particularly ugly skyline and side elevation dominating Salisbury House and clearly visible from the Church. This junction is critical in helping to define the current street scene. The depth of 19m combined with the height will dominate the skyline when viewed from the houses on York Road, from Barrington Lodge and from the upper floors of the buildings opposite.
- Height: Four floors remain at the core of the proposed development however this is dressed up in the applicants’ submission. The dominant feature of the street scene in Queens Rd centre and immediately adjacent roads is 2-3 storey buildings (including dormers/attics set in the roofs). On the north side of Queens Road, along the parade of shops between Oatlands Avenue and York Rd, all are 2-2.5 storey (again with some insets into pitched roof). Immediately opposite the proposed development, the buildings are effectively three stories with dormers set into a pitched roof. The recent building containing shops and apartments on the corner of Queens Road and York Road (north) is also pitched roof was also designed to reflect more effectively the character of the surrounding area.
- Footprint: The outline proposal used to gain approval of change of use from B1 to C3 posited a two storey 16 flat building conversion occupying the same footprint as Clive House. The current proposal ratchets this up to 30 flats stretching the building at the front, on the Woodview Court side virtually eliminating the separation from the boundary and upwards to four storeys. Some indication of the volume change can be gauged from the increase in inside dimensions from 1681m² to 3784m², a near tripling in scale.
- Density: The site measures around 0.29 hectares. Cramming thirty flats into this area would translate to a density of over 100 residences per hectare. The Elmbridge Core Strategy (CS17) envisages that density in town centres ‘should exceed 40dph’ to contribute to an ‘overall housing density target of 40 dwellings per hectare’. This is not a town centre location and the cumulative effect of pressure to approve such high density developments along this stretch of Queens Road will inevitably impact on the character of the area that attracts people to live in it.
5. The restrictive nature of the site and the number of flats proposed raises a number of design concerns. In particular:
- Aesthetic appeal: The basic design is a large rectangular flat-topped box with an inset top floor to try to make it appear three storeys. It reminds many residents of the institutional architecture found in universities, colleges and office blocks. The current building is ugly and few would defend it. However it low-rise and set-back. Beauty can be in the eye of the beholder, but many residents believe that there is an opportunity to build something more in tune with the local area. This proposal is not it.
- Outside Amenity space: The communal outside amenity space is minimal. The garden area is crammed into a much reduced area at the front of the building currently used for parking. It will be immediately adjacent to an A road subject to 20,000+ traffic movements a day with all that implies in terms of noise and pollution..
- Balconies and terraces: To provide an illusion of more outdoor space the designer has had to provide for terraces and balconies completely out of character with other properties in the immediate area. The balconies attached to the front of the building are a potential eyesore, particularly when they are considered in relation to pushing forward building line, and potentially subject to misuse (storage, drying etc.). Recent reports of a link between dementia and exposure to vehicle fumes on major roads also make them questionable as a health hazard. Some attempt has been made to respond to privacy concerns elsewhere in the building by replacing the original design with Juliet balconies. This will not, however, be any consolation to residents with an outlook from the apartments opposite on the north side of Queens Road.
- Access: The combination of extending the building frontage to the west and using the reduced amount of land solely as an amenity area means that the scope for redesigning access to the rear parking area down the western side of the building has been reduced. Despite the Queens Road address, access will be confined by this design to York Road (see parking and traffic issues below).
Other material considerations
6. Other areas of concern to local residents are:
- Parking: The developers claim that 30 parking spaces are more than sufficient. This is based on the assumption that in practice only 0.75 of a space would be needed to meet the requirements of 30 flats. The development is aiming to attract residents aged 60+ (not the 65+ used in deriving the assumption); many of whom are likely to be from a professional background, still reasonably active, may well be working given the rising retirement age and will value their mobility. Other factors likely to boost the demand for spaces include the extent to which the flats have more than two residents (2.5 bedrooms gives considerable scope), the number of live-in supporters, visitors and space for delivery vans to unload and turn. Against this background 1.5 spaces would be a more realistic estimate than those presented by the developer.
- This area is widely recognized as being subject to parking stress. An initiative is currently under way to petition Surrey County Council to address parking and traffic issues in the residential areas immediately behind. Proposals that might lead to more on-street parking are therefore unwelcome.
- Many delivery vehicles are likely to deliver from the road to the pedestrian entrance on Queens Road adding to congestion and the associated dangers. If access is via the car park, sufficient turning room would be needed to obviate vehicles reversing into York Road (see below). The need to ensure proper and safe arrangements for servicing developments is a critical requirement of DM7 of the Development Management Plan.
- Access: The only access point to the proposed development would be on York Road (south). There is no right turn out of York Road onto Queens Road and it is usually parked up all day on both sides reducing it to a single lane used as a rat run at peak periods by drivers seeking to avoid the bottlenecks that arise at the roundabouts at the top of Monument Hill. Encouraging traffic from the new development to access Hanger Hill and Queens Road from Princes Road (again reduced to a single lane because of parking on both sides, used as a rat run and having a particularly dangerous exit at the Queens Road junction) is not a solution.
- The assumption that the development will reduce traffic in the area has little credibility. There is no evidence from actual counts in this area and most of the information from which the estimates are derived originate from 2008-2012 (one dates from 2015). Any model of course, however widely recognized, will reflect the assumptions fed into it.
- Change of Business Use: Agreement to changing use from B1 to C3 was based on a much smaller development and the application was not widely advertised. There are local concerns about the implications in terms of the loss of potential for job opportunities in the area. Interestingly, the Elmbridge Local Strategic Options paper issued for consultation in December 2016 identifies the potential need for an additional 30-40,000m²of office floor space in the borough, subject of course to consideration in the light of economic circumstances, including Brexit.
7. The critique set out above supports the contention that the proposal is contrary to the specified policies set out in the Elmbridge Core Strategy 2011, Elmbridge Development Management Plan 2015, the Design and Character SPD 2012 and the National Planning Framework 2012. Local residents have always recognized that some development on this site is inevitable, but this proposal represents a lost opportunity. The fundamental objection is to the scale, height, mass and density of such a proposal in this location and to the repositioning of the current building line. It would be detrimental to the character of the surrounding area, would not integrate sensitively with the locally distinctive landscape and fails to take into account adequately traffic, parking and other implications for the local community. This application should be rejected.
(Signed) Nick Thripp
Chair, TRG Committee
Princes Newt, 27, Princes Road, Weybridge, Surrey, KT13 9BH