Will the amount of future housing, agreed as part of the House Infrastructure Fund (HIF) funding, be deliverable when taking into account the new town centre masterplan?
The Victoria Arch widening scheme, using the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) grant, will unlock additional housing capacity for 13 identified development sites within Woking town centre. The majority of the identified housing development sites are allocated in our Site Allocations Development Plan Document.
A site map is published on the project's webpages which demonstrates the anticipated housing capacity for each site outlined in the DPD, and what will be potentially achieved via the delivery of the Victoria Arch widening scheme.
Woking town centre masterplan
Woking Borough Council has made a commitment to consult on the HIF housing numbers as part of a new town centre masterplan – the vision for the town centre as the primary focus for sustainable development, economic hub status and inward investment.
By accepting the HIF grant, the council has made commitments to deliver housing on a number of its own sites (including land owned by wholly owned companies) and to use its ‘best endeavours’ to secure the delivery of other housing sites. These commitments aim to secure around 3,300 new homes in the town centre above the housing numbers set out in the borough’s Local Plan.
The initial masterplan consultation events have highlighted a range of interesting issues. One such issue is a question about whether the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed the market for flat/apartment accommodation.
To inform the masterplan evidence base, council officers have commissioned an updated evidence based study which will assess the type of housing proposed for the town centre against market needs. This aims to establish whether the market would continue to sustain the level of flat/apartment accommodation proposed by the HIF programme and required period of time.
Based on this new research, the overall scale and number of homes to be delivered as a result of the HIF project may change. Before the project starts any significant works on widening the highway network around Victoria Arch bridge and replacing the railway bridge, the council need to understand the possible impact of the pandemic in more detail. Homes England, the funding body, would be engaged if any implications on housing delivery are identified.
The council has also set up a task group (HIF Housing Outputs Task Group) as part of its overview and scrutiny functions to understand the implications of the project and the current position on the delivery of new homes.
Questions submitted by members of the public
A significant number of questions have been received from members of the public during our engagement work, which remains ongoing. The summary question and answer outlined above aims to provide responses to the main points and topics raised by local residents.
- Given the HIF grant was awarded on the basis of so much housing being delivered, can you be sure that it is deliverable because of planning considerations and the new town master plan being drawn up, and can the project be paused without financial penalty if that is the case?
- Since the fundamental criteria for securing the HIF grant is the release of brownfield land for housing development and regeneration, why are the council and Network Rail not bringing forward a proposal that releases the land for its full housing development potential at the same time as dealing with excessive HGV traffic movements through the centra of Woking? In fact, the temporary and permanent proposals divert over 300 lorry movements through a residential area.
- The access road is an excuse to develop more high-rise building. True or false?