The A320 Guildford Road is the main arterial road running through Woking. The historic road layout underneath and on either side of the Victoria Arch railway bridge create a pinch-point for traffic resulting in significant peak-time congestion. These issues have restricted local growth and housing development opportunities for many years.
Demand for housing in Woking is high, leading to an unmet affordable housing need. Research suggests that developers are willing to develop in Woking, but are restricted by the lack of infrastructure which places a significant burden on development viability.
It has been a long held aspiration of Woking Borough Council to address these issues by upgrading the highways configuration and widen the Victoria Arch bridge to benefit all users and unlock development sites for much needed town centre housing.
Historically, this has been constrained by the substantial investment required to deliver such major improvements and the timely alignment of Network Rail’s strategic objectives and resources.
How the scheme will contribute towards the borough's housing needs
Woking’s Core Strategy, adopted in 2012, identified Woking town centre (Policy CS1 and CS2) as a primary location to deliver homes for the future, whilst safeguarding precious green space.
The Victoria Arch widening scheme, using the Housing Infrastructure Fund, 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 draft Site Allocations Development Plan Document (DPD).
The site map below 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.
How the scheme is funded
On 13 February 2020, Woking Borough’s elected members approved the next stage of a £115 million highways enhancement scheme, which will be Woking’s biggest infrastructure project to date.
Acceptance of a £95 million grant, offered by the government and administered by Homes England, paves the way for us to complete the acquisition of the Triangle site on the south side of the town, deliver the significant improvements to the town centre’s road network and widen the out of date Victoria Arch by 2024.
In 2018, we (in partnership with Surrey County Council) submitted a comprehensive funding bid to the government’s highly contested Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF), which finances a small number of strategic and high impact infrastructure schemes to unlock housing sites.
In June 2019, our HIF bid was formally approved by the Housing Minister. The £95 million is given in the form of a grant which means that it does not need to be repaid.
Project recovery strategy
The HIF recovery strategy seeks to bridge the gap between the total scheme cost (£115 million) and the HIF grant (£95 million).
Development in the town centre will be unlocked as a result of the finished Victoria Arch scheme. As a result, housing can be delivered over and above our current commitment, as set out in the emerging Site Allocations Development Plan Document (DPD) by 2030.
Future developments will benefit from this significant amount of public investment, so it is fair and reasonable that this development also make an appropriate contribution.
Surrey County Council, Woking Borough Council and Network Rail are the key partners in developing this scheme. There are well established joint governance arrangements in place between these two organisations with a trusted professional team in place to deliver this scheme.
Project oversight panel
The scheme is being closely monitored by a panel of elected members. The Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) Oversight Panel will monitor progress of the project, through the receipt of programme reports, against key milestone dates, budget and key risks. The panel's membership includes:
- Cllr Ian Johnson, Mount Hermon Ward Member and Chair of the Housing Infrastructure Fund Oversight Panel
- Cllr Mohammad Ali, Canalside Ward Member
- Cllr Simon Ashall, Deputy Leader of the Council and Heathlands Ward Member
- Cllr Ayesha Azad, Leader of the Council and Heathlands Ward Member
- Cllr Colin Kemp, Portfolio Holder for Transport and Horsell Ward Member
- Cllr Ellen Nicholson, Mount Hermon Ward Member
- Cllr Dale Roberts, St Johns Ward Member
To contact us about the project, please complete our online enquiry form.