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AGM 07/11/2009


 (The minutes for the 2009 AGM are filed under AGM 2010)


 

Chairmans Welcome

 

Firstly, thanks to all who attended. It was called at short notice due to the availability of the Church Hall, key personnel and the burning issue of Puttocks Car Park.

Very pleased to see our MP Anne Milton, Sue Doughty, some of our councillors and Worplesdon Parish Council.


Chairman’s Report

Quieter year than previous years as Credit Crunch & Recession slowed up the number of Planning Applications. But no less eventful.

Charities

• Age Concern Surrey – very helpful to the local community years ago when they had grants for good causes. They provided funding for the Self-Composting Toilet (Tree Bog) on the Allotment Site. So when their Riverside Centre in Guildford was threatened with closure thanks to GBC withdrawing their Support Grant – major fundraising activities went ahead. A couple of WBDRA members pitched in and managed to raise £3,500. GBC eventually reinstated some form of Grant Support.

• Help for Heroes  - newish Charity for injured Servicemen returning from the world’s conflict zones. Hadn’t thought much about it myself until a friend who’s ex-Army himself told me both his sons were serving in Iraq & Afghanistan. We hope to God they return in one piece. Some of us attended a little Fund Raising Dinner earlier in the year which raised £500 for Help for Heroes.

So we actually do other things than complain about GBC!

GBC Core Strategy Document

All Res Assocs asked to comment on this – a GBC consultation document about future direction on Planning Policies on whole raft of issues – housing, transport, amenities etc
We’re were only interested in Housing, so responded to that – and our reply has been up on the website . It was a ghastly document – full of vague ideas and ill defined terms, took ages to read & understand. Very flattered when another Res Assoc Chair circulated around all the other Res Assoc saying it was direct, punchy & combative!

 Fencing in Oakfields

Long saga following on from Security fencing being erected by GBC on the Allotment Site. Eventually GBC reinstated a new version of the Wooden Screening fence which they unilaterally decided to take away. Thanks to Cllr Vic Searle in particular for helping us and to everyone else who pitched in. After about 5 months of pushing GBC, we eventually got keys to the new entrance gate which leads to the adjacent strip of land between the Allotments & Oakfields. It was a struggle.

Allotment Housing

The upshot is that nothing has happened at all. Is that a bad thing or is that a good thing? The bad news is it is still considered as a Housing Development site by GBC, it’s still featured as such in all the Local Plan and is still used as bargaining chip by GBC for the Housing Committee to obtain funds each year.  And all this despite several years of public opposition and the overwhelming response to the Site Allocations Consultation – 270 people took the trouble to fill in the forms and say NO to Housing. 

But according to GBC Planning everything to do with Housing has been put on ice as GBC mounted their opposition to the South East Plan (remember that? Hundreds of houses to be built annually on our Green Belt, our neighbours back gardens, every strip of available land etc)

GBC’s position to this wretched Govt Plan is excellent news and very welcome. But all it’s done for us is to buy some time (6 months or so) on the fate of the Allotment Site. All I can say is watch this space.

Guildford Allotment society (who manage the GBC Allotment sites) tell us there are some 450 people waiting for Allotments in the Boro and something like 70 waiting for a plot on the Aldershot Rd site. And those 39 plots earmarked for Housing can’t be touched! On this we have found a new friend with the Friends of the Earth organisation who had a great article published about Allotment issue in last weeks Surrey Ad. Take a look if you still have the paper - it will be on our website over the weekend.

Planning Applications

Luckily not as many as last year but those we’ve looked at have been pretty horrendous.
One of the good things to come out of all of these is that it’s not been WBDRA pushing or leading people to action all the time. I’m pleased to people in the area have realised how much our area is under threat from unwanted development have organised things themselves.

 I’m only going to mention 3 of the main Planning Applications this year:

38 Oakfields – 3 planning applications, all refused and 1 Appeal turned down. A corner plot development  proposal for first a house, then a huge extension then another extension. A good result for the area but on behalf of us all, I have to say thanks to the local people who without any prompting from WBDRA got up and got neighbours involved.  I’m not sure it’s over yet.

 73 Beckingham Road - this was an application to demolish a 3-bed house and in its place erect  3 2-bed houses . The application was turned down by the Planning Committee but the developer has gone to appeal.  Most of you know this road – just along from here once a nice quite road of semi-detached family homes. But it’ s a narrow road with poor access to the Aldershot Road and already feeling the effect of numerous extensions, student lets, on- street car parking problems  – in short an over-developed area. I’m not going to say any more – the cut-off date for comments on the Appeal is in December so we’ll be talking about that in the next few days.

Puttocks Car Park - this has turned out to be a real hot potato. This is a planning application to level the old Merc Garage site and turn it into a Car Park for some 200 hospital staff.  I have to say originally we were not sure what to do about this one especially has it affects RSCH staff.
 
But public opinion has overtaken us. WBDRA were originally worried about the loss of amenity for Allotment tenants as their Car Parking Spaces were to be relocated.  Then someone mentioned Traffic Congestion and Parking............!!!!!!!!!!.

 All I’m going to say is we and the GBC Planning Committee can only base our reactions on the plans before us – not on any promises made at a meeting which very few people could attend – that’s not public consultation.

GBC haven’t helped as their “Neighbours Consulted” activity was abysmal & totally inadequate – for example most locals were unaware of this and St Joseph’s  School only found out on Wednesday this week .

Since then the whole thing has taken on its own life without much intervention from WBDRA.  And it’s unfolding on our website

As of last night there were about 80 objections which Guildford Planning Dept were struggling to process – this morning they’ve dealt with 18.

(Public Discussion)

Any other business


David Bird
Chairman
07-11-09


Minutes of meeting to follow asap




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