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Sheerwater 1

Amid a welter of claims and accusations over the plan to redevelop Sheerwater, one rumour can apparently be dispelled. There are no plans to build an additional rail station to serve the estate, a councillor told a recent meeting where residents had brought a petition signed by nearly 500 people complaining about an alleged lack of consultation by New Vision Homes. 

According to Woking council’s website, the project can proceed to its next phase following the council meeting on 10 July. New Vision Homes, the council’s housing management partner, will develop a detailed masterplan in preparation for a planning application to be submitted later this year.

Speaking about the decision, councillor David Bittleston, “portfolio holder for strategic development”, said: “The council and New Vision Homes continue to be committed to working closely with existing residents and businesses of Sheerwater as we bring forward these proposals. We recognise the public concerns raised at our meeting last night and I am determined to improve the communication further including having a public meeting in the autumn where residents and stakeholders can debate the proposals prior to submission to council. Therefore, I would urge local people to continue to engage with us and New Vision Homes as the proposals develop.”

The plan is to “make better use of the land, with the potential to provide approximately 300 new homes and replace around 600 existing homes in the area”. Benefits could include a new retail centre, and improved leisure facilities, and the provision of a community centre, health centre, nursery, sheltered housing and youth centre. Local shops at Dartmouth Avenue, including a popular cafe, are included in the demolition plans.

It was an angry meeting at times, broadcast live on Woking council’s website. The residents who brought the petition said they had “not been consulted, only informed”, and they were “confused and frustrated” that they had not been listened to. Words like “unjust” and devious” were used; the council was accused of “hiding behind the brand of New Vison Homes”; and the phrase “social cleansing” came up too, much to the anger of some councillors. There was an initial appearance of hostility towards the residents from some councillors, with one saying: “We can’t afford to wait 14 months for you to set up a forum … we need the houses, as I’m sure you know.” 

But others recognised the fear and anger of residents who face seeing their homes being demolished and being forced into temporary accommodation while the scheme goes through. One said he appreciated that residents were never asked if they supported the scheme in the first place, or if they would prefer the status quo to remain, and no demolition to occur.  Another said that most people he had spoken to “believe regeneration is probably a very good thing for Sheerwater …  but it’s definitely not a done deal”.  

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