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Category Archives: Camphill industrial estate

Byfleet United Charity

A plan to build a power plant on derelict land in West Byfleet has been scuppered by the strength of opposition by residents, which appears to have taken the power company and the owners of the land by surprise. First the company, UK Power Reserve, withdrew its initial plan after more than 1,000 objections were registered. Then the landowners, Byfleet United Charity, said they would not support a second application by the company. The charity, which provides help to residents who have lived in Byfleet for at least a year and also provides some sheltered accommodation in West Byfleet, said the “difficult decision” had been made not to support a future application.

Tony Thompson, the chairman of BUC, told Surrey Live: “The view of the charity is that we would not support a second planning application. What we have tried to do is balance the understandable concerns of the community with the potential benefits to the charity. It has been a difficult decision but we have tried to take a fair view.”

What the affair demonstrates is the speed and impact of social media in quickly drawing attention to a planning application, and in drumming up opposition to it before the application is decided. Concerned residents in West Byfleet lodged more than 1,000 objections to the initial planning application for the former waste tip adjoining Camphill industrial estate, between the railway and the Basingstoke canal, and the company reacted by withdrawing it. Then the landowners backed away from the plan altogether in the face of widespread local opposition.

A similar campaign has been waged largely on Facebook by angry parents – supported by West Byfleet Bowls Club – against plans to build a pub on the local recreation ground next to a school in West Byfleet, and re-locate a children’s play area. A consultation by Woking council has resulted in a vote of around 1,100 to 24 in favour of keeping the play area where it is. The council will discuss the issue at its meeting on Thursday 13 September. There seems a good chance that this second West Byfleet campaign, to stop any pub being built on the recreation ground despite an apparent deal with Woking council, will succeed as well.

Camphill 2

A plan has been submitted for an electricity generation plant in West Byfleet – but it will be remarkable if it is approved. The plan by UK Power Reserve  centres on waste land beyond the existing Camphill industrial estate, between the railway line and the Basingstoke canal.

Nearly 30 years ago a similar plan to develop the waste land beyond the existing industrial estate was put forward – and was turned down because the land contains toxic materials, which would be hazardous to residents if removed by lorry. If the current power station plan is approved, which seems highly unlikely, one will have to ask – has the land become less toxic with the passing of the years? The previous application was rejected in the last century, after all. Or does Woking borough council operate to different standards these days?

At the end of the industrial estate there is a fence bordering the land subject to the planning application – and two large notices saying Danger Keep Out. If you look closely you can see a faded Woking borough council logo above the warning. Interestingly, one of the units in the industrial estate is an NHS one – West Byfleet Dialysis Centre. Is there a danger of an additional health risk being inflicted on these patients?

Wokingmatters has a long memory, and recalls the details of the failed plan to extend the industrial estate back in the early 1990s. A businessman on the estate bought up a number of houses at the junction of Station Road, intending to knock them down and build a roundabout to serve the expanded industrial estate. But his plan was knocked back because of fears about contaminated waste being transported from the estate along local roads and endangering residents – and in 2018 those houses that had been due for demolition are still there.

Camphill 1