Information about Weyburn Works, its history, present condition and the Linden Homes proposals for redevelopment for housing.

At the public meeting in November about setting up the Elstead & Weyburn Neighbourhood Plan there was a strong vote in favour of housing development on the old Weyburn Works industrial site rather than elsewhere in or around Elstead. This will not be straightforward, as a change of use is not a foregone conclusion and there are problems related to its position and access to the village, as well as concerns about the impact of any largescale development on the services and facilities in Elstead. There is no current development porposal for the Weyburn Industrial site.

  1. History
  2. Present situation
  3. Waverley Planning Assessments 
  4. Linden Homes proposals
  5. Issues & concerns
  6. Linden Homes answers to some questions following their Opinion Survey
  7. Linden Homes Exhibition Display Sheets [LINK]
  8. Elstead PC response to Linden Homes Planning Application [LINK]

Answers to some questions following the LH Survey

Layout

I have passed your comments about the design to our architects. They are looking to deliver a scheme that is influenced by local house styles and materials and are certainly not seeking to deliver a ‘suburban housing estate’ – that would be unwelcome within the community and unappealing to potential purchasers. With regard to density, I am sure you will understand that two factors are integral, these being the level of contamination that exists on the site and the extent of developable land.  Linden Homes faces substantial remediation costs as part of any redevelopment of the site, which would need to be met through the sale of homes, which in turn can only be built on a relatively constrained part of the site, namely the existing hard standing and buildings.  If you can recall from the exhibition (the image is on our website), there was a plan which showed the land within our ownership in blue (thirty-seven acres) and the developed land in red (seven acres), approximately one fifth of the size.

Whilst this inevitably delivers a higher density, it does also enable us to provide a much larger area of open space, of which a large amount could become designated Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space (SANGS).  We have also been advised that there was previously a pond on this site, which has now been covered over; we are investigating this and also whether we can open the culvert that currently runs beneath concrete on site, which would allow an attractive free-flowing channel.  We also want to retain the vast majority of trees on site, as well as the dense shrubbery along Shackleford Road.

Parking

You mention the ‘Waverley recommended minimum’ in relation to parking spaces. What in fact we referred to at the exhibition were the Waverley Borough Council parking guidelines which were adopted recently (in October 2013, I believe) and are a material consideration used to determine the appropriate level of parking within new developments in Waverley. We would agree with you that, in the past, standards sought to restrict car ownership and usage, but the latest version is designed to provide sufficient parking to meet the demands of new residents and their visitors. The standards state: ‘the proposed Waverley specific residential parking standards are intended to provide a level of parking that more closely reflects demand, taking account of car ownership levels in the borough and levels of access to local services and public transport.’   Internal roads will also be sufficiently wide enough to accommodate occasional additional demands on-street without obstructing delivery, refuse vehicles and, most importantly, emergency vehicle access.  We do not anticipate that there will be overspill parking from the site on to Shackleford Road or the local road network.

Housing

We are very mindful of the need to provide a mix of housing – a ‘balance’ of types as you say. That is why we are looking to deliver both affordable and open market properties, houses and apartments that appeal to a variety of different needs. I do completely understand your concerns regarding the level at which affordable rent is set in areas where house values are high.  However, this is more a matter of government policy and is not something which Linden Homes is able to influence.  Linden Homes hands over its completed properties to the Registered Provider, who will then allocate them in line with policy and decide the split between shared ownership and social rent.

Employment Use

I understand that the site has a rich manufacturing history and also your wish to see part of it used for employment purposes.  However, the Weyburn Works were closed in 2008. As you are aware, the site has been marketed extensively since then but, for a variety of reasons, has not been deemed suitable for a new employment use. You referred to the success of Tanshire Park, but my understanding is that it has only very recently reached capacity.  Incidentally, we are very much aware of the parking issues being experienced by tenants at the business park and are considering whether we can contribute in some way to resolving this situation.

We would like to think that people would see new homes as an appropriate and positive future use for the site. The pressing need for new homes in Waverley is acute and we believe that this site could play a part, as it would seem that all parts of the Borough will need to do. I wanted to re-affirm that there is currently no allocation strategy and numbers have not been allocated to any towns or villages.

Safe Pedestrian Access

I can assure you that safety is always of paramount concern to us and provision of pedestrian connectivity between the proposals and the facilities and services within Elstead will be an important element of the scheme.  At this stage, it is proposed to deliver improvements to footpath 61 to deal with existing drainage issues and provide a more ‘year round’ surface.  This provides the most direct link between the site and the centre of the village.

The provision of a continuous footway link from the site via Shackleford Road and Milford Road is achievable within the public highway.  Given the more direct alternative via footpath 61, we will be discussing the cost effectiveness of the new footway compared with the benefit offered with the local Highway Authority.  If it is provided, then it will reduce the feasibility of funding alternative transport measures in the local area.

Traffic

I note your comments about predicted traffic levels. The Transport Statement accompanying the application will provide a full and comprehensive assessment of the traffic impact of the development and hopefully go some way to addressing your concerns more fully.  We are in discussions with the local highway authority (SCC) to seek to ensure that the analysis meets their requirements when they subject the Transport Statement to their independent and rigorous analysis.  The scope will include consideration of Milford Road, Shackleford Road and Somerset Bridge.  The agreed parameters will include the trip generation and the routes used by the previous and proposed uses.

Whilst this work is ongoing, it is not expected that the development will result in increases in traffic flow that will result in anything like an unacceptable highways impact, so we believe the development to be compliant with highways (noting the relevant test set out in paragraph 32 of the NPPF).  However, if the development does trigger the need for highways improvements, this will be identified in i-Transport’s analysis and/or through the discussions with SCC during the planning application process.  Either way, you can be rest assured that the development will not be allowed to proceed if it has, in any way, an unacceptable highways impact.

Finally, we do appreciate your comment that you are not against the building of some suitable homes on the Weyburn site. We gather that a similar sentiment was expressed at the meeting in November to discuss the Elstead & Weyburn Neighbourhood Plan. At least the principle of homes appears to be agreed.

 Thank you once again for taking such a keen interest in our proposals and we very much hope to be able to continue a dialogue as plans progress and as your Neighbourhood Plan takes shape.

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History

Weyburn Photo 01

The business was founded by Hamilton Gordon in 1913 and named Weyburn. Rapidly developing a reputation for producing quality machined parts Weyburn became a public company in 1935 and managed a workforce of over 500 during the Second World War when it produced camshafts for fighter aircraft and tanks.

Continued success saw expansion including the establishment of subsidiaries in America, Europe and elsewhere in the UK during the 1970s. In 1980 the firm in taking over a German company was renamed Weyburn-Bartel, and by the time it was bought by Federal-Mogul in 1998 had been in the hands of two other owners.

In 2007 the American owners of the Elstead engineering works announced its closure despite being a profitable arm of the then ailing US auto parts supplier Federal –Mogul.

The Weyburn Works was by far the biggest employer in the Elstead area.  Some of its ex-employees still live or have relatives in the area. Others have scattered to the far ends of the world including one now living in Ulanbaatar, Mongolia. 

Weyburn Photo 02

More history here [LINK] - with thanks to The Derelict Miscellany:  website and all content © D. A. Gregory 2004 - 2014

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Present situation - Photo's & Maps

The Weyburn property, currently owned by MMC Holdings, consists of the Weyburn Industrial works area of approximately 3.4 hectares and and some fields of 4.6 hectares. It is in the Green Belt, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Significant Landscape Value, also within 400m of the Special Protection Area on Royal Common. It is classified as a brownfield industrial site and any change of use would be subject to all the regulations that apply to those protections. The existing buildings are mostly derelict and are highly contaminated with industrial waste and asbestos. Part of the site and the open areas nearest to the River Wey flood to a depth of as much as 15 inches after prolonged heavy rainfall. Access is through two gateways to the Shackleford Road. There is also a footpath across the fields that leads through private woodland to the end of Lower Ham Lane. The majority of the Works area is in Peper Harow Parish, the remainder of the Works and the fields are in Elstead Parish but not within the settlement boundary.

Weyburn Layout 03

In 2010 there was a preliminary enquiry (SO/2010/0001) to Waverley by another company MMC Estates - "A proposed development to comprise a mix of private sector housing, affordable housing, retirement accommodation and related facilities".  More information on this can be found on the Waverley website [LINK] - no planning application resulted from this.

An application by Linden Homes for 69 homes and a 60 bed Care Home was rejected by Waverley in November 2015.

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Waverley Planning Assessments 

Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment 1/4/2014. Appendix 9. Detailed assessment of potential housing sites outside settlements. Weyburn Industrial site assessment [LINK]

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Linden Homes Proposals

  1. Weyburn Works Elstead proposals, [LINK]
  2. Weyburn Brochure [LINK]
  3. Linden Homes Press Statement Dec 17th [LINK]
  4. Linden Homes - the Company: 

 

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Issues & concerns

Weyburn Boundary Dec 29th 2014

 

There are a number of concerns about the Linden Homes proposals for a change of use to housing on the Weyburn Works site, all of which need to be considered.

  • Distance from the village
  • Lack of safe access on foot along narrow unlit roads
  • Type of housing proposed may not need local needs 
  • Lack of open space within the estate.
  • Lack of community facilities on the estate
  • Loss of potential employment opportunities
  • Impact on local schools and medical services, already over-stretched
  • Lack of adequate public transport
  • Impact on local drainage, electricity & water suppies
  • Flood risk to part of the site in periods of prolonged heavy rainfall
  • Road safety at the Shackleford Road to Milford Road junction
  • Traffic & parking problems in Elstead

Opinions from two Elstead residents:

A.  Regrettably I believe that the Linden Homes proposal for the Weyburn Works site at Elstead is not appropriate as it stands now.

The Weyburn site could still provide work for several hundred people if suitably developed. Over 300 people are employed by a variety of businesses and service providers in the very successful adjacent Tanshire House business park and the Weyburn site is several times the size of Tanshire House. There is room for both housing and employment on the site.

Although it is a brown field industrial site Weyburn is in the Green Belt and the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is close to a Special Protection Area on Royal Common. A change of use to housing is not a certainty, in spite of the pressure on Waverley to build more homes in the Borough.  A single large housing development there would have the immediate effect of  increasing existing overloads on schools, medical facilities and other services in Elstead and Peper Harow. A mixture of employment and homes in a phased development, with associated facilities, seems more appropriate than the present proposals.

The site is to the east of Elstead surrounded by fields with the River Wey to the north, one mile from the village centre. Access on foot to the village involves either a rough path through private woods liable to flooding, or walking along a narrow unlit road with no continuous footway, then crossing the main road at a junction in a 40 mph zone, where the speed limit is often not observed. The final stretch is 300 metres along an unmaintained grass verge.  This is very dangerous and will have to be addressed by Surrey County Council if the estate is to be considered sustainable and become an integrated part of the village.

Elstead is an attractive village in an area popular with walkers and other visitors. The Linden Homes proposals would result in a cramped housing estate of a type suitable for a suburban environment, in the countryside near a rural village. As proposed it does not conform to the existing varied nature of the village or the standards set out in the Elstead Village Design Statement.

B.  I was, in may ways disappointed with the information at the Exhibition  and, although I did get answers to most of my questions from the staff present, the information should have been displayed.

1.  There was little information on the justification for seeking to redevelop for residential purposes a site identified in the current Local Plan as an area of “well-established industrial and commercial land”.  Moreover, there was no indication at the exhibition of the extent and method of advertising the site for industrial/commercial purposes or the responses received. 
 
Whilst it may be, as your staff argued, that it would be difficult  to retain this site for commercial purposes today as the manufacturing industry picture in Surrey has changed fundamentally over the last decade or so andisolated industrial areas like Weyburn may be unlikely to be needed in the future for manufacturing or commercial purposes, a full justification that the site is not viable for industrial or commercial purposes should be made as part of the planning application submission in accordance with Policy IC3 of the current (2002) Waverley Local Plan.
 
2.    I understand that a total of 74 dwellings are proposed and, from conversations with your staff, that 30% (22) would be affordable.  I also understand that there are no proposals to include a small shop or other land-uses on the site and that the proposal would be 100% residential, which might include some flats.  There was, however, no indication that there would be any accommodation for older people. 
 
The planning submission should demonstrate, through a Housing Needs Assessment, not only the mix of housing (family housing, single person housing, older persons’ housing) but also demonstrate that 30% affordable units will meet the needs of Elstead residents.
 
3.    There was no indication as to how the development of the site would be phased or the method by which the houses would be released.  I understand from your staff that the site will probably be developed in one phase, possibly with “affordable” units developed first and small numbers of houses released as they are completed. 
 
The Housing Needs assessment should demonstrate how many houses, both market and affordable, are currently needed for Elstead residents year-by-year and forecasts for the future.  Elstead is a village of only some 1,100 dwellings.  To increase the housing supply by about 7.5% in one “splurge” could overwhelm this relatively small community and would certainly not solve the longer-term housing needs of the village.
 
4.    I considered the “indicative” layout displayed at the exhibition uninspiring, suburban and banal.  It made no use of the natural features on the site, for instance the riverside location and footpaths through and around the site and neither did it reflect or complement the Elstead/Green Belt/AONB location.  There was limited reference to the principles set out in the Elstead Village Design Statement.
 
The layout needs to be much more imaginatively conceived and should better reflect and complement the location and surroundings of the site.  The planning submission should demonstrate how the design and materials to be used reflect the principles in the Elstead Village Design Statement.
 
5.    I understand that some SANG (Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space) is to be provided, though it was not clear where this would be.  I also understand that footpath links into the village centre would be improved, including improving and surfacing the footpath connection from the rear of the site to Lower Ham Lane/ Ham Lane.  I understand also that a footpath link is also proposed down the Shackleford Road to Milford Road and along the Milford Road to the footpath which starts by Greengarth (my bungalow). 
 
The planning submission should provide full details about the about location, lighting, maintenance, materials and visual impact of the proposed footpaths and the SANG and should demonstrate how the suburbanisation of this part of the Green Belt/AONB is to be avoided/minimised.
 

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