Sports Stadium Complex at Waterside Drive, Walton
LOSRA has been fighting a last ditch battle to prevent Elmbridge Borough Council giving themselves planning permission for a major Sports Stadium Complex on land adjacent to the Xcel Centre on Waterside Drive. Why do we say last ditch? That’s because Elmbridge Borough Council were rushing this Outline Planning Application through at an astonishing pace, and we had very little notice of it in Sunbury.
Lack of consultation
Only a few residents on Wheatley’s Eyot were notified by Elmbridge, and after receiving an anonymous tip-off, Spelthorne Borough Council notified Parke Road and then Thames Street.
Where will this be?
The land is adjacent to the Xcel Leisure Centre on Waterside Drive, on the river bank facing Sunbury village, stretching behind Sunbury Weir as far as the Weir Hotel. It is greenbelt land and mainly consists of grassland for people walking dogs, and behind that is an orchard and scrubland.
The sports hub
Elmbridge Borough Council submitted an Outline Planning Application to itself to convert the whole of this land, including the area of orchard / scrub into a major Sports hub, which will be six times larger than the current football pitch!
This sports hub will comprise a floodlit Athletic Stadium, with four floodlit football pitches and a Spectator Stand. The Stand will be 13 metres high, 96 metres long and 25 metres wide. The existing car park will be doubled in size to provide 247 extra car parking spaces, plus spaces for coaches and taxis.
All the public open space is bizarrely located away from the river on the south side of these sports pitches, including an Outdoor gym, Children’s Playground area and a picnic area. But wouldn’t people planning a picnic prefer a view of the river Thames rather than the back of a car park? It could certainly have been improved if they had taken the time to consider it.
You can see for yourself at: http://www2.elmbridge.gov.uk/Planet/ispforms.asp?serviceKey=SysDoc-PlanetApplicationEnquiry
Type in: 2012/1185 At the bottom of the page Click on Search
Scroll down to the bottom of the first page and click on View Attachments to see the plans and the objections
To ‘maximise the hours of use’ floodlighting will be used, with 28 floodlight masts, 18 and 15 metres operating from 9 am to 10 pm every day. They will clearly visible from Sunbury particularly in the winter. Landscaping won’t mask this view as they’ll be considerably taller than the trees.
LOSRA is concerned about the scale and size of the development in the greenbelt, the fact that the pitches are located right next to the river and the noise nuisance residents will suffer. In particular, we are concerned about the impact on the visual amenity enjoyed by residents and visitors to Sunbury, the setting of the river Thames and the conservation area of Sunbury village.
At present Walton Casuals currently play every other Wednesday and Saturday in the football season. Elmbridge Borough Council plan to relocate a second football team, Walton and Hersham Football Club, to Waterside drive meaning that games would take place every Saturday and most evenings. There’s a huge difference between putting up with this noise once a week, changing to a situation where residents might have one evening without any noise.
Walton and Hersham Football Club do not wish to move away from their current ground at Stompond Lane, but Elmbridge Borough Council hope to sell Stompond Lane for 115 dwellings to be built – so it’s really all about money!
What do people in Walton think about the sports hub?
The Weir Hotel objected, people living nearby complained about the noise and the traffic, while dog-walkers complained about lack of public access to the land. People living near Stompond Lane complained about Elmbridge Borough Council selling the sports and recreation ground for the development of 115 dwellings.
The land adjacent to Xcel is also controversial because it is sandwiched between the British Pipeline Agency fuel tanks, and various blast zone maps illustrate the danger areas. The land itself was also used as a landfill site for 20 or 30 years and will need to be cleaned up at great expense.
What have LOSRA and Sunbury residents done to object?
Firstly lots of people wrote to Elmbridge Borough Council – so thank you for that.
- We emailed and delivered photographs the impact of the floodlighting on Sunbury to all Elmbridge councillors because Elmbridge Borough Council’s Planning officers felt the that “this additional information (about the view) is not essential”.
- Amanda Boot and Muriel Bankhead tried to telephone all the Elmbridge Planning Committee councillors to beg them to consider the impact of the scheme on Sunbury residents and to vote against the sports hub.
- LOSRA highlighted inaccurate reporting of Spelthorne Borough Council’s consultation response. Spelthorne Borough Council had requested a noise assessment report of the impact on Sunbury residents, which was ignored.
- Spelthorne’s MP, Kwasi Kwarteng also wrote to Elmbridge’s Chief Executive, Robert Moran highlighting our concerns.
- Caroline Nicholls also wrote a letter of objection which prompted John Butcher to call for the scheme to be deferred, although sadly that vote did not succeed.
- We raised over 30 extra objections from local residents and LOSRA members in just a few days before the Full Planning meeting on the 10th July.
What can we do now?
This is only Outline Planning Permission so it’s really important that we ensure Elmbridge Borough Council and the councillors are aware of our views.
We’ve had some coverage in the Surrey Herald, who admitted that even they had missed the significance for the Sunbury edition. Keep watching and writing! Sunbury Matters will also cover this in August.