Councillors have rejected plans by Leach Rhodes Walker for a new football stadium and 1,000 homes in Surrey
Woking Borough Council’s Planning Committee refused permission for the Manchester practice’s proposals for the town against planning officer advice.
The plans would have seen a 9,026-capacity arena built on the site of Woking Football Club’s existing Laithwaite Community Stadium on Kingfield Road.
The project would also have included construction of 1,048 homes on surrounding land, more than 40 per cent of which would have been affordable.
A club shop and a medical centre were also included in the rejected scheme, along with parking for more than 900 cars, most of them for residents’ use.
More than 1,800 objections were raised to the development plans, on wide-ranging grounds including creation of ‘an unattractive skyline’, overshadowing and pressure on traffic and rail services.
However, more than 4,000 letters of support were also received by the council, with supporters hailing the benefits to the National League football club and the town’s economy.
A design review panel commended the provision of a combination of uses across the site and said it considered the increased density of development ‘appropriate for this area of Woking’.
Planning officers concluded there would be ‘significantly harmful impacts, by reason of overbearing effect and loss of privacy’, to two neighbouring properties. But they said in a report to councillors that this was ‘limited in the overall context’ of the scheme and did not warrant refusal of the application.
Planners added that impacts arising from height and bulk could be mitigated by ‘detailed, quality design’ and had to be weighed against creation of homes and a new stadium ‘with its associated community benefits’.
They said that temporary disruption and inconvenience in the area when the stadium hosted fixtures would be manageable, while local roads and public transport services could cope with the extra demand on non-match days.
Despite planners recommending the scheme for approval subject to conditions, councillors voted against the proposals and they were rejected.
Woking Borough Council had not released a statement on the committee’s decision as the AJ went to press.
Leach Rhodes Walker director Christian Gilham said: ’It is a shame that committee members went against the recommendation of their officers, as the scheme would have delivered a lot of benefits and high-quality new homes, as well as a significant number of affordable homes.’
The AJ understands that the client, a partnership of Woking Football Club with developer GolDev, is considering an appeal.