“This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.” – Elizabeth Gilbert.
Firstly, I’d like to thank the SHBC for streaming the proceedings live via their web site. My wife and I were there in person, but when a break was announced just before 9pm it was clear that things were going to go on for some time so we took the opportunity to slip home and watch the remainder of the debate on my laptop.
Secondly I applaud the local residents who had the courage to take to the lectern and state the case against the proposals. As one resident commented, it was like climbing the steps to the gallows.
Thirdly respect must be given to the DIO representative who stood and took a grilling from the council for quite some time. I realise that this was his job, but I thought he conducted himself in a very professional manner. The (correct) refusal by the Chair to allow him to call to the stage an expert relating to the traffic issues should also be recognised.
So what does it all mean?
On the positive side, a concession was granted in relation to the size of the supermarket – a retail needs assessment will now be carried out to determine the size of supermarket that will serve just the existing and new expanded Deepcut village. This was a big worry both for local residents and the wider community and this is a significant victory.
There were some very strong words regarding removal of plans for an area for a travellers site, and while this is not the final nail in this particular coffin the lid is looking pretty well secure.
The DIO consultant report into Traffic Management, which was adopted as part of the plan, did include more mitigation measures than the SHBC’s own report, even though a couple of areas of mitigation mentioned in the SHBC report were not similarly recommended by the DIO.
On the negative side, there is still a lot of anecdotal concern that the traffic brought in by the new development will overwhelm the local infrastructure and that the mitigation measures proposed don’t go far enough to alleviate the problems or studied far enough to identify other potential bottlenecks – such as the Jolly Farmer (American Golf) Roundabout on the A30 or the roads in Mytchett leading to the A331 Blackwater Valley Road.
On a personal level I am particularly concerned about the proposal to signalise the double roundabouts in the centre of Frimley Green as this implies that we can expect significant traffic increase through the village.
In this regard, we will just have to trust the results of the traffic study, even though there is no recourse in the future if their findings are proved wrong.
What should we do now?
As a community we need to make sure that our views continue to be heard and are taken into consideration, and most importantly we must continue to play an active and positive part in the next phase of the project.
That means supporting local residents groups in Deepcut and the other nearby villages. It also means that we make sure our local Councillors both at Borough and County level remain fully aware of our feelings and concerns. You can find the contact details of your local representatives here.
We mustn’t forget the positive aspects too – this development will be a boost to the local economy, bringing jobs and money into the area, which will undoubtedly benefit trade in our main shopping centres and provide additional customers for local trades and services.
Some people may be feeling broken-hearted this weekend, but they should focus on what they have achieved so far in shaping the framework of the development and how, by working with the local council and the eventual developers, we can be a force for the good in shaping our community in the future.
We have the right to play a part in determining the future of our Borough and it is important that we exercise that right so that the Deepcut PRB development becomes a welcomed and beneficial addition to our community.