We were looking up at this light high up on the front of the Premier Inn the other day, and we wondered why one of the mounting screws needed a washer, but the other one didn’t. Is it a design feature, or just bad workmanship?
(You knew that the Eye was a nerd, didn’t you!)
We’d missed the fact that the county council had launched a consultation a couple of months ago.
As a result, there are only a couple of weeks left to respond to two draft strategies which you’ll find HERE. (Sorry, Facebook readers, you may have to click through to this article on WordPress for the link to work.)
One strategy is the reduction of “emissions from transport which [are] harmful to health and the environment at a local level; this includes carbon dioxide emissions which cause climate change.” Various measures are proposed; cycling, car sharing, electric vehicles… But, the strategy sticks its head well and truly in the sand. We all know that cars are bigger and thirstier than they need be (the fashion towards SUVs doesn’t help). So, one way of reducing emissions which doesn’t require any investment or any new technology or any new infrastructure is to encourage people to buy and use more modest cars*. Introduce selective prices for parking, based on weight or size, for example. Extend something a bit like the congestion charge to cover the whole of the county. OF COURSE there will be protests. But IF the council is serious, it should be going down this path. However, the strategy doesn’t even hint at it.
The second strategy is specifically about encouraging the use of electric vehicles. This is because: “A transition to electric vehicles will help to reduce the level of airborne pollutants at the roadside, improving the environment in areas where we all live, work and play.” The strategy is quite realistic about the practical problems – limited vehicle range and the time taken to re-charge batteries. It tends to lean away from domestic re-charging, and it forees high-power ‘charging stations’, somewhat analogous to petrol stations. Numerous on-street parking bays would also be needed. The strategy points out that the council can’t afford to pay for these!
We have the same criticism about both strategies. A policy of encouraging small cars and disincentives for using thirsty ones could be introduced relatively rapidly, and involve virtually no expenditure by ‘the authorities’. It would even save residents money! It might not be the ultimate solution but maybe a quick step in the right direction is better than waiting for years and years.
YES, WE KNOW THERE’LL BE OBJECTIONS. Seat belts weren’t popular either.
* of course, trucks and buses, not just cars, cause the problems. But they present different challenges.
We’re showing two pictures of the same building today. One is taken from Google Streetview, and the other is a photo taken by the Eye yesterday. As you can see from the second picture, the building is now empty; Make a Wish has gone. We don’t know what has happened to it, though its Facebook page says that it’s based in Reading. (You’ll be familiar with Make a Wish – to quote its website, “Inspired by the story of Chris Greicius, a young boy fighting leukaemia in the US, Make-A-Wish UK was formed to grant life-changing wishes to children with critical illnesses in the UK “)
What we DO know about the building is that it’s now the subject of a planning application: “…approval for change of use of the building from offices (B1a) to residential (C3) to form 12 one bed flats with associated parking.” So more flats it’s likely to be. By the time the borough council redevelops the London Road Block, the A30 will have become ‘flat land’!
A planning application has just been published for an orthodontic practice in the former Burger King premises in the High Street. This will set the council a challenge, for (we’re working from memory here) the council’s policy is to resist any change of use from retail in the town.
However, as the application points out, the National Planning Policy “…is that policies should avoid the long term protection of sites allocated for employment use where there is no reasonable prospect of a site being used for that purpose. Land allocations should be regularly reviewed. Where there is no reasonable prospect of a site being used for the allocated employment use, applications for alternative uses of land or buildings should be treated on their merits having regard to market signals and the relative need for different land uses to support sustainable local communities”. But we reckon this is pushing things a bit; the Burger King restaurant hasn’t been empty very long – possibly not long enough to prove that there is no reasonable prospect of a new retailer moving in.
But we’re also going to object to the application over a particular detail. In response to the question ‘Is any hazardous waste involved in the proposal?’ the applicant has answered ‘No’. Now, if the orthodontic practice is anything like the Eye’s dentist, we reckon that it will produce hazardous waste, if only in modest quantities. Have a look at https://bit.ly/2KfENNw where you’ll find some relevant information, including the instruction “Extracted teeth containing amalgam fillings should be segregated into a separate container. This container is usually supplied under contract from the company you use for hazardous waste.” So we reckon that a more accurate answer to the question should be ‘Yes’.
The new planters in Park Street have already been mentioned elsewhere. But here’s a photo of one, just for the record. They offer rather more seating than the previous planters (and, as our second photo shows, they provide somewhere to put a bucket!).
The rather sad thing is one of the reasons given by the council for removing the previous modest trees. Apparently they were making it difficult to see the shops. Huh. Talk about snowflakes. Our third photo shows a couple of trees in a shopping street; these REALLY ‘obstruct’ the view. But they provide lots of shade from the sun – something that’s been very welcome in the last few weeks, of course. You can just about see people sitting underneath one of them. Try doing that under the new Park Street trees!
Although St George’s Court near the top of the High Street is a relatively new building, we understand that it’s had more than its fair share of structural ‘issues’. So we had a sense of deja vu when, a little while ago, we were walking in front of the block of flats that’s now on the site of the old Robin’s Cinema on the London Road and saw that one side of the building had been scaffolded. We may be entirely wrong in thinking that there’s a problem with the building, but it’s an obvious possibility. Does anyone know the true situation?
We’re a bit taken aback by the new doors on the former Heywoods premises at the top of the High Street. They seem so out-of-keeping in a street of shops that we’ve had a look at the original planning permission. Give or take a bit, the doors are, indeed, as intended. It appears that the two double doors are entrances to bin stores (presumably that’s why the ventilation grills above them). The single door is apparently a residential door to the flats above and behind. Given the council’s stated wish is to preserve the Edwardian and Victorian characteristics of the High Street, we reckon that planning permission for this frontage should never have been granted.
Yesterday we mentioned the ‘scribble’ defacing the new white walls of the Camberley and District Club. Sadly, scribble has also appeared in several places on the big poster on the A30 frontage; the poster that’s promoting the town. (We’ve deliberately not featured the scribble itself.)
We don’t particularly like the poster – it just says that you can get things in Camberley that you can get in most other towns. But that doesn’t mean that we approve of it being defaced. What really surprises us, however, it’s taken so long for this to happen. A huge white surface must be very tempting to those who like scribbling.
We’ve been impressed that the Camberley and District Club (just behind the A30 service road) has repainted its premises even though the building is probably destined for eventual demolition when the council gets around to redeveloping the London Road Block.
So we were frustrated to see the other day that someone has defaced two of the walls with scribble. (We’ve deliberately blurred the scribble because we don’t like it.). It’s SO frustrating to see the smart paintwork spoiled.
UPDATE Yet more scribble has appeared elsewhere in the town. We’ll have to write about it tomorrow.
Back in April we warned about the damaged grating at the bottom of the ramp up to Level 5 of Main Square car park. Guess what – it’s still damaged!
However, the good news is that the borough council has just announced*:
“Parking Services are resurfacing the remaining car park levels 1 to 3 in Main Square Car Park along with the internal ramps and the spiral exit ramp. We are also replacing the expansion joints between the car park structure and the spiral exit ramp on all levels.
When we re-line the car park, we will be making the standard bays wider by 20cm, which will give our customers some extra space and help drivers to manoeuvre in and out of the bays a little easier.
During the resurfacing work the car park will be open as usual, however some spaces will be unavailable.”
The wider parking spaces will be very welcome!
What tthe announcement doesn’t say is whether the damage shown in our photo will be repaired. And we doubt that the faulty sealing around a drain on the top level will be corrected. So rain will continue to penetrate to the floor below. Finally, there’s no suggestion that the disgusting stairs will be improved at all. They’re a dreadful introduction to the town.
* you can find the full announcement here: https://www.surreyheath.gov.uk/residents/parking/car-parks