Friday 2 April 2004




by Christian Taylor

GUILDFORD Borough Council's communications machine descended on Weyfield last night (Thursday) to hear residents' views on embryonic plans to develop a 100-acre site behind Slyfield Industrial Estate.

Less than a week after the council decided to go public with the tentative plans, council officials were due to speak to the Weyfield Residents' Association whose concerns include traffic implications along Woking Road.

As revealed by the Surrey Advertiser last week, the council has been holding talks with Thames Water - together they own the majority of the site - about the scheme's possibilities, which could yield significant financial rewards for both.

The earmarked site stretches from the borough council's Woking Road Depot along the River Wey to the far northern edge of the industrial estate and incorporates the depot, the sewage treatment works, the former landfall site and allotments. At a meeting on Monday, members of the community development scrutiny committee recommended to the boroughs Executive committee it ploughs on with a 40,000 feasibility study.

When appointed, the consultants will first have to overcome any transport concerns and even then the success of the development is likely to rest on whether Thames Water can relocate its sewage works. Labour councillor, Keith Chesterton (Stoke) asked on Monday for the report to be made public and for the council to make arrangements to speak to residents.

He said their concerns would hinge on the transport implications, with the entrance to Slyfield Industrial Estate already congested.

But he added they would support any plans to move Thames Water's sewage treatment works from its current location. He added the council would be active in pushing for new technology to be used to reduce smell in any future location proposed.

He continued: "The initial responses from the residents association are if Thames Water moves the sewage works away it would be welcomed. But there are already a lot of problems with transport going into the industrial estate. Better community facilities are also needed. This is in its very early stages, but I asked the committee to make the report public and members did agree. It could be very beneficial to Guildford."