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Letter: Moving Sewage Plant Uphill Not My Idea of Weyside Success

Published on: 24 Nov, 2020
Updated on: 24 Nov, 2020

From: Jim Allen

In response to: Weyside Plans Near Completion But Allotment Holders ‘Not Consulted’ Say Campaigners

As one of those apparently in the minority, I think the project is “insane”. The sewage treatment plant was installed in the 1890s in the very best location for the town.

STWs [sewage treatment works] are the most important piece of infrastructure for any community in the world. If the health of the people is jeopardised nothing else matters. So there is no technical justification to moving it to an unstable landfill site uphill of the present site, requiring one-third extra power forever to raise effluent uphill (eco-friendly?).

The majority who support the proposal whom I have met make the comment “It will get rid of the smell” which, if, this project had not been raised all those years ago, would have meant Thames Water PLC would have been legally and financially liable to upgrade capacity of this plant in the 2000s, in the process removing “the smell”.

It will now, using figures provided in 2015 and LP, be undersize by 2024 yet the new STW will, if constructed, will not be in use until 2026, approximately 1,000 houses undersize.

It appears the cost is being carried by the residents of Guildford via the council finances. I stand to be corrected but, reading between the lines, I believe the new STW will be owned by GBC and built, leased and run by TW PLC, (information claimed to be commercially confidential).

GBC planners stated the whole project is not [commercially] financially viable at the LP examination in public.

So I am not sure why people think this project is “wonderful” unless they are misled with pretty pictures and promises of cheap matchbox flats six high with no parking to match the requirements of the LP SPD on the subject.

As for the allotments, any statutory allotment destruction must be sanctioned by the Secretary of State. The question must be asked, why was this question not asked before this plan was put forward? Another “delegated” decision?

I would also question the wisdom of the cart before the horse, when the land for this eco-village has not been cleared for use, there being no planning applications for the move of the STW or completion of the viability study, the GBC depot, or the transfer station which surely should be done first and then the planning application for the houses.

If it is not technically possible to move the STW on to unstable land leaking ammonia, then the whole project collapses like a pack of cards.

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test 2 Responses to Letter: Moving Sewage Plant Uphill Not My Idea of Weyside Success

  1. Peta Malthouse Reply

    November 25, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    The reality is that this site was identified in the Local Plan and the consultation for that took about five years. Guildford Borough Council has been trying to persuade Thames Water to resolve the problem for years, not least because the waterworks/sewage plant prevented the borough from getting access to other Brownfield land that was suitable for housing.

    I do empathise with allotment holders. They have worked years to get their soil in good condition and there could be an interruption in their growing season unless the consultation takes care of these things. They can and should be addressed by the GBC in the package they offer if the allotments are moved.

    Apart from that, they, as Jim Allen notes, will have to convince the Sec of State to approve the plans.

    One has to start somewhere and opportunities for consultation have come up repeatedly over the last five years but not directly with the allotment holders, until now. The point about the new sewage works is that it will be of modern design and able to cope with the current and projected levels of sewerage. This is the infrastructure we all need and scream about. The site will also provide some of the housing we all need and scream about. It’s a difficult balance. I hope the allotment holders drive a good bargain for themselves. Good luck to them.

  2. Jean Wickens Reply

    November 25, 2020 at 7:28 pm

    On November 4 I watched the online presentation by the Weyside Village “communication consultants” Curtins. It was a very slick presentation and glossed over the problems while emphasising the wonderful opportunities it presented with pretty artistic drawings.

    We were encouraged to pose questions in the chatbox and were told we would receive a response to our questions. I asked why their presentation took no account of the decision by the Secretary of State to not allow the Bellfields allotment site to be removed and what provision they were making for allotments within the development.

    To date, I have not received a response to my questions.

    I should declare my interest – I am a member of the Guildford Allotment Society Committee, and the consultants were advised that they had not met the legal requirements regarding the removal of the allotments, by both GAS and the National Allotment Society.

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