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Updated Jan 6, 2022

Appeal over multistorey towers dismissed

A proposal to build a mixed-use development in the centre of Woking, which would have involved multistorey towers, has been dismissed on appeal.

In November 2019, Watkin Jones Group PLC and McKay Securities PLC submitted an application to demolish existing buildings in Working and redevelop the area. The plans included a new building with a basement, ground floor and up to 27 upper floor levels. Retail and community spaces were to occupy the lower floors, and residential units would have been placed in the upper areas.

Woking Borough Council rejected the application in March 2020, leading to an appeal against the decision.

Inspector Sheila Holden decided that the main issue regarding the application was the effect the proposal would have on the character and appearance of the area, including the relationship with designated heritage assets. Although the proposed building would bring some benefits, the height of the proposal would have resulted in a building far taller than the others around it which are no more than nine storeys. This would result, according to the inspector in a "particularly uncomfortable relationship between the appeal scheme and the surrounding built form."

The development would also contrast with heritage assets, such as a nearby Grade II listed church and the Town Centre Conservation Area. It would, in particular, damage the setting of these buildings and affect the character of the assets as it would be visible from the vicinity of the buildings and have a distinct impact on the townscape.

Although the proposed scheme would provide some enhancements to the area, it was decided that the benefits of the plan would be outweighed by the potential harm to heritage assets and the townscape. The appeal was therefore dismissed.