Community engagement

Community engagement

RVG has built a reputation of working with communities and local stakeholders to ensure that all of its communities bring real benefits to the whole neighbourhood and beyond. Through its flagship Botanical Place development, RVG aims to work with local people to improve village life for West Byfleet.

From murals to station planting, careers talks to a community calendar, it’s been a busy time supporting the villages’ already buzzing community spirit.  

Naming Botanical Place

Naming Botanical Place

Our journey so far...

The name Botanical Place refers to the urban block that was previously occupied by the Sheer House office buildings and multistorey car park. Once completed, Botanical Place will provide a fantastic range of amenities for residents and the wider West Byfleet community, including restaurants and shops, attractive apartments specifically for older people, public and private car parking, and a new library. Botanical Place will be home to a centrepiece public square, thoughtfully landscaped spaces, and trees for everyone to enjoy. Local people are excited to see the area being transformed.

In some ways, the name ‘Botanical Place’ chose us. At the time we acquired the site, local research revealed an important history of agricultural production of essential oils, which were used in soaps and perfumed cosmetics as well as herbal treatments. Indeed, there was a distillery nearby our site. This distilled the botanical oils to produce the essences that were needed by the manufacturers. These days people may be more familiar with ‘botanicals’ in relation to their favourite gin.

The name Botanical Place has already been well-received by the West Byfleet community. From the moment we revealed the large mural that decorates the hoardings, many people have approached us with their childhood memories of the old botanical fields, blooming with roses and lavenders and other blossoms destined for the distillery. Botanical Place seems a fitting name for the site as it helps remind us of one of the reasons why West Byfleet, Pyrford and Byfleet came to exist.

The square and the buildings

Until opening, the public square will be presented as Botanical Place, historically informed and resonant with the verdant appeal and character of old West Byfleet. Our field research demonstrated its acceptance among older and younger communities, with older residents recalling
the commercial rose and lavender fields while younger respondents associated
the name with contemporary themes such as botanical remedies and wellness.

The idea of association the individual addresses of each building with the botanical theme arose as a natural progression.

The more we tested the ideas the more we notices that the idea resonated with people in different ways. Some identified more with the history of distilling oils and essences, others associated the Botanical Place with contemporary links to natural remedies and wellbeing. For some, Botanical Place chimes with their love of green spaces. The next step is to bring the wider public into the process and to involve people in shaping the story of this part of West Byfleet.


Help us name

The new buildings at Botanical Place require naming, and we want your help.

Using the Council’s guidelines, the project team has brainstormed a list of suggestions that build on the Botanical Place theme. These suggestions are based on the ideas of distilling, botanical ingredients and traditional essential oils.

Many of you have already expressed an interest in this phase of the development and so we would like to know your suggestions. In years to come the buildings that will make up Botanical Place will be a part of West Byfleet’s history, not only for the people that will live at Botanical Place but also for those living nearby, visitors and workers in the area.

We are looking for five memorable names. Each much be suitable for a building address that will include the word ‘House’, as this is one of the Council’s criteria. 

The final decision will be subject to formal validation and ratification process involving the local authorities and the executive directors of Retirement Villages Group.

How to submit your suggestions

To have your say, scan the QR code or scroll down to the form below. We’ve also placed a suggestion box in the library on Rosemount Avenue! 

Get creative, we can’t wait to see what you come up with!

You have until 22 February to submit your ideas!

Any questions, email us on [email protected]

Submit your suggestions here

Section 73 amendments

Section 73 amendments

Optimising the designs ahead of construction

The past few weeks have been busy for the project design team, who have been working with the Council’s planning department on a number of minor changes to the designs. Although each amendment is technically considered minor, together they will help make the whole scheme better.

In some instances, the changes are intended to facilitate construction, an important part of keeping the programme on track. In other cases, for example changes to the footpaths along Station Approach, the aim is to improve accessibility so that people with pushchairs, heavy shopping or wheelchair users, can more easily visit the new retail outlets.

Once approved, these details will give our preferred construction partner the confidence to commence work. The overall purpose of the changes is to ensure:

  • The construction programme can be achieved economically.
  • The external designs contribute to the well-being of residents as well as the wider community.
  • The scheme makes the most of every opportunity to achieve the highest levels of sustainability, environmental benefits and community appeal.

Taken together, the aim is for these minor amendments to make the whole scheme better while also ‘de-risking’ the project as much as possible.

To find out more or feedback on the below, please email [email protected]

Access for everyone

Some of the proposed amendments will improve the design and layout of the footpath along Station Approach as it leads from the public square to Madeira Road. As you will know, there is a significant difference in levels along Station Approach between the junctions with Old Woking Road and Madeira Road.

In consultation with the highways authority and Woking Council, we have developed a solution that removes the need for the steps shown in the current design. Instead, a gradually sloped pavement will extend past the retail frontage on Station Approach towards Madeira Rd. The aim in this instance is to improve accessibility surrounding the new retail units, allowing people with mobility issues such as pushchairs, wheelchairs and heavy shopping to access the new shops more easily.

Of course, these amendments needed input from our consultant specialising in retail to ensure the access and configuration of the retail is also suitably adapted and able to accommodate the changing level of the external pavements. Since the outset, local people have made it clear West Byfleet wants retail units that will appeal to smaller, local and independent businesses. Our aim is for Botanical Place to contribute to the rejuvenation of West Byfleet’s retail environment.

After further consultation and scrutiny from the Design Review Panel our architects, PRP, were able to further enhance the architectural quality of the scheme. Encouraged by the Design Review Panel, we propose to replace a handful of the recessed balconies on Blocks A & B with projecting balconies. Architecturally, this technically minor amendment, will add quality and character to the façades, helping to soften and enliven the elevations facing Old Woking Road. The changes will provide greater consistency and visual coherence across the scheme.

Wellbeing and Environmental Benefits

As well as improving the scheme architecturally, the changes will help to maximise amenity for future residents and the buildings’ environmental standards. Allowing access to fresh air and outdoor space is hugely beneficial for residents’ mental and physical wellbeing. The projecting balconies will also improve the scheme’s passive energy and carbon footprint. In this sense, the changes will allow us to maximise outdoor amenity space without compromising on residents’ living space and the scheme’s sustainability and environmental ambitions.

Communal Areas

With the whole community invested in the scheme, we are proposing to increase the design size of the multi-use function area. We want to offer a space that is plentiful, so that it can be used for a variety of activities and become a vibrant social hub for the neighbourhood. It will incorporate a bar area that will be perfect for serving ice creams and coffees in the day, or wine in the evening. What is more, the addition of a cinema room will give residents the option to invite family and friends to watch an independent film or the latest blockbuster release. We are envisaging multigenerational spaces to create a place where there is something for all the family.

Views to St John’s Church

Ensuring clear views through to the St John’s Church from the new public square and Station Approach has shaped the design team’s thinking from the outset. Hence, the decision to preserve the inset balconies on Block A’s elevations that face the public square. Likewise, the proposals present no change to the balconies on Block C, which faces Lavender Park Road.

Changes to landscaping

If you know your trees, you will know the ginkgo biloba ‘Fastigiata’ is an emerald green conifer that turns a striking golden-yellow in autumn. As part of the proposed minor amendments, these tall but narrow trees will be slightly repositioned to locations that best compliment scheme. It is worth stressing that there is no loss of trees resulting from the changes. Rather, the realignment of the trees will accommodate best growth and maximise contribution to the street scene. As deciduous trees, they will be managed in line with the seasons to maintain their health.

Wellness offering

To compliment efforts elsewhere in the project to support residents’ mental and physical wellbeing, proposed amendments to the wellness centre promise a serene and tranquil spa environment. Improvements include a treatment pool in addition to the sauna and various treatment rooms for residents to unwind. In concert with a gym facility, the wellness offering is generously designed to suit the needs of each and every resident.


Retirement Villages is committed to ensuring that sustainability is at the heart of our approach. The videos below explain what this means in practice.

1. Baseline

2. Fitwel

3. Thermal Comfort Levels

4. RVG Targets

5. Enhancements

6. Net Zero Carbon

7. Full video

Online public meeting

Online public meeting

Thursday 07 January 2021

The project team hosted its third online public meeting on Thursday 07 January 2021 to share its latest designs through a 3D model walk-through. As with previous meetings, the audience was able to ask questions throughout the presentation for the project team to live-respond to.

A video recording of the event is available to view below.

Reserved Matters

Developing the design

We are delighted to share the news that Woking Borough Council planning committee approved our Section 73 application on Tuesday 08 December 2020.

The decision is an important milestone in the long-awaited redevelopment of the Sheer House site.

This means that we have now been able to move on to the next stage of the planning process, known as Reserved Matters. This covers more detailed aspects of the redevelopment, including the look of the buildings, materials, landscape, plants and amenities.

As part of the public consultation we have hosted two online public events on Wednesday 16 December 2020 and Thursday 07 January 2021. Video recordings and answers to questions that were raised during the meeting are available on this website.

Arts & Crafts design

The project design team has been developing ways to reflect the arts and crafts character of West Byfleet in both the architecture and materials of the new building. We have taken inspiration from the neighbouring conservation areas in an effort to capture the village character and complement existing references.

The store fronts, as well as the proposed replacement public library, present detailing that is intended to complement the character of other parts of West Byfleet.

Where the current site presents a brutalist type design, our architects’ design eschews modernism and adopts a contemporary approach that acknowledges key criteria of the Arts & Crafts movement. Lowering the ceiling heights of the retail area, compared with the original planning consent, has helped bring more local character to the designs and the relationship between the entrances and the pedestrian areas.

Public square

Alongside both the residential and retail units, we are also introducing a public square and a number of public shared amenities. These include a Café and restaurant as well as community space and leisure facilities.

The square will also feature fountains, trees, decorative planting and places to sit.

Retail units

The new development will offer much more than later-living apartments to West Byfleet. There will also be 10-15 retail units, configured to suit independent operators and specialist stores. Located along both Station Approach Road and Old Woking Road, which will have their entrances directly into the new public square, we envisage a mix of retail and leisure.

The proposed units have been specially designed with small, independent retailers in mind, and with consideration for how they might need to serve customers through a front window or street-facing serving hatch. If you would like to register your interest in one of the shops, please get in touch with the project team,

Navigating the planning documents

We have created a guide to the Planning Application Documents based on Frequently Asked Questions raised by people interested in the regeneration of the Sheer House site in West Byfleet.

The planning portal hosted by Woking Borough Council has all of the formal documents that make up our Reserved Matters planning application. With a major project of this scale, there are many documents, and some are quite technical. To help people find the answers to their questions and to make the documents seem more accessible we have created this simple guide, which we hope will make it easier and quicker.

If you would like more information or if you have any suggestions about our proposals, the demolition or construction phases, please get in touch via our contact page.

We would also like to hear from you if you are interested other aspects of the project following completion (subject to planning, of course) such as the retail units, the amenities, the apartments, or the community spaces.

Woking Borough Council can be contacted directly via:

The Reserved Matters application can be viewed in full:

Creating a new community setting within the centre of West Byfleet.

Have a question?

Contact a member of our team.

Public meeting 16 December

Online public meeting

Wednesday 16 December 2020

Following Woking Borough Council’s approval of the Section 73 submission on 08 December 2020 we have moved on to the next stage of the planning process, known as Reserved Matters. This covers more detailed aspects of the redevelopment, including the look of the buildings, materials, landscape, plants and amenities.

As part of the consultation process we hosted an online public meeting to discuss the evolving design detail. A recording of this meeting can be viewed below.

Information packs

Information packs

Construction Traffic Management Plan
Construction Traffic Management Plan
Reserved Matters Submission <br>Architectural Proposals (2 of 2)
Reserved Matters Submission
Architectural Proposals (2 of 2)
Reserved Matters Submission <br>Architectural Proposals (1 of 2)
Reserved Matters Submission
Architectural Proposals (1 of 2)
Reserved Matters Submission <br>Contextual Analysis
Reserved Matters Submission
Contextual Analysis
Public meeting <br>16.12.2020
Public meeting

Our second online public meeting via Zoom took place on Wednesday 16 December 2020 from 6-7pm.

We were pleased to be able to share some of the developing design detail that will form our Reserved Matters submission in early 2021.

This is the document that was presented during the meeting. We will also be uploading a video recording on to our website shortly for anyone who was unable to attend.

Developing the design
Developing the design

The project team has been designing the detail within the parameters set out in the existing outline consent.

Through the Section 73 application we have now been able to make some minor amendments to this consent. This document helps illustrate how we are designing within those parameters.

Past newsletters

Past newsletters

We encourage residents interested in the redevelopment of Sheer House to subscribe to our email newsletter. For those not yet subscribed, or who may have missed one of our previous updates, we have provided copies below.

Friday 05 May 2023

Friday 14 April 2023

Wednesday 22 March 2023

Friday 17 March 2023

Friday 10 March 2023

Friday 03 March 2023

Friday 17 February 2023

Monday 30 January 2023

Wednesday 18 January 2023

Thursday 22 December 2022

Friday 16 December 2022

Friday 09 December 2022

Tuesday 22 November 2022

Friday 04 November 2022

Friday 21 October 2022

Friday 07 October 2022

Wednesday 28 September 2022

Friday 26 August 2022

Thursday 18 August 2022

Tuesday 2 August 2022

Friday 17 June 2022

Tuesday 17 May 2022

Monday 25 April 2022

Wednesday 13 April 2022

Wednesday 30 March 2022

Tuesday 22 March 2022

Thursday 17 February 2022

Friday 04 February 2022

Friday 17 December 2021

Friday 03 December

Monday 29 November

Friday 19 November 2021

Friday 05 November

Friday 29 October

Friday 15 October

Friday 08 October

Friday 24 September 2021

Friday 13 August 2021

Monday 02 August 2021

Friday 23 July 2021

Friday 16 July 2021

Friday 09 July 2021

Friday 02 July 2021

Friday 11 June 2021

Wednesday 02 June 2021

Friday 14 May 2021

Monday 27 April 2021

Friday 09 April 2021

Saturday 20 March 2021

Thursday 18 March 2021

Wednesday 03 March 2021

Thursday 18 February 2021

Thursday 11 February 2021

Wednesday 27 January 2021

Wednesday 20 January 2021

Saturday 16 January 2021

Friday 15 January 2021

Wednesday 13 January 2021

Tuesday 05 January 2021

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Monday 23 November 2020

Saturday 21 November 2020

Friday 30 October 2020

Tuesday 13 October 2020

Monday 07 September 2020

Monday 03 August 2020

Public meeting 04 November

Online public meeting

Wednesday 04 November 2020

As part of the ongoing public consultation process, Retirement Villages Group hosted an online public Zoom meeting to discuss the changes proposed to the existing outline consent. Representatives from RVG were joined by architects PRP, transport planners TTP and public engagement consultants Keeble Brown. 

For those unable to attend, we have uploaded a video of this meeting below.

You can find the answers to all the questions we did not have time respond to during the meeting here.