Planning Consent Approved

Retirement Villages has welcomed Woking Council planning committee’s decision to grant consent for its Reserved Matters planning application. The decision to approve the detailed designs, which passed unanimously, means the long-awaited redevelopment of the Sheer House site in West Byfleet can commence. 

The Reserved Matters application was presented to the full planning committee via Zoom on Tuesday 6 April. The approval will allow Retirement Villages to take another step forward in developing a new flagship retirement community in the heart of West Byfleet, Surrey.  

Commenting immediately after last night’s meeting, James Ahearne, Development Director at Retirement Villages, said, ‘We are delighted that Woking Borough Council has resolved to approve our Reserved Matters application. This marks an important milestone for our ambitious plan to bring economic, social and cultural activity back into the centre of West Byfleet. 

‘Thanks to the comprehensive feedback we received from the West Byfleet, Pyrford and Byfleet communities and their local representatives, I am confident that our scheme will not only help support our future residents and the people and businesses of West Byfleet but also the wider community. I very much look forward to seeing this engagement develop and grow as our scheme, with its public square and amenities, becomes established. 

‘This really has been a team effort. Local support and constructive feedback coupled with the diligence of Woking’s planning officers, means the final designs will benefit local people of all ages as well as deliver a new sense of community to a part of West Byfleet that has been unloved for too long.’  

Retirement Villages’ scheme will deliver 196 apartments for retirement living, as well as new retail, restaurant and café, a community space, a replacement public library and public car park along with a village square complete with seating, trees and water features. 

Achieving consent means Retirement Villages is on track to start construction by the end of the year. Specialist demolition contractors, Squibb Group Limited has already begun work on site. 

The public library, car park and toilets will be accessible to the public until the end of the summer. The project team is exploring options for a temporary library premises and alternative public car park arrangements for when the current facilities are closed. Including the initial pre-demolition activities, clearing the site is expected to take 30 weeks. 

Progress update

People familiar with the Sheer House site in West Byfleet will know that it is due for demolition ahead of the regeneration of the entire site. We are pleased to confirm an important step forward in this process.Retirement Villages Group can now confirm the demolition contractor will start pre-demolition works on site this month, with preparations beginning next week.

The work will be undertaken by Squibb Group Limited, a leading demolition contractor, specialising in precision demolition.Initially Squibb Group will carry out further site surveys and inspections of all the buildings as well as setting up site offices and equipment. All on-site operational procedures and the set-up of offices and amenities will be designed to follow the government’s and Public Health England’s guidelines for Covid-19. Specifically, as a member of the construction sector, Squibb Group Limited is guided by the Construction Leadership Council’s standard operating procedures, which follow the advice of the authorities.

Operations, beginning with Sheer House and the low-level retail units, will start to remove any hazardous materials, such as asbestos. The public library and the public toilets will not be included in this initial phase of the work. These will remain available to the public for as long as possible. As previously confirmed, the project team is liaising with Woking Borough Council and Surrey County Council’s Library Services to explore options for temporary library premises.The public car park will also remain accessible. On occasion, some parking spaces may be unavailable for public use. Clear notice will be given of any temporary closures, the duration of which will be as short as possible. As with the library, the project team is liaising with councillors to explore options for alternative public parking arrangements once the public car park at Sheer House is closed off.

Looking ahead, Squibb Group Limited plan to erect a significant amount of protective scaffolding. Most of this will be erected within the site but a small quantity will need to be erected on some surrounding pavements. All of this will be done to comply with the regulations, licencing requirements and, most importantly, health and safety standards. Safety is always our priority.As we discussed at the public Zoom events, overall, clearing the site is expected to take 30 weeks.

This includes the initial pre-demolition activities.We expect to have more details next week and we will be able to answer any questions. In the meantime, Squibb Group Limited has issued a letter with additional information and contact details.We will continue to work with the West Byfleet Community Liaison Group and other stakeholders to make sure that people are kept up to date with the demolition programme and to respond to any queries. Our email newsletter will provide details of the work involved and news of any potential disruptions. If you have not already signed up, please visit www.sheerhouseredevelopment.co.uk to register.This news marks an important milestone and reflects Retirement Villages Group’s commitment to bringing about the long-awaited regeneration of this central location in West Byfleet.

West Byfleet’s Sheer House design proposals submitted

The long-awaited redevelopment of the Sheer House site in West Byfleet took another step forward this week when the detailed designs, the so-called Reserved Matters, were submitted to Woking Borough Council. 

Stewart Dick, chairman of the residents’ associations representing Byfleet, Pyrford and West Byfleet, said, “Almost everyone wants to see the end of Sheer House, although not without some anxiety about what might replace it. If the way that Retirement Villages has approached the project so far is anything to go by, I think we can at last look forward to a fantastic new development. The manner in which Retirement Villages has engaged with the community is an object lesson for any future major developments in our Villages. We have been pleased to see how much the designs evolved to reflect the needs and concerns of the whole community.” 

Retirement Villages is the UK’s longest established retirement community operator. The company aims to replace the 1960s office block and shopping precinct with 195 apartments for retirement living. It will combine a range of shared community facilities, exciting new retail units, a wellness centre and community space all centred around a village square complete with water fountains, trees and public seating. Space for a replacement public library, cycle parking, soft landscaping, substantial green spaces and a new, secure public car park with 67 spaces are also included. 

Speaking on behalf of Retirement Villages, James Ahearne, Development Director, said, “Our mission is to create positive life choices for older people – based on community, wellbeing, and flexibility.  We strive to support people to live their best lives for longer, while ensuring the planet, and our healthcare system, offer the same opportunities to future generations. Thanks to the time, effort and insights provided by local people we are confident that our scheme will not only help support our residents but also benefit the whole of West Byfleet.” 

The Reserved Matters application has been validated by the planning authority and posted on the planning website, https://caps.woking.gov.uk/online-applications/, where it is available for viewing by members of the public. Woking Borough Council’s planning committee is expected to decide on the application before Easter. 

Since acquiring the site at the end of June 2020, the project team’s engagement programme has developed strong links with local people, community groups and other stakeholders, including the Community Liaison Group, which was established with the support of local representatives, councillors and the West Byfleet business association. 

Anyone wanting to comment or make suggestions about the proposals is invited to contact the project team, which is continuing its consultation and engagement with local residents on the emerging designs and contactable via www.sheerhouseredevelopment.co.uk or freephone 0800 0614979. 

Guy Flintoft, Planning Director at Retirement Villages said, “It is so important to have that genuine engagement with the local community so that this scheme, with all its benefits and potential, is truly integrated from the moment we open our doors.” 

West Byfleet’s Sheer House redevelopment takes another step forward

Retirement Villages has welcomed Woking Council planning committee’s decision to approve a key technical milestone in the planning process for the long-awaited redevelopment of the Sheer House site in West Byfleet. 

The Section 73 application was presented to the full planning committee on Tuesday evening via Zoom. The amendments allow Retirement Villages to take a step forward in designing a new retirement community in the heart of West Byfleet. 

Commenting on the decision immediately after last night’s meeting,

Retirement Villages’ planning director Guy Flintoft said, ‘Obviously, we are delighted that Woking Borough Council consent our Section 73 application. It’s an important milestone in the planning process. However, I should acknowledge the invaluable feedback and support that we have been getting from the West Byfleet community and local representatives. 

“We only acquired the site in the summer. I doubt we would have made this much progress without the attention, and hard work put in by Woking’s planning officers.  

‘It’s great to see the local community is excited to see the development come forward and Retirement Villages looks forward to continuing to consult with local residents and businesses as we move to Reserved Matters, the next stage of the planning process.’ 

Retirement Villages plans to deliver 200 apartments for retirement living, as well as new retail units, a community space, a replacement public library and car park and a village square to replace the former Sheer House office building in West Byfleet.  

The project team is keen to hear from all members of the local community as they refine their designs. A public meeting will be held via Zoom on Wednesday 16 December at 6pm which will give residents the first opportunity to see the proposed designs. Register for the event at www.sheerhouseredevelopment.co.uk or by calling freephone 0800 061 4979. 

West Byfleet residents celebrate light switch-on with virtual event

West Byfleet is set to be illuminated in a Christmas display this weekend, with residents attending in a slightly different fashion to previous years. This year’s Christmas lights switch on will be broadcast live on Facebook for residents to enjoy from the comfort of their own homes. The virtual ‘switch-on’ event has the added benefit of being able to be shared with friends and family near and far.  

Gary Elson, Chair of West Byfleet Business Association, said: ‘West Byfleet is never shy in expressing its Christmas cheer and we are delighted that we can still enjoy the festivities and showcase West Byfleet’s celebrations, albeit in a different format. We are grateful to JL Butchers for their hard work in organising the event.’ 

The event can be viewed on the ‘West Byfleet Village’ Facebook page at 6pm on Saturday 21 November. 

*The event will be streamed live on Facebook – please DO NOT attend the village to watch*