Frequently asked questions

The following are some of the questions we have been asked recently and frequently by residents. We will add more in the coming weeks. The following deal with the housing allocation for Staines and population increase, protecting sensitive areas, schools and medical services, car parks and public transport. Housing need and affordability, open green spaces, environmental impact and flood risk are other issues of great interest to residents we will address soon. We also invite the Council to let us know if there are any errors of fact in the following

Q Why does more than half the borough’s entire housing target have to be dumped on Staines, and why is this allocation seem to be set in stone for the whole 15-year plan period?

A The Council did not need to do this, it has not given a credible explanation for doing so, and this is one of the reasons why all but one of the town’s ward Councillors voted against it. We had urged the Council to amend the plan to provide some flexibility for the future as circumstances and opportunities emerged elsewhere; but the idea was rejected without explanation. To rub salt in the wound, the Council’s supplement on the plan in its ‘Bulletin’ publication, says one of its “Big Ideas” for the town is “… to understand what needs to be protected to ensure the distinct character of Staines-upon-Thames is retained and enhanced while ensuring that new homes, facilities, jobs and public spaces can be delivered successfully”. The Council must know it can’t do both with the scale of massive overdevelopment the plan will inflict on the town. 

Q With the plan meaning a 50 per cent population increase in Staines, what provision is there for new schools and medical services?

A At the moment, only two extra secondary classes at Thomas Knyvett in Ashford are certain, and potentially a new Sixth Form College by Upper Halliford Station on the edge of Sunbury. Nothing new for Primary School children or Early Years. Nothing new for younger children of any age. But Surrey County Council is responsible for education provision. Spelthorne says Surrey will keep an eye on the situation and deal with it as and when the need arises, although decisions on who will pay have yet to be considered. Better news on medical services. A significant NHS Health & Wellbeing Centre is in the plan as part of a major new development on what is now the railways station car park off Kingston Road. However, for this to be financially viable, the Council says there must also be 182 ‘affordable’ flats on the site next to it, mostly one- and two-bed units in twelve, ten and nine storey blocks!

Q The plan seems to turn several of the town’s car parks into high-rise developments. Given the plan will result in a 50 per cent population increase and also wants to make Staines a more attractive place to visit, where is everyone going to park?

A The plan identifies a possible site for a new multi-storey car park; but it’s pretty clear the plan is based on a presumption that people will increasingly use public transport, cycling and walking rather than use of private cars. In fact the plan pretty much depends on this because road access to the town is already clogged and there’s virtually no way to improve this. The twin-tower development approved for the Old Telephone Exchange and Masonic Hall site includes very few parking spaces, and this is likely to be the case with other such developments that follow.

Q So a massive reduction in the use of cars assumes a massive improvement in public transport. What does the plan have to say about this – what’s needed and how it will be delivered?  

A Not a lot you can hang your hat on really. No real commitments, other than to look at how the problem can be solved. Again, of course, Spelthorne Council doesn’t provide this kind of infrastructure, it relies on other authorities and entities to do so. There is no actual plan to improve public transport, or how to pay for it, just a commitment to find a solution. There are also a few mentions of a Southern Light Rail to Heathrow, described as “an opportunity” but with no detail.

… more to come soon! …