The Caterham Business Improvement District (BID) has long supported the Church Walk Planning Application, which equates to a £50m investment in Caterham Valley, firmly believing it will best serve the future of the town by increasing parking, increasing footfall for businesses, and adding flood alleviation measures which Surrey County Council, as the Lead Local Flood Authority, have confirmed will improve flood management.
However, a report by Surrey County Council, acting as The County Highway Authority (CHA), was published on February 2, 2021. It has raised a number of issues which we feel require consideration.
Significantly, the CHA says they: ‘Recognise and support the principle of the redevelopment of the Church Walk Shopping Centre. However, the proposal as submitted has a number of issues and design aspects that are considered to give rise to highway safety concerns.’
It goes without saying that the safety of visitors, residents and workers to Caterham and the Church Walk Shopping Centre is of paramount importance to the BID and, until these issues have been resolved to our satisfaction, we feel we must withhold our support of the current application.
Ropemakers (the developers) will, in the meantime, need to consider how they intend to address these points.
To summarise, CHA has objected on the following grounds:
- The location of the crossing on Station Avenue, which they do not feel provides safe and convenient access for pedestrians and cyclists. They want the crossing and centre access point to be aligned outside the BR station. The current design does not provide this.
- An increased in parking provision from 433 to 705 spaces. This includes a further allocation for BID businesses. However, the CHA objects to the cumulative increase, as they want to see a reduction in car usage and promote a national strategy which is aimed at increasing walking and cycling.
- The proposed service road access design, layout and operation, which would lead to conflict and give rise to highway safety concerns and traffic flow issues on Harestone Valley Road. The CHA appears to be of the view that the residents of the flats and delivery vehicles cannot share the same vehicular access point.
The CHA report and recommendation expands on the issues we are outlining, and this can be accessed under statutory documents on the Tandridge District Council Planning portal, reference application 2019/145. It is also available on our website.
The BID still believes that the redevelopment of Church Walk Shopping Centre is the right thing to do for Caterham Valley yet, as laid out above, we feel we must suspend our support until the concerns of the CHA have been fully addressed.
The planning meeting is scheduled for Thursday February 18 and we will not now speak in support of the application until a satisfactory resolution has been reached.