Woking Borough Council

CS15 Sustainable economic development

It is important to ensure that there is an appropriate quantity and range of employment land in the Borough to enable the local economy to function efficiently and contribute to the region's long-term competitiveness.

PPS4: Planning for sustainable economic growth requires councils to plan positively to support the needs of businesses and encourage a flexible approach to economic development capable of accommodating growth in new sectors and changes in economic circumstances.

The majority of existing employment floorspace in the Borough is provided in Woking Town Centre, West Byfleet District Centre and the employment areas9. Smaller scale office and industrial space is provided in the local centres, and a number of employment sites exist within the Green Belt, mainly catering for industrial uses. In addition to these sites, there is a scattering of small employment sites located within the urban area.

CS15: Sustainable economic development

To accommodate the predicted future growth in economic development10 required for Woking's economy to grow, ensure sustainable employment development patterns, promote smart growth and business competitiveness, and allow for flexibility to cater for the changing needs of the economy the Council will:

  • permit redevelopment of outmoded employment floorspace to cater for modern business needs
  • support small and medium sized enterprise (SME) formation and development by encouraging a range of types and sizes of premises including provision for incubator units, managed workspace and serviced office accommodation
  • encourage improved ICT infrastructure in refurbished and redeveloped sites
  • encourage workspace and ICT infrastructure as an integral part of residential development, where appropriate to support home working
  • support childcare facilities close to places of employment

The Council's policy with respect to specific types of employment use is as follows:

B Class Uses11

1. Safeguarded land within the employment areas for B uses, except in:

  • The Butts Road/Poole Road employment area where redevelopment for mixed office and residential use will be supported if it does not result in an overall loss of employment floorspace.
  • The Forsyth Road employment area where redevelopment of vacant sites will be encouraged for B uses, unless redevelopment is for an alternative employment generating use which contributes to the aims of policy CS5 (priority places) and would not jeopardise the B use led nature of the employment area.

2. Retain the Broadoaks site in West Byfleet as a high quality business park. This site is designated as a Major Developed Site in the Green Belt.

3. Permit the redevelopment of B use sites elsewhere in the Borough for alternative uses that accord with other policies in the Core Strategy where (i) the existing use of the site causes harm to amenity and/or (ii) it can be demonstrated that the location is unsuitable for the needs of modern business.

Town Centre uses

The nature, scope and scale of town centre uses being promoted is set out in the relevant place policies CS2, CS3 and CS4.

Public and community uses

Public and community uses will be considered as set out in policy CS18.

Reasoned justification

The Town, District and Local Centres Study and Employment Land Review (ELR) assessed the likely demand for employment floorspace over the plan period. The Town, District and Local Centres Study identifies need for 93,900m² of additional retail and the ELR identifies a residual requirement for approximately 28,000sq.m of offices and 20,000sq.m of warehousing and a loss of 31,000sq.m of industrial space. A five-yearly review of the ELR will enable any unforeseen changes in the local economy to be monitored so that policies can be reviewed where necessary to reflect changing circumstances.

The need for further economic development floorspace will not necessitate the allocation of additional greenfield land for employment use. Future retail development can be accommodated within Woking Town Centre, West Byfleet District Centre and to a limited degree the local centres. Future office development can be accommodated within Woking Town Centre and to a limited degree West Byfleet District Centre. Office floorspace will also be encouraged in the Butts Road/Poole Road employment area as part of higher density mixed use development, as the area lies adjacent to the town centre boundary. The existing employment areas require safeguarding to meet projected need and are capable of accommodating future requirements for industrial/warehousing space. Sufficient land also exists to accommodate potential growth in high technology manufacturing which may result from the development of the McLaren Production Centre and activities of other high tech manufacturing companies in the Borough.

The need to renew and refurbish employment floorspace, especially office space in Woking Town Centre, is imperative if the Borough is to retain existing occupiers and compete effectively for new occupiers looking to locate in the area. The overall vacancy rate of employment floorspace recorded in the Borough in 2009 was 19%. However, this figure masks variations in vacancy between different employment uses and locations. Vacancy rates are highest for office accommodation and particularly high in a limited number of office developments located in certain employment areas, where redevelopment to provide alternative B uses or mixed B uses will be encouraged.

Part of the Forsyth Road employment area, a traditional industrial estate, was redeveloped to provide offices in the 1980's. The Market Appraisal identified high vacancy rates in these office developments, despite vacancy rates for industrial/warehousing premises being relatively low and stated that office developments could be considered for alternative employment use (B uses) or release. Given the area's location within the Sheerwater/Maybury priority place and the need to provide further employment in the area, redevelopment of vacant sites will be encouraged for B uses, unless redevelopment is for an alternative employment generating use which contributes to the aims of policy CS5 (priority places) and would not jeopardise the B use led nature of the employment area.

The Broadoaks site in West Byfleet is identified as a Major Developed Site in the Green Belt. The site has planning permission as a high quality office and research park set within landscaped grounds. The retention of this site for quality office and/or research premises is important as no other similar sites are available within the Borough.

The employment areas include the following:

  • Byfleet Industrial Estate
  • Camphill Industrial Estate
  • Forsyth Road Industrial Estate
  • Goldsworth Road Industrial Estate
  • Goldsworth Park Trading Estate
  • Monument Way East Industrial Estate (includes Woking Business Park)
  • Monument Way West Industrial Estate
  • Old Woking Industrial Estate
  • Poole Road/Butts Road
  • Robin Hood Works
  • The Lansbury Estate

The above are shown on the Proposals Map.

Delivery strategy

The Council will work with its Partners/Local Business Organisations to support sustainable economic growth in the Borough. Implementation of this policy will be via the development management process. Provision of employment space in Woking Town Centre will be guided by the Area Action Plan.

Monitoring and review12

  • Amount and location of permitted and completed B1 (a, b, c), B2 and B8 floorspace in the Borough.
  • Net change in employment floorspace in the Borough.
  • Amount of employment floorspace lost to non-employment uses (permitted, under construction and completed).

Key evidence base

  • Employment Land Review (incorporates Employment Position Paper (January 2010), and Market Appraisal (April 2010) produced by Lambert Smith Hampton.

9A list of employment areas is provided in the reasoned justification and employment areas are shown on the Proposals Map.

10As defined by PPS4.

11Except town centre office space.

12Monitoring requirments for town centre uses are set out in the relavant place policies