This is the bulletin sent out to our members with a summary of all the feedback received from our members and from our public social media posts.
We’re incredibly grateful for all your support and for getting in touch with your comments, ideas and queries, following our mail-out on our community hub idea, WRAP.
As you know, the Society has been working hard on WRAP – the Weybridge Rebuild and Advance Project – getting local authorities to work together for a new community hub that houses not only health provisions but also library, social and other services. It’s all about build-back-better and build-back-greener, as well as re-providing what we lost in the fire of 2017.
We’re now at the stage where we’re working with representatives of Surrey, Elmbridge and the NHS, together with consultants experienced in facilitating community projects, in order to work out a common vision.
While we’re still a long way from a spade in the ground – not least because Covid now presents new challenges for NHS planning and provisioning – we are now much closer to realising our dream.
Regarding our initial request for your feedback on our community hub vision (the four pager we sent out with sketches this summer), you’ll be pleased to know we had overwhelming support. That support was not only for the concept of a hub and combined streamlined services, but also for many of the details we included and presented.
The following is a quick breakdown of what you told us (as of the end of September). We’ve provided a reply from us on your various comments and queries.
General comments – Lots of these (thank you!), with many of you being very complimentary about the work we’ve done. Many of you want to be kept informed and are keen to engage. Hardly anyone voiced exception to the idea of a community hub, although there was a comment about not wanting a big building.
We say: Of course we’ll stay in touch, and you can continue to help us by getting as many local residents to join us now so we can tell everyone in Weybridge of plans as they come to light. Please let everyone know that we welcome feedback from any resident at any time. Spread the word that we work for all of Weybridge, so having the broadest membership helps us to inform as many people as possible about this project!
The Society will of course be looking at the size of any building and making sure it fits in with the local environment. Getting an appropriately sized and good-looking building will be a key issue we press with authorities, and it’s what we always strive for with local planning decisions.
Comments on wider strategy for the town – Quite a few people stated the need for a wider vision to cover things like transport and leisure.
We say: We agree, and now is the time to think about this! Since the onslaught of Covid and the experience of long lockdown, we have radically changed lifestyles: more people are working from home, cycling and walking, using local outdoor recreation areas, seeking company or solace in public social spaces like cafes.
We at the Society believe that there could be a huge transformation underway locally, with residents turning more towards Weybridge as their centre of life instead of London. If this trend continues, there will be a need to recognise that Weybridge could be potentially be completely changing its identity — from the commuter town it was for the past 100 years to a more self-contained close-knit village-type town – and this would add even more weight to the idea of a hub. Coupled with advances in technology in transport and other areas, this transformation could have major impact on what kind of high street we need to build for the future, as well as what kind of services and spaces we need in the community hub.
So all we can say is, we’re thinking about it! And if you have any ideas or revelations, please share them with us. We’re all in this together!
Health related comments – Many people wanted to see explicit mention of the Walk-in Centre.
We say: If what you mean by Walk-in Centre is a general mix of instant access to urgent care and convenient provision of planned minor diagnostic/treatment services, that is what we are arguing for and trying to get from authorities!
So far, as you may have already heard, the NHS has said that there will not be a Walk-In Centre – but that is only because they are no longer calling them that and/or providing them. They are now providing UTCs – Urgent Treatment Centres – and one such facility is already at St. Peter’s.
Due to Covid, the decision-making process about other possible UTCs in Weybridge, Woking and Ashford was put on hold. Hopefully, it’ll soon be back on track and we’ll get a statement from the NHS so we can respond to residents. We do know that if the NHS decides to provide anything less than what we had, there will have to be a public consultation.
Understandably, the NHS is in a state of extreme flux at this time, but they are also planning for the future. GPs and hospitals are all now looking to deliver services differently, after finding new online working has been well received by health professionals and patients alike. However we believe the NHS does see scope for new face-to-face health services in the hub.
Community Facilities – People were more divided about exactly what they wanted to see provided by local and county councils, but most were supportive of the idea of community services, though there were a few sceptical comments as to the benefits. There was much discussion about fitness facilities, particularly on Facebook, as clearly there’s quite a strong demand for something cheaper and more convenient than the private health clubs.
We say: Unfortunately, this not really within our scope regarding the hub and its facilities, but the idea was for there to be a re-provision of the kinds of facilities and activities run by councils but perhaps in a different way. For example, we foresee that something like yoga or stretch classes for the elderly (currently council-run in inadequate facilities) could be re-provided within the hub, via either council or low-cost private activities, which could take place in a dedicated studio space which can be shared. In other words, the hub would have a room or two that could easily be used as say a dance space – either for council-run activities, or rented by private instructors, or used by community groups.
Traffic/Parking – This was widely considered to be an issue. It was felt that new working practices and patterns need to be properly understood in order to get this right for the future.
We say: No surprise there! We’ve been working on parking for many years and this often seems to be an intractable problem, which again, has also been impacted by Covid. We continue to work with Surrey, which is aware of local issues and – as you can see with recent road and cycle path way works – the county council is trying to remedy some problems already. Stay tuned. . .
Environmentally Friendly Construction – There were some specific and very enthusiastic expressions of support for this.
We say: Thank you! We’re trying to be as environmentally conscious as we can with all our projects and our responses to authorities. So we are grateful for your support and invite environmentally-minded people to join our efforts, as there’s a long way to go to improve our area, whether that’s local parks, rivers or the way we live and build for the future.
Sites/Building Design/Landscaping – On this topic we received a few assorted comments, including one person offering a landscaping proposal from an award-winning friend! There were a number of comments in the health and community sections which alluded to the space being insufficient for the services that authorities need to provide.
We say: Again, thank you to offers of help and also for setting out your ideas. We’re still a long way off from design, but we think it’s important for great design to an integral part of this project. Only great design can fulfil the ethos and bring a community together! We promise to stay in touch on this very important point, and hopefully to have further community-wide engagement on the overall look and feel of our proposed community hub.
And now it’s your turn again! Did you find this email useful? Do you want to hear more? Would you like more opportunities for feedback, like a future questionnaire or survey, or are you happy corresponding with us as we’ve done – with open-ended comments?
We’re here to listen, so do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org!