23rd June 2020
No doubt in the coming days much more will be said but, as Chairman, I wanted to give my immediate thoughts following the planning committee vote.
It is obviously very disappointing that tonight Woking Borough Council’s planning committee decided not to support this once in a lifetime opportunity to provide a new stadium for Surrey’s premier football club. The scheme offered exceptional, long term community benefit – a new stadium for our wonderful town and a huge provision of affordable housing for local people.
Our purpose has always been to provide a base for our football club to excel and, in so doing, to safeguard and grow our expansive work with the young and most vulnerable in Woking. This would have done that for generations to come. Knowing this it is therefore even more disappointing to me that, since April 2018 when we started this journey and invited engagement, our three local ward councillors have never once met as a group with club representatives to listen and better understand the club. We have found that bewildering as we have sought to make our case; no reason has been given. We feel that our supporters deserved better.
This has been in stark contrast to our engagement with local residents; whilst many have opposed the development, we have still met, discussed and engaged regularly and, as a result, got a fuller understanding of the issues. As a community club we have to work with all; our commitment is always to work for the good of the whole of Woking through pursuing elite football success that brings the town honour, identity and recognition. From that base we will fully support our local community organisations, sports clubs, Junior Citizen, campaigns and charities such as the Hospice, Halo, the York Road Project alongside many others.
Finally, and most importantly, I am so proud of the volunteer support and hard work from my board and all the fans who, for the past two years, have worked tirelessly to get the development over the line. In addition, many thousands of locals, plus hundreds from around the world, have written in unprecedented numbers to the Council to express their support for the club and this scheme.
I am so proud of our football community and their support for our club. All I can offer is my heartfelt thanks to all those who have put so much work in and I am so sorry that I have not achieved the outcome we had all hoped for.
– Rosemary Johnson