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Planning Inspector, Jonathan Bore has released his first tranche of questions to Guildford Borough Council [GBC] regarding the Guildford Submission Local Plan 2018. The questions highlight issues that have concerned residents across the borough all the way through the local plan process, reflected in the over thirty thousand comments submitted to the Regulation 18 version of the plan and the additional nine thousand plus comments received for the Regulation 19 version of the plan.

Waverly Borough Council's decision to approve 1,800 homes at Dunsfold Aerodrome in December 2016 was subsequently called in by the Secretary of State last March, taking the decision out of the hands of the local authority. Following a public enquiry last July 2017, plans for the site were approved by Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid on Thursday, March 29 2018.

Those concerned about the protection of the landscape consisting of the fields on the north slopes of the Hogs Back, submitted 30+ comments on planning application 18/P/0044 in an attempt to bring the strength of local feeling concerning the potential loss of agricultural land status to that of equestrian use, weakening its long-term planning protection, to the attention of Guildford Borough Council [GBC] case officers.  The 30+ comments logged on the GBC web pages for the application now provide Wanborough residents and their Parish Council a demonstration of the weight of wider local concern.

Having listened to the well-argued objections of local residents as to why the application should be rejected, Surrey County Council Planning Committee voted to approve the planning application at Cobbett Hill Earth Station [SCC Ref 2017/0118 and GBC Ref 17/P/01585]. Consequently, a new planning application [2018/0019] has been submitted for the "Details of Construction and Environmental Management Plan submitted pursuant to Condition 3 of planning permission ref: GU17/P/01585 dated 19 December 2017".

The land on the Aldershot Road, formerly known as Carter & Son Scrap Metal & Breakers Yard that has lain dormant for a considerable number of years, is now boarded off in preparation for the implementation of planning permission 15/P/01987 that details 45 dwellings (including 22 'affordable homes') and accommodation for up to 5 people with autism. Worplesdon Parish Council have been active to ensure the 'affordable housing' is made available to local residents and is not old off as market housing in the future.

Housing minister Dominic Raab has announced 5 March 2018 changes to permitted development rights that mean up to five houses can be created from existing agricultural buildings on a farm, rather than the current maximum of three. Owners of agricultural buildings would previously have been required to apply for planning permission to convert farm buildings into five homes.

Once more Green Belt land to the east of Glaziers Lane is target of a housing proposal [18/P/00470]. Following on from the Elms Centre (30 properties - refused), Vaglefield Farm (6 properties - under consideration) and land adjacent to North Downs Line (9 properties - refused), this represents another attempt for housing on 'previously developed land in the Green Belt'.

However, until a new local plan is in place, this land remains 'washed over' by the Green Belt and like the other applications would represent a significant intrusion into the Green Belt, being of significant mass at odds with the already identified 'openness' of the Green Belt referred to in the council decision letters in response to other recent planning applications and completely isolated from the substantially linear development along Glaziers Lane. The surrounding Green Belt land is proposed to remain 'washed over' in the Guildford Submission Local Plan 2018-2033.

Whilst the Article 4 Direction on the AGLV land at Wanborough is welcome, it has become evident it is less than permanent, apparently being in place for only 6 months.

As a result of the council's action, a retrospective planning application [18/P/00044] has been submitted for Change of Use for Plot F "from Agricultural to Equestrian for the use of keeping horses for pleasure. Erection of 3 units of mobile field shelters/stables, gate and fencing", rather than agricultural land where only grazing is permitted. On observing the plot, a casual passer-by would find it hard not to conclude the "mobile field shelters" are permanent stable blocks. 

The refusal of 17/P/02326 highlights four key issues for larger scale developments in the Glaziers Lane.

  • The bulk of the development is at odds with the openness of the Green Belt and represents inappropriate development
  • Lack of proof that "very special circumstances" exist for development in the Green Belt
  • In opposition to the ribbon form of development in the area
  • The requirement to mitigate the impact of development that falls within the 400m-5km zone of the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area

Planning officers at Guildford Borough Council appear to have recognised the contribution land around Normandy contributes to the openness of the Green Belt.

Lying on the same side of Glaziers Lane as the Elms Centre proposal, recently refused, this application [17/P/01413] has also come up against its own impact on the openness of the Green Belt as a factor in its refusal. In addition, it represents inappropriate development in the Green Belt and no "very special circumstances" have been brought forward to support such development in the Green Belt.

The letter of refusal for 25 units at this site [17/P/01451] points out that the development at the scale proposed "would result in material harm to the Little Flexford Site of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI). This harm to the SNCI which would likely result in the deterioration or loss of the SNCI habitat."

A plan for 2 five-bedroom houses, 1 two-bedroom house and 1 one-bedroom house has been submitted [18/P/00207]. The new dwellings are proposed on previously developed land in the Green Belt where one house, former piggeries and agricultural outbuildings are currently located, with the original house to be demolished [NPPF Section 9, para 89]. The project is intended as a self-build by the new owners.

The proposal to increase the total number of parish councillors on Normandy Parish Council from seven to nine was approved at a Guildford Borough Council meeting on Wednesday 7 February 2018. The change will come into effect at the next parish council elections on 2 May 2019.

In the meantime, the parish council has filled an existing vacancy by co-opting new resident Bob Hutton, who has previous experience as a parish councillor in Cheshire, where he had involvement in the making of a Neighbourhood Plan.

Michael Conoley Associates, the architects for the proposal, hosted a public consultation event at Normandy Village Hall on the evening of 24 March 2015. Representatives of the organisation brought display boards of a representation of one possible configuration of the site, with 43 dwellings of which 8 were 4-bedroom houses, 16 were affordable houses and the remainder a mix of 2-bedroom and 3-bedroom semi-detached and terraced housing, all with 2 car parking spaces.  In the representation presented, access to the development would be directly on to Glaziers Lane immediately to the north of the railway bridge at a position equivalent to the current field gate. The proposal included a green childrens' play area to the rear of the site adjacent to the Strawberry Farm boundary.

Leading Guildford councillors have been quick to endorse the approval of SARP as one of 10 housing zones approved across the country. 

SARP is a major urban regeneration scheme that can deliver 1,000 homes, including affordable homes, on a brownfield site. According to the council “The project requires high upfront capital to start development of this site, which includes the relocation of the existing sewage works, and Council Depot, associated infrastructure and site remediation that is required before housing can be built."

Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said: “This extra Government funding and support will help Guildford Borough Council kick-start the regeneration of the Slyfield site, providing new homes on brownfield land. This will help the Council protect the Green Belt..." 

Announced this week, the University of Surrey, Royal Surrey County Hospital, Guildford Borough Council and Surrey County Council have signed a Memorandum of Understanding [MOU] to improve car parking and sustainable transport issues at the Hospital, the University’s Manor Park and Stag Hill sites and the Surrey Research Park. This will include the development and provision of permanent long and short-term car parking for essential staff and visitors of the Hospital.

University of Surrey and Royal Surrey County Hospital are recognised as the the two largest employers in the borough of Guildford.  Consequently, their joint large employee base contribute to transport stresses in the north-west of the borough and the status of the services they provide attract a large student population and high flows of visiting patients and their families from a wide geographic area.

A message was sent to members of Guildford Residents' Association [GRA] to help support discussions with potential local election candidates and inform residents of the range of issues.  It ran as follows...

In a recent press release, Guildford Borough Council described the Stoke Park site as "one of the most important in Surrey".  According to the council, 700,000 people visit the park, which lies on the edge of the town, every year. They purchased the site from Lord Onslow in 1925 being, as it was, the site of an 18th Century estate, with Grade 2 listed Victorian buildings and a kitchen garden. It holds a prestigious national Green Flag Award, and has been the venue for the Surrey County Show for over 60 years. Spectrum Leisure Centre and Guildford Lido, one of the last surviving outdoor pools in the UK, are also part of the park. 

Tuesday the 16th - Published by Normandy Action Group, 166 Glaziers Lane, Guildford GU3 2EB - with thanks to Keith Witham, Surrey County Councillor - Hostgator Coupon Template