NAG attended this hearing 3 July; we were not able to speak as there had been no prior warning of a site in Normandy/Flexford’s being up for discussion. In any event the Inspector made clear he would not allow a detailed discussion of the sites Guildford Borough Council [GBC] had put forward in response to his challenge to find ways of bringing forward house-building in the early years of the plan period; he simply wanted to be able to assess whether or not they would be effective in helping to deliver this objective. CPRE Surrey, who were able to speak, said there would be objections, no doubt, from the communities affected should these sites be included in the final plan. GBC had very little to say about the Normandy/Flexford site and even struggled to show the Inspector a map giving its location.

After the hearing we emailed the Inspector via the Programme Officer for the EiP to make clear our unhappiness at the way this site had been introduced and the fact that as a community we had had no opportunity to comment on its suitability. We said that there was likely to be opposition to the site on a number of grounds, including traffic management issues in Glaziers Lane, proximity to the adjacent waste management site at Strawberry Farm, adverse effect on the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and finally the lack of any truly exceptional circumstances that would justify taking the land out of the Green Belt and in the process closing the gap between the discrete settlements of Flexford and Normandy.

In response the Programme Officer, who said he had discussed our comments with the Inspector, assured us that as far as the latter was concerned the site was definitely not part of the Plan. If it were to be added by the Council it would have to be part of a Main Modification to the submitted Plan. Once Main Modifications had been published and agreed as such by the Inspector the document would be subject to a full public consultation generally lasting a minimum of 6 weeks. At this point members of the community would be able to submit a statement in response to the Main Modifications. If the Inspector came to the conclusion that as a result of the consultation responses further hearing sessions were required then he would do this.

As part of the same document (to which we referred in our previous email) putting forward the Normandy/Flexford site alongside various others GBC also attempted to rebut suggestions that more effort should be put into developing the town centre rather than prioritising Green Belt sites. It would seem the Inspector is still not entirely convinced about this and welcomed the effort by a number of campaign groups, led by the Guildford Greenbelt Group, to produce a suggested revision of the key Council Policy, S3, “Delivery of development and regeneration within the Town Centre and urban areas”. NAG was pleased to join as a signatory to this statement. Unfortunately it was not possible to agree it with the groups from Guildford town itself.

In order to inform the wider community of these developments our Chair posted a blog piece on Nextdoor Normandy and the My Normandy Village blog, entitled “Nimbyism or Neighbourhood?”, which also floated the possibility of one or more communities in Normandy/Flexford drawing up their own Neighbourhood Plan to give them more collective input into planning decisions.

Saturday the 26th - Published by Normandy Action Group, 166 Glaziers Lane, Guildford GU3 2EB - with thanks to Keith Witham, Surrey County Councillor - Hostgator Coupon Template