Fringe Box



Application for Yet More Homes in Ash Refused But Appeal Already Lodged

Published on: 28 Apr, 2023
Updated on: 30 Apr, 2023

Image from the developer’s Design and Access Statement showing how the development, off Harper’s Road in Ash, would look

By Emily Coady-Stemp

local democracy reporter

Councillors highlighted the risks of a “dangerous” and “lethal” road as they said they would refuse an application for 51 new homes.

Guildford Borough Council’s planning committee voted against the proposed development in Ash, though they do not get the final say on the plans.

Applicants made an appeal to central government inspectors about the planned homes in Harper’s Road and a hearing will take place on June 20 and 21.

But councillors were still able to debate the application and say what their decision would have been for the site, which was allocated for new homes in the borough council’s local plan.

Members of the planning committee questioned the fact that road access to the Orchard Farm site could not be made through the existing development at Wildflower Meadows, just to the north of the planned homes.

But council officers said this would not be an option, because the other site was not a linked application and a separate contract would be needed, resulting in a “double hostage situation”.

Cllr John Redpath

Councillors and members of the public who spoke at the meeting, which took place on Wednesday (April 26) said Harper’s Road, which has no pavement and is narrow in places, would be unsuitable both for construction traffic and future residents.

Cllr John Redpath (R4GV, Holy Trinity) said he’d visited the site, and walked along Harper’s Road, calling it “lethal” and “dangerous”.

He told the meeting: “The Ford Mustang wasn’t a problem because we could hear that coming, but it was the Tesla that nearly had us.”

Sue Wyeth-Price

Sue Wyeth-Price, from Ash Green Residents Association, spoke at the meeting to raise concerns about the road, as well as about sewage and drainage issues.

She said Harper’s Road was “dangerous” and claimed there had been six accidents in the last two weeks, including a child being hit by a car.

The development would include 21 affordable homes, mostly with one or two bedrooms, though Cllr Graham Eyre (Con, Ash South and Tongham) said these were mostly along the railway line part of the site.

Cllr Graham Eyre

He also told the meeting that on their drive to the site visit, he and Cllr Paul Spooner (Ash South and Tongham) “almost got killed” twice going over a bridge at the end of Harper’s Road.

Cllr Spooner, whose Conservative administration put together the Local Plan before losing control of the council in the 2019 general election, said he was “extremely disappointed” with the recommendation from council officers to approve the application.

He said policies drawn up as part of the local plan process were designed to avoid Harper’s Road being used to connect the new homes planned in Ash.

He added he was not being critical of Guildford officers, but found it “absolutely extraordinary” that the county council’s highways department were not objecting to the plans, saying he didn’t think the road was safe.

Cllr Paul Spooner

Cllr Spooner told the meeting: “I think it’s inherently unsafe for drivers, inherently unsafe for cyclists and inherently unsafe for pedestrians.

“It is now and it doesn’t get better with putting more properties with access onto Harper’s Road. It’s dangerous and stupid.”

The planned “garden settlement” had support in the meeting from a representative from McConnell Planning on behalf of Bellway Homes, the applicant.

James McConnell told the meeting the development would allow for the development of the Ash Road bridge, which itself would reduce the amount of traffic on Harper’s Road.

He also said the developer got involved in “few” appeals on applications but in this instance, it was seen as the “only way of getting a decision in a reasonable time period”, having submitted the application in June 2022.

Mr McConnell told the meeting Bellway Homes had already had appeals granted on two other sites in Ash, with a third also under construction.

The meeting also heard that a pedestrian route would be in place through Wildflower Meadows, allowing access to Ash station and to bus stops without going on Harper’s Lane.

The councillors voted unanimously to refuse the application because it did not adhere to a Local Plan policy which said new developments should include accessible and safe transport options, and aim to maximise sustainable travel such as walking and cycling.

Cllr Jo Randall.

Cllr Jo Randall (Con, Ash Wharf) raised concerns the road was used for “rat-running” and would be made worse with the proposed development.

She said: “It should be acknowledged that like it or not, vehicle use is still very much king.”

The application will be decided by government inspectors in June.

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Responses to Application for Yet More Homes in Ash Refused But Appeal Already Lodged

  1. Phil Buckley Reply

    April 29, 2023 at 7:11 pm

    I also spoke at the planning meeting on behalf of the residents.

    I use the road to walk run and cycle as well as for driving and I’ve seen for myself and spoken to other users including horse riders about the frequency of near accidents.

    There are almost too many inherent risks to list. The junctions onto Guildford Road are tricky to negotiate at the best of times. The junction over the old rail line into Ash Green Road is virtually blind as well as very tight.

    The road itself fails to meet the government manual for streets used for the sort of heavy traffic required for a development of this size. The residents who live in the cottages at the top of Harpers Road will have many months of lorries passing within about three metres of the front of their houses, literally the other side of their own parked cars as they have no other option for parking.

    The GBC planning officer also misunderstood my comment about culverts as he took it to be a reference to water and drainage, it was, in fact, a reference to the section of road where there is a very narrow verge and a one-metre drop into an unprotected brick lined ditch. There is a very significant risk that someone will end up going into it taking avoiding action.

    Whilst only a small number of car and HGV drivers see speed limits as aspirational, if the volume of traffic is increased, so will the number of vehicles passing through, driven without due care and attention.

    Phil Buckley is a Lib Dem candidate for Ash South in the forthcoming GBC election.

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    April 30, 2023 at 6:55 am

    I find it somewhat ironic that the Tories now find the development of this site in Ash “dangerous and stupid”. It was included in their notorious Local Plan.

    The inclusion of many of the Local Plan sites, in particular in the Horsleys and Ockham, are equally “dangerous and stupid”.

    Ockham in particular was recently the scene of a hit-and-run assault on a horse and rider by a “stealth” vehicle (a Tesla). East Lane in West Horsley sees constant developer traffic, on a road that is a single lane in places.

    Are we to infer from this volte-face that the Local Plan in its entirety is now considered by its authors to be “dangerous and stupid”?

    But then, there is an election looming, which may explain this Damascene conversion.

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