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Approval for More Ash Houses Raises Further Infrastructure Overstretch Concerns

Published on: 6 Aug, 2020
Updated on: 8 Aug, 2020

An impression of how the development will look from above. Image GBC.

By David Reading

Detailed plans for 154 new homes near Ash Station have been approved by Guildford Borough Council’s planning committee. Outline permission had already been given and the details relating to the estate’s appearance, landscaping and accesses were approved at a planning meeting on July 29, held online because of the Covid-19 emergency.

The site is located on the Guildford side of the railway line. Access will be from the roundabout at the junction of Guildford Road with Ash Hill Road (the Dover Arms roundabout).

The outline of the site near Ash Station and the railway level crossing (bottom left). Source GBC.

Council officers recommended approval for Bellway Homes’ plans despite numerous objections, including opposition voiced by Ash Parish Council. The two local residents’ associations have also expressed concerns.

Gill Squibb, chair of Ash Green Residents’ Association (AGRA), said afterwards: “The people of Ash Green will be very disappointed that this application has gone through. The influx of new residents risks overwhelming already overstretched infrastructure. The open space and fields full of wildlife and flora is fast disappearing in this area. We have been hit hard with new developments and are saying ‘enough is enough’.”

The site as it looks today. Formerly it was farmland used to raise cereal crops.

John Dymott, chair of Ash Residents’ Association (ASHRA), raised serious concerns about road congestion, pointing out that there will be particular impact on existing traffic hotspots. Not only will there be more traffic when the homes are occupied, he said, but during construction there will be the issue of lorries and delivery vehicles requiring access to the site.

He added: “This will add to traffic delays both at the A323/Ash Hill Road roundabout and also at the A323 junction with the A324 Pirbright Road, particularly during the morning commute.”

The officers’ report to the committee acknowledged that with the proposals for a new road bridge and the Bellway development there would be a significant change in the character and appearance of this part of Ash.

The report assured the committee that a well-devised landscaping strategy would be introduced, with tree-planting and introduction of native species and wildflowers. Bellway had provided an energy report confirming that they would exceed the sustainability measures required by the outline permission.

The report said the access road to the estate from the roundabout will go through the site and enable the delivery of the planned road bridge over the railway line. The application for this is pending consideration.

In listing its objections, Ash Parish Council cited inadequate local infrastructure such as healthcare and schools, flooding risk, loss of privacy for people in Dean Close, light and noise pollution, lack of landscaping next to the embankment for new road bridge and inadequate parking.

The parish council’s comments appear to show support for the road bridge. Without the new bridge, it said, there would be increased traffic congestion and Bellway’s development would be unsustainable.

John Dymott of ASHRA referred to the fact that Guildford borough and Surrey county have developed a project to alleviate traffic problems at the Pirbright Road junction with the A323.

“I can only hope that they recognise the need to carry out the work at the Pirbright Road junction before any significant work starts on this new development,” he said. “It concerns me that the junction improvements and major activity on the housing development will proceed at the same time, or that the Pirbright Road junction improvements will be delayed until after the development is substantially complete. Either of these options will lead to traffic chaos in the area. Work on the development needs to be delayed until the junction improvements are carried out.”

He added: “It would be useful if Surrey looked carefully at the long-term impact of the development on the roundabout at the A323/Ash Hill Road so that traffic control for the development can be incorporated into a long-term plan. If effective, it could demonstrate that the proposed bridge over the railway at Ash will be unnecessary.”

Twenty-six people living locally sent in comments on Bellway’s plan, listing numerous objections including the impact that yet more homes would have on Ash during and after their construction. Traffic congestion was a major issue raised. Council officers point out that highway improvement works were agreed under the outline planning permission.

Approval for the estate is subject to various conditions to ensure that the development is carried out in accordance with the approved plans and in the interests of proper planning.

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Responses to Approval for More Ash Houses Raises Further Infrastructure Overstretch Concerns

  1. Winifred Paine Reply

    August 6, 2020 at 4:31 pm

    GBC will only be satisfied when they have covered Ash every square inch with houses.

    Not once have they listened to the local residents.

    I cannot understand their reasoning.

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    August 6, 2020 at 5:13 pm

    Why did they not refuse or delay permission until the sewer capacities are brought up to the required level? Ash, like Guildford, is close to, or already exceeding, capacity given the number of houses granted planning permission.

    The pipe systems are all undersized from the 1930s or before. We simply cannot keep allowing more development in these circumstances.

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