Fringe Box



Secretary of State Says Planning For 400 New Homes in Ash Can Proceed

Published on: 23 Nov, 2013
Updated on: 23 Nov, 2013
A field in the area that will redesignated from agricultural land to 'Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace'

A field in the development area between Ash, Ash Green and Tongham.

Residents in Ash and Tongham have been left disappointed by a decision by Eric Pickles Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to allow outline planning approval for 400 new homes in Ash to stand.

The planning application was unusually referred to an extraordinary meeting of the full borough council for a decision. Approval was given following close vote and a rancorous debate in which the council leader, Cllr Stephen Mansbridge, a Conservative ward councillor for South Ash & Tongham) scathingly criticised the council’s own planning department.

Cllr Mansbridge was in turn, verbally attacked, in personal terms, by the leader of the opposition, Cllr David Goodwin (Lib Dem, Friary & St Nicolas). Both councillors have subsequently apologised for their behaviour.

After the decision was made it was ‘called in’ by Secretary of State Pickles to consider whether a public enquiry was necessary. He has now written to say the proposed development, “did not involve a conflict with national policies on important matters”, and could proceed.

Following the decision Cllr Mansbridge, who lives close to the proposed development area said: “I have always maintained that this is the wrong site for this development.

“For us local people, we see a development which, we all believe, will increase flooding, significantly increase congestion and place pressure on already over subscribed services without any increase in provision.

“Benefit to the community is nil, impact on the community is substantial. The community needs to continue to challenge the developer to ensure that every single condition is met to the letter.”

Roger Smolski, Secretary of the Ash Residents Association said: “Naturally we were disappointed with the decision and we are currently considering our options.

“What is frustrating is that many councillors clearly cast their vote based on the potential cost of an appeal rather than any planning grounds. Also the paucity of the planning department’s report, which left more questions unanswered than it answered, seemed to escape the notice of many councillors.

“Dumping housing in Ash and Tongham, there are nearly 600 this year and many more in the pipeline, has become the default option for GBC [Guildford Borough Council] Planning Department who either don’t understand or don’t give a toss for the disastrous effects on the local community.”

See also: All May Not Yet Be Lost For Those Opposing Ash Development
Ash Planning Decision – How the Councillors Voted – Includes Absentees
‘Appalling Behaviour’ v. ‘I Stand By My Comment’ – Reactions to Ash Planning Meeting

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