Fringe Box



Council Director’s Decision on Sale of ‘Ransom Strip’ Called in by Councillors

Published on: 19 Mar, 2024
Updated on: 21 Mar, 2024

A view across Blackwell Farm parts of which form one of the strategic development sites scheduled in Guildford’s Local Plan.

By Martin Giles

A crucial decision relating to the sale of a small area of land by Guildford Borough Council to the developers of Blackwell Farm has been “called in” by a number of councillors for review by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) this evening (7pm March 19).

According to the meeting papers: “…call-in enables councillors to intervene when they feel that a decision being taken is questionable and needs to be revisited and possibly changed.

“In addition, call-in can enable further debate on a topic of political contention and provide a forum both for opposition to, and explanation of, a decision”.

The meeting will be webcast by GBC. Click here to link.

The proposed key executive decision in question was taken by a GBC strategic director on February 29, 2024. Her decision was to approve the council entering into an Option Agreement on March 8, 2024 with Blackwell Park Limited providing the option for them to purchase a small parcel of council-owned land necessary to enable development on Blackwell Park (formerly referred to as Blackwell Farm).

Such parcels of land are often referred to as “ransom strips”, their value inflated because without them development plans, including access roads, are stymied.

Parts of Blackwell Farm form one of the strategic sites designated for major housing developments in Guildford’s Local Plan. The farm forms part of the land purchased by the University of Surrey in the 1960s. The university and GBC would benefit financially from the development.

But the development plans remain controversial. The land is still largely green belt, and parts are designated National Landscape, or Areas of Great Landscape Value. In addition to local residents, objectors include Compton Parish Council, Save Surrey Countryside and CPRE Surrey.

The sale of the ransom strip, it is claimed by objectors, might also allow the construction of a Solar Farm and prevent extension of  AONB designation.

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Responses to Council Director’s Decision on Sale of ‘Ransom Strip’ Called in by Councillors

  1. H Trevor Jones Reply

    March 20, 2024 at 10:38 am

    I am not familiar with the Blackwell Park local area, but up on the Hog’s Back the views to the north are quite pleasant and allow you to see a long way in many directions but, in my opinion, it’s the views to the south that are the most scenic, even to the South Downs on a clear day, through the Wey & Arun gap in the sandstone hills.

    Therefore I’m not bothered by any Blackwell Park development which you would simply look over to see the more distant skylines such as the distant Chiltern Hills.

    Don’t we need more houses? Why is Compton Parish Council objecting when their view to the north is obstructed by the Hogs Back anyway?

    Editor’s comment: Compton Parish extends over the Hog’s Back and includes much of the Blackwell Park site.

  2. Alan Judge Reply

    March 22, 2024 at 3:12 pm

    As of November 2023, AONB should now be referred to as National Landscapes.

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