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GBC ‘Fails to Act’ as Plot-Owners Ignore Notices At Wanborough Fields

Published on: 25 Mar, 2021
Updated on: 25 Mar, 2021

By Hugh Coakley

Plot occupiers on Wanborough Fields are ignoring official enforcement and stop notices served on them in September, 2020 (see Opinion: Demand to enforce planning protection to counter rogue builders).

Rubble, access tracks and buildings on the Wanborough Fields Area of Great Landscape Value.

Guildford Borough Council says these are criminal offences, but “they can take a significant amount of time to resolve”.

Hardcore, building materials, diggers, containers and even a car park are in divided areas within the field (seen March 22).

The enforcement notices allege a breach of planning control and require removal of fencing, hard surfacing, rubble and containers and the land reinstated to its former condition.

Containers and building materials on Wanborough Fields in apparent contravention of enforcement notices served on the owners of the sites.

The blatant disregard has caused frustration and anger among residents and councillors. Users of the social media app Nextdoor, reported an “army of people up at Wanborough Fields…. dumping rubbish, hardcore (by the lorry)”.

Local resident Oscar de Chazal said planning laws had to be “upheld and enforced to allow the locals a say on the unconstrained development on their doorstep”.

Cllr Tony Rooth and Wanborough resident Oscar de Chazal outside the entrance to Wanborough Fields. Mr de Chazal said the planning laws had to be “upheld and enforced”.

Sir Michael Aaronson, chair of the Normandy Action Group, said residents were shocked at the latest developments, a “failure of enforcement by GBC”.

Accusing the council of “having no teeth”, he added: “If landowners believe they can thumb their noses at planning regulations the system is discredited. This is just making a complete mockery of the whole system.”

Stephen Callendar, vice-chair of Wanborough Parish Council, said GBC was not keeping them informed. He has written to the council, listing six areas where enforcement notices were being ignored and offered to help draft an action plan for the planning department.

Tony Rooth (R4GV, Pilgrims) said: “I feel disappointed and frustrated because the efforts of the residents and the parish council put into preserving this open landscape have not worked.”

David Bilbe (Cons, Normandy) said: “Enforcement is a complete joke. The temporary enforcement officer hired to deal with this went off sick and has now left. If R4GV or anyone cares about our land and villages, they must do something.

“There will be permanent housing there before we know it.”

Ian Doyle, GBC service delivery director, said: “There are enforcement notices on various plots. We are following an ongoing process for each case to ensure compliance. This often involves an appeal process which can take a significant amount of time to resolve.

“If an enforcement notice isn’t followed within the compliance period, it becomes a criminal offence. All cases are judged on their own merits. If the terms of a notice are not followed then the severity of the offence will be assessed and our enforcement officers are able to prosecute landowners or issue them with an injunction.”

Wanborough Fields are in the green belt and are designated partly as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and partly as the less significant local designation, Area of Great Landscape Value (AGLV).

The land was given Article 4 status under the Town and Country Planning acts in 2018. This requires that even normally allowed permitted development on agricultural land, such as fencing or hard-standing, would require planning permission.

See also Council crackdown on Wanborough Fields landowners who ignored planning laws.

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test 3 Responses to GBC ‘Fails to Act’ as Plot-Owners Ignore Notices At Wanborough Fields

  1. Peta Malthouse Reply

    March 25, 2021 at 4:54 pm

    The article describes the present listing of the protected areas but it is well known locally that Natural England has received a report recommending that the whole of the area be re-designated AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).

    That was four years go and they have claimed one delay after another. In the meantime, I can confirm that the owners have trashed this land.

    The Planning Enforcement team at Guildford is simply understaffed. It is not just Wanborough Fields that needs intervention, although in my view it is the most pressing.

    What stop notices have been served? What enforcement action is being taken and when will the cases be heard. I do think we should be told. This has been going on for three years now.

  2. Nick Norton Reply

    March 26, 2021 at 12:57 pm

    The Natural England board agreed on 26 February 2021 to initiate the long-awaited boundary review of Surrey Hills AONB. Link: https://www.surreyhills.org/natural-england-give-go-ahead-to-surrey-hills-boundary-review/

  3. Roshan Bailey Reply

    March 29, 2021 at 11:04 pm

    Nick Norton’s post is very welcome but the importance of speed and vigilance is highlighted by the sad news that Natural England is apparently declining to include nearby Blackwell Farm in their review because it is a development site in the GBC Local Plan.

    If these beautiful areas of our countryside once get compromised, it seems to herald a relentless march to destruction. The last twelve months have introduced so many more families to the joys and beauty of our countryside yet it is on the brink of being destroyed, step by step.

    Together we have to keep resisting that creeping destruction, and it is heartening to see how many local residents are doing what they can to protect our beautiful heritage – for wildlife as well as for humans today and tomorrow.

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