Fringe Box



Letter: A New Marina at Send Would be the Triumph of the Absurd

Published on: 19 Aug, 2015
Updated on: 19 Aug, 2015

The Wey in Send

From Jenny Procter
Member of the Save Send Action Group

Localism and common sense face an interesting test case when the planning meeting for an 80 berth, narrow boat marina with a number of attached buildings, including a chandlers shop, in the green belt at Send, is heard on 2nd September.

There are numerous reasons why this marina should not be built, not least lack of demand. We walk the Wey navigation winter and summer on an almost daily basis and there is no evidence of congestion or even a great deal of traffic.

There are mooring spaces available at Pyrford just a little way along. Furthermore moorings on the canal bank do not present a hazard to walkers or cyclists as claimed in the application, as the ropes are secured well back from the footpaths.

This is green belt land in a conservation area and no exceptional circumstances have been demonstrated. In addition, the excavation is beside an uncontrolled landfill site going back many years which already leaches a brown coloured liquid into the ditches and navigation.

No adequate inspection has been carried out to discover what is in there. There is serious risk of potentially dangerous ground water contamination and pollution in the Wey. This waterborne risk applies not only to Send but to Wisley,  Pyrford and other areas as well.

The developer does not intend to take the spoil away but rather build it up on the surrounding greenfield to a height of two metres. Which brings us to the next problem, flooding. This area floods regularly as any resident will tell you and the run off from this raised area represents a big additional threat.

If this is already not enough to stop this development in its tracks having breached almost every one of the NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework] guidelines, the field involved is grade 2 listed agricultural land, the highest grade that exists in the county.

It is in close proximity to the ‘island’ between the canal and the river, classified as a SNCI [Site of Nature Conservation Interest]. The single lane roads leading to the site are completely inadequate to cope with the additional HGV and other motor traffic a new marina would generate, both during the construction period and ongoing.

Why does any developer want to develop a narrow boat basin along a not very busy waterway where there is little likelihood it will pay for itself, let alone make any profit?

In this case it is quite simple. The next phase will be the application for a large number of houses along the canal and in the surrounding fields, also on green belt land. This very important “detail” cannot be referred to in relation to the marina as it is not a material consideration for the marina application. It does inform us however.

There are strong indications that there is a will to push this development through. Of course, I cannot prejudge but when points relating to the problems involved are raised they tend to be brushed aside with comments like, “That will be dealt with in the conditions.”

If these issues are to be dealt with in the conditions they will be the responsibility of the developer. The developer’s presentation of the scheme consisted of a very glossy brochure portraying an idyllic marina surrounded by bijoux “des res” housing glossing over almost every actual fact.

The application, in like vein, even went so far as to actually relocate properties adjacent to the site to the other side of the road. It is a matter of grave concern therefore that the potential leakage of poisonous substances into the river and ground water and the flood risk should be trusted to such an unproven agent.

There has been one unlikely and confusing letter used as evidence for support for this scheme from a local officer of the National Trust. In a letter dated 9th March 2015 in response to a concerned resident, The Chairman of the National Trust, Tim Parker, wrote: “I have taken the time to look into this matter and I can confirm that the National Trust have not objected to, commented upon or supported the current planning application in any way.”

But in their Planning Guidance for Development next to the River Wey and Godalming Navigations published by the Trust in 2011, they come out very strongly against any development on this stretch of the Wey with particular reference to Papercourt. They also make particular reference to any construction which could affect the water table or increase flood risk.

What is of major concern is that public consultation is relatively minimal and strictly regulated, while developers have ready access to the planners and meet regularly. It seems the planners very often have never visited the site in question and are informed largely by the developers.

The process is therefore quite obviously skewed in the developers favour. All parties made big protestations that they would defend the green belt prior to the elections. There have been in excess of 350 local objections to this scheme raising the very real concerns of local residents.

We wait and see. If this plan is approved it will be a triumph of the absurd and an indication of the level of what we can expect as the Local Plan progresses. I sincerely hope promises are kept and reason prevails.

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Responses to Letter: A New Marina at Send Would be the Triumph of the Absurd

  1. Ben Paton Reply

    August 20, 2015 at 9:24 am

    What counts for more with GBC? The local knowledge and opinion of the people who live in the borough? Or the interests of developers?

    This case is still another example of the very worrying trends at Guildford Borough Council. The planning department does not seem to keep at arm’s length from developers: it meets them regularly and sometimes keeps no minutes of its meetings, contrary to GBC’s codes of conduct.

    The developers routinely report that they have strong political support from the council. Some borough councillors, presumably in a position of influence, appear to be raising the hopes of developers. Who do these councillors represent?

    There are serious questions over whether and how the planning authority’s regulatory powers are being properly exercised.

  2. Louise Davis Reply

    August 20, 2015 at 11:50 am

    I thought the National Trust were in favour of this application.

    Anyway, the planning officers report will summarise it all and as far as I’m concerned and councillors should pay more attention to their report than all the misinformation that is being bandied about.

  3. Paul Spooner Reply

    August 21, 2015 at 8:03 am

    Mr Paton once again makes accusations against Guildford Borough Councillors.

    Perhaps he should present the evidence that “Some borough councillors, presumably in a position of influence, appear to be raising the hopes of developers. Who do these councillors represent?”

    At least explain the source of his accusations to demonstrate that he is not simply making it up to create more mischief.

  4. David Roberts Reply

    August 23, 2015 at 8:56 am

    The National Trust would seem to be in strong support of this application and John Gibson the general manager of the Wey Navigations for the National Trust made representations on the matter on the 11th May 2015.

    His letter is well hidden in the documents submitted but can be found on the councils planning website under planning reference 14/P/02289. The document is entitled “Clarification document from John Associates” and the date it was uploaded on the councils system was date 17th July. You have to scroll right to the bottom of this document to find Appendix F. I hope this helps.

  5. Ben Paton Reply

    August 23, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    It is quite hard to see that there is a strong case for this new capacity.

    The letter from the National Trust Manager in the document cited by David Roberts states, inter alia: “Even so the waterway could hardly be described as busy and there is still capacity to spare.”

    The AINA (The Association of Inland Navigation Authorities) published a document in 2008 showing canal usage over the period for 2002 to 2007. Usage of the Wey Navigation actually fell 5%.

    Against stagnant or very slow growth there is ample capacity. At Pyrford there are facilities for some 310 long boats. This was increased in around 2011 by extra space for some 40 boats.

    According to the letter cited, in addition to capacity at Pyrford Marina the National Trust itself issues some 550 mooring licenses each year. The same letter suggests that the proposed new marina will allow the National Trust to issue fewer mooring licenses for tying up on the navigation bank and expects over time boats that formerly moored on the bank to go and moor in the marina.

    Charges can hardly be described as extorting a monopoly rent: one can rent a mooring for a year for substantially less than £1 per day. And that comes with access to electricity, water etc.

    No doubt managers of the trust have an interest in increasing capacity still further. But the case that it is really needed seems far from obvious. That leaves the hypothesis that this is a stalking horse for development extremely plausible.

    The National Trust manager also states that he considers that a new mooring basin would be “reversible” and that should the business fail it is conceivable that the basin could be filled in. That’s hardly the most confident endorsement.

    Perhaps others can come forward with more details on canal usage and mooring capacity?

  6. Lynn Yeo Reply

    August 23, 2015 at 7:10 pm

    In a letter to a council officer at Guildford Borough Council, dated 25 September 2014, Jonathan Fleming from the Environment Agency wrote that: “We note that the submitted scoping document indicates that the material excavated to create the basin will be within the site.

    Our records indicate that this site flooded in 2003 and therefore, we would be very reluctant to allow any land raising in this area as it may increase flood risk onsite or elsewhere.

    “This would be contrary to national and local planning policy. If land raising is proposed, the applicant should clearly demonstrate that the resulting flood storage requirements can be satisfactorily managed and stored within the site.”

    A spokesperson for Guildford Borough Council has responded to this comment: “The letter from the Environment Agency dated 25 September 2014 was received by Guildford Borough Council in response to the consultation to Statutory Consultees on the request for a scoping opinion (in relation to the Environmental Impact Assessment requirements relating to the proposed marina development).

    This letter was not submitted in relation to the formal planning application which was received by Guildford Borough Council in December 2014. The Environment Agency subsequently submitted a formal consultation response to the planning application dated 12 January 2015. This confirms the Environment Agency’s position in respect of the planning application and accompanying Flood Risk Assessment and confirms that it has no objection to the proposals subject to their recommended conditions and informatives. This letter is available to view on the Council’s website under the application reference no. 14/P/02289.”

  7. David (George) Roberts Reply

    August 30, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    For the avoidance of doubt, I’d like to point out that I am David Roberts of West Horsley. The comment above is from someone else. I fully support Jenny Procter’s comments.

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