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Letter: Ash Green Planning Decision a Triumph For Ordinary People 

Published on: 14 Sep, 2021
Updated on: 14 Sep, 2021

From: John Ferns

The highlight from last Wednesday’s planning meeting at Millmead was the bravura performance by three residents of Ash Green, supported by two ward councillors from separate parties and a debate that lasted 93 minutes covering two related planning applications on the Ash Manor heritage site in Ash Green. 

The webcast is well worth viewing as an example of the capacity of “the little people” who, with passion, persistence and an intimate knowledge of the planning framework and the law, can come together to defeat an omniscient LPA (Local Planning Authority) and a mighty developer with a bottomless purse. 

That the LPA had felt the need to summon the physical attendance of a planning barrister from London was evidence of the threat posed by the home grown specialist knowledge of the Ash Green Residents’ Association (AGRA) – knowledge that had been gained during the seven years that the Ash Manor site has been disputed as being suitable for development. The fact that the barrister was unable to sway the LPA recommendation in favour of development speaks volumes. 

It was disheartening (but not unexpected) to have to witness two committee members who live within two miles of Ash Manor, one of whom is chair of the Ash Parish planning committee (which has consistently objected to the development), voting for the application. 

Given the significance of the Manor and its setting as a treasure in the region’s heritage, another ward councillor who sits on the planning committee said he was disappointed that there were too many assertions in the officer’s report as to the adequacy of measures taken to safeguard the heritage. “Adequate”, he suggested, was the “barest minimum” and he expected a much stronger endorsement, albeit ironically, of at least as low as “satisfactory”! 

Verdict on the night: the LPA will need to try harder if it is to ever to succeed in steering the other strategic sites of Blackwell Farm and Wisley to their desired development conclusions, yet alone this highly contentious Ash Manor site. 

The battle of Ash Manor will continue. This just marks the start of the eighth campaign season.

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test One Response to Letter: Ash Green Planning Decision a Triumph For Ordinary People 

  1. Peter Elliott Reply

    September 14, 2021 at 2:38 pm

    Congratulations to all concerned. It is appalling that so many local citizens have had to devote so much time and effort into fighting this dreadful Local Plan, which seeks to destroy so much of our countryside in order to build thousands more houses.

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