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Letter: Climate Change Is Real, GBC Should Have Supported Application for an Eco-style Home

Published on: 21 May, 2022
Updated on: 24 May, 2022

From: Catherine Young

GGG borough councillor for Clandon & Horsley

In response to: Grand Designs Crew Member Has Eco-home Bid Refused

I feel that I owe those who support me as a GGG councillor an explanation as to why I asked the Planning Committee to approve the application (21/P/01537), Forest Farm, East Horsley, on Wednesday evening, and why I am incredibly disappointed that it was refused.

When I first saw this application, my initial reaction was “not another back land development”, especially when locally we have lost our green belt designation, and are trying desperately to save our villages from over development on what remains of our green fields.

However, on closer look this application seemed to me to provide exceptional reasons which far outweighed the planning harm of garden development, namely that of the need to build new homes in a sustainable manner that will protect our world for the future of our children.

Over the top you might say, but this is real. Development is one of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions – how we demolish, how we build, how we heat, the list is endless. So, in response to those that said “it is not the what, it’s the where” I beg to differ – it was about the “what”.

It has been drilled into us from the Planning Team on every occasion at the Planning Committee – and I have of course been to quite a few now to speak against allocated site development and applications that would destroy our character and our environment – that each application should be considered on its own merits.

The application on Wednesday had so many merits it was, to me, and I believe others on the committee, astounding that it had been recommended for refusal. Even more so when we have approved many other back land developments whether for single, double or five houses. And of course, the application which followed this one recommended for approval, was for… guess what… back land development. Where is the consistency I wonder?

Initially, I counted some 15 reasons in the officer’s report where it met the tests of various policies in our Development Plan, including East Horsley’s adopted Neighbourhood Plan.

What was more incredible was the omission of one crucial element of the NPPF, namely Chapter 14, “Meeting the Challenge of Climate Change”. I challenged this at the Planning Committee, even highlighting how many aspects of this policy this application, if approved, would have delivered. It was not picked up by anyone. Before the vote I raised my hand to ask the question of our officers as to why not – but of course there is no right of reply!

I did not want to create a so-called precedent for future development on gardens, green fields and the green belt (where it remains). Instead, I stay true to my belief that this home would have been something that Guildford Borough could have been proud of, an innovative house that would show us how to build to protect our climate and our environment.

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Responses to Letter: Climate Change Is Real, GBC Should Have Supported Application for an Eco-style Home

  1. Peter Bennett-Davies Reply

    May 24, 2022 at 9:14 pm

    Well argued and stated. I hope the applicant not only takes this refused application to appeal but sees GBC’s decision overturned. For GBC to ignore NPPF chapter 14, Meeting the Challenge of Climate Change, is unpardonable and may set an unfortunate precedent.

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    May 24, 2022 at 9:18 pm

    If this was refused on the grounds of “character”, how on earth did the eyesore development around Bell & Colville in West Horsley get approved.

    And how did the development beside a Grade II listed house, get approved behind Silkmore Lane, also in West Horsley?

  3. David Roberts Reply

    May 24, 2022 at 9:19 pm

    Make no mistake about what is going on here. Empowered by the Tory Local Plan, GBC planning officers are waging a war on the natural environment, our villages and ordinary residents, in collaboration with their professional colleagues in the big housebuilding companies and consultancies, for whom no effort is spared and no service is too much.

    Affected by decades of Conservative single-party rule on the council, they are completely beyond the control of their top managers and elected councillors. No other planning authority in the country shows such extreme and consistent bias against the public interest.

    The council Executive needs to take a political stand to whip officers into line and restore faith in the integrity of our local government.

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