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Letter: Hellish Over-Development Is Destroying Ash and Tongham 

Published on: 8 Jun, 2021
Updated on: 8 Jun, 2021

From: Sue Wyeth-Price

Member of Ash Green Residents Association

In response to: The Ash and Tongham Housing Boom – Enough is Enough

David Reading made a good job of summarising all the developments in Ash South and Tongham, but the words and numbers don’t give any idea of the hell it is to live with all of this, or the collapsing infrastructure we are already witnessing.

The picture (below)shows the extent of the destruction of the villages of Tongham and Ash Green (Ash South & Tongham ward), the 24 approved developments, the two awaiting a decision and the bridge.

Even the SANGs (special areas of natural greenspace) are problematic – one yet to be constructed, alongside the A31/A331 junction (the hotspots project), two on ancient woodland, and the other expected to become much busier now that access to the ranges has been denied to us.

Road closures, traffic signals and diversions are an ongoing issue. Some days it feels like we are just guessing if the roads will be open. The HGVs failing to heed CTMPs, driving over weight-restricted areas, footpaths and verges, and parking in narrow lanes are a daily occurrence. The roads get damaged, only fixed after the developers pay Surrey County Council, and then get damaged by the next development.

Education is a disaster waiting to happen. Despite the vast amounts taken by Surrey for education, little has been spent locally. On one major site in Tongham, secondary school aged students are destined for schools in Farnham, five miles away when we have our own secondary school within walking distance.

Healthcare is worse. The local surgery currently has 28,000 patients. We were promised a new surgery with the Ash Lodge Drive development. This turns out to be a replacement of the one in Ash Wharf (if we are lucky) but is more likely to be some kind of revenue generating “alternative medicine” centre. Fine if you want your chakra realigned, I guess!

We did have a police station, but that’s been closed and will become a Co-op store. This is the only shop, commercial or industrial unit in the whole plan.

The sewage works have yet to be upgraded and there are frequent issues with this and its not uncommon for low water pressure to be reported locally. The flooding is getting worse for both new and existing residents, with springs appearing in Ash Green between the development sites as watercourses are blocked by developments.

The poplar trees, hedgerows and other flora and fauna are removed at the developers’ will. A tree preservation order (TPO) means nothing around here as trees are removed before the application is submitted, or “by accident”, or at the whim of the tree officer. Badger setts are destroyed, amphibians moved to new sites and bats given boxes as mitigation which is useless when they have nowhere left to forage.

The most positive thing is the residents uniting to fight this, but why should we having to keep paying with our time, money and energy to fight things that shouldn’t have been approved in the first place? For the better part of a decade we have been promised infrastructure first, but the current administration seems happy to continue in the old ways, stressing the infrastructure to breaking point.

David Reading is right; we cannot be called NIMBYs. The developments are, literally, already in our back yards!

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test 9 Responses to Letter: Hellish Over-Development Is Destroying Ash and Tongham 

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    June 9, 2021 at 6:03 am

    I can certainly sympathise with the residents of Ash and Tongham, as we are witnessing a similar level of destruction, the blight of hundreds of construction lorries and lack of infrastructure in the Horsleys.

    I would suggest those residents address their ire towards the Tory cabal who visited the odious Local Plan upon us.

    • Sue Wyeth-Price Reply

      June 10, 2021 at 12:45 pm

      Surely we should have moved on from Tory bashing by now?

      Yes, the Local Plan sucks, but we have to live with it, just as we have to live with whichever government changes whatever legislation. It’s a fact of life now.

      Ash is three wards, but the development is all in just this one. Even so, lately, there are signs of change in the other Ash wards.

      A lot of the damage to Ash South and Tongham was done when we didn’t have a Local Plan, when protection for our area was removed by changes to the NPPF/G [National Planning Policy Framework/Guidance] and the loss of the “countryside beyond the greenbelt” designation.

      And let’s not forget that the current administration has been there for over two years now, still failing to deliver the requisite infrastructure, and several of these developments have been approved since the election. The attitude of the planning team hasn’t changed, AGRA (Ash Green Residents Association – representing only 249 houses, originally) is already on its second JR [judicial review], both down to the officer presenting only part of the information. Transparency simply hasn’t been delivered.

      AGRA, our small group of committed individuals from across the political and apolitical spectrum, are working their backsides off to change things. We all need to work together, across the borough, to achieve change.

  2. Bahadur Singh Reply

    June 9, 2021 at 9:45 am

    It’s very sad indeed. I have lived in Tongham for the last 35 years and this is not, anymore, the village that I moved into. It has become a small town. The whole place is no longer countryside. It seems like a London suburb. I could go on.

  3. Ben Paton Reply

    June 9, 2021 at 11:56 am

    So why or why do the residents of Ash & Tongham continue to elect the Ash Conservative candidates who created this mess?

    They elected Cllr Mansbridge, the original architect of this Local Plan with his fellow councillor and business partner Monika Juneja. They now continue to elect Cllr Spooner and the rump of the old Conservative councillors who are all responsible for creating a crisis of over-building.

    It is time a local residents’ association put up candidates who will promote the interests of the people who live there.

    • Sue Wyeth-Price Reply

      June 10, 2021 at 8:06 pm

      Cllr Graham Eyre was very, very active in Ash Residents Association before he was elected with the largest vote. Regardless of party politics, he has always put the residents first for years.

      Tongham doesn’t have a residents’ association, it’s a small parish and the parish council seem to deal with most things.

      The Ash Green Residents’ Association (AGRA) was about to fold before the current committee stepped up.

      Cllr Spooner only kept his seat by 36 votes, and we elected an R4GV candidate. Whilst I don’t agree with Cllr Spooner’s political views (as he knows) he is very active in the community, attends nearly all parish meetings with Cllr Eyre and both are available to talk to AGRA when necessary.

      Ash South & Tongham did vote out one Tory, but the replacement R4GV councillor moved out of the area immediately after the election and doesn’t attend any local parish meetings or get involved with any local issues, and no one from any of the non-Tory parties has stepped in to plug the gap in our representation.

      The only visible councillors or potential councillors are Tory, with the notable exception of Carla Morson in Ash. The other parties are invisible here, no regular posts on social media, no local meetings (in person or virtual) with local residents – even during the elections.

      There were endless complaints on social media about not seeing other candidates, with many comments about not bothering to vote because nothing changes. Overcoming that is hard for any future candidate, and if the parties don’t support them or work with residents outside election periods, they have no chance at the elections.

  4. Harry Eve Reply

    June 9, 2021 at 12:56 pm

    Add to this the side-effect of the shortage of, for example, medical services. It is clear that the shortages put pressure on those services further afield.

    So as well as more traffic heading into Guildford the services in areas not currently affected by development will suffer too.

    And there is no sign of infrastructure being provided before development, as was promised.

  5. David Ward Reply

    June 9, 2021 at 2:22 pm

    Heaven forbid we should try and solve a national housing crisis by building more homes.

    There is a serious lack of stock in the housing market which causes stagnation at the bottom and, in turn, higher prices.

    Whilst it will take time for the development to be completed, once it has, those that are in traditional FTB (first-time buyer) homes can move, which releases stock to the market.

    These houses that the children of those writing these comments are trying to buy.

    • Christian Holmes Reply

      June 10, 2021 at 7:34 am

      Rather than a national housing crisis, we have a population density/distribution crisis.

      Building more houses in the South East just provides more affordable housing for those wishing to move further away from London while still commuting. For that reason I don’t think building more houses in Guildford and surrounds will have any appreciable impact on house prices.

      Has any research been performed into how many houses would need to be built around Guildford to dilute the London housing market sufficiently?

      Also, who wants to live exactly where their parents live?

      Ultimately you live where you can afford to live. For my first house, I moved much further west due to cost.

    • David Roberts Reply

      June 10, 2021 at 12:45 pm

      Mr Ward has been duped. There is no housing crisis. Only this week, Andy Haldane, chief economist of the Bank of England, explained how the housing market is only “on fire” because of artificial stimuli promoted by the government coupled with high overseas demand and historically low-interest rates (ie free money for those with credit). He explained how this was worsening social inequality by putting homes beyond the reach of many people’s budgets.

      There are unused planning permissions for millions of dwellings, as big developers bank land for profit, and there are over half a million vacant homes. You could concrete over the whole borough but prices would never come down, since the law of supply and demand has been disrupted by cynical policies designed to win votes at the cost of social misery.

      I would also take issue with the idea that our children have a God-given right to live in the same area as we do. They don’t, and must live where they can afford. I also take issue with the Tory notion that people have to own their own homes – an old-fashioned idea in an age where everyone rents or leases everything, from cars and clothes to music. My own children see no attraction in sinking their future wealth into unproductive bricks and mortar.

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