Fringe Box



Letter: SANG Policy is Crazy

Published on: 15 Mar, 2019
Updated on: 15 Mar, 2019

Eashing Lane SANG

From Gordon Bridger

hon alderman and former Mayor of Guildford

In response to: It’s Difficult to Oppose the Absurd SANGs Policy

The guidelines for the establishment of SANGs (Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspaces) are clear. “If a council decides that a development has no significant impact on a Special Protection Area normal planning rules apply”.

There are two relevant SPAs (Special Protection Areas) in Guildford Borough, Whitmoor Common and Wisley/Ockley Common. There are three endangered species of birds on them, almost eliminated by cold spells years ago, according to council officers and Natural England, the government’s adviser on the natural environment.

At recent public enquiries there was a great deal of opposition to clearing perfectly good rural areas to attract visitors away from Whitmoor Common. The planning inspectors ruled that SANGs justified new development on the green belt as new residents would use these areas. But the purpose of all these SANGs is to attract visitors away from the two SPAS. Wrong conclusion.

Had they asked or been told that there was no evidence that visitors have affected birds adversely the would not have been able to get permission to build on green belt land.

There is a huge powerful vested interest in the scheme, partly because it raises masses of funds for councils, other than through council tax, and partly because abandonment would highlight the incompetence of Natural England in claiming humans, not weather, are the main threat to the endangered birds.

Complaints to the Ombudsman would in my view immediately expose maladministration, but to do this one has to have been affected by this tax, and bureaucrats have cleverly discouraged such action by obliging applicants for new housing to disclaim that they would demand their payments back.

While a tax on new developments for environmental expenditure would be acceptable, this tax, which will raise almost s £100 million, if not more, in Guildford. It applies to almost all new housing and is to be used to create quite unnecessary alternative parks for people to divert them from two commons which do not require protection.

Developers do not like the tax but since it eventually is deducted from what they would contribute to affordable housing of other improvements – why rock the boat?

Crazy? Yes. It puzzles me why the CPRE or GGG do not raise this issue as it is being used as an excuse to build on the Greenbelt

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Responses to Letter: SANG Policy is Crazy

  1. David Roberts Reply

    March 16, 2019 at 10:05 am

    The key to SANGs lies in the name – an acronym deliberately intended to obfuscate.

    In West Horsley, a “Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace” has been approved in the teeth of universal opposition.

    Question: Since this space already consists of completely open, rural, publicly accessible fields, what’s it a “suitable alternative” to?

    Answer: Nearby fields, about to be concreted over by huge housing estates promoted in Guildford Council’s horrifying Local Plan. In other words, SANGs are being created solely in order to justify the case for future developments not yet the subject of a planning application. They are a merely a ruse to pre-dispose the planning process in favour of developers and against local residents, wildlife and the environment.

    SANGs may have a role as urban parks in built-up areas where open space is rare. But there is no offset effect in putting them in the middle of the countryside. They are just a cynical ploy.

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