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Letter: We Are Suffering the Devastating First Effects of the Local Plan

Published on: 11 Oct, 2020
Updated on: 11 Oct, 2020

Click on image to read report

From: Catherine Young

GGG borough councillor for Clandon & Horsley

West Horsley is reeling from the devastating effects of the Local Plan adopted by the borough’s former Conservative administration last April, after they inset West Horsley, removing the village from the green belt.

Pushed through by a tied vote cast in favour of approval by the then chair, Cllr Marsha Moseley (Con, Ash Vale), at the November 2019 Planning Committee, and despite substantial opposition and objections from residents and the West Horsley Parish Council, the first parcel of land making up part-allocated Site A36 at 20 The Street fell to the developer’s hammer.

This site is at the heart of West Horsley’s Conservation Area, originally identified as high sensitive green belt, and yet it was deemed sustainable enough to go on the list.

Apparently, the arguments of impact on local character and heritage assets, the doubling of density, and the obvious impact on wildlife and felling of trees, backed up by sound policies in the adopted Neighbourhood Plan, together with the limited and dangerous access onto the Street were simply not enough.

The whole site (A36 in the Local Plan) which encompasses a further green field (now flattened) also passed at the Planning Committee this year, and the development at Bell & Colville approved at appeal in 2018, will deliver 41 new homes.

The effects are clear to see…

Before…

Two more sites are planned for West Horsley, Site A37, Manor Farm, 139 homes and A39, Waterloo Farm, 120 homes. That’s 300 homes, approximately an increase of 25% on the existing housing stock. And a further 100 homes are planned for East Horsley at Lollesworth Fields, Site A38.

This is the reality of taking out villages from the green belt, Guildford lost, as per the report, 6% (GBC advise reality is 5.5% allowing rounded-up figures) of our green belt in 2019/20.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government report claims Guildford was the biggest contributor to green belt release through the Local Plan process in England during the period March 2019 to March 2020.

The original report from MHCLG is attached and the dubious honour bestowed on Guildford is clear (see page 6 of report via the image above). The report does state that it relies on information given by the authorities themselves, which it believes accounts for 93% of authorities in 2019-20.

…and after. Now the Old Georgian House has been demolished

GBC’s response states 4% of GBC green belt release during the period 2019-2020 was the insetting of villages previously washed over by the green belt policy which was spatially defined in Guildford in the 1987 Local Plan. This 4% was not earmarked for specific development and is subject to the same policies as other urban areas such as extensions and rebuilding.

This is not strictly true.

The above site was included and hence earmarked for development in the Local Plan as one site, subsequently split into three with two sites endeavouring to have access and exit directly onto The Street.

Many of the villages now taken out of the green belt are facing windfall development pressure as green spaces are snapped up by developers.

Green belt may well be merely a policy designation and those with a desire to utilise more for further development are always quick to point out that not all green belt land is beautiful. But it is mainly the beautiful green belt that is snapped up by developers,

We are all aware of the beauty and environmental value of many of the allocated green belt sites.

GGG welcomes Joss Bigmore as the new leader of the council, and we look forward to cooperating on ways to mitigate the consequences of the Local Plan foisted on Guildford by the previous Conservative administration. That must include a review of the Plan as soon as possible.

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test 4 Responses to Letter: We Are Suffering the Devastating First Effects of the Local Plan

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    October 11, 2020 at 10:26 am

    Hear hear, a review of the Local Plan is long overdue.

    Something is definitely wrong, given GBC has sacrificed 46% of all the greenbelt sacrificed in the whole of England.

  2. Sue Wright Reply

    October 11, 2020 at 8:25 pm

    Agreed, the local plan is a disaster for Horsley and Ockham residents, aside from anything else, there are no additional school or doctors facilities in all this expansion.

  3. Harry Eve Reply

    October 14, 2020 at 4:05 pm

    This revelation brings shame upon the Conservative councillors who promised to protect the green belt and repeated the claim throughout the Local Plan process. The plan was characterised by spin and propaganda and based on inadequate evidence, that has done lasting damage to the Conservative party’s reputation. For it to be found legal also brings more shame on this government’s planning process and housing policies which are like a shiny apple that, beneath its skin, is rotten to the core.

  4. Danielle Gordon Reply

    October 19, 2020 at 10:48 am

    Thanks for this letter and also to the response above from Mr Cranwell. That statistic is so sickening it needs to be reiterated: of all the precious Green Belt land sacrificed by all the councils in England combined [in 2019-20] – Guildford BC gave up 46% of it.

    Even the report authors themselves seemed surprised.

    The Local Plan was a gross and misguided disaster for this area, that needs to be reversed.

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