Fringe Box



Surrey Heath Council Rejects Plan to Build on Green Belt

Published on: 30 May, 2024
Updated on: 31 May, 2024

Plan of the rejected proposal for a housing development at Grove End, Bagshot. Image SHBC

By Chris Caulfield

local democracy reporter

A contentious plan to build dozens of affordable homes in Surrey was rejected by councillors, who prioritised protecting green belt land over addressing the area’s housing shortage.

Developers had wanted to build up to 135 homes, of which at least half would have been sold at  rates defined as “affordable”, at Grove End between the A30 and A322, in Bagshot.

The outline planning application was rejected by Surrey Heath Borough Council’s planning committee on Thursday, May 23.

Early indications suggested there would have been at least 68 affordable homes, including 17 set aside as affordable first homes and 51 social affordable or intermediate rented properties. The developers said they would be willing to increase those numbers but the application itself had to be determined on those figures.

The committee was advised that permitting the plans would be a departure from its developing Local Plan and undermine the council’s aim of only developing on brownfield sites in the near future – these are abandoned or underused former industrial land.

Cllr Kevin Thompson

Cllr Kevin Thompson (Liberal Democrat, Lightwater) said: “Often we talk about this need for affordable housing and we talk about numbers and we talk about statistics, but I think it’s important that we think about what that actually means.

“We have a situation where the people that teach our kids, who look after us in hospital, can’t afford to live in this borough and they have to commute in, because we don’t have the affordable housing we need. We need to look at this very carefully because [this proposal] does provide us with a significant amount of affordable housing.”

The land, between the A322 dual carriageway linking the M3 with Bracknell and Windlesham Golf Club, had been considered for redevelopment as the council looked for sites as part of its Local Plan. It “discontinued” the idea however as the borough could demonstrate it had enough brownfield land to meet its housing targets.

Developers tried to argue the land, next to the A30, was not the idyllic rolling Surrey countryside that people think of as green belt because the main road had an “urbanising” affect on the site.

Speaking on behalf of the application, the agent added: “The borough unfortunately has a major and sustained issue with failing to meet affordable housing needs as demonstrated.”

He said in recent years there there had been a need to build 1,752 affordable homes, and so far it’s delivering just 39 a year. This development, he argued, would provide two years of affordable housing on a single site.

He added that they needed to look at the quality of green belt in the borough as otherwise there would never been any development.

Cllr Shaun Macdonald

Cllr Shaun Macdonald (Lib Dem, Lightwater) said: “We need to be extremely careful before we give up any green belt. I do accept the comments that this is not the most unique piece of green belt we have but it does form a barrier to the other areas adjacent and if we start allowing creep we will soon have all of the green belt gobbled up between Bagshot and north Windlesham.

“If this space was on the other side of the A322 I suspect we would be having a very different conversation about the feasibility and viability.”

Access was another issue raised during the meeting with one Bagshot resident, who had lived in the area for 56 years raising safety issues for any young families would could move there. He said: “This particular site to my mind has a very serious problem attached to it with regards to access.”

Share This Post

Responses to Surrey Heath Council Rejects Plan to Build on Green Belt

  1. S Collins Reply

    May 30, 2024 at 3:44 pm

    Is this what Labour are going to call grey belt, and build on anyway?

  2. Nathan Cassidy Reply

    May 31, 2024 at 11:10 am

    Land with the benefit of being close to a train station and a school. Sandwiched between main roads, a golf course and an industrial estate. This is land which provides little habitat to nature. Yet still NIMBYs reject it. The attitude of these people are kneecapping any possibility of economic growth and alleviating the housing crisis.

    • John Perkins Reply

      June 1, 2024 at 10:47 am

      Presumably Nathan Cassidy means the land provides little habitat to larger animals. If you can’t see it then it doesn’t really exist.

  3. RWL Davies Reply

    June 1, 2024 at 12:44 pm

    Mr Cassidy gets it right.

    A nonsensical rejection flying in the face of common sense which could and should be overruled in the not too distant future; irrespective of the general election result.

  4. Nigel Keane Reply

    June 3, 2024 at 12:50 am

    Ah, Lib-Dem Councillors who actually protect their green belt areas rather than just obey the council planning Officers who allegedly know best even when residents who actually live in the area, unlike the officers, are objecting.

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *