Fringe Box



Letter: The Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Designation Must Be Respected

Published on: 17 Feb, 2019
Updated on: 17 Feb, 2019

AONB land to the north of Down Lane off the Hog’s Back.

From Lisa Wright

I attended the Surrey Hills Symposium held on November 28 last year at the University of Surrey to hear all about the future of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Whilst it was a very enjoyable and informative evening, I was surprised to hear the closing comments from the chairman of the Surrey Hills AONB Board, Cllr David Wright OBE, who stated that there was no planned development in either the Waverley or Guildford AONB.

After the meeting closed, I approached Cllr Wright with a copy of the Guildford Local Plan site A26a and he again reiterated that this site was not in the AONB.

It is indisputable that policy A26a, a major road linking the proposed Blackwell Farm development to the A31 Hog’s Back is indeed within the Surrey Hills AONB.

I am distressed by Cllr Wright’s ignorance of this fact and question how many other councillors, members of the AONB board or local residents are not aware that a major road is being proposed through our AONB?

Surely if Cllr Wright had understood the significant damage that carving a road through the northern flank of the Hog’s Back ridge would do to the Surrey Hills landscape, he and his fellow board members would have opposed it, and the site would have been thrown out long ago.

Whilst it has not been the AONB board’s decision to develop Blackwell Farm, it is not too late for the AONB board to object to the scheme vehemently now and to make sure it is removed from the Local Plan. This would be a wonderful way of celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Surrey Hills AONB – protecting the very landscape it was set up to preserve.

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Responses to Letter: The Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Designation Must Be Respected

  1. Karen Stevens Reply

    February 18, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    The Surrey Hills AONB Board’s planning consultant was certainly aware that the new access to Blackwell Farm was planned across the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and objected to this in his consultation response to the Local Plan. I, therefore, find it surprising, and depressing, that the AONB Board Chairman seems to be ignorant of this.

    The proposed major road link (Policy A26a) will directly impact the AONB and the 1,800-home housing estate (Policy A26) will destroy the setting of the AONB (the views from and towards the Hog’s Back ridge). Furthermore, an independent landscape study has shown the vast majority of Blackwell Farm meets the criteria for AONB status, and this study has been put forward by our MP, Anne Milton, for the forthcoming boundary review of the Surrey Hills AONB.

    I am disappointed that GBC has ignored all these facts when considering suitable places to build. It seems that the business interests of the University of Surrey are more important to the council than protecting our landscape heritage and our environment.

  2. Peter Elliott Reply

    February 19, 2019 at 8:17 pm

    It is indeed astonishing that the AONB board chairman claims to be ignorant of the impact of the Blackwell Farm development on the AONB.

    If this plan goes ahead, a large section of the northern part of it will be reduced to a narrow strip of hillside a few hundred yards across, with up to 3,000 houses on one side, a dual carriageway [the A31] on the other, and a major new road running across it.

    If this were to happen, it’s hard to see how it could possibly still meet the criteria to remain an AONB. What is more, it will inevitably create a precedent that other developers will seize on, given the pressure on green spaces in the South East.

    If this plan is allowed to go ahead, nowhere in the Surrey Hills AONB will be safe from the threat of large scale development. In fact, we have already seen that further along the Hog’s Back, near Wanborough, parcels of land have already been sold off to land speculators, and a shanty town of huts and fences has been allowed to develop there.

  3. Stuart Barnes Reply

    February 20, 2019 at 9:01 am

    This is frightening. Who can we trust to protect what remains of our green and pleasant land?

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