Fringe Box



The Ash Aspect: GBC Remains Silent on Plot of Land Promised to the Community

Published on: 25 Jan, 2024
Updated on: 26 Jan, 2024

By David Reading

What will happen to the plot of land that Bewley Homes set aside for the construction of a new GPs’ surgery in Ash, now that the NHS has said it doesn’t want the land?

Last September, in the light of the NHS statement, Guildford Borough Council said it was “actively exploring” the use of the land “for community purposes.”

That was almost four months ago. Earlier this month, we asked for an update – but the council seems oddly reticent to provide a progress report.

We are not alone. Cllr Sue Wyeth-Price (Residents for Guildford and Villages) says she has repeatedly asked her own council for information but cannot get an update – despite the fact that the land is within her Ash South Ward.

And yet it has been reported that two leading political figures – notably Jeremy Hunt, MP for the neighbouring constituency of South West Surrey – have become firmly involved in discussions on the future use of the site.

The plot of land in question in Ash Lodge Park, in September

The land in question is on the new estate of 481 homes at Ash Lodge Park.

Bewley Homes set aside the land for a GPs’ surgery in 2019 under a Section 106 legal agreement with the council, a system that requires developers to secure benefits for the area where they are building. It was felt this would meet the area’s primary healthcare requirements, bearing in mind that many hundreds of new homes were being built throughout Ash and Tongham.

But the NHS said it didn’t want the land and instead intended to develop and improve existing primary care services at local surgeries.

The council’s statement last September said: “The applicant (Bewley) also carried out an extensive marketing campaign. There was no serious interest from other healthcare providers. The land now cascades to possible community use. We’re now actively exploring the use of the land for community purposes.”

On January 8 this year we asked the council for an update but have not received a response despite several reminders. And the two GBC councillors for Ash South say they too have been kept out of the loop.

Cllr Wyeth-Price said she learned to her surprise that there had been a meeting to discuss the land’s future involving MP Mr Hunt and leading county councillor Matt Furniss, whose Shalford ward covers Tongham. She was told about the meeting only after it had been held, she said, and no one had contacted her with an update.

Asked for a comment on his involvement, Mr Hunt said: “I want to try and ensure the land is used for the community in a way that the majority of people want and will bring the most benefit and enjoyment for residents.

“I have been asking members of the public who live in the area for their thoughts and how important a new medical centre is to them. I also recently sent a survey to every household in Ash and Ash Vale on the future of the area. We have had an excellent response so far and I encourage people to get their reply in so we can really get a feel for what local residents think and make a plan for this important space.”

Asked if he was involved in discussions, Cllr Furniss said: “Yes I am still working with the NHS about bringing the site forward for a medical use.

“Once these discussions are concluded we do have an idea of Surrey County Council taking it on for an alternative community use if the NHS decide not to proceed.”

Cllr Sue Wyeth-Price

Cllr Wyeth-Price said she had been asking questions about this piece of land for several years now, even before she became a councillor.

She said: “Since being elected in May I have repeatedly raised this issue with the planning team, the head of planning, the strategic director of place and the chief executive, yet they have not provided any satisfactory response. I was only made aware of the meeting between Cllr Furniss, the MP and the developer after the event, and none of them have contacted the ward councillors since.

“We were told by the lead councillor for Planning, George Potter [now replaced by Cllr Fiona White] that there would be a meeting to update us, but after asking him for an update twice, nothing has happened. I cannot understand why Surrey county councillors have been involved in this at all, as the agreement is between the developers and GBC, as the Local Planning Authority, and clearly states that if the land is not necessary for healthcare, then it can pass to GBC at no cost for community use.

“Residents have told me they would support the use of this land for a variety of potential uses. Currently, the derelict land is just an eyesore. This is another of the Section 106 promises which after five years are yet to be delivered for the benefit of the residents.  “

Whatever happens to the land – whether it is used for health or community purposes – there remains the question of how local primary care services will cope with the large influx of new residents.

NHS Frimley said early last year that work was taking place to boost capacity at the Bartlett Practice’s two surgeries, at Ash Vale and Frimley Green, and the Border Practice in Blackwater Way.

Now there is further news from Frimley Health and Care, the NHS body involved in planning, buying and providing health and care services locally.

In a statement published last year on its website, Frimley Health and Care said:

Residents across North East Hampshire and Farnham and Surrey Heath will be able to access more primary care appointments this winter.

“Frimley Health and Care are launching a pilot service ready for winter located at the Aldershot Urgent Care Centre, to increase access to same-day urgent care for minor illness.

“The service is open Monday to Saturday from 8am – 8pm.”

For more information visit:

It is to be hoped that although this is only a pilot scheme, if it were to be extended it would go some way to take the pressure off local GPs.

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