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Wanborough Fields, Lead Councillor Says ‘We Have Taken Significant Action’

Published on: 25 Feb, 2022
Updated on: 28 Feb, 2022

Caravans on Wanborough Fields

By Martin Giles

Cllr Tom Hunt (Lib Dem, Friary & St Nicolas), lead councillor for Development Control at GBC, has responded to concerns expressed by Wanborough residents regarding developments on Wanborough Fields designated as an area of great landscape value (AGLV).

A large field has been divided into plots which are being advertised for sale or rent. A small number of wooden buildings have been constructed and two caravans have been placed on the field.

See also: Wanborough Fields a ‘Right Fit’ for Travellers, Says Owner

Nearby residents and the borough councillor for neighbouring Normandy, David Bilbe (Con), have been critical of the enforcement action by council officers at Millmead saying it has not been effective enough. A Wanborough parish councillor said: “…the impression is of a situation out of control.” And a local campaigning resident said: “Action is needed, not endless ‘investigation’.”

Cllr Tom Hunt

But Cllr Hunt’s response details the action GBC has taken. He said: “We understand residents’ concerns about activity at the privately-owned Wanborough Fields.

“We are investigating a number of issues at the site, including alleged planning breaches, and the recent addition of caravans. We are using the legal powers available to us to resolve these issues as quickly as possible.  

“To date, we have taken significant action in relation to Wanborough Fields.  In 2017, we served an Article 4 direction on this site, meaning that planning permission is required to put up any gates, fences, walls or other objects that enclose an area.  Planning permission is also required for any temporary use of land for more than 28 days in a calendar year.  A number of planning applications have been made for these purposes, but have been refused and dismissed when appealed. 

“We have served multiple planning enforcement notices, a number of which the landowners have complied with. Two notices are still outstanding.  

“We are seeking to prosecute the relevant landowner for failing to comply with one of the outstanding notices. The court date is set (by the court) for August 2022.   

“If the relevant landowner does not comply with the second outstanding notice in the required time, we will consider formal action, such as prosecution.  

“Resolving issues at this site is a priority. We continue to review the site on a regular basis and will take action as required.   

“Not all development, or changes of use of land, or building require planning permission. If anyone is concerned about a potential breach of planning control on a site, or thinks a development does not have appropriate planning permission, please let us know via our website: www.guildford.gov.uk/planningenforcement.

“Our planning enforcement team can investigate alleged breaches of planning control and take steps to resolve identified breaches.”  

Wanborough Parish Council’s website

Oscar de Chazal, a Wanborough parish councillor, said: “Wanborough Parish Council appreciates the resources that Guildford Borough Council continues to put into enforcement in Wanborough Fields, and it is right to say that there have been some notable wins.

We welcome previous assurances from GBC that they will do everything possible to ensure the sites are restored to a natural state. However, the damage to the fields is getting worse by the week and the impression is of a situation out of control.

The owners have disregarded the rules. There should be no ‘benefit of the doubt’.  GBC must take control and act decisively with direct action now to avoid more destruction and spiralling costs down the line.”

Wanborough resident and campaigner Mary Adkin said: “Councillor Hunt refers to the Article 4 Direction served on Wanborough Fields. But initially, Guildford Borough Council rejected pleas for the Article 4; it was only granted in February 2018 after a petition by concerned locals was just 60 signatures short of qualifying for a debate in full council.

“We know planning regulations are complex and flawed, but enforcement measures do exist and many Wanborough Fields issues have been given low priority.

“Action is needed, not endless ‘investigation’. For that to happen, GBC senior management and councillors need to give enforcement, legal and planning officers their full support. Strong, positive leadership from the top must do away with the current, defensive mindset and implement all enforcement measures available, as breaches occur, without delay.”

 

 

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