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West Horsley To Get 139 New Homes Despite Claimed Neighbourhood Plan Conflicts

Published on: 20 Jul, 2021
Updated on: 24 Jul, 2021

A plan view of the greenfield development which has been given permission to proceed.

By Martin Giles

A controversial planning application for 139 houses in West Horsley was narrowly approved last week despite strong objections from West Horsley Parish Council, which claimed it went against its Neighbourhood Plan.

The planning application, from Thakeham Homes Ltd of Billingshurst, included seven self-build homes, provision of Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG), together with new junior sports hall, two tennis courts and a nursery school facility.

The application had been referred to the Planning Committee because more than 20 letters of objection, had been received, contrary to the officer’s recommendation to grant permission. In total, 181 letters of objection were received.

Catherine Young

Cllr Catherine Young, a GGG borough councillor for the Clandon and Horsley ward, but speaking in her role as a West Horsley parish councillor, listed the areas of conflict between the application and the Neighbourhood Plan.

She said that the proposal: “…introduces [a] suburban cramped layout… the sheer scale and massing of houses and the introduction of blocks of flats will destroy our local character and landscape and the existing countryside views will be replaced with housing.”

“The Local Plan is under review, the ONS [Office of National Statistics] statistics have been questioned. It is not too late to save West Horsley from this excessive development, which will destroy our rural character. So I ask the committee to reflect on our Neighbourhood Plan policies, … and refuse this application.”

Local resident Guy Murray added: “If this development is approved, it will only be because Guildford Borough Council wants it to be. It will make a mockery of the Neighbourhood Plan.

“Residents of both East and West Horsley will lose even more faith in Guildford Borough Council. I, and many other residents respectfully urge the council to refuse this application, and not to approve it simply to meet the questionable housing required by the already outdated Local Plan. This would be to the detriment of the village, its residents and our quality of life.”

An artist impression of how the new homes will look.

Tristan Robinson, an agent for the developers, said it would be an “exemplar development, helping to protect the five-year land supply position”, a planning policy requirement with which the council has to comply. He reminded the meeting that the application was on a site allocated for development in Guildford’s Local Plan.

The breakdown of the house types within the development.

In the ensuing debate between members of the Planning Committee Cllr Tim Anderson (R4GV, Clandon & Horsley) pointed out that the “landowner designated for himself a large tract of land to keep his privacy”. As a result, the houses had been restricted to a smaller site and consequently at a higher density than originally envisaged.

Cllr Paul Spooner

Cllr Spooner said members “…should remember that we do need to develop in this borough”. He questioned a claimed conflict with the Neighbourhood Plan’s policy of dark skies saying: “The dark skies policy that’s been mentioned – how on earth can you develop a site on dark skies…?”

Councillor Ramsey Nagaty (GGG, Shalford) questioned the claim that no statutory bodies were objecting. Parish Councils were statutory bodies, he said, adding he had just Googled to check.

GBC lawyer Delwyn Jones responded that even if parish councils were regarded as statutory bodies it would not have a material bearing on the planning decision.

A current view across the greenfield site that will now be developed.

Cllr Nagaty then raised the subject of climate change: “I’m very concerned… this council, proposed a climate emergency, and we’re making decisions [but] we’re in danger of them being bad planning decisions because we’re not giving enough regard to climate change.

“We just saw what happened in America and Canada, and even in London last week with the flash floods, and … we’re putting in gas boilers. It seems so wrong.”

Two examples of the architectural style employed.

Cllr Chris Blow (R4GV, Shalford), an architect, commended parts of the design although he did not like the building heights. He said: “I think there are a lot of commendable features in the way that the architects have handled the building shapes. I don’t like the heights, that’s just an opinion, as indeed, of course, is the final judgement, which is one of considering the balance of harm against benefit.”

When it came to the vote Cllr Blow voted “with great reluctance” in favour of the application.

His decision has angered some because although planning decisions are meant to be non-political, decided only on planning issues, party politics can have an influence and R4GV supporters in the villages feel that in making his decision he has gone against what they believed his party stood for.

If he had voted the other way the vote would have been tied 7-7 but as the committee chair, Cllr Fiona White (Lib Dem, Westborough), has a casting vote, her vote for the motion would have been decisive anyway.

 

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test 9 Responses to West Horsley To Get 139 New Homes Despite Claimed Neighbourhood Plan Conflicts

  1. Valerie Thompson Reply

    July 20, 2021 at 7:35 am

    There were 181 letters of objection to this development, not “more than 20” , with just six letters supporting approval.

    What is the point of people wasting their time and effort writing sensible, well thought out comments about such excessive house-building, when they will be tossed aside and ignored?

    • Mr B Todd Reply

      July 21, 2021 at 10:54 pm

      They put the Manor Farm development through despite so much opposition and so many negative comments. I believe that this is not a local issue at all.

      If central government and the political parties are given so many millions [of £s] from developers annually, then unless this is exposed for what it is and policy changed from the top, then unfortunately local authorities are teflon-coated and can pass what they please and will continue to do so.

      It’s not just happening in Surrey it is all over the country.

      Some development is important but not all and this is not needed in this area unless of course all that matters is money.

  2. Adam Aaronson Reply

    July 20, 2021 at 7:43 am

    This shows what an excellent return a developer can get from a small donation to the Conservative Party.

    • Harry Eve Reply

      July 25, 2021 at 3:11 pm

      I believe the donations were quite high. I wonder how many ground source heat pumps could have been fitted instead. Surely a more worthwhile cause.

      • David Roberts Reply

        July 28, 2021 at 1:42 pm

        Thakeham Homes have given about £500,000 to the Conservative Party recently, which would have covered about 36 ground-source heat pumps at £14,000 each. But that is not their priority.

        • Stuart Thompson Reply

          July 30, 2021 at 11:42 am

          According to a report in today’s Financial Times, donors with property interests have given £17.9m to the Tory party in the two years since Boris Johnson became prime minister.

  3. Stuart Barnes Reply

    July 20, 2021 at 8:55 am

    It is pointless to put all the blame on the fake Conservative Party as the other main parties would be even less restrictive.

    The simple fact is that this country is full and cannot cope with the relentless growth in numbers coming here.

  4. Rosemary Tribe Reply

    July 22, 2021 at 9:39 am

    Where we live we will be surrounded by new building developments. We have all looked at the plan, residents are just being ignored. As mentioned, we have seen the flooding issues.

    I have Riparian Duties [rights and maintenance responsibilities for a watercourse] awarded to me by Guildford Borough Council as I have a ditch that takes surface water from East Lane and other areas. I am concerned that when this house building is finished the drainage will not cope with all this new development.

  5. Valerie Thompson Reply

    July 29, 2021 at 9:03 am

    Maybe the new Government rules on building on flood-plains might help, though I hold out little hope of decisions already made being reversed.

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