Elmbridge Borough Council has reassessed its housing need through to 2035 and concluded that it will need to nearly double the number of new houses built to 474 per annum. This cannot be met from existing brown field sites alone and it will have a massive impact on our green belt.
One of the options is to classify that part of the green belt as "weakly performing" and make it available for development. Elmbridge BC has classified three areas as such; two of which are in the Cobham area:-
We are not talking about a few houses but big estates.
If these proposals were carried through they would have a devastating effect on our community:
There is at present no joined up thinking between local authorities. The Guildford proposal for over 2000 houses at Wisley has now been appealed and there will be a public enquiry. If this were to go ahead it will put massive pressure on our infrastructure before even thinking about Elmbridge's proposals above.
The key dates are:
One of our senior Elmbridge councillors, Cllr James Browne, has agreed to speak at the next Cobham Conservation & Heritage Trust open meeting at the Cobham Village Hall, Lushington Drive on Wednesday 14th December at 8pm. More details at www.cobhamheritage.org.uk
It's good news that the Cobham Free School has abandoned its plans to develop a large new school on the Green Belt site adjoining Anvil Lane, Cobham and instead intends moving into Munro House off the Fairmile. Some years ago we argued that Munro House would be a far more suitable site!
We should like to congratulate the planning department at Elmbridge BC and our Councillors who have steadfastly held out to protect our Green Belt. This sends a clear, strong and unequivocal message to other potential developers “hands off our green belt”.
We would like to thank the other Cobham groups who united with us under the banner of the Cobham Green Belt Group to fight this and also for the support we have received from our members. We realise that not all our members will be happy with the new site but hopefully, with the network of footpaths and cycle lanes available, many pupils will use alternatives to the car to get to school.
Our planning team have been considering the draft Guildford Local Plan since it went out for consultation last month. It will be responding by making many points, on the basis for housing figures, Green Belt and the environment in particular.
In looking at what residents can do to object, it considers that it would be best for residents to focus on objecting to the inclusion of development of the Former Wisley Airfield and it has drafted some bullet points for residents to use as below. It is important to state an objection whenever that is appropriate.
It is vital that, for your objection to register, it reaches Guildford Borough Council by Monday 18th July 2016.
For most in our area, as you are likely not to live in the borough, we suggest that you identify living outside the Borough of Guildford (your full name and address is needed anyway) but saying that you have a greater interest in what goes into the Guildford Local Plan for the local area than those living on the far side of the borough.
Bullet Points for objections:-
• Object to the removal of the Former Wisley Airfield from the Green Belt. The area serves a vital role in preventing urban sprawl from London and a development would create an urban corridor stretching from London to Guildford.
• No exceptional circumstances have been established to warrant removing the site from the Metropolitan Green Belt.
• There is ample brownfield land in urban areas which needs to be regenerated, without the need to encroach on protected Green Belt land.
• Object to the disproportionate allocation of a proposed increase in housing to the nearby localities of Ockham, Ripley, the Horsleys and Effingham.
• Object to the threat the Local Plan as drafted poses to the historic rural settlements of Ockham, Hatchford and Downside.
• The plan calls for Ockham, a hamlet of 159 residences to be subsumed into development, on presently open land, with 2,000 dwellings and other urban-style buildings up to five storeys high and a population density higher than most London boroughs. Hatchford, south of the M25, has some 60 residences off narrow Ockham Lane that would be greatly affected by the proximity of development.
• Object to the potential harmful impact on transport, local roads and road safety by the suggested development. The result of an additional 2,000 homes would be an estimated 4,000 additional cars together with other vehicles, including HGVs, to service the development.
• The increased traffic would cause congestion and danger on the narrow rural roads in Ockham, Hatchford, Downside and Cobham. Cobham is the closest shopping centre to the proposed development. The village could not cope with the additional traffic and car parking involved in serving some 5,000 additional occupiers at the site and would experience a significant increase in stationary/idling traffic at peak times and at junctions.
• Due to the absence of cycling paths and the lack of footpaths (and the space to provide them) the assertion that the development would result in a meaningful shift to cycling and walking is unbelievable. The increased traffic would add danger to cyclists and pedestrians (including those increasingly using local roads for recreational purposes).
• There would be an increase in the already severe congestion on the Strategic Road Network of the A3 and M25 and the junction of those as well as local roads. The current planning application by RHS Wisley would already have significantly added to visitor traffic.
• Any proposed secondary schooling would add additional congestion.
• The lack of suitable public transport. The local rail stations of Effingham and Horsley could not cope with the proposed increase in passenger traffic and car parking is already at capacity. In the refused planning application there had been a suggestion that Cobham & Stoke D’Abernon Station could be used. That or use of stations further north at Weybridge or Walton would increase congestion and pollution on local roads in Elmbridge.
• Object to the issue of air quality not being taken seriously. Air pollution in this area in the north of the Borough of Guildford and the south of the Borough of Elmbridge and particularly near the M25/A3 junction already exceeds EU-permitted levels. Additional traffic would worsen the situation, affecting the health of all current and future residents.
• Object to insufficient consideration being given to the environmental and ecological value of the site and the area around it, taking account of the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (SPA), Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI).
• The area is a haven for wildlife, some of which is already endangered. The introduction of residences would mean the import into an ecologically sensitive area not only of humans and their increased footfall, but also of pets, and cats and dogs in particular, that can have a devastating effect on wildlife. Protected species on and near the site and wildlife corridors would be destroyed.
• Objections are supported by the unanimous rejection of application no 15/P/00012 by the Planning Committee at Guildford Borough Council on 8th April 2016 on the recommendation of Planning Officers. The Planning Report identified the serious concerns now being highlighted.
Guildford Borough Councillors met on Tue 24th May 2016 to agree the draft Guildford Local Plan.
It was hoped that the amendment to remove the former Wisley Airfield site (also know as Three Farms Meadows) from the local plan would be agreed but unfortunately, only 11 councillors voted for its removal and 33 councillors voted for it to remain. Other amendments were also discussed and voted on, with the final draft local plan being agreed and put forward for consultation.
You can see the full details of the meeting and some video by visiting the Get Surrey website using the following link:
There will now be a consultation period of six weeks starting on the 6th June 2016.