Surrey council set to change tack on green belt release proposals

A council in west Surrey is set to drop its proposals to allocate a series of sites in the green belt for potential housing development after 2027 in favour of a plan to safeguard a single large-scale strategic site in the green belt for new homes.

McLaren Technology Centre (picture by David Hawgood, Geograph)
McLaren Technology Centre (picture by David Hawgood, Geograph)

Woking Borough Council members will later today consider new proposals for how land within the district’s green belt could be safeguarded to meet future development needs between 2027 and 2040.

Under plans contained in a draft site allocations development plan document, a group of six sites - including land at Byfleet, Mayford, Hook Heath and Pyrford - had been identified to be safeguarded.

But today’s meeting of the full council will consider plans put forward by the authority’s local development framework (LDF) working group to delete the six sites from the draft site allocations DPD, and replace them with a single site to the east of Martyrs Lane, adjacent to the McLaren Technology Centre in the north of the district.

An officer’s report to the working group said that the site could provide up to 3,000 homes, but recommended that the land should not be included in the site allocations DPD as a safeguarded site.

The report said that the impacts on the landscape character of the area "will be significant, the damage to the purposes of the green belt will also be the significant and the traffic impacts will be far more severe and difficult to mitigate".

However, in its recommendation to the council, the LDF working group said that it was "not persuaded" that development in the location "would undermine the green belt by merger or sprawl". It added that it was "not of the view that the traffic impacts were so severe that, with proper mitigation, the effects could not be made acceptable".

The LDF working group said that, having regard to the evidence base and representations to a consultation last year on the earlier proposals - which attracted more than 32,000 representations from nearly 1,700 individuals - it was "not of the view that a dispersed strategy to meet the long-term needs of the borough beyond 2027 … represented a sustainable pattern of development or would deliver a permanent and enduring green belt boundary into the future".

Ashley Bowes, portfolio holder for planning services and chairman of the LDF working group, said: "When considering the huge number of responses received, the LDF working group were not satisfied that the identified safeguarded sites were the most appropriate when judged against reasonable alternatives and, therefore, did not justify, at this stage, revision of the green belt boundary in the Byfleet, Hook Heath and Pyrford locations.

"The working group is instead recommending a strategic site to the east of Martyrs Lane and A320.

"This recommendation, which I hope council will support at its meeting on 20 October, demonstrates that where concerns are raised by the public, which are justified on the evidence, the council will listen and proactively present an alternative to the public for their view."

If the recommendation of the working group is supported by council members, a further consultation on the draft site allocations DPD will commence early next year, the council said in a statement.


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