Surrey council drops 112-hectare green belt allocation

A Surrey council has scrapped plans to bring forward a single 112.1-hectare green belt site for development rather than several separate sites across the area after planners concluded that the removal of the site from the green belt 'might not be able to withstand scrutiny at an examination'.

Pyrford: green belt site removed from draft DPD
Pyrford: green belt site removed from draft DPD

In February last year, Woking Borough Council announced plans put forward by the authority’s local development framework (LDF) working group to safeguard a single 112.1-hectare green belt site to the east of Martyrs Lane, adjacent to the McLaren Technology Centre in the north of the district, to meet future development needs between 2027 and 2040.

The proposal - part of the council's work on preparing a site allocations development plan document (DPD) - represented a change of tack for the authority, which had previously consulted on plans to safeguard a group of six green belt sites, including land at Byfleet, Mayford, Hook Heath and Pyrford.

The council then consulted on the change of plan.

Now, the council has announced that the Martyrs Lane site will be dropped from the plans in favour of a series of smaller allocations.

A report considered at a council meeting last week said that, "based on the analysis of the representations received and the review of the available evidence, on the binary choice of whether the six sites should be substituted by the land east of Martyrs Lane, officers are recommending that the six safeguarded sites [except land east of Upshot Lane, Pyrford] should continue to be the council’s preferred approach".

The report said that the "safeguarding of the land east of Martyrs Lane will carry far greater risk of being found unsound and might not be able to withstand scrutiny at an examination when compared with other alternatives".

Cllr Ashley Bowes, portfolio holder for planning, said: "The DPD identifies both urban and green gelt sites for future development. We are, however, acutely aware of local concerns about the green belt as a much cherished part of our natural environment which brings pleasure and enjoyment to many.

"We have minimised the need to remove land from the green belt, taking just 1.93 percent of the total green belt in Woking, much of which already has buildings on it or was scored by the independent green belt review as performing little or no green belt function. The majority of future development sites are located within Woking town centre".

The final draft DPD will now be published for a final consultation. Bowes said that the document is expected to be submitted for examination in summer 2019.

In July, a High Court judge allowed the Surrey branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) to pursue a judicial review at a full hearing on the grounds that a planning inspector incorrectly decided that Waverley Borough Council should accommodate housing need from neighbouring Woking. 

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