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From CPRE’s Surrey Voice Magazine Spring/Summer 2012.
CPRE’s Guildford group has never been busier and has reached a record membership! We are, however, short of volunteers for our committee to help with the growing workload so, if you are interested, please do make contact. It is a fascinating task to watch over the spectacular countryside around Guildford at such a time of policy change and economic uncertainty.
The NPPF requires Guildford Borough Council to submit its Core Strategy within 12 months which does not accord at all with the current timing proposals submitted by the Council. The new Plan will replace the existing Local Plan published in 2003. CPRE has submitted its own response to the draft Town Centre Master Plan which has been the source of considerable controversy within the community, leading to the Guildford Society commissioning planning consultants on urban design to produce a special overview for the town on their behalf, with a wider vision and perspective, with which CPRE is in broad agreement.
We have welcomed the Government publication of the new “Planning Policy for Traveller Sites” which was issued in March and was long overdue. This makes clear that traveller sites (temporary or permanent) in the Green Belt are inappropriate development and that they should only be approved in very special circumstances and not in response to a planning application CPRE Guildford has been heavily involved in opposing a large number of applications for traveller sites within the Green Belt,over the past year, many of them retrospective and requiring enforcement. Those locations most affected have been in Ash, East Clandon, Effingham, Normandy, Puttenham, Ripley, Shalford and Worplesdon.
Although it has been generally agreed by Inspectors that gypsy sites within the Green Belt are inappropriate, the failure of Guildford Borough Council to make sufficient site provision in the past to meet demand has recently led to a number of appeal decisions allowing development in the Green Belt to go ahead for a temporary period. Experience indicates that often this temporary permission is not observed in practice. Worse still for the countryside are those applications within not only the Green Belt but also AONB and AGLV where unsightly caravan pitches are permitted with lorry, van and car parking provision and associated business activities. One of the major issues with which we are dealing currently is the future of Tyting Farm to the North of St Martha’s Hill which is within the Green Belt and the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is also of Great Landscape Value. The farm belongs to the Borough Council and has been unoccupied for some time. The farmhouse and buildings are derelict and there have been difficulties with squatters necessitating expensive security costs. The Lodge House on Halfpenny Lane has already been sold and renovated. Now plans are afoot for the farm house and buildings.
Guildford Council expects to lease all the agricultural land and is exploring the possibility of it being used as a “Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space (SANGS) as proposed in the past by Natural England. Chantry Woods are already a SANGS.
After so many years, we are pleased to inform you that the last delivery of landfill by HGV has been made to the Albury Pit which is now in an advanced stage of restoration and renovation. This will be welcome news to all those who have suffered from traffic noise and disturbance in the area covering Albury, Newlands Corner, West Clandon, Ripley and the other villages on the A25 along the Tillingbourne valley. CPRE will continue to monitor this site to ensure that it regains its former high quality appearance as part of the Surrey Hills AONB and the rural setting to the village of Albury.
CPRE is also aware of the acquisition by a small independent oil and gas company named I-
Author: Tim Harold CPRE