Woking Borough Council finally announced the results of its Green Belt Boundary Review today – and appallingly, the review recommends building on much of the Borough’s Green Belt including in south Woking.
The Council’s Core Strategy states that around 500 homes will be built in the Borough’s Green Belt between 2022 and 2027, so the Council set up a review into what land could potentially be built on.
The review identifies that the land off Egley Road and Saunders Lane in Mayford, as well as Green Belt land around Byfleet and West Byfleet – and small sections of land in Brookwood and Pyrford are suitable for development.
Specifically, the Green Belt Review recommends several development sites around the Borough, namely from west to east:
- A parcel of land south east of the Brookwood Crossroads
- Land north of Saunders Lane (around the one house on the north side of Saunders Lane)
- Land in between Hook Hill Lane, Mayford Village Hall and Saunders Lane
- Land in between Hook Heath and the Guildford to Woking railway line railway line in Hook Heath
- Land the other side of the railway, off Egley Road (including the garden centre)
- A parcel of land by Coldharbour Road and Pyrford Common Road in Pyrford
- Land to the south of the A245 in West Byfleet, land south of Murray’s Lane in Byfleet
- Land south of High Road in Byfleet
- And finally, land east of Byfleet off Mill Lane
Strangely, the review also states that much of the Borough’s open and recreation spaces should lose their Green Belt protection. The report states this is not to allow for development – as the land in question is subject to other planning protections – but to tidy up the Green Belt boundary.
However, needless to say removing Green Belt protection would make development easier in the areas of land identified – which include some of Horsell Common, Goldsworth Park Rec, St John’s Lye and the large section of land north of Old Woking (the Coniston Road allotments, Hoebridge School, St John the Baptist School and Woking College).
The Conservative Executive does not plan to hold any public consultation on this review, as it is classing it as a technical consultants report. However, this review will be used to draft the Council’s Delivery Development Plan Document (a supplementary document to the Core Strategy) that will be debated by Councillors and then subject to a public consultation between now and the end of 2014. The Delivery Development Plan Development will then be subject to an examination by a Planning Inspector from the Department of Communities and Local Government.
The report has deliberately identified ‘too many’ sites to meet the Council’s 2027 housing target – therefore the Council does not need to allow development on all of them to meet its target. The report recommends that some of those Green Belt sites above are built on before 2027, with the rest being earmarked for development but after 2027.
Clearly our precious Green Belt is under threat, but the battle is far from lost – the next 6 months will be fundamental in deciding the future of our Borough.
Of course Woking needs more homes, but any plans must be sustainable and accompanied by the right infrastructure – and the Conservative Council’s plans seem intent on sacrificing our Green Belt. I am hoping that when they actual allow a consultation, the ruling Conservatives listen to local residents and drop these plans.