Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Memoranda

Memorandum by West Clandon Parish Council (SHC 37)


  We wish to formally register our total opposition to the proposal in the Surrey County Council Spatial Strategy document to locate 6,000 houses on Green Belt land adjacent to Guildford and Woking. We support the objections of the Guildford Borough Council but are particularly concerned that 2,000 of the 6,000 total are to be located on Gosden Hill Farm which is part of the Green Belt barrier separating and protecting West Clandon from inclusion in the Guildford urban complex.

  The village of West Clandon has 470 houses and a total population of approximately 1,100. It has no commercial enterprise apart from two public houses, a garden centre, a nursing home and the National Trust Clandon Park House. Along with many other rural villages, it lost its village shop and post office some years ago.

  The addition of 2,000 homes for West Clandon with some 4,000-5,000 inhabitants and in all likelihood at least 3,000 cars, together with the infrastructure needed, will irretrievably change West Clandon's rural environment to one of a suburb of the new community and inevitably an extension of Guildford's urban sprawl.

  We are convinced that in suggesting the Gosden Hill Farm site the County Council has not appreciated that whatever layout is proposed, the new development will come to within approximately 500 metres of the present village at its closest point. Since Martin Grant Homes, the developer, owns all the remaining land in the area north of the railway line, any tag ends will swiftly be mopped up with further applications which, in view of the precedent already created, would be impossible to refuse.

  We do not believe that the County Council has given any consideration to the effect of the proposal on Cotts Wood and Frithy's Wood and the valuable ecological area of wet woodland which was identified in the Inspector's report to the Secretary of State in his final refusal on the Martin Grant application of 1981-85. Cotts Wood is protected as an ancient woodland but as far as we know there is no similar protection for Frithy's Wood, and in any case their environmental and ecological value would be lost for ever when surrounded by 2,000 houses and the community infrastructure involved.

  Nor do we believe that the County Council has considered the recreational value to West Clandon of the two footpaths numbers 568 and 66. Number 568 in particular which runs along the North East boundary of Martin Grant Homes property is at the rear of all the properties on Clandon Road, Desdwell Drive and Highcotts Lane. It is a highly favoured walk for all village residents and visitors and offers a superb view of the open, sloping landscape of Dedswell Manor Farm and Gosden Hill Farm. Those major benefits would lose their entire appeal when overlooking 2,000 houses in the new community.

  The County Council is, we know, aware of the linear structure of West Clandon along the A247 and the problems of having its main thoroughfare as the only route over the railway. This attracts a great number of heavy lorries, both local and long distance, seeking to access the A3 and beyond to Woking.

  It has been suggested that a road linking the A246 at Merrow with the A3 would need to be built to service the proposed development and that this would alleviate the current traffic concerns in West Clandon. This claimed advantage was put forward in the 1981-85 application but was firmly refused by the Inspector who indicated that any marginal advantage which would result from the proposed road was not worth the loss of Green Belt and the destruction of the pleasant landscape of Gosden Hill Farm. The traffic problem of West Clandon is common to a number of similar villages in the Guildford/Woking area and needs to be part of the major work being considered for the A3 route and its junctions with surrounding feeder roads. The traffic chaos that would result from an additional 3,000 cars in West Clandon would far outweigh any marginal advantage gained from directing some of the heavy lorries through Merrow.

  It must be borne in mind that Martin Grant Homes has an access road linking Dedswell Manor Farm to the A247 through our village. A substantial proportion of the traffic exiting the upper end of the proposed development and heading east or west to Dorking, the A3 and Woking, would inevitably use this shorter route. Moreover, since two thirds of the development is to be 4 to 5 bedroom houses which will attract London commuters, any diversion of traffic via an A246-A3 link will be subsumed by the additional volume using the Dedswell Drive exit.

  Apart from the degradation of West Clandon from a pleasant, rural village to an urban suburb of Guildford, the residents of our village, who work in and use Guildford as their nearest main shopping area, are very alarmed at the County Council's promotion of the town as an administrative centre and transport hub. The objections raised by Guildford residents, and residents of Burpham and Worplesdon to the massive increase in population on the town's perimeter, the ensuing traffic chaos and the burden on already over-stretched facilities and infrastructure are well documented. It is quite clear that Guildford and Woking and all the surrounding independent villages would, if this proposal is approved, rapidly be absorbed into one large urban conglomerate which would only increase the current housing and traffic problems and introduce all the social problems of the large cities, so prominent in the media.

  West Clandon recognises the dilemma faced by the County Council in allocating the imposed housing increase set by central government, but absolutely rejects the proposal that these new communities on the edge of Guildford and Woking would be a practical solution. We understand that Guildford already has surplus office space standing empty and we know that a large office block in Burnt Common recently completed is unoccupied. More commercial construction is taking place between Burnt Common and Ripley. We support Guildford in deploring this rampant commercial expansion. We call upon the County Council to look again at the possibility of incorporating more housing in the urban areas of the present county towns which, with more sensitive and imaginative planning, would enable business and industry to have their employees close to their work and not commuting from suburbs. Normal commercial and industrial growth should be limited but, where necessary, directed to areas of the County where more growth would be commercially advantageous and not destructive of Green Belt barriers under threat in the northern half of Surrey.

  Most of the points made in this letter were put forward at the meeting of West Clandon residents in their village hall on 27 September 2002 and later at the Guildford Borough Council meeting of 10 October 2002. These meetings also benefited from the concerns expressed by the Burpham Community Association and the Merrow Residents' Association. West Clandon fully supports the objections that they put forward. We also endorse the views expressed by the C.P.R.E. Surrey, which speaks from the perspective of the whole county.

  In the light of the very strong objections from all quarters of Guildford, West Clandon and Worplesdon, we urge the County Council to seek a fairer and more equitable solution to the problem of additional housing in Surrey.

Robyn Cormack

Clerk to the Parish Council

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