ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
INSPECTOR’S REPORT WITH MAIN MODIFICATIONS
WOKING SITE ALLOCATION DEVELOPMENT PLAN DOCUMENT (‘SADPD’)
Schedule of Proposed Main Modifications to the Regulation 19 Consultation Document
The above report was released on Friday 18th September 2020. It is 282 pages in length and is effectively the final step in a process that has been going on for several years. There is an eight week consultation process prior to submission to Woking Borough Council (‘WBC’) for final adoption.
The Examination in Public was not webcast, so there is no official record of what was said. This is unusual.
This note is primarily about the impact the modified SADPD (if adopted) will have on West Byfleet and, in particular, the recommended release from Green Belt of land surrounding West Hall, Parvis Road for 555 homes (site reference GB9) and 15 travellers’ pitches (site reference GB9A).
While there will of course be some who are relaxed about the recommendation, there is no doubt that overall it has provoked deep anger within the community. The voice of West Byfleet has been ignored.
In addition, it should not be forgotten that in Byfleet land south of Parvis Road (GB4 and GB5) are safeguarded. These will only be released for development if an update to Core Strategy suggests further land is required.
I have seldom seen a Plan Document with so many changes/Modifications. It is close to a total rewrite confirming, as most of us knew, that the original SADPD was unsound. We now effectively have a new document that will not be fully consulted. At this stage the legal process only permits consultation on the Main Modifications to the SADPD, and NOT to any other aspects of the submitted SADPD. Most importantly, this consultation does not represent an opportunity to raise other matters which either were or could have been part of the earlier representations or the Examination Hearings of the SADPD. There is also no need to repeat representations that have been submitted before, which have already been passed to the Inspector. Given that it is tantamount to a new document, this is a travesty.
The position of the Residents’ Association was and remains that there is no need for WBC to release land from the Green Belt to meet its housing targets. This applies equally to Pyrford and Byfleet, as it does to West Byfleet.
So a few reminders:
- WBC in its core strategy aims to deliver 4964 additional dwellings between 2010 and 2027 (an annual average of 292 per annum)
- To achieve this 550 would have to be built on land to be released from Green Belt. However, much has changed since then as regards new dwelling numbers. The core strategy was written in 2013. It is hopelessly out of date
- The average per annum delivery of new homes in WBC area over the last three years has been 325
- West Byfleet was delighted to support the Octagon development at Broadoaks and its release from Green Belt. This will provide over 250 new homes and a 80 bed Care Home
- It is very positive that at long last the Sheer House site will be redeveloped with around 200 retirement apartments plus retail units
- Should the land at West Hall be released from Green Belt and 555 new dwellings be built, then in the course of a few years West Byfleet will have contributed over 1,000 new homes (plus office conversions) to the figures. This is an increase of over 40% in its housing stock; a massive increase in population (at last count around 5,000) and the loss of around half of all our Green Belt
- Most Councils adopt the policy that Green Belt releases should be equally and fairly shared amongst areas and all take a pro rata share of homes to be built on Green Belt. Not Woking.
550 homes allegedly have to be built on Green Belt between now and 2027. West Byfleet has already provided around 250 at Broadoaks and 118 are proposed for Egley Road, Mayford. So, to meet the balance of 182, let us build 555 at West Hall, West Byfleet. Not quite a mutant algorithm but rather unnecessary arithmetic.
The Inspector’s Report with Main Modifications
Last December, Wade Pollard (Chair – West Byfleet Neighbourhood Forum) and Stewart Dick (Chair – Residents’ Association) attended the Examination in Public representing your Community. We spoke with knowledge; we set out with clarity the many problems that 555 additional homes on West Hall Green Belt land would give rise to; we spoke about the purpose of Green Belt; we highlighted the shortcomings of the SADPD and we challenged the calculation of housing numbers. We wasted our time.
A few points:
- This report is so amended that it should be treated as a new Plan
- In particular the redrafting of Policy SA1 (land removed from Green Belt) totally removes the protection that land will only be released for residential development if there is evidence of significant under provision against the housing requirement. This is a fundamental change and extremely detrimental
- Throughout the Examination there was confusion as to the housing numbers and new dwellings that WBC would achieve up to 2027. That confusion continues. Regrettably there is no record of what was said at the Examination in Public
- The National Planning Policy Framework lays down the five purposes of Green Belt. The Inspector ignores them. National policy attaches great importance to the Green Belt and only envisages altering boundaries in exceptional circumstances. There are NO exceptional circumstances and release of land from the Green Belt is not justified
- There are no plans to improve infrastructure to support 555 houses at West Hall
- At the Examination, SCC confirmed that little if anything could be done to improve Parvis Road, a road that already fails miserably on performance assessments
- Have Health Care and Education been considered? A few uncosted words of little substance
- Travellers are a welcome addition to our multicultural society in West Byfleet. All advice from those who work in this area recommend that this level of concentration is unhelpful. Apparently the Inspector knows better.
Very simply, the elements that make the Village of West Byfleet sustainable and desirable are to be undermined. This Plan has become flawed in view of the passage of time and the Inspector’s Modifications are defective sticking plasters. West Byfleet is to be a victim of complacent bureaucracy.
A Petition has been launched by West Byfleet Neighbourhood Forum and you are encouraged to sign it. Every signature adds force to the statement of community disquiet. The SADPD requires to be amended to address the above points.
This Report is lacking in creativity and imagination. The Plan was unsound; it remains so. The Plan has taken so long it is now a piece of history as opposed to a road map for the future. We need to treat it accordingly. We do not wish it to be abandoned, but we do require it to address the issues of 2020 and beyond, and above all to justify and explain how housing numbers are arrived at. You are encouraged to write and object in the strongest possible terms. Also register to participate in the WBC Zoom meetings (details here on the RA website). It is your Village and you must protect it. Make your voice heard – loud, clear and long. This is your FINAL opportunity.
Chairman – Byfleet, West Byfleet, and Pyrford Residents’ Association