Planning Applications

ASHRA's Response - Housing requirements and numbers

Housing requirements and numbers

It is true that since 2007 the number of houses built in the Guildford Borough, including Ash & Tongham, has fallen below the level specified in the Local Development Framework. However, it is also the case that the whole building industry went into sharp decline at exactly the same time due to the world financial crisis, and not only have the number of completions fallen, but the number of Planning Application have fallen by the same percentage. We have looked at other Boroughs in the south of England and they all produce the same statistics. Therefore to argue that Guildford Borough Council or Ash & Tongham have not met the building requirement set out in the LDF is ridiculous.

It should also be noted, and should be a prime consideration when looking at this Planning Application, that in the last 12 months Guildford Borough Council’s Planning Committee has approved the building of 172 new dwellings in Ash and Tongham. This far exceeds what would be necessary to meet the housing needs of such a small part of the Borough.

The Barton Willmore. Environmental Statement states that the Application site was given the designation "Coutryside beyond the greenbelt" in order to accommodate the future development needs of the Borough. On the contrary, this land was protected under the Local Plan 1993 Saved Policy RE4 which prohibited the building of housing on the land.

Barton Willmore also state that the site will be “successfully absorbed within the surrounding landscape”. The landscape is green at the moment. How can 400 houses be absorbed into this.

Stuart Michael Associates in their Design & Access Statement. Accessment & Context, say this will “create a development that strengthens & enhances the local distinctiveness of Ash & Tongham”. This development does nothing to strengthen or enhance local distinctiveness, rather it will destroy the uniqueness of two villages by merging them into one. The NPPF quite clearly states that we should prevent neighbouring towns and villages merging into one another.

In addition Stuart Michael Associates in their Design & Access Statement. Site Constraints & Opportunities state that "The site is generally well contained, with only partial views from properties and road in the immediate vicinity". - "Near distance views from Ash Lodge Drive, Manor Road, South Lane & Poyle Road adjoin areas of vegetation associated with the boundaries of the site" - "Over longer distances views to the south, particularly from the Hog's Back & Surrey Hills AONB, the site becomes more effectively contained by an established landscape". Do they really expect intelligent people to believe this statement? There will be clear views of the whole site from Ash Street looking down the hill. Also the houses will be visible from the Hog's Back AONB, especially the three storey buildings along the primary route. In addition there will be good visibility of the site from all roads around the site, especially in winter when there is little foliage on the trees.

The Barton Willmore Environmental Statement makes the ridiculous statement that at worst the existing houses in Ash Lodge Drive, Loddon Way, South Lane, Avon Close will only suffer moderate adverse residual effects from this building works. The same building works that will go on at the rear of their houses for a minimum of 5 years, and possibly 10.

It should be noted, at this point, that the Local Plan Sustainability Appraisal/Strategic Environmental Assessment Scoping Report December 2012 produced for GBC by URS states that “Male life expectancy in Onslow, Ash Wharf and Ash South and Tongham is 5.8 years shorter than that in the least deprived areas. Guildford Borough has the widest gap in life expectancy between the most and least deprived income groups of all the Surrey districts.... In addition to this, Ash South and Tongham, Ash Wharf, and Ash Vale are within the top national quartile in terms of mental health problems”. The removal of the remaining open space will make the situation worse. The same report states that “Sandy soils and London clay to the north of Guildford and east of Ash and Tongham create a distinctive landscape of wooded and heathland commons. These provide a valued habitat to support biodiversity around Ash Green and at Ash Common.

The NPPF states that local planning authorities should identify and bring back into residential use empty housing and buildings in line with local housing and empty homes strategies and, where appropriate, acquire properties under compulsory purchase powers. The empty houses in Guildford currently total 1,312, the fifth highest out of the 11 local government districts in the county. Local Council Owned 111, Housing Association Owned 23, Privately owned 1,176, others 2. Empty more than 6 months 587.  There are probably enough empty homes in the Borough now to meet any existing shortfall in housing.

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