Waverley Borough councillors have overwhelmingly supported a recommendation that its new draft Local Plan be published.
The plan, which sets out a strategy for housing up until 2032, allows for 2,600 homes to be built on the site of Dunsfold aerodrome. Local parish councils, including Hambledon, have expressed grave concerns that unless sufficient infrastructure is in place, a “new town” development at Dunsfold is not sustainable.
A meeting of the full Waverley council on Tuesday night was picketed by protesters who chanted and waved banners in protest at the Plan as members arrived at the council offices in Godalming.
They were being asked to agree to a recommendation by the council’s executive that the draft Plan be formally published to allow it to move on to the next stage – a minimum six-week period for representations to be made before it is submitted for examination by a Government planning inspector (see previous news item).
Three councillors abstained. Many others thought it flawed but voted in favour to prevent central Government taking it over and imposing its own targets.
To avoid this outcome the Plan has to be in place by early 2017. Waverley’s earlier attempt at a Local Plan was rejected by a Government inspector for not having met new housing targets.
The owner of the airfield, Dunsfold Park Ltd, is currently applying to build 1,800 homes on the site, potentially rising to 3,400.
Hambledon and other local parishes in the area are concerned about the impact such a significant new housing development will have on narrow, rural lanes that surround the airfield site. The only major road in the area is the A281 which is already heavily congested at peak times in the Guildford direction.
It is argued that people will look to “rat-run” on unsuitable single-track country lanes such as Markwick Lane, Salt Lane and Vann Lane to reach Witley and Milford stations, schools and surgeries, all of which are already stretched to meet existing local need.
Hambledon Parish Council has objected to the current Dunsfold Park application on the basis of a lack of supporting infrastructure. It accepts the need for new homes but said the current proposals would put “severe and unacceptable pressure on an already overstretched transport network”. The council has suggested that the planners and developers should consider reinstating the former Guildford to Cranleigh railway line – with a spur to Dunsfold – as a light transit system to help alleviate road congestion, if development goes ahead.
If you would like to read what comments Hambledon Parish Council has made to Waverley on the Dunsfold application so far, please follow this link ,- and then click on Dunsfold Park. Further comment is likely when final plans are known.
In the meantime parishes and the campaign group Protect Our Waverley (POW) will be keeping up the pressure on councillors when they come to consider the planning application and during the representation stage of the draft Local Plan.