262 homes approved for Godalming’s Ockford Park after three-hour debate

January 10, 2019
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MORE than 100 residents packed out the public gallery and two separate committee rooms to watch councillors debate a controversial planning application for 262 homes in Godalming .

The bid for the homes at Ockford Park was voted through by 16 councillors after a three-hour debate on Wednesday night.

Two councillors voted against the application which includes a community hall and parking for over 500 cars.

Members of the public witnessed a lively debate about the proposal by Ashill Land Limited in the council chamber of Waverley Borough Council (WBC).

Council officers spent nearly one hour presenting the 189-page submission for the site off Aaron’s Hill, highlighting the housing mix, which includes 78 affordable homes, planned parks and green spaces, electric vehicle charging points and changes to Eashing Road.

 

Elizabeth Sims, head of planning at WBC, said the area had been removed from the green belt and was a “strategic site” which will help the council meet its housing numbers over the next five years.

There has been mounting opposition to the proposals since they were first revealed in July last year, with residents forming a campaign group, signing petitions and holding public meetings to raise concerns.

But she said the correct procedure had been followed and that officers had sought external legal advice.

Four public speakers then addressed the meeting.

Michael Voisin, representing Godalming Community – a group set up to represent residents living near the site – said they felt there had been “cavalier disregard” for the impact the development will have on Eashing Road and ecological and safety issues in the area.

He said: “The whole process has been disappointingly and fundamentally unfair. It has led to public disenchantment with it and its purpose. JPC (Joint Planning Committee) members need only have regard to the fact that 115 people have turned up to this meeting.”

 

The chamber also heard from Kirsty Walden from Godalming Town Council who said they wanted a masterplan for the site which also backs on to Guildford Borough Council (GBC) land where a proposal for a similar number of homes could soon be submitted.

Supporting the application was Philippa Leftley, head teacher of Green Oak CofE Primary School, who said the homes would help make her struggling school “viable” and save it from closing.

And speaking on behalf of the applicants was Tracy Puttock, planning manager for Ashill Land Limited.

She said the development would provide “significant investment” on roads and help the future of the school. She said the scheme was lawful and that it provided much-needed housing.

Committee members then spent two more hours debating the application with many saying they supported the prinicple of development on the site and that justifying refusal at appeal stage would be difficult.

But councillors Paul Follows, Lib Dem and ward member, and Jerry Hyman, Farnham Residents, had a number of concerns and points they wanted clarity on.

 

A main issue for cllr Follows was the fact that because Waverley Borough Council had not passed through its policy on Community Investment Levy (CIL) at the same time as drafting its Local Plan, that his ward would lose out on a potential £4 million worth of investment into local infrastructure which the site could have generated.

Under the new CIL arrangements he said the council could have charged £8.1 million worth of investment but instead they can only get £3.8 million.

And cllr Hyman wanted clarity on the status of a Guildford SANG (Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace) which the Waverley site is connected to.

A separate SANG application is being considered by Guildford Borough Council . A condition for Ockford Park is that it would be serviced by this SANG so homes cannot be occupied until the application for the green space is completed and operational.

Cllrs Follows and Hyman voted against the proposal that was passed through with 55 conditions.

 

Article source: https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/262-homes-approved-godalmings-ockford-15657126


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