Inspectors initial thoughts on (GB7) post submission of regualtion 19 showing the area of open space
Is the boundary of the ‘area of local separation’ within GB7 justified, and would the related restriction on “built development” within it act as a constraint on the wider deliverability of the site (i.e. through prevention of flood mitigation measures etc)? Should the GB designation remain in place for the area of local separation?
Woking Borough Council's Response to the Inspector initial thoughts
Question 6: Is the boundary of the ‘area of local separation’ within GB7 justified, and would the related restriction on “built development” within it act as a constraint on the wider deliverability of the site (i.e. through prevention of flood mitigation measures etc)? Should the GB designation remain in place for the area of local separation?
1. iii.6.1 Paragraph 4.3.14 of the GBBR186 provides the evidence for the need and justification for the gap between Mayford and the rest of the urban area. There is a risk that the gap between Mayford and the rest of Woking would be compromised without the proposed visual separation. The GBBR expected the built development to be focused at the north of the site, leaving a wide landscape verge along Egley Road, and retaining open fields to the south. The secondary school which is part of the proposed uses on the site has now been built, resulting in buildings to the south of the playing fields. Given the orientation of the school it is logical for the housing development to be located to the south leaving the north of the site to maintain the integrity of the gap between Mayford and Woking and the separate identities of these distinct settlements within the Borough.
2. iii.6.2 The school provides a clear dividing line between the proposed visual separation to the north of the site and where the housing development is to be located at south. It is not envisaged that the restriction on built development within
the area of visual separation would act as a constraint on the wider deliverability of the site. The land to the south is capable of a standalone development.
3. iii.6.3 The area of visual separation should not remain within the Green Belt. This is necessary to ensure a defensible boundary that will endure permanently beyond the plan period in accordance with paragraph 139(f) of the NPPF187.
Question 7: Do the allocations contain appropriate provisions to mitigate adverse effects to landscape character where this has been highlighted as an issue in the Green Belt Review?
ii.7.1 Yes, the allocations contain appropriate provisions to mitigate adverse effects to landscape character where this has been raised in the Green Belt Review (GBBR)170. For example, the GBBR recommends that land at West Hall (GB10) should be released for development; but due to its landscape sensitivity, development should include significant elements of Green Infrastructure. The allocation covers a total area of about 29.33ha, however, the Proposal has a key requirement to make sure that a net developable area of only about 14.8ha is developed for residential development to enable significant amounts of green infrastructure and appropriate landscaping to be introduced. Large areas of woodland and parkland are to be retained on the site, and about 4.7ha of public open space and green infrastructure will form an integral part of the development. A landscape assessment will be carried out to inform a planning application. Proposal GB7 also sets aside undeveloped land to the north of the site to provide a visual gap between Mayford and the rest of the urban area. These are examples to demonstrate how the SADPD is concerned to make sure that the landscape implications for developing the sites are carefully taken into account.
Inspector’s response to Regulation 19 to Woking Borough Council
(Policy GB7: Nursery Land adjacent to Egley Road, Mayford)
13. The SADPD allocates the GB7 site for development of a school and housing. However, a portion of the allocation at the north of the site is identified as an “area of local separation”: a part of the site, which is “not for built development”. As I set out at the hearing, this aspect of the allocation is more restrictive than national policy for Green Belt, from which it is intended to remove the site.
14. Whilst I acknowledge that the aim of the area of local separation is to provide a visual gap between Mayford and the rest of the urban area, it is not clear why such a restrictive policy would be necessary to achieve this aim. Neither is it clear that appropriate visual separation could not be achieved by more proportionate means, such as a key requirement in the policy relating to landscaping measures at the north of the site. Moreover, the evidence presented in the Green Belt Review (January 2014) (the GBR) focuses on the southern part of the site’s importance in maintaining separation rather than the northern element. For these reasons, the area of local separation set out in Policy GB7 is not justified. A modification is therefore required to Policy GB7, which would remove the area of local separation, and alter the key
requirements to ensure that the design and landscaping of the site would take into account the desirability of maintaining a sense of visual separation between Mayford and the rest of the urban area. Consequential modifications will be required to the relevant wording of Policy SA1, alongside appropriate amendments to the Policies Map.
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