Guildford Borough Settlement Profiles

WORK IN PROGRESS

Introduction

This draft analysis is based upon GBC Draft Settlement Profiles and it aims to ensure the picture being painted of each settlement is as complete as possible.  The Profiles Report should explain some of the pressures on infrastructure, whilst differentiating between historic qualities of original hamlets, villages and towns and the communities that have grown up around them (largely during the twentieth century).  The links, the spaces and the surroundings are also critical elements.

In recognition that the entire Borough will be called upon to find a substantial number of housing sites across its area during the Local LPan period, this analysis seeks (without fear or favour) to prompt a review by each community to consider how it might be affected by extension – both favourably and unfavourably.  For example, a settlement such as Gomshall notes that it “is adequately served, with some appropriate facilities, but there are concerns that the bus, post office and village shop are underused and the village club is just surviving” (my emphasis).  This seems as though it should prompt analysis by the community as to how much additional development might enable the community facilities to thrive without adversely affecting the character, setting and even scale of the settlement.

Where major settlement changes would occur by the extension of the settlement or the loss of facilities, the residents should be actively encouraged to engage in a proactive debate and feed their comments, issues and options into the first major consultation on the Local Plan in the autumn.

There are also tight green belt restrictions around many of the settlements.  The green belt boundaries were drawn to prevent spread, sprawl and convergence of settlements.  There will inevitably be cause to reassess the green belt boundaries (and these will probably come within a specific green belt paper as part of the evidence base.  Any changes suggested to the green belt boundary under the Local Plan – and especially arising from consideration of each and every settlement – should be designed to be a permanent realignment and not part of a progressive or ongoing expansion of an inconvenient boundary.  Each settlement should view its own area in its wider context – and particularly taking account of the responses and aspirations of its neighbouring settlements.

Taking into account global planning practices and applying local knowledge and emotion, the Local Plan should identify:

  • Settlement centres and latent centres;
  • Places that need repair;
  • The way in which and extent to which the wholeness of a settlement is faltering or defective;
  • How to build or reinforce a neighbourhood or settlement so as to repair and heal the land and/or community.

This means that the Local Plan process should embrace at its heart the aim always to make the place better than it is at present. This may be obvious, if we are dealing with a part of the town in need of regeneration; but an extraordinary aim if we are faced with a place of great natural beauty. Yet there, too, we must make our target and our determination that when all is said and done, it will be more beautiful, and even better than it is today. (paraphrased from www.livingneighborhoods.org)

The ethos and approach above was embraced in the first two phases of a development outside Bishops Castle in Shropshire called The Wintles where the driver behind this high quality neighbourhood-based eco-friendly development was The Living Village Trust.  The emphasis there is on quality rather than profit and this principle is included here since we have high land values in our part of the country which might attract development in the wrong places, encouraged by a highly profitable change of land use.  Guildford Borough should be setting the highest standards for its settlements, and each infilling or extension scheme (or even any new settlement) should require similar principles to be adopted, whereby the extension is of a character and quality as good or better than the acknowledged heart of the original settlement.

The onus should be on land-owners and developers to give back a significant portion of windfall profit from gaining a planning consent for a change of designation from, say, agricultural to residential uses, and this should be enshrined in the planning policies promoted under the Local Plan.

The Profile Report

The Settlement Profile Report goes a little way towards identifying characteristics, but it does not explicitly lay down the gauntlet to the communities to identify development sites nor to look for qualitative tests in future planning policy that will protect and enhance their communities.  It does not give any indication for each settlement how to add to the built environment in a way that also enriches the settlement.  It does not call for the connections and infrastructure that will enable each neighbourhood and settlement to thrive.

In general, the Settlement Profile Report is somewhat static in nature and does not give enough of a flavour of how life operates in the settlements.  For example, the report highlights where services are provided in the settlement and where they are missing.  It does not consider where the nearest available (alternative) facilities are located.  It does not take account of which surrounding settlements rely upon the local amenities and facilities of any particular settlement and, in the case of, say, East Horsley, it refers to the two parades of shops and their related parking  and, rather than setting out how many car parking spaces are available versus need, it meekly notes that “the centre could benefit from some more available spaces“.

There are frequent references to the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (2009-2014) which will have expired by the time the Local Plan is prepared.  Given that the SPA touches on many settlements in this report, what (if anything) is the likely successor or extension to TBH SPA (2009-2014) expected to alter?

It would be useful to have an overall map of the Borough with the positions of the settlements marked on it (also showing the SPA, Areas of Great Landscape Value and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty boundaries) and also a map for each settlement with the settlement boundaries clearly marked.

Each settlement report should indicate the land area within the settlement boundary and typical and/or average dph (dwellings per hectare) figures so as to help understand the character of the settlement or its distinct parts and to ensure the character is not undermined by development which is out of keeping with its surroundings.

Crucially, the Profile Report does not seem to draw on information from the 2011 Census which would identify the population profile (age, gender, ethnicity, etc) for each settlement; nor does it use any of the lifestyle data from the census to underscore the nature of the community with a wider source of comparative data.

In further iterations of the Settlement Profile Report it is to be hoped some of this supplemental information will appear (as it does not emerge from the Draft Infrastructure Baseline Report).

NB: this analyses was largely written before publication of the green belt and Countryside Report and the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment.

Taking each village in turn:

Albury

The conclusion drawn is that Albury is a settlement with a village core and a number of outlying hamlets.  The infrastructure is poor because of the dispersal of settlements within Albury.

There is an emphatic statement in the Conclusion “If we were to remove the settlement boundary within the new Local plan then we would remove the scope for future infill development.”  This does not seem to be a wholly logical statement to a non-planner and the differnce between Green belt Villages with or without settlement boundaries needs explanation – probably in the introduction.

Perhaps the choice that the remaining text highlights is ‘Do we look for a suitable  site for limited extension of the village – to help make better infrastructure and facilities viable and to bring forward affordable housing – or should we assume there will be limited growth through periodic infilling?’  If the latter, how do we ensure that sufficient affordable housing comes forward to suit the identified needs of the community?

The references to the views into and from Albury and the characteristic of its woodland and open pasture mix should help to ensure that only suitable sites can be brought forward.  A range of qualitative requirements (and the Community Infrastructure Levy of which 25% would go to the Parish) should ensure that there is not so much windfall value in speculatively promoting unsustainable or undesirable sites.

Ash & Tongham Urban Area

In the section on Retail Facilities, there is reference to car parking for 29 cars.  This does not indicate whether the provision is too little, about sufficient or generous.  For the purposes of understanding the capacity for the local infrastructure to cope with fresh development, these kinds of information would be very important.

Ash & Tongham is close to the Local Authority boundary with Rushmoor and care should be taken to understand what (if any) impact there might be as a result of the Duty to Co-operate set out in NPPF.

The conclusion that Ash & Tongham “could support a level of development in the future which exceeds that of any of the Borough’s other settlements with the exception of Guildford urban area” seems to be made without reference to opportunities and risks of such expansion, nor on the basis of any assessment of CAPACITY.  This is not to say the assessment is wrong, but that it does not logically arise from the information provided.  How well are the local businesses trading, for example, and what level of development can help to ensure or enable the medium to long term viability of those businesses.

Ash Green

There is a hint of potential major development between Ash Green and Ash & Tongham, noting that “this strategic matter will be addressed in the Local plan Strategy and Sites document”.  The Settlement Profile Report should consider the scale of development that might be required to raise the village from ‘Fair’ to ‘Good’ and the implications on the village character if the settlements of Ash Green and Ash & Tongham were to merge or infill.

Chilworth

The description of Chilworth as “an urban character without a core and with very limited opportunity for infilling, constrained by the railway which cuts it in half and the green belt boundary which is drawn very tightly” suggests that there is no scope for development.

There is an apparent conflict, however, between statements in the sections ‘How well the village works’ and the ‘Conclusion’ namely and respectively: “The village is poorly served, with a lack of appropriate facilities…” and “Chilworth has a number of key community services and facilities which makes it one of the more sustainable villages”

Perhaps the choices that the remaining text highlights are ‘Do we (a) look for a suitable  site for limited extension of the village – to help make better infrastructure and facilities viable and to bring forward affordable housing; (b) consider the potential to redraw the green belt boundaries to enable high quality development that brings a more cohesive connected community with a more conventional mass and provides key local community amenities at the heart of the settlement; or (c) should we assume there will be limited growth through periodic infilling?’  If the latter, how do we ensure that sufficient affordable housing comes forward to suit the identified needs of the community?

The characteristic of its woodland and open pasture surroundings set against the downs should help to ensure that only suitable development can be brought forward.  A range of qualitative requirements (and the Community Infrastructure Levy of which 25% would go the Parish) should ensure that there is not so much windfall value in speculatively promoting unsustainable or undesirable sites.

Compton

This green belt village has a significant number of listed buildings (around 9%) and is mostly within a conservation area.  It has traffic from the A3 cutting through it and could be affected by alterations to the A3 around Guildford (improvements may encourage more traffic from the South to access the A3 through Compton, and suitable mitigation strategies may be required alongside any such proposals in the Local Plan).

Compton abuts the Local Authority boundary with Waverley and, care should be taken to understand what (if any) impact there might be as a result of the Duty to Co-operate set out in NPPF.

Compton does not have convenience shops but is served by bus services.  The conclusion in the draft is that “it is not a sustainable location for an extension” but perhaps the report should offer alternatives for residents to consider ‘Do we (a) look for a suitable  site for limited extension of the village – to help make better infrastructure and facilities viable and to bring forward affordable housing; (b) consider the potential to redraw the green belt boundaries to enable high quality development that brings a more cohesive connected community with a more conventional mass and provides key local community amenities at the heart of the settlement; or (c) should we assume there will be limited growth through periodic infilling?’  If the latter, how do we ensure that sufficient affordable housing comes forward to suit the identified needs of the community?

East Clandon

This green belt village has a significant number of listed buildings (around 45%) and is mostly within a conservation area.  The village is an ancient settlement clustered around the church, pub and village hall just off the A246 Epsom Road.

There seems to be a contradiction where, under ‘Community Services’, the text says “the settlement is also lacking key community facilities and services such as a doctor’s surgery, a post office or any shopping facilities” and under ‘How Well the Village Works’ the text says “The village is reasonably served with facilities but access is minimal”.

There are two options considered for East Clandon, whereas perhaps a third option might be to look for a suitable  site for limited extension of the village – to help make better infrastructure and facilities viable and to bring forward affordable housing.  Clearly this would be difficult to achieve and  an extensive range of qualitative requirements (and the Community Infrastructure Levy of which 25% would go the Parish) should ensure that there is not so much windfall value in speculatively promoting unsustainable or undesirable sites.

East Horsley

East Horsley is a large and relatively populous settlement.  The report notes that “the only service the settlement lacks is a secondary school” but the report does not indicate whether this is an aspiration or if the residents are happy to frequent nearby schools in Effingham.  Equally, the report does not indicate how East Horsely’s population measures up to justifying having one.  This should probably cross reference (or be cross-referenced with) the Infrastructure Baseline.

The report discusses the two local centres but does not provide a count of shop units, numbers of parking spaces or even provide qualitative data on the viability of the shops.  Equally, there is no indication as to whether the customers for those facilities are drawn from the settlement or from further afield (see comments on Effingham, Ockham and West Horsley, for example).

The conclusion states that “if suitable sites are found within this area it could support additional housing development in the future”.  Given the relatively low number of buses, and the availability of train services from two stations and local shopping in two centres, the focus for any new development should perhaps be around the station(s) and/or close to the local facilities so as to limit or avoid incursions into the green belt, but a significant high quality extension could be considered with a once and for all change to green belt boundaries if it can be shown that the character of the settlement and its sustainability would not be impaired by such extension.  Clearly this would be difficult to achieve and  an extensive range of qualitative requirements (and the Community Infrastructure Levy of which 25% would go the Parish) should ensure that there is not so much windfall value in speculatively promoting unsustainable or undesirable sites.

Effingham

Effingham is located close to the Local Authority Boundary with Mole Valley and care should be taken to understand what (if any) impact there might be as a result of the Duty to Co-operate set out in NPPF.

The proximity of Effingham to East Horsley, and the presence in each centre of facilities for the residents, suggest that analysis should be undertaken as to whether there could be infilling between communities.  This might allow a more cohesive view of community transport, facilities and amenities – especially as the village economy “is not seen as being particularly thriving”.

The conclusion notes that “Effingham is one of the largest villages in the borough and contains a number of key services and as such if suitable sites are found within this area it could support additional housing development in the future through an extension and a rural exception site to provide affordable homes for local people.”  Clearly this would be difficult to achieve and  an extensive range of qualitative requirements (and the Community Infrastructure Levy of which 25% would go the Parish) should ensure that there is not so much windfall value in speculatively promoting unsustainable or undesirable sites.

Fairlands

There is reference to Fairlands suffering from flooding in various locations but there is no indication whether this is fluvial or pluvial.

The conclusion states that “if suitable sites are found within this area it could support additional housing development in the future”.  The focus for any new development should perhaps be close to the local facilities so as to limit or avoid incursions into the green belt, but a significant high quality extension could be considered with a once and for all change to green belt boundaries if it can be shown that the character of the settlement and its sustainability would not be impaired by such extension.  Clearly this would be difficult to achieve and  an extensive range of qualitative requirements (and the Community Infrastructure Levy of which 25% would go the Parish) should ensure that there is not so much windfall value in speculatively promoting unsustainable or undesirable sites.

This view may also be affected by any urban expansion of Guildford towards Fairlands, the potential for a Park Barn station and any northern realignment of the A3.

Gomshall

For a relatively small village settlement, Gomshall is well-served for facilities and amenities.  The report does, however, note that “there are concerns that the bus, post office and village shop are underused and the village club is just surviving” (my emphasis).

The conclusion is then drawn that the village is “not a sustainable location for an extension.”

On the contrary, this would seem to indicate that the village may need extension to make its facilities viable.

Perhaps the choices are ‘Do we (a) look for a suitable  site for limited extension of the village – to help make better infrastructure and facilities viable and to bring forward affordable housing; (b) consider the potential to redraw the green belt boundaries to enable high quality development that helps to ensure key local community amenities at the heart of the settlement remain viable; or (c) should we assume there will be limited growth through periodic infilling?’  If the latter, how do we ensure that sufficient affordable housing comes forward to suit the identified needs of the community?

Clearly any extension would be difficult to achieve and an extensive range of qualitative requirements (and the Community Infrastructure Levy of which 25% would go the Parish) should ensure that there is not so much windfall value in speculatively promoting unsustainable or undesirable sites.

Guildford Urban Area

A population of just over half of the borough living in the Guildford Urban Area ahve been lumped together as one settlement and, collectively, characterised by being the only part of the Borough without parish or town council representation.  For the size and complexity of the Guildford Urban Area, it has a relatively short entry in the Profile Report.

There are so many parts of the Guildford Urban Area whose characters and backgrounds are fundamentally different (as are their issues) and whose facilities and access vary considerably.  No reference is made to the Neighbourhood Area of Burpham, and it might be reasonable to expect that other areas might choose to go down the same neighbourhood planning path.

It seems clear, therefore, that this section should be broken up into the sub-districts which have their own nuclei of facilities and transportation issues.  These should probably be:

  • Town Centre
  • Guildford Park
  • Onslow Village (including Dennisville)
  • Park Barn
  • Rydes Hill
  • Woodbridge Hill
  • Stoughton
  • Stoke
  • Bellfields
  • Slyfield
  • Burpham
  • Merrow
  • Charlotteville
  • Warwicks Bench
  • St Catherines

The section on Character seems to be woefully inadequate.  The Urban Area is dissected also by the River Wey; also poorly connected is the west side of Guildford (including a large proportion of employment and education).

Under Community services and facilities there is an orphaned “Northern”.

Under Retail and Employment, much of this section should cross refer to the Guildford Economic Strategy Report 2013 and the Infrastructure Baseline.  Missing from this settlement report is some indication of the employment levels and where employees typically live – for example, a separate report on Park Barn would highlight some issues with higher than average unemployment.

Under Transport, the settlement report refers to the River Wey as “a transportation route primarily for recreation and tourism purposes”.  This is omitted from the Infrastructure Baseline.  Reference to the A3 should also highlight that it connects the town to the wider motorway network.

In sections 2.2.12-2.2.16 of the Infrastructure Baseline there is no specific mention of the A320 junction at Stoke Crossroads (but there is reference to the general fragile state of the road network at peak hours).  In the Settlement Report it is mentioned that “The Stoke crossroads and junction with the A3 are already at their capacity.  A lack of investment in associated junctions will continue to have an adverse effect on the communities and major businesses operating in the Guildford urban area.”

This analysis – whilst on the one hand differing in content and tone from the Infrastructure Baseline, fails to deal equally with each approach road to the town – all of which have specific and severe issues.  The Farnham Road (A31) for example, has restrictions of weight and is often backed up along its entire length from the Hog’s Back.

The A3 backs up from the A31 to the Burpham turn at evening rush hour, due in large part to vlumes of traffic and a 60m climb from its bridge over the River Wey to the cutting in the Hog’s Back.  This affects the businesses and quality of life and access for a large proportion of the settlement to the north and west.

In the Conclusion, there is the comment that Guildford “could support a level of development which exceeds that of any of the borough’s other settlements”.  This may well be the case and there may be very difficult decisions to be taken about the future of the green belt boundary (note my comments in the introduction).  These decisions should be taken on the basis of a much more detailed settlement assessment having subdivided the area as described above.

A decision, for example, to expand the town from Warwicks Bench would have to take account of a character assessment of that residential settlement whereby it has no immediately local facilities and would necessitate a trip into the town centre – with no bus routes available for public transport.  On the other hand, an extension to Burpham might have good access to local services and facilities and reasonable access to public transport.

There needs to be a comprehensive CAPACITY study for the Guildford Urban Area and each subsidiary settlement to show how the infrastructure (outlined in the Infrastructure Baseline) can be upgraded to accommodate growth since so much of the settlement’s infrastructure is already at or near (or even exceeding) its designed capacity.

In summary, in any event, the focus of development should be town centre first – residential sites like the recently lost Bellerby site should be resisted for non-residential uses.  Where any outward expansion of Guildford is required for a new settlement or a settlement extension, the revised green belt boundary should be drawn so as to represent a new permanent boundary.  Such extensions should probably be planned with a critical mass to enable local services and facilities to be provided or where there are accessible services in existing settlements within easy access.  Clearly any extension would be difficult to achieve and an extensive range of qualitative requirements (and the Community Infrastructure Levy) should ensure that there is not so much windfall value in speculatively promoting unsustainable or undesirable sites.  As there is no Parish Council, it would be important to ensure that an adequate proportion of CIL goes to mitigate local effects of extension and to provide the necessary infrastructure.

Holmbury St Mary

Holmbury St Mary is located close to the Local Authority Boundary with Mole Valley and care should be taken to understand what (if any) impact there might be as a result of the Duty to Co-operate set out in NPPF.

The Report highlights that Holmbury St Mary is poorly designed as a settlement because “there have been too many extensions permitted and there is a need for affordable housing.”  This implies that the settlement is effectively in need of repair and, whilst it is possible that too many extensions of inferior quality have failed to respect the character, fabric and scale of the settlement, that does not mean that a well-designed extension would be unable to heal some of the issues and restore a better quality of community to the settlement. Clearly any extension would be difficult to achieve and an extensive range of qualitative requirements (and the Community Infrastructure Levy, 25% of which would go to the Parish Council for local infrastructure projects) should ensure that there is not so much windfall value in speculatively promoting unsustainable or undesirable sites.

Jacobs Well

The Report (at ‘Character’) notes that “the settlement has an urban character due to its proximity to the urban area of Guildford, at its closest it is 200m away from the norther edge of Slyfield.”

Perhaps, as part of the Local Plan process, there should be consideration given to what would be the merits or harm in closing the 200m gap and infilling the area between Slyfield and Jacobs Well.  Clearly any extension or infilling such as this would be difficult to achieve and an extensive range of qualitative requirements (and the Community Infrastructure Levy, 25% of which would go to the Parish Council for local infrastructure projects) should ensure that there is not so much windfall value in speculatively promoting unsustainable or undesirable sites.

Normandy and Flexford

Whilst the Report puts these together, it is somewhat schizophrenic in its attempts to combine and yet treat these two areas separately.  No such schizophrenia applies to the Report’s treatment of the Guildford Urban Area (see above)!

The Report notes the lack of a convenience shop “which would be of benefit to the local community”.  There is no reference as to the options available for convenience shopping for residents of the two areas.

Perhaps, as part of the Local Plan process, and because the two areas see themselves as one settlement, there should be consideration given to what would be the merits or harm in infilling the area between them, incorporating a convenience store and some of the other missing facilities.  Clearly any infilling such as this would be difficult to achieve and an extensive range of qualitative requirements (and the Community Infrastructure Levy, 25% of which would go to the Parish Council for local infrastructure projects) should ensure that there is not so much windfall value in speculatively promoting unsustainable or undesirable sites.

Ockham

Ockham is located close to the Local Authority Boundary with Mole Valley, and care should be taken to understand what (if any) impact there might be as a result of the Duty to Co-operate set out in NPPF.

Under ‘Transport’ there is reference to a school bus service passing through once a day.  This presumably means once at each end of the day and does not specify which schools it serves, nor whether it meets the needs of the school age children in the community.

The Report does not give any great weight to links between Ockham and East Horsley (recognising it as “the nearest area with services”) and ignores any such links with the larger centre of Ripley. The Report also fails to establish how interaction with such centres works in practice other than to highlight reliance on the private car.

Ockham is around double the size of Holmbury St Mary which, unlike Ockham, has a settlement boundary, and, whilst the Report concludes that Ockham does not have the facilities to support sustainable development, the question should be asked whether it would benefit from a significant extension that made such facilities viable – always assuming a suitable extension could be found.  Perhaps a new settlement on Wisley Airfield might fulfill this purpose and, properly planned and on a significant scale, could provide a new service centre with local shops, etc. Clearly any such extension would be difficult to achieve and an extensive range of qualitative requirements (and the Community Infrastructure Levy, 25% of which would go to the Parish Council for local infrastructure projects) should ensure that there is not so much windfall value in speculatively promoting unsustainable or undesirable sites.

Peaslake

From the description in the Report, the village of Peaslake seems to be settled in a mould whereby there is nothing for young people to do, and nowhere for them to live if they wish to remain in the village to raise their families.  Ordinarily this might be described as a poorly functioning and unsustainable community.

The physical limits and the AoNB designation almost certainly dictate that little scope exists for any substantial development.

On the other hand, as a settlement, Peaslake may well benefit from additional development which could help support services or transport connections. Clearly any such extension would be difficult to achieve and an extensive range of qualitative requirements (and the Community Infrastructure Levy, 25% of which would go to the Parish Council for local infrastructure projects) should ensure that there is not so much windfall value in speculatively promoting unsustainable or undesirable sites.

Peasmarsh

The Report barely acknowledges the existence of Godalming and ignores Farncombe, and yet Peasmarsh sits at the edge of Guildford Borough, close to its Local Authority boundary with Waverley, and reasonably close to Farncombe.

As it is located close to the Local Authority Boundary with Waverley, care should be taken to understand what (if any) impact there might be as a result of the Duty to Co-operate set out in NPPF.

There is some confusion in the ‘Transport’ section about rail connections and destinations: “The nearest train station is Shalford, 1.5km to the north east. This line links Guildford town and London Waterloo and is faster than the direct train from Guildford to London”.  Clearly this requires rewriting.

The Report notes that Peasmarsh contains five of the 12 key community services (with no reference as to where the nearest missing services are to be found), whereas under the section ‘How well the village works’ the text notes that “the village is poorly served with a lack of appropriate facilities”.  These two statements do not appear to be consistent.

Perhaps there has been overzealous use of cutting and pasting in the Report – as demonstrated by the sentences in ‘Conclusion’:

  1. “Peasmarsh is a relatively small settlement and does not contain many key community services or facilities (small village)” This contradicts the earlier comments.
  2. “The closest convenience store is located in East Horsley and due to poor public transport is mainly accessible by the private vehicle” This is patently geographically wrong.

Every settlement should be reviewed to ensure the data is relevant to that settlement and not a misplaced ‘pasting’ of some other settlement’s criteria.

Peasmarsh is characterised as a “suburban village” and yet is treated as a more protected settlement (from infilling or extension) than many others.  The Local Plan process should consider whether it could accommodate any significant development by a well-planned extension that helped bring the missing services or facilities to the settlement.  Clearly any such extension would be difficult to achieve and an extensive range of qualitative requirements (and the Community Infrastructure Levy, 25% of which would go to the Parish Council for local infrastructure projects) should ensure that there is not so much windfall value in speculatively promoting unsustainable or undesirable sites.

Pirbright

This is the only settlement in the Report that lists the total area as well as the number of dwellings, allowing a calculation of average settlement density – there are 565 dwellings in 1906 Hectares. This clearly does not cover the settlement area alone, measuring the density in hectares per dwelling rather than dwellings per hectare!

Pirbright is located close to the Local Authority Boundary with Woking, and care should be taken to understand what (if any) impact there might be as a result of the Duty to Co-operate set out in NPPF.

Under the section ‘Community services …’ (which in this settlement are amalgamated whereas elsewhere they are in separate subheadings) there is an apparent contradiction whereby we have “one comparison shop” and then “comparison shops within the settlement”.

The settlement is characterised by a collection of hamlets and the Local Plan process should consider whether, perhaps, these could accommodate well-designed extensions, drawing on the availability of accessibility and services in the heart of the village. Clearly any such extension would be difficult to achieve and an extensive range of qualitative requirements (and the Community Infrastructure Levy, 25% of which would go to the Parish Council for local infrastructure projects) should ensure that there is not so much windfall value in speculatively promoting unsustainable or undesirable sites.

Puttenham

Puttenham is a poorly served village owing to its lack of a post office or village shop, which forces residents (in the absence of buses) to go by car to Guildford or Godalming.

Perhaps the Local Plan process should consider an expansion on the east side (protecting the historic heart of the village) on the other side of the main road with traffic calming and with a village centre that could provide the facilities and services that are so lacking.  This could be designed as a high quality rural settlement and would require the redrawing of the Green Belt boundary.  This needs also to respect the Area of Great Landscape Value.  Clearly any such extension would be difficult to achieve and an extensive range of qualitative requirements (and the Community Infrastructure Levy, 25% of which would go to the Parish Council for local infrastructure projects) should ensure that there is not so much windfall value in speculatively promoting unsustainable or undesirable sites.

Ripley

Ripley is located close to the Local Authority Boundaries with both Woking and Mole Valley, and care should be taken to understand what (if any) impact there might be as a result of the Duty to Co-operate set out in NPPF.

Ripley is affected by the way the A3 bypassed it and by the single direction junctions at each end which drives traffic through the settlement.  on the one hand this may be a good way to ensure the village is visited and thrives; on the other hand, the through traffic may adversely affect the character of the settlement itself.

Under ‘Conclusion’ the Report should encourage consideration as to whether a significant high quality extension could be accommodated without adversely affecting the character and “market town” feel of Ripley as a settlement. Clearly any such extension would be difficult to achieve and an extensive range of qualitative requirements (and the Community Infrastructure Levy, 25% of which would go to the Parish Council for local infrastructure projects) should ensure that there is not so much windfall value in speculatively promoting unsustainable or undesirable sites.

Seale and The Sands

Under the heading ‘Form’, the final sentence “…and consists of low density” does not quite make sense.

Seale and The Sands are located close to the Local Authority Boundary with Waverley, and care should be taken to understand what (if any) impact there might be as a result of the Duty to Co-operate set out in NPPF.

The Report does not venture to suggest where (and how far away) residents have to go to reach the nearest facilities that these areas do not provide.

Seale and The Sands may well benefit from additional development which could help support services or transport connections. Clearly any such extension would be difficult to achieve and an extensive range of qualitative requirements (and the Community Infrastructure Levy, 25% of which would go to the Parish Council for local infrastructure projects) should ensure that there is not so much windfall value in speculatively promoting unsustainable or undesirable sites.

Send

Send is located close to the Local Authority Boundary with Woking, and care should be taken to understand what (if any) impact there might be as a result of the Duty to Co-operate set out in NPPF.

Despite its proximity to Ripley, Send is described (under ‘Transport’): “despite its size, there is a limited bus service that runs through the settlement between Woking and Guildford town.”

The Local Plan process should consider whether it could accommodate any significant development by a well-planned extension that helped bring better transport services to the settlement or improve the viability of the local facilities.  Clearly any such extension would be difficult to achieve and an extensive range of qualitative requirements (and the Community Infrastructure Levy, 25% of which would go to the Parish Council for local infrastructure projects) should ensure that there is not so much windfall value in speculatively promoting unsustainable or undesirable sites.

Send Marsh/Burntcommon

Send Marsh is located close to the Local Authority Boundary with Woking, and care should be taken to understand what (if any) impact there might be as a result of the Duty to Co-operate set out in NPPF.

Under ‘Character’ there is reference to the slip road from the A3 leading nito the settlement. It should perhaps be noted that this only feeds from the northbound carriageway of the A3.

Whereas Send is described as semi-rural, Send Marsh is described as having a “suburban character”, and under ‘Transport’ the bus service which in Send is described as ‘limited’ is considered to be ‘reasonable’. Under ‘how well the village works’, however, the Report says: “Send Marsh scores very poorly as public transport is very limited“.

The Local Plan process should consider whether it could accommodate any significant development by a well-planned extension to help bring better transport services to the settlement and to develop the village economy which “is not seen as being particularly thriving”.  Clearly any such extension would be difficult to achieve and an extensive range of qualitative requirements (and the Community Infrastructure Levy, 25% of which would go to the Parish Council for local infrastructure projects) should ensure that there is not so much windfall value in speculatively promoting unsustainable or undesirable sites.

Shackleford

Shackleford is located close to the Local Authority Boundary with Waverley, and care should be taken to understand what (if any) impact there might be as a result of the Duty to Co-operate set out in NPPF.

The Report notes that Shackleford Parish Council has recently completed a rural housing needs survey – and yet it does not give any indication as to what the survey found.  This seems to be an unfortunate omission.

The Report – as described earlier – is a static summariser of dynamic communities.  The ‘Conclusion’ notes that “Shackleford contains a very few community services and facilities (loose knit/hamlet) and as such is not a sustainable location for additional development.”

On the contrary, the Local Plan process should question the viability of local shops and a post office if there is no growth – the risk from internet shopping and from surrounding towns and villages will put increasing pressure on them.  Consequently, the Report should consider the economic argument for exxtending the settlement with high quality, complementary development in keeping with the character and scale of the existing properties.  This would require a rethinking of the Green Belt boundaries and this should be designed to meet future needs once and for all.  Clearly any such extension would be difficult to achieve and an extensive range of qualitative requirements (and the Community Infrastructure Levy, 25% of which would go to the Parish Council for local infrastructure projects) should ensure that there is not so much windfall value in speculatively promoting unsustainable or undesirable sites.

Shalford

Despite its size (and perhaps due to its proximity to Guildford or Waitrose in Godalming) Shalford has a medium-sized local centre but no convenience or grocery store.  This factor means that Shalford scores only 20 out of 40 – the same as Albury.  this suggests a substantial underperformance in Shalford relative to expectations.

The Local Plan process should consider whether Shalford and surroundings could accommodate any significant development by a well-planned extension to help to develop the village economy which “is not seen as being particularly thriving” and to provide the scope for a convenience store.  Clearly any such extension would be difficult to achieve and an extensive range of qualitative requirements (and the Community Infrastructure Levy, 25% of which would go to the Parish Council for local infrastructure projects) should ensure that there is not so much windfall value in speculatively promoting unsustainable or undesirable sites.

Shere

Shere is an important village with a heritage celebrated internationally through its use as a backdrop in films and its ‘chocolate-box’ village centre.

Whilst there is no designation above a Conservation Area, Guildford should, perhaps think in terms of establishing a ‘Local heritage’ designation whereby street-scenes are treated as if they are listed.  Views into and out of the village will be of great importance as well.

Under ‘Transport’ the report notes that “Shere has a good bus service”, whereas at ‘how well the village works’ “Shere scores poorly as public transport is limited”.  Such contradictions are not helpful in assessing the needs of the village.

Under ‘Conclusion’ the text notes that “development is limited to infilling…” and that  “if a suitable site can be found, there is scope for a rural; exception site to provide affordable homes for local people”.

These references should be heavily qualified in respect of Shere to the extent that infilling or a rural exception site should respect the heritage qualities and visitor attraction of the village centre, and this should mean that there should be an exceptionally high threshold for quality design in keeping with the historic settlement.

On the other hand, the Local Plan process should consider whether Shere and surroundings could accommodate any significant development by a well-planned extension to help to develop the village economy which “is not seen as being particularly thriving”, which itself would help to preserve the character and vitality of the village.  Clearly any such extension would be difficult to achieve and an extensive range of qualitative requirements (and the Community Infrastructure Levy, 25% of which would go to the Parish Council for local infrastructure projects) should ensure that there is not so much windfall value in speculatively promoting unsustainable or undesirable sites.

Wanborough

Wanborough is close to the settlement of Flexford (reported alongside Normandy as being regarded as a single settlement).

The proximity of Wanborough to Flexford should be taken into account when considering whether there could be any extension to the settlement and it should probably be the case that this should only happen between these two villages.  Clearly any such extension would be difficult to achieve and an extensive range of qualitative requirements (and the Community Infrastructure Levy, 25% of which would go to the Parish Council for local infrastructure projects) should ensure that there is not so much windfall value in speculatively promoting unsustainable or undesirable sites.

West Clandon (North and South)

The two parts of West Clandon are separated by the railway (one road bridge links the two).  This should be noted as a severed community in the context of the Infrastructure Baseline.  Equally, the station at West Clandon could be treated as more of a village hub and could be regenerated to provide local convenience shopping – identified as lacking in the Settlement Profile Report.

There is an extraordinary statement in the report to the extent that “West Clandon scores poorly as public transport is limited to travelling by train to either Guildford town or London”.  This would seem like a well-connected settlement by many yardsticks.  Perhaps there needs to be a greater availability of low-cost tickets between Clandon and Guildford (London Road) so as to enable the connection to work better but not so as to increase any passenger burden on Guildford mainline station.

The report concludes (among other things) that “this raises the question as to whether an extension to the village could enable service improvements through future mixed use development and improve access to key services for local residents.”

Indeed, the Local Plan process should consider whether West Clandon could accommodate any significant development by a well-planned extension to help to introduce the missing facilities and to develop the village economy which “is not seen as being particularly thriving”.  Clearly any such extension would be difficult to achieve and an extensive range of qualitative requirements (and the Community Infrastructure Levy, 25% of which would go to the Parish Council for local infrastructure projects) should ensure that there is not so much windfall value in speculatively promoting unsustainable or undesirable sites.

West Horsley (North and South)

The two parts of West Horsley are separated by the railway (two road bridges link the two).  This should be noted as a severed community in the context of the Infrastructure Baseline, but unlike West Clandon, it does not benefit from the station – the nearest being at East Horsley.

The Report notes that East Horsely and West Horsely parish councils recently completed a joint rural housing needs survey.  The authors do not see fit, however, to set out the perceived requirement in this Report.

The Report does consider West Horsley to be “the most sustainable rural settlement in the Borough” and highlights the potential to support additional housing development in the future. Clearly any such extension would be difficult to achieve and an extensive range of qualitative requirements (and the Community Infrastructure Levy, 25% of which would go to the Parish Council for local infrastructure projects) should ensure that there is not so much windfall value in speculatively promoting unsustainable or undesirable sites.

Wood Street Village

Wood Street is located “just to the west of Guildford” and could be somewhat affected by an extension of the Guildford Urban Area on its western reaches.  The village works well, scoring highly despite having public transport “so poor that residents have to rely on the private car”.

There may well be scope for a significant extension and could be linked to rail services if Park Barn Station were to become a reality.  Clearly any such extension would be difficult to achieve and an extensive range of qualitative requirements (and the Community Infrastructure Levy, 25% of which would go to the Parish Council for local infrastructure projects) should ensure that there is not so much windfall value in speculatively promoting unsustainable or undesirable sites.

Worplesdon

Worplesdon is located close to the Local Authority Boundary with Woking, and care should be taken to understand what (if any) impact there might be as a result of the Duty to Co-operate set out in NPPF.

The Report highlights that “there is a poor bus service that serves the settlement”.  Perhaps the Council should consider whether a Park & Ride facility with a combined bus service could improve this situation.

The Report notes that Worplesdon parish council recently completed a joint rural housing needs survey.  The authors do not see fit, however, to set out the perceived requirement in this Report.

Worplesdon is identified as a settlement which would support potential extension. Clearly any such extension would be difficult to achieve and an extensive range of qualitative requirements (and the Community Infrastructure Levy, 25% of which would go to the Parish Council for local infrastructure projects) should ensure that there is not so much windfall value in speculatively promoting unsustainable or undesirable sites.

Conclusion

Having been through the document carefully, there are clearly some contradictions and some glaring ‘cut and paste’ errors.  It is important that these are ironed out before the Local plan is developed from a compromised baseline.

The main concern about the Settlement Profile Report is the treatment of the Guildford Urban Area as one amorphous settlement. That is not only plainly wrong, it also misses a clear opportunity to look at the impact of extensions to subdivisions of Guildford which the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment seeks to do.  It also means that a close focus on the separate issue of Guildford Town centre and on each of its surrounding suburban settlements is much harder to achieve.

This shortcoming also, therefore, fails to note the establishment of the Burpham Neighbourhood Forum.

 

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About GuildfordPlan

GuildfordPlan is a 'whiteboard' set up by Julian Lyon to think out loud as part of the process of preparing the Guildford Society representations to the various Local Plan Consultations