Alarm at Plan to Increase Households in Guildford by about a Quarter
The Autumn 2007 edition of Merrow Life provides a flavour of what your Committee has been doing and what is happening in and around Merrow;
• The Royal Surrey Hospital A&E has been saved as a result of a massive and effective public campaign;
• Farmers in the area and elsewhere are devastated by the outbreaks of foot and mouth disease in Surrey but the means of spread of the disease remain alarmingly obscure;
• The South East Plan is moving towards the conclusion that the boundary of the Green Belt around Guildford may be changed allowing more houses to be built around the town even though we do not have the infrastructure to support substantially more houses and their occupants;
• The plans for the development of the Defra site have been made public and appear reasonable but there are potential problems with vehicular access, water and drainage. The paperwork so far fills an expanded A4 file!
• The plans for gas development in Albury and the pipeline to Ripley are causing massive concern to those who live in those areas and may affect those of us who travel through those areas;
• Plans are now available or are anticipated for many new developments in Merrow which are keeping both the Council and your Committee busy!
• It is pleasing to note that the Committee’s action resulted in graffiti in the subway to Merrow Common being removed. Many residents found it offensive as indeed it was;
• We have ongoing discussions with our County Councillor on a variety of matters affecting Merrow including road safety, the state of our roads, road drainage and lighting to name but a few issues;
• The MRA have an excellent working relationship with our Ward Councillors who take a very keen interest in Merrow matters; we are very grateful to them;
We hope to see as many of the residents of Merrow as possible at our Autumn Event on 29th October which should provide an opportunity for an update on planning and environmental matters and also allow us time after the film to meet and talk amongst ourselves and for you to meet YOUR committee.
Merrow park & Ride Update
As time goes on local residents are asking why the road works in the Epsom Road costing around £1 million were ever started.
A year later all further work is still frozen while an archaeological dig is carried out on the proposed golf course. During the past few months 104 trenches have been dug and we are informed that a few interesting artefacts have been found! However, negotiations with the developer are still not concluded even though they are apparently paying for the archaeological study. Only when this work is finished and all agreements with GBC are in place can further construction proceed. It would seem unrealistic to expect any work to start before the New Year.
There is talk of a further Park and Ride Site being considered in the Worplesdon area and we understand further details may be released in the next month or so.
This site on the Epsom Road adjacent to the Boxgrove Road Junction will finally be vacated in November 2007 and, after demolition in Spring 2008, the site will be redeveloped for residential use in a 4 year programme starting later next year.
Following close co-operation between various local Residents’ Associations (including the MRA) and GBC Planning Department a design brief has been produced and a very detailed outline planning application was submitted in August This application allows for up to 200 houses and apartments, including affordable housing up to approximately 35% of the total. Uplands House, the original Victorian building on the site will be retained providing 7 one and two bed apartments. Its garden will be maintained as an open space and a further open space will provide a children’s play area.
Access will be via the current position fronting onto the Epsom Road/ Boxgrove Road traffic lights. The second access point currently used will be for pedestrian and emergency use only. On site parking will be provided for 310 vehicles but we feel this will be insufficient. However, it reflects the GBC maximum permitted density.
A public footpath on the southern boundary of the site will provide direct access to Merrow Downs but there is strong feeling that a second footpath should be provided.
Trees provide vital cover for the site and 27 have been listed with TPOs. However, we consider all trees on the site should be preserved unless their removal is essential. This also applies to the screen of trees and shrubs outside the site on its southern aspect and owned by GBC.
The site contains an imaginative layout design incorporating a wide range of housing from 1 and 2 bed apartments (101 in total) to 5 bed detached houses (8 in number) and makes good use of Uplands House as a centrepiece.
In principle this is an excellent outline planning application which deserves support from local residents as well as GBC. However, there will be many details requiring further discussion and we foresee significant problems with traffic flow throughout the local area and also with parking provision on and off site.
The re-development of this site, if properly handled, could become a showpiece for Guildford.
Alarm at Plan to Increase Households in Guildford by about a Quarter
The Inspectors’ report on the Examination in Public of the South East Plan was published in August 2007. “It is very bad news for Guildford” says East Guildford Residents Associations’ (EGRA) Chairman Graham Hibbert. “If the Inspectors’ plans go unchallenged, Guildford would undergo major expansion without any of the services and investment in facilities needed to support such growth. We seriously doubt that, as a gap town in the Surrey Hills, Guildford could cope with being expanded into a major regional hub.”
The Inspectors recommend that the housing provision in the South East be increased and that growth be targeted on the Regional Hubs, particularly Oxford and Guildford.
The provision for new housing in Guildford would increase by 31%, from 322 to 422 dwellings per year to cope with migration into Guildford, mainly from London. EGRA believes that Guildford will never be able to satisfy the overflow demand from London.
The Plan proposes that;
• By 2026 the number of households in Guildford Town will increase by about a quarter.
• Guildford is identified as one of the towns to undergo the most significant change.
• Green Belt land to the North East of Guildford will be developed.
These are eye catching headlines, but they are not the biggest threat to Guildford.
The Draft South East Plan Policies CC5 and LF5 state that “development will not proceed until the infrastructure required to serve the development is available or will be provided in time”. However, the Inspectors recommend deleting this condition because, in their view, it is not realistic to expect the infrastructure to be provided in a timely manner. Infrastructure includes Health Care, Schools, Utilities, Flood Prevention, Roads and Transport.
Investment in infrastructure was identified as a key issue in the Draft Plan, because “Under-investment in the past has had an adverse impact on the economic performance of the region, it has also resulted in an increased environmental impact and reduced quality of life for the citizens of the region”. This is particularly true of Guildford, where development is constrained by the North Downs.
EGRA does not share the inspectors “hope” that infrastructure will be provided. Past performance shows that this does not happen. Guildford is currently vulnerable to inadequate sewage disposal and water storage, leaky pipes, poor drainage and grid-locked roads. EGRA calls for the draft policies on infrastructure to be re-instated. Proceeding with the proposed development without a commitment to invest in the infrastructure would be folly.
In conclusion, EGRA would support some development to meet Guildford’s needs, but has major doubts as to the town’s capacity to cope with the scale of development proposed by the Inspectors.
Planning Applications considered by MRA since last newsletter:
• 28 Merrow Croft
Application for 2 two-storey detached dwellings after demolition of existing bungalow. Went to appeal in December 2006 – dismissed by the inspector as inappropriate development in that area of Merrow.
• 143A Epsom Road
Construction of two storey block of 6 flats plus parking following demolition of single dwelling. This is a revamp of the previous scheme dismissed on appeal. Latest application refused by GBC in August on grounds of overdevelopment of the site, parking problems and no protection of amenity for neighbouring properties.
• 214 Epsom Road
Application for a five bed detached house plus 4 terraced houses following demolition of existing house. MRA objected on grounds that proposed development is out of character with surrounding houses, insufficient parking, building too close to boundaries and likely loss of protecting trees. GBC refused application in September.
• Civic Hall
Consideration of planning application plus new hotel adjacent continues in conjunction with EGRA (East Guildford Residents Association). MRA has already objected to proposed removal of 54 trees on site and considers the new building needs to be supported by a fully developed business case. The link with the adjacent hotel development also needs careful evaluation and the proposal to reduce car parking from 250 to 220 spaces must be opposed. The proposal for the hotel was approved by GBC in September.
A new sign for Merrow Village
During the summer, MRA refurbished the Merrow Village Signpost on the green opposite the Village Hall and we hope you will agree that it’s looking good! As well as being in a more prominent position, the signpost has been replaced and secured on a plinth. The added hanging baskets make our village identity a welcoming sight for all to see.
We are most grateful to local business, CANCOM – Apple Computers and iPods, Services and Training - of Merrow Business Park, which has sponsored the Village Sign by paying for its public liability insurance.
Max Wright, the CEO of CANCOM said that he was delighted to be able to support the community and hopes to have a mutually beneficial relationship with MRA.
PHONE MAST APPLICATION
Earlier this year, the Council refused an application from Orange for 3 masts and 6 electrical cabinets on the roof of the Debra shop at 209 Epsom Road. The mobile phone company had submitted an appeal which has now been withdrawn.
Guildford in Bloom
Merrow shopkeepers and the Allotment Society have again been generous in their support. Despite weather conditions, the hanging baskets have been a colourful and very welcome addition along the parade of Merrow shop fronts. Thank you to Savills Dry Cleaners, Merrow Dental Practice, William Hill, Capelli, Debra, BP Garage, Alliance Chemist, Casa Bella, Lloyds TSB, Gascoigne & Pees and the former La Boulangerie.
The Italia Conti Dance School and estate agents Meldrum, Salter and Edgely joined with the MRA in sponsoring the large flower tubs on the Epsom Road fronting the Horse and Groom to provide a beautiful show of plants throughout the year which have been enjoyed by all.
During the summer months, work has continued at Thorneycroft Wood (by the Spectrum) where earlier in the year we planted English bluebells. This time the project was to manage some WW2 artefacts. There are a large number of tank traps here which formed part of the GHQ stop line along the rivers Wey and Tillingbourne. They an important part of our heritage and were in danger of being lost in the undergrowth which was cleared. For some fascinating information on these historical relics go to Lines & Islands in
Merrow Volunteers Work Update Sept/Nov 2007
CHANGE OF VENUE -
10 November - Meet on Merrow Downs at the car park on the Downs off High Path Road.
Future dates for conservation work at Merrow Woods are Saturday, 10 November and 8 December meeting (TBA) 10am – 4pm. Please wear sensible clothing and footwear for working in the great outdoors and bring your own refreshments. Tools will be provided but bring your own gloves if you wish. Contact Amanda McCormick Countryside Warden on 444771 or email
firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
MRA AUTUMN EVENT
At ST. JOHN’S CENTRE, EPSOM ROAD, MERROW
On Monday 29th October 2007 AT 8 PM
This is Guildford!"
An excellent film made by Circle Eight Film Group in 1995 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Guildford’s railway history….from 5th May 1845, when steam trains first came to Guildford, to the present day.
All welcome, so bring your friends and neighbours.
Wine and nibbles afterwards.
(a small contribution towards the evening’s expenses will be requested)
The first electric train arriving at Guildford Station on July 12th.1925.