Elstead brown field homes plan refused as it would ‘harm the openness’ of green belt

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Elstead Parish Council’s proposal was for the Weyburn Works site to be returned for business use as there is a “strong demand for small business and commercial use in the area”

New housing

Plans to transform a derelict brown field site in Elstead with more than 60 homes have been derailed after the application was refused due to its impact on the green belt.

Linden Homes’ controversial plans for the Weyburn Works site were thrown out by Waverley’s planning department, which cited 11 reasons for refusal in a notice by head of planning services, Matthew Evans, published on Friday (December 4).

The plans, which were lodged in March this year and updated in October, sought permission for 69 homes – 21 of which would have been affordable.

A care home was also proposed in addition to the provision of around 17 acres of Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space (SANG).

However, the planning department claimed the 25 acre site ‘conflicts with national and local planning policies regarding green belts’.

The scale and design was criticised for creating what would have been an ‘inappropriate development’ that would ‘harm the openness’ and visual impact of the green belt. Welcoming the decision on behalf of Elstead Parish Council, chairman, Pat Murphy, said: “The reaction at the parish council meeting on Monday was that we were relieved to see that Waverley refused the application.

“We didn’t think the proposals which Linden Homes put forward were appropriate in terms of the developing of the site.

“Our proposal was for it to be returned for business use.

“It’s the last major employment site in or near the village. There is a strong demand for small business commercial use in the area and there is a shortage in Waverley. For those reasons we were very relieved that the application had not proceeded.”

Another reason given for refusal was the failure to ‘provide an appropriate mix of housing to meet local housing needs’ and Linden Homes was also accused of failing to enter into an ‘appropriate legal agreement to secure the provision of SANG’.

Mr Murphy said the parish council supported many of the other reasons given for refusal. In particular, the concerns about the relationship with the special protection area, the mix of housing, which he said councillors thought was ‘inappropriate’, in addition to the new pedestrian access into the village which was proposed.

Business use for the area

Included within the 170 objection letters received by the borough council was the Elsteadand Weyburn Neighbourhood Plan team’s response. It stressed what it considered was the importance of the site in providing a business use for the area.

“There is a scarcity of premises suitable for small businesses in the area, inhibiting the ability of small start-up companies to grow,” the team’s response said.

“Available office space in Guildford and Godalming is too large and too expensive for this stage of small business growth. We believe that the site and surrounding villages would greatly benefit from a ‘premises to rent’ development to host.”

Dawn Davidson, who is chair of the Weyburn Working Group, confirmed that the community is ‘very keen’ to see the Weyburn Site brought back into ‘productive use’.

She said through the neighbourhood plan the group is developing, members hope to be able to work with the owners and the borough council to identify a ‘more appropriate development for this locally important site’.

A total of 800 people were employed at the Weyburn Works during the Second World War, manufacturing parts for tanks and planes.

After changing hands a number of times, the site was bought by Federal Mogul in 1998 and finally closed for business in December 2008.

Since then it has been standing vacant.

For now, the future of the site still lies undetermined, as Linden Homes has neither confirmed or denied whether it would be appealing the decision.

Peter Youll, managing director at Linden Homes South, said: “We are disappointed with the decision regarding our proposals for the comprehensive redevelopment of the Weyburn Works site. Our proposals which included both residential and employment uses were informed by extensive consultation with officers and the community.

“We will take time to review the feedback received from officers before deciding on next steps.”

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