Normandy hits local headlines

The pros and cons of the impact of proposals for eight potential development areas in Flexford and Normandy for over 700 new houses, and a hint of a whole lot more, featured on the front page of the Ash & Farnham News & Mail today.

The various comments in the article provided a snapshot of the uneasy balance between the anxieties caused to residents by the release of information in the Local Plan consultation  (aka “the evidence”) showing all eight sites to be Green Belt land intended to prevent development sprawl and act as a buffer against merging of areas of built development, and yet to be overrun by new housing, and the inability of the representatives of Guildford Borough Council to assuage those anxieties.  The words of the lead councillor with responsibility for selling the plan to the entire borough, ‘there is no plan’, had a hollow ring.

Indeed, the devil is in the detail.  The article outlined how the sites identified in and around the Flexford settlement would receive more than 550 new homes and four smaller sites in and around the Normandy settlement would receive a further 200.  This would be a significant addition to the 1,300 homes in and around the two settlements.  But how good is the evidence produced by consultants on behalf of the council to justify development on these eight sites?  According to many community groups around the borough and the Council for the Protection of Rural England the recommendations of the settlement hierarchy are ‘biased’ and simply ‘a desk study that’s not for real’.  The ‘sustainability’ evidence is similarly flawed.  So why are we where we are?

The borough seems scared witless that if it doesn’t beef up its housing targets its Local Plan will be rejected by the Planning Inspectorate acting on behalf of ministers, just as they have for neighbouring authority Waverley, that has had its plan rejected three times.  Communities like Normandy need to send a message back via their MPs to ministers that current government targets for house building (targets supported by both main parties, so don’t think things will change in 2015 after the election) are a step too far and trying to hide behind devolving responsibility to local planning authorities won’t wash.


3,000 new houses in Green Belt, at Great Western Park, Didcot, south Oxfordshire


2 thoughts on “Normandy hits local headlines

  1. Unfortunately there was a typographical error in the Ash and Farnham News and Mail article published on 14 November. The current number of dwellings in Normandy was given as 13,000 rather tahn 1,300, thus diluting the impact of Guildford Borough Council’s proposals to build 3,400 new dwellings by a factor of 10!
    The following letter of correction appears on page 8 of the 21 November edition of the News and Mail:

    Many thanks to your correspondent Henry Bodkin for highlighting the fear felt by Normandy residents about the housing development proposals contained in the current Guildford Borough Council (GBC) Local Plan consultation (“2,700-home hint in plan document” – 14 November.) In fact, because of a typographical error, the potential impact of GBC’s proposals was underestimated by a factor of 10: whereas the article suggested that these 2,700 homes would be added to an existing housing stock of 13,000 the actual current figure is only 1,300. To make matters worse, the 2,700 follows on from a projected first wave of an extra 700 dwellings: thus the total effect would be to turn a settlement of 1,300 dwellings into one of 4,700, or an increase of 261%!

    Nor should we allow GBC to frame this as having to balance the claims of one village against another, which would simply mean that what doesn’t get built in my back yard gets built in yours. GBC should rethink the questionable “evidence base” which underpins their proposals, and come up with something more in tune with the character of our precious Green Belt – which once lost can never be recovered.

    Mike Aaronson
    Glaziers Lane

  2. I have responded to the online questionnaire am appalled about plans to remove Normandy from the Greenbelt and the proposed development of some 2,700 homes we must fight this!

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