Objection from an unexpected quarter

A kindly compatriot pointed me to the documents received in response to the current planning application 14/P/00135 submitted to Guildford Borough Council [GBC] and in particular drew my attention to that of Natural England.

Natural England is the latest incarnation of English Nature (and others) established in October 2006.  It  is the non-departmental public body of the UK government responsible for ensuring that England’s natural environment, including its land, flora and fauna, freshwater and marine environments, geology and soils, are protected and improved. So it was a bit of a surprise to find them objecting to the proposed development of sixteen 4-bedroom executive homes at 140 Glaziers Lane, Normandy.

In their document, they have concentrated on the local impact within the 400 metre-5 kilometre Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area [TBHSPA].  Those residents that have familiarised themselves with this proposed development and made their objections known to the GBC planning case officer are well aware that it falls in the SPA zone.  Such developments have to address amelioration of the impact of the development in recognition of potential disturbance of rare bird species habitat in the SPA.  Natural England refer to Regulation 62 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 that requires the “competent authority” to prove an “overriding public interest” in order for the application to be approved.  As this application contains no proposals for affordable homes it cannot be said to be in the public interest.

The land at 140 Glaziers Lane covers 1.5 hectares and Natural England have noted that nowhere in the submitted plan documentation is there any attempt to propose an offer of Strategic Alternative Natural Greenspace [SANG].

This may be good news for Normandy and Flexford residents that are aware that the current local plan process being carried out by GBC has revealed eight potential development areas [PDAs] in Normandy and Flexford for approximately 724 dwellings over the next 5-20 years plus a threat of a further 2,700 after “further research” by GBC.  Each of the eight PDAs lies in the 400 metre-5 kilometre TBHSPA, so the alertness of Natural England might hold out some hope for causing a review of these other sites should they ever be proposed for development.

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