The Planning Policy Manager introduced a briefing note and presentation in respect of the Strategic Development Framework (SDF) Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) and explained that SPDs were supplementary detail and guidance to adopted Local Plan policy to improve its use by the Council and developers to promote understanding of the planning process. SPDs were a material consideration in the determination of planning applications. The process to produce an SPD was more rapid than that of higher level documents as the related consultation was for a minimum of four weeks only, an independent examination process was unnecessary and adoption was via the Executive with no need for full Council approval.
The presentation, given by a Senior Policy Officer - Planning Policy, outlined the scope, structure and Part 2 design principles of the SDF SPD. The scope was applicable to a number of sites / locations, namely, Weyside Urban Village (former Slyfield Area Regeneration Project), Gosden Hill Farm, former Wisley Airfield, Blackwell Farm, and land to the south of Ash and Tongham. The SDF SPD was structured into four Parts. Part 1 set out the policy context and engagement undertaken in its preparation whilst Part 2 described the general design principles applicable to all the five strategic sites. Part 3 detailed site specific guidance on each site / location including an SDF for each site (a high level masterplan which would form the starting point for applications preparing more detailed masterplans) and Part 4 related to matters to be considered at planning application and implementation stage (pre-application, design codes, design review panel, infrastructure delivery etc). The Part 2 design principles were to be considered against other policies and the National Design Guide. Although the principles were not comprehensive, they picked up the considerations most relevant to strategic sites and the creation of new communities including building in sustainability, creating an identity, promoting modal shift, assessing site constraints/opportunities and urban design principles.
Details in respect of each site / location consisted of matters including site boundary, development area, uses, water courses, existing buildings, focal points, on-site primary routes, access to development areas, key off-site routes, primary site access, sustainable movement corridor (SMC), key pedestrian and cycle routes, schools, modal filters for buses, pedestrians and cyclists, and suggested locations for Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space (SANG).
The next steps consisted of a five-week consultation running from 13 January to 24 February 2020, updating and finalising the document for adoption by the Executive as soon as practicable and forming the starting point for applicants developing their masterplans that would accompany outline planning applications.
The Board considered each site / location and the following points and comments were made:
Weyside Urban Village
The Board noted the details of this site where 1,500 high density homes with parking, roof gardens and open space were proposed following the relocation of the sewage works. A spine road would run through the site and the river would be a significant feature.
Gosden Hill Farm
This was a strategic site for mixed use development comprising a total of 1,800 homes with employment and school provision. The SMC would run through the site and the second access from Merrow Lane would enable the opportunity for a section of Merrow Lane to be downgraded to a walking and cycling route. Along the A3 trunk road there would be a green buffer at the north eastern corner, a Park and Ride facility and significant landscaping to offer a green gateway into Guildford.
Councillors expressed the views that traffic management and A3 access improvements were crucial as local roads were thought to be currently at full operating capacity. A detailed transport assessment to ascertain how traffic generated by this development would impact on the road network would accompany the planning application. Councillors expressed the view that an all movements junction of the A3 was required. They were advised that the site allocation policy in the adopted Local Plan: Strategy and Sites allowed for a deliberative process of consideration to be undertaken as part of the development management process of the potential opportunity to provide an all movements junction. A potential all movements junction was found to be unnecessary in previous work. In response to concerns regarding issues relating to access to retail venues, the town centre and railway stations, the Board was advised that the local Park and Ride, SMC and proposed new station offered transport options and the site promoter, in making a planning application, would need to undertake a transport assessment and, in so doing, involve Surrey County Council as the Local Highway Authority and Highways England. Further explanation was sought as to how the transport requirements of the Local Plan in relation to this site were derived.
Housing delivery timescales were a concern and it was agreed that related checks would be made with Development Management regarding the introduction of specific development delivery timescales in planning permissions.
Increased noise blight from the A3 was raised as an issue and it was noted that an acoustic survey would be undertaken at the site and that any necessary measures such as landscaping, tree planting and acoustic fencing would be implemented.
Former Wisley Airfield
This site at the former Wisley Airfield was identified by the SDF as a strategic site for mixed use development with a capacity for 2,000 new homes over the plan period.
Although the SDF planned that the development of the site would take the form of a sustainable community, there were concerns that it would lead to car dependency and increased traffic congestion in the area as it lacked close access to a railway station. The SDF was thought to lack information regarding sustainable off-site movement and travel. The proposed new four-form entry secondary school was anticipated to draw traffic into the site. It was felt that the proposed density of 50-60 dwellings per hectare at the centre of the site, which was over the suburban average, would benefit from landscaping, planting and screening to soften the transition from a countryside area to an urban site.
The Board agreed that further explanation of, and strengthening of references to, the off-site cycle network and bus services were necessary.
This strategic site was intended as an urban extension to the west of Guildford on land to the west of Surrey Research Park, Royal Surrey County Hospital and Surrey Sports Park, to the north of the A31 and south of the North Downs railway line. The Local Plan identified the site as a strategic site for mixed-use development, with capacity for a minimum of 1,500 dwellings during the Local Plan period, and a total of 1,800 dwellings overall. The SDF included guidance in relation to planting to soften the impact of this proposed development and measures to address the surface water issue. Public transport links would include the passage of the SMC through the site.
A view was expressed that the SDF needed to be strengthened in terms of achieving sustainable transport, identifying open space requirements, promoting a green environment and securing well designed carbon neutral homes. The SDF could include clarification to show how the development could improve cycle links from the site, including nearby Christmas Pie trail. There was a Local Plan requirement to deliver the SMC. It was noted that the Surrey Research Park was owned by the University and that Gill Avenue was in the ownership of the Royal Surrey County Hospital. It was suggested by councillors that the SMC should include a bus loop to access the proposed new Guildford West (Park Barn) station. Although Network Rail did not routinely promote new stations, the Government had encouraged proposals for new stations through offering funding and Network Rail was aware of the proposal for the Guildford West (Park Barn) station. It was considered important that the required infrastructure was put in place when it was first needed. The SDF could be expanded to include mitigation and design guidance relating to the new access road and any residual harm to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, possibly involving developer contributions.
The introduction of 20 mile per hour speed limits in the new developments on the strategic sites was suggested. Although the Local Highway Authority had previously had a limited appetite for introducing 20mph speed limits or zones, Planning Policy could be requested to investigate the matter further with respect to this and other strategic sites.
Land to the South of Ash and Tongham
The SDF promoted a continual link between the sites in this area which were separately owned. Surface water attenuation was an issue at these sites and the proposed Ash Road Bridge would feature to the north of the area. Development of a number of sites within the area had been approved, however, the SDF process was informed by parallel workstreams and has had value in terms of refining the Council’s position in ongoing negotiations. SANG mitigation for the entire site would be provided on privately owned land with agreements between the developers and SANG owners. SANG land must be maintained in perpetuity and would be transferred to an enduring body such as the Land Trust when mitigation occurred. Figure 53 provided an indication of areas of differing character and included elements of ‘radiating landscape structure’ centred on Ash Manor. Proposals were expected to demonstrate how they responded to the current site including elements of landscape structure. The illustration of the landscape structure, although indicative in extent, should be considered in the light of planning permissions granted. Further clarity could be provided in this regard.