DERA plans spark a north south divide in Chobham

CURRENT LOOK – old MOD building on the North Site

CURRENT LOOK – old MOD building on the North Site

A PUBLIC exhibition giving residents the opportunity to learn about the revised development proposed for the former DERA North Site in Chobham took place last week.

Owners Crest Nicholson and Aviva Investors sent out 9,000 consultation letters to residents informing them of the three-day event and also took a number of them on tours.

Formerly owned by the MOD’s Defence Evaluation and Research Agency, the site at Longcross, which straddles the boundaries of both Surrey Heath and Runnymede Borough Councils, was initially established for tank design and
development during the 1940s.

A spokesman for Halogen, the developers’ planning consultants, said: “The site doesn’t currently employ many people so we are looking at making the north side a designated area for employment and to encourage businesses to stay in Surrey. The new plans will enable offices to be built to spec in phases.

“The area is ideally placed, close to the M3 and M25, and even has its own station – Longcross – which we intend to upgrade, and there has been a provisional agreement with SWT to make the railway line more accessible.”

Plans for the Chobham Lane site include a residential area for about 200 ‘high-quality homes with gardens’ on the north-easten aspect. This figure, the News & Mail has been assured, will include a percentage of affordable housing.

The spokesman added: “There will be two vehicle accesses to the site, one close to the existing one and another for residents, and ‘hidden’ two-deck parking into the hill. We will also provide suitable alternative natural green space so it doesn’t interfere with the special protection area of the common and retain the fencing around the site.”

In 2008, Runnymede Borough Council granted permission for redevelopment to provide approximately 1,110sqm of commercial floorspace comprising offices, cafe/restaurant facilities, childcare facilities,leisure facilities and decked
vehicle parking.

At the same time Surrey Heath Borough Council approved proposals for its slice of land to provide an ecological buffer to the development.

However, Crest Nicholson and Aviva notified the councils of their intention to submit a revised application (provisionally this autumn) to provide in the region of 80,000sqm of office space, café, restaurants and a convenience store.

Executive board director at Crest Nicholson, Chris Tinker, said: “These new proposals are designed to improve on the office-only scheme that already has consent to create a more attractive and sustainable approach with offices, homes and community space for workers and residents.”

It would seem that concerns are not with the DERA North Site but about what the companies’ intentions are for the south section of the area and the impact that would have on the surrounding villages.

Chobham Parish Council clerk Chris Chaney said: “Previous proposals for the south side involved almost 2,500 homes – the size of half of Goldsworth Park.

“At a consultation last week, this issue was raised and a total housing figure of 1,500 was banded around, which would take the figure down to 1,300 homes in the south. But as it stands, this is pure speculation and totally unsubstantiated.

“We have made our concerns clear to the developers. Those involved in the process need to be transparent about their intentions so we can make a balance judgement.”

If the plans go ahead, work on site is likely to start in mid to late 2013.

Anyone with any questions or responses has until tomorrow (Friday, July 6) to contact Crest Nicholson and Aviva Investors at www.chobhamlane.info/haveyoursay

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