Fury over homes plan for Chobham Common

OUTRAGE - Councillor Judi Trow

CONTROVERSIAL proposals to build more than 2,000 homes on part of Chobham Common have outraged residents.

At a Runnymede planning committee meeting last Wednesday, members voted in favour of scrapping the green belt status of the 129-hectare, ex-MOD Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) site, now owned by Crest Nicholson and Aviva.

The intention is to redevelop the north, industrial side and to make room for the proposed 2,415 houses on
the south.

Although the area – which straddles the M3 near Chobham – lies within the boundary of Runnymede, those opposed to the project say the housing scheme will be felt on Chobham’s roads – as there is no public transport, – its medical facilities and its already over-subscribed schools.

Proposals to remove a huge area of land from the green belt are unacceptableIndependent Surrey Heath Borough councillor Judi Trow said: “I was disappointed Chobham was not consulted over matters that will have a very detrimental effect on our quality of life and environment.

“With the aim of meeting their housing target without upsetting its residents, Runneymede councillors are trying to dump the scheme – with no infrastructure in place – on to the people of Chobham.

“Proposals to remove a huge area of land from the green belt are unacceptable.

“The area is adjacent to the European site of special scientific interest and a haven for ground-nesting birds that breed on the common. The impact on wildlife will be disastrous and rare species could be wiped out.”

On behalf of Chobham ward, Cllr Trow has made her objections known to officers and councillors at
Runnymede.

To implement removal of green belt status, the motion would have to first go through a consultation process and then to the Secretary of State.

A spokesman for developers Crest Nicholson and Aviva Investors, said: “The decision by Runnymede’s planning committee – taking into account the DERA site’s industrial history and current brownfield usage – identifies it as potentially suitable for removal from the green belt.

“To meet the housing needs as part of the South East Plan, Runnymede has identified the area as potentially suitable for removing from the green belt.

“By combining housing and modern commercial development, the site could create a more sustainable future where some residents could be employed within walking distance of their homes.

“This decision only marks the beginning of a process of public consultation to consider the issues involved, and for everyone interested to have their say prior to any final decision by the planning committee.”

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