Spirits lift as Knaphill plans are rejected

DESPITE the dark nights closing in, the future is decidedly brighter for residents of the former Brookwood Hospital site now that a housing bid has been thrown out.

A third application, this time to build two four-bedroom houses with associated parking on a small slice of open space at the entrance to Florence Way and Florence Court (the old hospital building), had left residents distinctly downcast and angry as they said the developers had reneged on their promise.

FUTURE’S BRIGHT – residents Nina and Paul Skinner with Cllr Whitehand at Florence Court

FUTURE’S BRIGHT – residents Nina and Paul Skinner with Cllr Whitehand at Florence Court

A number of them had bought their homes on the assurance that the land would remain open green space in perpetuity. Supporting their cause were local Councillors Debbie Harlow and Melanie Whitehand.

Cllr Whitehand told the News & Mail: “Florence Court is a lovely historical, mid 19th-century site and the council have an obligation to retain the views to it.

“There is also a serious safety issue that the build would create a dangerous blind spot. The proposed houses would not be in keeping with the surrounding architecture, and the site had been guaranteed by developers (Taylor Wimpey) to always be green space but now they seem to be going back on their word.”

As well as a lack of open space and an already high demand for parking, privacy, safety and noise, being overlooked and feeling confined compounded the residents’ list of objections.

The plans were refused because they were contrary to the council’s Core Strategy – resulting in loss of open space, while it had not been proved that the site is free of contaminants.

It was the third application to have been thrown out: the first because the land was deemed contaminated; the second because plans for three houses were considered too dense.

Cllr Saj Hussain added: “Florence Court is a local heritage site and I am investigating how to get it under national listed status.”

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