SURREY Heath Borough Council is being asked if it still intends to remove Chobham’s assumed protection from large developments from its planning policies.

Parish councillors, who are currently finalising their neighbourhood plan, fear the village’s overall Green Belt status is to be lost.

At their meeting last Thursday (November 30), Cllr Sean Moynagh said he understood that Chobham would no longer be “washed over” by the Green Belt in the new Surrey Heath Local Plan, as previously indicated.

The plan, designed to guide planning policy in the borough up to 2038, is currently poised for a review because of recent changes to the economic climate that have affected Surrey Heath.

The draft that was released for consultation in 2022 caused alarm because it increased the size of Chobham’s developed boundary to take in open spaces that are currently protected by Green Belt rules.

Parish councillors told the borough this could lead to higher-rise buildings being allowed, backland development in gardens, and densely built areas that would destroy the village character.

A proposal by Cllr Moynagh that Surrey Heath should be asked to state its intentions for Chobham development was accepted.

Cllr Emma Kennedy, who is leading parish’s neighbourhood plan initiative, said: “We really don’t want to have to adopt a plan for the parish that says the washed-over Green Belt should be removed. We should object to this being included in the local plan.”

The final draft of the Chobham Neighbourhood Plan is expected to be presented to the parish council at its January meeting. It has sections covering aspects such as housing, the environment, flooding, highways, parking, cycling, employment and heritage.

If the council agrees, the plan will go to a second public consultation and will eventually be put to a local referendum. It cannot, however, override any policies in the Surrey Heath Local Plan.

Surrey Heath – which was taken over by the Liberal Democrats in May – was due to publish its proposed local plan in November but this stage has been delayed to allow further work to be carried out.

The council’s portfolio holder for sustainable transport and planning, Cllr Alan Ashbery, said recently: “Given the current economic climate, more time is required to review key policies and undertake further work to support the development in Camberley town centre.

“Once these important pieces of work have been completed, a new local development scheme will be published. This will set out dates for the remaining stages of the process, including publication details prior to submission to the Secretary of State for Local Government.”

Council leader Shaun Macdonald has warned that the authority’s finances are under “severe pressure” as it struggles with debts totalling £165 million.