THE green gap distinguishing Mayford village from its large town neighbour Woking will shrink after planners gave the go-ahead to a new development.

Woking Borough Council’s planning committee approved a proposal on Tuesday night for 86 properties and a care home on land by Egley Road, which had been removed from the Green Belt several years ago.

The council received some 70 letters objecting to the application from Cala Homes , with residents worried the spread from Woking would erode the village’s identity.

Residents argued the plans would be out of character, with significantly higher density than the surrounding properties, and that the 10 metre-high, 62-bed care home would visually dominate the area.

But councillors’ calls for it to be refused over a lack of separation were rejected, with planning committee members told the plans included enough “visual separation” between Mayford and Woking. 

The application was also opposed by the council’s deputy leader Will Forster, who spoke out against the plans in his role as county council ward member.

He said: “The area is currently a greenfield with detached houses to the north and semi-detached houses across the road in Barnsbury.

“This development does not match that at all. This has a very large apartment block of a care home and two mid-size apartment  blocks nearby. 

“The development proposed is just not appropriate  It’s just not in keeping with the surrounding areas.”

He added:  “It’s also not a sensible use of the site. Woking, in the town centre, we build a lot of flats. In greenfield, it’s an ideal site for family housing – yet a significant proportion of the site is not given over to housing, it’s given over to the care home.

“I don’t believe, and residents don’t believe, it is appropriate. The sheer nature of this development, and how it’s been designed, remove completely the green gap between Woking and Mayford. 

“There’s been no scope in the plans to maintain that.”

Cllr Steve Dorsett suggested the planning officers’ definition of separation was “a bit spurious” as it had “always been intended that there would be physical separation”.

He also raised the issue that three of the homes in the application failed to meet minimum government standards and that, if this had been an application for a single home, it would have been thrown out for being poor quality. 

He was told the council was hamstrung in opposing this, as those standards had yet to be adopted in Woking.

I don’t believe, and residents don’t believe, it is appropriate.”

Deputy leader of Woking Borough Council, Will Forster

Planning officers told the committee an extensive amount of work had gone into the application to ensure there was a visual separation, and to reduce housing density, calling it “a bespoke development for the site”. 

Of the 43 affordable properties that were part of the development, eight are planned to be three-bedrooms or more, which would add “significantly” to the provision of affordable housing in the borough.

Parking, the committee heard, was at the low end of council recommendations but still within guidelines, and that the council’s housing team was happy with the affordable mix.

The committee voted through the application, having heard their only legitimate grounds for refusal would be to argue the definition of whether the visual gap was retained by the development.