Welcome to the second in a series of posts about Planning and the challenges of Planning.

It began as an exercise to educate myself about the Planning system and all it’s quirks, but I soon realised that residents might appreciate my sharing the insights I had gathered.

I hope it will enable residents to have a better understanding of Planning, allow them to engage constructively with the Planning process, and enable them to understand the challenges the system presents and the case for Planning system reform.

Like many others, I am concerned about overdevelopment in our area. I worry that if uncontrolled development continues, the South East will end up like Los Angeles, with 20 million people and grid lock every day.

We need first to understand the facts, who controls what, and what needs to change if we are to avoid this.

If you want to drill into the details, I’ve included links.

Lack of Development Space

This challenge of assuming continous building isn’t unique to Surrey Heath. But, as SHBC Leader Alan McClafferty has pointed out to the previous Housing Minister, Surrey Heath has a particular set of circumstances that make the problem even more challenging and even more pressing. The vast majority of the land in Surrey Heath cannot be built on. In fact, only 19% of the land in Surrey Heath is permitted for development.

46% of Surrey Heath is part of the Metropolitan Green Belt (4190 hectares out of 9100 total hectares):

Green belt in Surrey Heath

23% of Surrey Heath is also part of the Thames Tidal Basin Special Protection Area, a habitat for wild birds including nightjars, Dartford warblers and woodlarks. This map shows where these areas are, with the Surrey Heath border in red:

A further 19% makes up the 400m buffer zone around the Thanes Basin Special Protection Area, where development is not permitted. This map shows the efffect of the buffer zone.

There is some overlap between the Green Belt and the Special Protection Area, so the numbers don’t quite add up to 100%.

So not only is there a built-in assumption of continuous housebuilding*, there is a very small part of Surrey Heath where these housing 'targets' can be met. Frimley Green is one of these areas, so there is extra pressure on Frimley Green for development.

Stuart Black, December 2022.

*See latest blog update following Michael Gove's announcement 8 December 2022.