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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 07/12/2004
Core Strategy - Draft Issues and Options




Annexe A
Local Development Framework

Waverley Borough Council


CORE STRATEGY-

DRAFT ISSUES AND OPTIONS

NOVEMBER 2004
SPATIAL PORTRAIT

Waverley Borough is situated in the south west corner of Surrey and is mainly a rural area . It is the largest Borough in the County and is 345 square kilometres in area,(133 square miles). About 60% of the Borough is in the Green Belt. It has a residential population of about 116,000. There are four urban settlements: Farnham (population 36,000) Godalming (21,000); Haslemere (15,000) and Cranleigh (12,000). There are 20 villages in the extensive rural area.

The environment of the Borough is of very high quality. 80% of the Countryside is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The landscape has a very wooded character and some 30% is woodland, the highest proportion in the UK. The Borough also has extensive national nature reserves, most of them heathland. There are over 2000 hectares (5000 acres) of healthland commons with access for the public. There are broad areas of rolling Greensand sandstone hills, extending across the centre of the Borough and the highest point in Waverley is Gibbet Hill at Hindhead, which is 272metres (897 feet)OD.

Waverley has a very rich historic heritage. There are 45 conservation areas, over 1600 listed buildings, as well as locally listed buildings and heritage features. This heritage combined with the beautiful landscape and attractive towns and villages gives many Waverley residents a high quality of life. For the most part it is an affluent area, and residents are keen to engage in community issues.

Regarding the housing situation, there are some 48,000 dwellings in the Borough, 80% of which are owner occupied. New houses are built at a rate of approximately 200 a year, 50 of which are affordable.

Farnham, Godalming, Haslemere and Cranleigh each has its own distinctive character and each is very attractive in appearance. The wooded hillsides in Godalming and Haslemere define and give character to their centres. Farnham is dominated by the Castle and is bisected by the A31 which follows the valley of the River Wey. Countryside surrounds routes right into the heart of Cranleigh. All have extensive residential areas, some of which are semi-rural in character. They can be described as “market towns”, and all have a historic centre. They provide a range of shopping facilities according to their size, and there are few vacant premises. These four urban areas have extensive residential areas, some with low density neighbourhoods. These are under pressure in some areas for redevelopment at a higher density.

Almost all the villages have conservation areas and are very attractive traditional settlements. Several villages provide employment opportunities as well as services, but the number of village shops and schools has decreased in recent years, to the detriment of those communities.

Looking at transport, Surrey has twice the amount of traffic of any other location in the UK, and Waverley has its share of traffic congestion. 86% of households have one or more cars. Traffic levels are high on all the main roads, and they have an adverse impact on all the town centres and on a number of villages such as Wrecclesham and Bramley.

The Borough has some good north -south strategic transport links. The principal road and rail routes lead through Farnham or Guildford towards London, Winchester or Portsmouth. Six railway stations (Farnham, Godalming, Farncombe, Witley, Milford and Haslemere) give access to London Waterloo in under an hour (Cranleigh has no rail link). Heathrow and Gatwick airports are within reach. However, the east- west links are not particularly easy, and some southern parts of the Borough are surprisingly distant from main roads. Bus transport is generally good in and near urban areas, but less so in the rural areas. Cycling is popular in the Borough but there is much scope for development of the levels of cycling and provide a real travel choice.

The A3 at Hindhead is the most serious transport problem, but this is moving towards a solution.

Waverley also has valuable sand deposits to the east and west of Farnham and these have been extracted for many years. The workings scar the landscape but the land is to be restored over a period of time.

Regarding social characteristics, the most important factor is that, for the most part, Waverley is a relatively affluent area. This is reflected in the very expensive house prices and in high car ownership. However, there are pockets of serious deprivation, about half the population has limited disposable incomes and there is a lack of affordable housing for first time buyers and key workers.

The Borough has an ageing population but, in general, health facilities are good. There are hospitals at Farnham, Cranleigh and Haslemere. New Health facilities are proposed at Godalming and there is to be an new health centre and a new hospital in Cranleigh.

The Community Strategy has not identified any significant shortfalls in social facilities in the Borough, but the need for affordable housing is a major need. The need for social facilities for young people is becoming apparent, and leisure needs have been identified, such as for sport centres. The loss of school playing fields is a consideration.

The economic characteristics of the Borough reflect its location within the ambit of London. Unemployment is 0. 7% which is well below the national average of 3.2%. There is however, a skill shortage in some sectors.
The four urban areas are important commercial centres of employment. Finance and insurance accounts for 29% of the Waverley workforce and distribution, hotels and restaurants account for 26%.

All the towns have industrial estates. However, there has been pressure to change the use of some industrial sites to housing.

Surrey and Waverley are one of the most crime free areas in the country.

THE ISSUES

The issues have been identified by making an assessment of the problems highlighted in the Government Planning Policy Statements and Guidance, the Surrey Structure Plan, the Waverley Borough Local Plan 2002, the Waverley Community Strategy, The Surrey Community Strategy and a range of other County and Waverley strategies, as well as other documents by significant organisations such as English Nature and the Environment Agency.

The resulting list of the main issues in the Borough is:

a lack of affordable housing, housing for key workers and child care;

how and where to deliver the Regional Spatial Strategy and Surrey Structure Plan housing requirement;

the future identity and focus of the Borough;

the pressure for development in low density areas and the urban fringe;

how to protect the character of residential areas from the impact of new higher density development;

changes in the rural economy;

how to manage visitors who wish to come to Waverley;

traffic levels and too many journeys by car;

limited public transport, especially in rural areas;

pressure for changing the use of industrial land to other uses;

loss of shops, schools and Post Offices in villages;

crime and fear of crime;

meeting leisure needs across the Borough;

pressure on wildlife and habitats;

lack of facilities for young people, especially in rural areas;

how to promote recycling and use of renewable energy;

how to deal with flooding;

how to make best use of the opportunities for enhancement arising from the construction of the A3 tunnel at Hindhead (if it is approved by the Secretary of State and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister);

how to deal with Dunsfold Aerodrome;

how best to foster the prosperity of the town centres;

promoting good design. pockets of deprivation

THE SPATIAL VISION –
HOW WAVERLEY WILL BE AS A PLACE IN 2016

The Council, through the Local Development Framework, will seek to maintain and improve the quality of life for the community of Waverley, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

THE SPATIAL OBJECTIVES –
WHAT WE WANT TO ACHIEVE

These objectives have been identified in relation to the objectives of the Waverley Borough Community Strategy and the Surrey Community Strategy.

The aspiration is that Waverley will be a place where the community has:

access to affordable housing for rent or sale;

protection from crime and the fear of crime;

good health and protection from pollution;

access to sport, leisure and cultural facilities for all;

involvement in shaping the future of its area;

employment opportunities;

access to a range of educational facilities;

access to open space and countryside;

a full range of local and town centre shops

heritage and wildlife to enjoy; accepted the need for recycling, waste reduction and use of renewable energy; reduced traffic levels.

A SPATIAL STRATEGY-
MAKING CHOICES ABOUT THE FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF THE BOROUGH

The spatial strategy will meet the needs of people for homes, jobs, leisure and transport without undermining the value of built and natural resources. This strategy will be achieved by continuing to focus development that is needed on the built up areas while preserving the countryside. This strategy complies with government guidance in Planning Policy Statement No1 Creating Sustainable Communities.

OPTIONS FOR LOCATION OF DEVELOPMENT

There are a number of ideas open to the Council regarding the best location of development. These are referred to as options, and are put forward simply to generate discussion in the community about how future development should be accommodated in the Borough and where.

These options are not proposals, they are just ideas to think about.

OPTION 1 Continue with our present approach

The Waverley Borough Local Plan 2002 sets out the policy of the Council on the development of land.

Advantages Disadvantages
Development is limited mainly to built up areasShortage of opportunities to meet affordable housing needs
The countryside is strongly protectedConcerns about town cramming and harming existing residential areas; restriction of sites available to development for larger affordable housing sites
Sites that have been developed before are reused (brownfield sites) Increasing density and car use will affect congestion on the roads – the impact of cumulative development

OPTION 2 Development in the four towns and selected villages on main transport routes

This option is not in the existing Local Plan and would be a departure from the policy approach of the last twenty years. The main aspects would be:

Advantages Disadvantages
Use of existing routes , no need for new ones. Fewer extra cars on the small lanesCould mean more traffic on principal local roads
A larger community in the selected villages might support facilities better such as shops and schoolsCould impinge on the countryside to some extent
In towns, could achieve higher densities in what are low density areas nowCould mean a loss of character of existing residential areas.
Reduced land values in other villages away from transport routes may enable more affordable housing to be builtWould mean less opportunity to support facilities in the remote villages

OPTION 3 Focus of greater development on four urban areas and not on villages

This option would envisage larger scale development (with possibly a planned release of land for an extension to a town.)

Advantages Disadvantages
Overall this may mean less encroachment on the sensitive rural area than a series of small releases, if it is not in the AONB/AGLVCould have a marked impact and may change the character of the locality and would encroach on ordinary countryside
Could increase pressure for higher density development in the lower density residential areas
If a moderate sized development could make use of existing schools health facilities and public transportIf a large scale development may need new additional facilities
Urban housing may be cheaper than in rural areasWill attract even more young people away from the villages
Could provide new services funded by development. Limited opportunity to support facilities in the villages with additional population

OPTION 4: Develop a new settlement

This is a totally different approach which is not in keeping with the Waverley Borough Local Plan, the Surrey Structure Plan or with the existing Regional guidance. It is put forward as an option because it is necessary to consider the longer term possibilities, and whether a new settlement is a feasible idea.

Advantages disadvantages
Can plan the settlement comprehensivelyBig impact on the surroundings, landscape and local residents
Can provide the facilities needed by the communityMay generate more travel to work for people living further away from where they work
Would ensure co-ordinated approach to meeting housing, employment and community needs May not suit people to live far from work – sustainability issues
A chance to provide very good design (like Poundbury) and renewable energy innovationA large new development all of one period may not blend into the rural area
Could be a really sustainable settlement re construction energy, cycleways etc:
May reduce pressure for redevelopment of existing low density areas
No choice is made at this stage, it is for the people consulted on the options to give a view

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