Below you will find a number of FAQs relating to Dunsold New Town proposal.
Click on the questions to view the answer.
1. I have seen a variety of numbers quoted for the number of houses that will be built, which one is correct?
The current application is for outline permission for 1800 homes plus 75 care home units, however the applicant also makes it clear that the design allows for expansion up to at least 3400 homes. When considering the eventual size and impact of the new town, therefore, you could work on a figure of 3400 (over 30% bigger than the previously-rejected plan in 2009). There are no details in the submission of precisely where these extra homes would be located. (not, however that the Council is only formally obliged to consider the 1800 homes plus business park etc. submitted in the application)
2. What is the definition of ‘affordable housing’ and how many ‘affordable homes’ does the applicant say they will build?
The definition of ‘affordable housing’ (given in the National Planning Policy Framework) is; ‘Social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing, provided to eligible households whose needs are not met by the market’. The application does not state an actual number of ‘affordable homes’ that will be included in the total at Dunsfold Park. Affordable housing does not mean ‘cheap homes’; most of the housing on the site will simply be available at the market rate.
3. What does ‘outline’ planning permission mean?
If granted, the Council would agree to the general principle of developing this site in this way; this includes its size, location and mix of development, but most of the important details are what is known as ‘reserved matters’ that are left open until later. These include; appearance, means of access, landscaping, layout, and scale (size of buildings). The applicants would have to submit later for ‘full’ planning to cover all those points, although that must be in line with the details of the outline permission, including any conditions attached by the Council.
4. What will the new town look like?
Because detailed design is one of the ‘reserved matters’, the precise answer to this question would unfortunately lie in the future. However, we can get a glimpse of the approach being taken by the architects, because they clearly include the following elements;
- Two 100-foot high towers
- Houses up to 4 storeys high
- Dense urban areas with up to 40% more houses per acre than the top range recommended in Waverley’s current policy
- A ‘town’ style layout with radial and ring roads and a town centre, rather than a linear village-style layout
5. How does the size of this development compare to the existing towns and villages in the area?
Using 2011 census data, we can compare the number of dwellings in, for example;
So, in other words, the new town will potentially be 71% as big as Cranleigh, 50% the size of Haslemere, 38% the size of Godalming and over seven times the size of each of the immediately neighbouring villages, namely Dunsfold and Alfold.
6. I see that the plans include a significant amount of office, industrial and warehousing, but I can’t quite relate that to what is on the site at the moment?
Using figures provided by the applicant, the overall increase in office, industrial and warehouse space is indeed very significant, representing an extra 54% (by floor area). Over one-third of this is warehousing, but there are loopholes in the existing planning that could increase this percentage so that up to 65% of the total could be warehouses. The amount of office/industrial space being proposed has increased compared to the 2008/9 application by some 15% and is all requested from the outset.
7. There’s been a lot of talk about ‘housing targets’ for Waverley, and I’m confused!
The government is requiring all local planning authorities to set house building targets. No final figure for Waverley has yet been agreed, but using the government’s methodology, Waverley carried out an exercise in 2013 which showed a likely figure of 519 house for the whole Borough each year for the next five years. It also carried out a ‘call for sites’ survey in 2014 to identify realistic building sites. In an update it published in October2015, Waverley was able to show that around 2555 sites are available for the period 2015-2020. This is very close to the target figure (519 x 5 = 2595), excluding any development at Dunsfold Park.
8. The transport statements are not very clear about the impact on traffic on the local network, will our roads cope?
The impact of such a large mixed development on road traffic is a very important consideration. Little has changed since the previous Inquiry in 2009, when the Secretary of State concluded; ‘the development would generate a considerable amount of additional road traffic and he considers that this would have a severe and unacceptable impact on an overstretched local road network, and that the scheme would be unsustainable in transport terms’. The A281, which is not part of the County’s ‘primary route network’, nor a Trunk Road, will realistically take virtually all the newly-generated traffic from the new town. In its transport statements, the applicant has provided modelling of extra trips during morning and evening peak hours, based on a range of assumptions. On the basis of this, five minor junction improvements on the existing A281 between the site and Shalford have been proposed, but no improvement to the road geometry for safety or capacity of the A281 is proposed, nor any improvements to other local roads. For example, no proposals have been submitted to improve roads into or through Cranleigh, Godalming or Haslemere. No detailed figures have been given concerning the heavy goods vehicle traffic that will be generated by the expanded business park. A new access road from the site onto the A281 is proposed, with a roundabout.
9. I can’t find much about heavy lorry traffic in the documents, am I missing something?
No. The applicant, while modelling peak hour car traffic that will be generated from the site in some detail, has given little detail on the generation of HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) traffic that the industrial estate will generate. You are right to ask questions about this, because it is very likely that most of this significant increase in HGVs will travel north along the A281, a road with sharp bends, speed limits, hills and areas prone to flooding. The HGVs would pass through several communities including Bramley and Shalford, causing noise, vibration, air pollution and safety concerns.
10. I understand that the site is ‘brownfield’, but the Google Earth aerial photos don’t show very much apart from some old runways and hangers. Have I misunderstood what ‘brownfield’ means?
‘Brownfield’ is a colloquial term for ‘Previously Developed Land’ (PDL). There is no prescribed rule for what this means. So when you look at an aerial view of the Dunsfold Aerodrome you will see that most of the area within the site boundary is actually grass or woodland. At the 2009 Public Inquiry, it was concluded that the PDL area comprised ‘the operational part of the aerodrome, including the runways and interstitial grassed areas’. The applicants state that the site is 86% PDL, based on a figure produced in 2014 by Waverley Borough Council. In the applicant’s current plans, areas of agricultural land have been added into the site for development outside that described by the Planning Inspector as PDL, and the boundary designated as ‘Dunsfold Park’ by Waverley BC. This increases the area of the ‘site’ they are putting forward to 249 Hectares, simply on the basis that it’s in the same ownership. The effect of this is that only 74% of the new ‘site’ is actually PDL. Allowing built development on non-brownfield land would set a precedent for development on similar agricultural land, not just around Dunsfold and Cranleigh, but throughout Waverley.
11. Will the use of the Aerodrome for special events and activities such as Wings and Wheels continue if the site is developed?
No. The new planning permission would supersede those uses and all the parts of the site used for these activities would be built on.
12. I notice that a new country park is proposed on the site. Who will own that and protect it for future generations?
The site owners say they will own the park. We are not aware of any plan put forward to protect the country park from future development, and no suggestion to put it into a public trust for perpetuity.
13. I recall a plan being put forward just a few years ago for an ‘Eco-town’ on Dunsfold Park, and had understood this had been rejected at the highest level? If so, what has changed?
Yes, about ten years ago an ‘Eco-Town’ was suggested (but rejected by the government) and an application for a new town was then submitted in 2008. This included 2600 homes and was rejected in 2009 by a Planning Inspector after a Public Inquiry. The decision was upheld by the Secretary of State having gone to Appeal. The current application is remarkably similar to the 2008 plan, though initially smaller, but its ultimate size will be considerably bigger. It is, of course, in exactly the same location, described by the Secretary of State in 2009 in the following words; ‘In so far as the existing situation is concerned, the site is not in a sustainable location’. Other factors have changed, including government planning and house building policy and the local planning context in Waverley, whose new Local Plan is due to be made public in April 2016.
14. Everyone can see that such a development requires a significant amount of investment in local infrastructure in the area. What sums of money have been committed by the developers for this?
This is an Outline Application and the developer has not committed any specified sums of money for infrastructure improvement. Waverley Council has a legal right to impose a Community Infrastructure Levy, but at the moment it appears that no amounts of money have been suggested publicly. On the site itself, the applicant mentions that a primary school, health centre, community centre and church, and local shops, will be built. But off site, the only reference to any contribution to infrastructure improvement is five minor junction improvements along the A281 northwards, towards Guildford. No financial contributions have been offered to improving roads, other infrastructure or community facilities in Cranleigh – which will be the natural centre to which new residents at Dunsfold Park will look – or to the wider community in Waverley. By comparison, the developers of the Brightwells in Farnham (239 new homes along with a commercial development) are quoted as offering nearly £2m towards new education, travel, sports, library and parkland facilities in the town.
15. I understand that a major new development like this must be shown to be ‘sustainable’. What does this mean?
Sustainability has many aspects to it, including economic, social and environmental dimensions; this covers topics such as Traffic and Transport, Ecology, Landscape, Heritage, Land Quality, Water Resources, Air Quality, Noise and Vibration, Social and Community Wellbeing and Economic Sustainability. Sustainability is what is described as the ‘golden thread’ in the National Planning Policy Framework, so if a development is not sustainable it should not proceed. The application describes in some detail how the development, in the view of the applicant, makes a positive contribution to being ‘sustainable’. But there are several ways in which the Dunsfold Park new town proposal is not sustainable, mainly due to its poor location and transport links. This situation has not changed since the 2009 Public Inquiry, at the conclusion of which the Secretary of State stated; ‘In so far as the existing situation is concerned, the site is not in a sustainable location and little can be done to improve the existing infrastructure beyond minor alterations to road junctions’.
16. I have seen some artist’s impressions of the new town, can they really be suggesting 100-foot high towers?
Yes, two of them, and their artist’s impressions rather play down the impact of these towers. Grandiose schemes often feel the need to have ‘landmarks’, but these towers will be visible for miles in all directions. This is approximately the same height as the incinerator chimney at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford.
17. The 5th February application has now passed. Am I able to still make an objection?
The short answer is yes. Waverley Borough Council must take into account objections that they receive up to the date on which the Joint Planning Committee meets to make a decision. This is not expected to be until May / June 2016. So there is more time for making your objections.