Planning Inspector refuses common land exchange proposal in Woking
By mattcollison | Friday, August 31, 2012, 16:36
PLANS to build up to 400 homes close to common land in Woking have been dealt a blow.
Woking Borough Council has been forced to re-think its access plan to the Moor Lane housing development.
The major housing development is planned for land at Moor Lane, which has been set aside by Surrey County Council and WBC specifically for the new homes.
But the proposals have suffered a setback after the Planning Inspector rejected an application by Woking Borough Council to exchange parts of Westfield Common to allow access to the development.
The council wanted to deregister land by Westfield Way for access and proposed to add land between Westfield pond and and Willow Bank in exchange.
The authority also offered land by Balfour Avenue to Westfield Common to be used as common land and had agreed to fund a Surrey Wildlife Trust management plan to care for Westfield Common.
But the Inspector refused the proposals on the grounds that the replacement land was not adequate.
Inspector Helen Slade said: "On balance therefore I do not consider that the replacement land will offer land of at least equal benefit to the release land and I conclude that an Order of Exchange should not be made."
It is the second time the council's application has been refused and has led to uncertainty over the Moor Lane housing plan.
Writing on his blog, Will Forster, Lib Dem county councillor for South Woking, said: "Where this leaves the Moor Lane development, is anyone's guess – but surely both the Borough Council and Surrey County Council who own much of the proposed development site need to do some serious thinking about this whole project."
Westfield Common Residents Association, who has opposed the council's plans for access to the housing development, said in a statement: "We will be interested to see what Woking Borough Council does next given that this is the 2nd time and application to deregister this part of the common has been refused.
Ray Morgan, Woking Borough Council's chief executive, said: "We are obviously disappointed with the Inspector's decision. The Council is committed to providing affordable housing within the Borough and whilst this decision is a setback it will not delay the proposed housing development on land adjacent to Moor Lane. We will now consider the decision in detail and review all options available to us."