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WCRA Object to Common Land Swap

WCRA Object to Common Land Swap

Transcript of WCRA objection letter to proposed Common Land Exchange at Westfield Common.

20 January 2011

Peter Bryant
Head of Legal Services
Woking Borough Council
Civic Offices
Gloucester Square
Surrey GU21 6YL

Dear Peter,

Consultation on Proposed Exchange of Common Land at Westfield Common (dated 21 December 2010)

Thank you for your letter of 21 December 2010 concerning the proposal for the exchange of common land referenced in your letter.

On behalf of the Westfield Common Residents’ Association (WCRA) I would like to notify you of our objection to any future application to the Planning Inspectorate for de-registration of the common land outlined in your letter.

On this occasion I will limit my comments to a few observations regarding the consultation letter sent to local residents and the supporting documents referenced within the letter.

1. Within your justification for the requirement for the release of the land you make reference to provision of 190 affordable housing units but fail to mention that the scale of the proposed development is much larger than this thus giving an incomplete rationale for the land swap and its potential impact on the Common and SNCI.

2. You also state that the alternative would either require demolition of two houses or require the use of more common land and that there is no planning consent for these alternatives. Whilst the statement on planning consent is correct the rest of the statement is somewhat misleading and alarmist as it suggests to the general public that the alternatives had been considered but rejected at planning committee or that they are in fact deliverable via local planning. In particular the release of Common Land is not subject to control by the local planning committee.

3. RE: the WBC resolution to adopt a formal management plan for a portion of Westfield Common and the referenced documents produced by Surrey Wildlife trust. The referenced documents by SWT comprise a summary of the ecological appraisals completed to date by a variety of agencies together with a shopping list of objectives for improving the long term management of Westfield Common and the SNCI. In particular these key points are made by SWT:

  • The report warns should the associated housing development proceed it will impact upon the ecology of the common, SNCI and adjacent area and that this should be examined by WBC;
  • That the impact of the full housing development should be addressed in the overall management plan for the Common and the area of development;
  • The management objectives outlined by SWT cover the whole of Westfield Common and the SNCI;
  • The SWT report (section 8.4) states that implementation of their proposed management scheme will incur substantial cost over a substantial period of time.

Despite this:

  • We are unaware of any investigations into the the combined impact of the access, land swap, and housing development upon the Common and SNCI;
  • WBC are intending to bring forward a management scheme to look after only a small portion of the Common and the SNCI;
  • There are no details of how WBC intends to practically implement the recommendations, i.e. no details of what you will do, who you will sub-contract this to, how much this will cost and for how long the management scheme will operate.

I am disappointed to see Woking Borough Council conduct yet another hasty and incomplete consultation exercise.


Bill Corney