Is this our last chance to save our Green Belt? MVDC Local Plan - Extraordinary Council Meeting 25th January, 7.00pm.

You may recall that in December 2022 MVDC requested examination of the Local Plan by the Inspector to be paused due to changes in the Government's National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). After nearly a year, in December 2023 the Government issued new legislation.

In this legislation Government has stated that Local Plans that are in the final stages of examination should continue using the previous examination legislation and the new NPPF should only be used for new Local Plans. This puts MVDC in a dilemma if they wish to proceed with the current plan, modify the current plan, or start again with a new Local Plan.

An Extraordinary Council Meeting will be held on 25th January at 7.00 pm which will ask Councillors to decide what option they wish to proceed with.

This has a major impact on the Green Belt across Mole Valley and in Bookham the Preston Cross site.

You may view the meeting online via this link

The BRA has sent the following communication to all our Councillors:

Dear Bookham Councillors,

On the 25 January 2024 you will be asked to vote on three options (copied below) for the further development of the MVDC Local Plan. Your decision on which option you vote for will significantly impact Bookham as a community for many years to come.

The BRA thinks it is vital that your vote on 25 January is informed by Bookham resident's views.  This email will therefore be circulated through all BRA communication channels to encourage residents to give you their views on which option they want you to vote for.

None of the three options presented by Council Officers for you to vote on, on the 25 January is risk-free or, frankly, very encouraging. After so many years of developing the Local Plan it is very disappointing that it seems you are now being asked to vote for a "least worst option" - a very unsatisfactory situation for residents, and for you.

The BRA's Planning Sub-Committee met on 17 January and discussed the three options.  The unanimous view was that overall Option C was the "least worst option" that presented the best hope for saving the Green Belt in Bookham, and more widely across Mole Valley. Option A was the "next worst option", and option B was the "worst option":

  • The current draft Plan is unsound, it has a flawed spatial strategy, it is inconsistent with Environmental Legislation of the Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023 

  • It is not clear to us that the Inspector is as "content" with the "paused Plan" as is claimed in the Officer's report. That plan significantly fails to meet the required housing numbers target, and we do not see why the Inspector would approve of MVDC doing that.  

  • We are also concerned at the Officer report's repeated mention of the Community Infrastructure Levy money likely to accrue to the Council under each option.  The protection of the Green Belt should not be decided on which option offers the Council the highest potential income!

Bookham Councillors, you have all said that you oppose Green Belt development, and you have promised to oppose Green Belt development in the Bookhams. The strength of your commitment will be seen on 25 January.

The BRA has consistently said throughout the lengthy Local Plan process that Bookham should take its fair share of development in the Local Plan, mainly through continued in-filling development - see the Bookham Neighbourhood Development Plan which was approved by a significant majority in a referendum of residents.

The BRA opposes Green Belt Development in general and Preston Farm in particular. 

Residents look to you to do the right thing to protect the Green Belt in the Bookhams when you vote on the 25 January. 

MVDC Report Extract: Next step options for the draft Local Plan

Recommendation 1: The Council is asked to consider the following options and approve its preferred option:
(a) Inform the Inspector that the Council wishes to withdraw the draft Local Plan
(b) Inform the Inspector that the Council wishes to continue with the draft Local Plan Examination subject to the Main Modifications identified by the Inspector in Examination Document 59 (i.e. maintaining the allocation of land in the Green Belt as submitted)
(c) Inform the Inspector that the Council wishes to seek a Main Modification to the draft Local Plan which removes all the Green Belt sites (i.e. reiterate the Council’s request to remove Green Belt allocations that do not have planning permission from the draft Local Plan)

Recommendation 2: Should either option A or option C be approved and are not permitted by the Inspector or the Secretary of State then the Council would progress with option B.

We encourage residents to contact Councillors prior to the 25th January with their view on the options being considered on the 25th January. You may contact your Councillor via the button below and view the online meeting via the button below on the 25th January.

There are a limited number of seats in the public gallery if you wish to observe the meeting in person. If you wish to attend please call MVDC on 01306 879198 to reserve a seat. 


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