UPDATE: Preston Farm Planning Application Consultation closes on Thursday 21st March

(Site officially known as: Land north of Lower Road and west of Little Bookham Street). 

Application reference: MO/2024/0096

In our last email, we said the BRA would be commenting on the Preston Farm planning application. Our detailed Letter of Representation is currently being finalised and will be submitted by the deadline of 21st March. We will comment on our concerns regarding:

  • Access and traffic

  • Green Belt

  • Natural drainage and flood risk

  • Sewerage and drainage

  • Trees and heritage assets

  • Infrastructure. 

We will share the letter and its appendixes via email, posting on our Planning page, and our social media pages at Facebook and Next Door.  

The application has thrown up a huge number of complex issues, which is why we are still finalising our objection. However, the deadline for letters to be sent to the Council is looming, so the following is intended to help residents to consider the comments they may wish to submit.  This will be posted on our Planning page, and our social media pages at Facebook and Next Door.  

Please submit your comments and objections by 21st March to MVDC via this link or button below. If you could send your  comments and objections in your own words, together with any photographs or other evidence you have. We suspect that the Planners give less weight to objections that they consider to be "boiler-plate". Below is our draft submission for your reference. 

The Bookhams Residents' Association strongly objects to the Application. A development of this nature will have a serious adverse impact upon the lives of Bookham’s residents.

We have serious concerns about the affects the proposed development will have on Bookham’s infrastructure, especially when considered in association with other approved developments that are situated within 2/3rds of a mile of this land. Savills Planning report for the applicant identifies approximately 600 new potential dwellings along the section of Lower Road to Effingham. This will create major problems: 

  • from increased traffic flows, making congestion a problem especially in the vicinity of the development;

  • increasing pollution levels; and

  • creating a less safe environment for pedestrians and cyclists, especially for children when on a trip to or from school.

An additional 203 homes at Preston Farm will place increased stress to residents in terms of its adverse impact on the availability of school places for children in the village; and the lack of capacity in health facilities, especially doctor’s surgeries.

Secondly, the development is proposed on Green Belt land at a time when it is widely accepted that new housing should be limited to brownfield sites where possible, a strategy that central government strongly promotes. It will adversely affect the nature of Bookham as a village and can be seen to be a major step to merge the village with Effingham to the west.

We acknowledge that the draft Local Plan contemplates releasing part of this site from the Green Belt, but the Local Plan remains a draft which may or may not be approved by the Government Inspector. Therefore, it follows that this land remains in the Green Belt at present, but notwithstanding this the applicant is proposing to build a Community building and Gypsy/Traveller accommodation upon land that will remain in the Green Belt irrespective of whether the Local Plan is approved or not.

In addition to the impact on Bookham, its residents, its wildlife, and natural environment; the proposed development will affect valuable heritage assets and potentially affect the number of trees on the land. Our analysis shows that the applicant has not properly examined them.

We have serious worries about how a development of this nature will affect drainage and sewerage in the area, as well as its adverse effect on the chalk streams that run through the land. Bookham has a high water table and there are continuing problems of flooding and raw sewerage spills in the vicinity which were increased when Thakeham built The Saddlery adjacent a few years ago. An additional 203 residences, a Community Building, car park and new roads will exacerbate these problems.  All of this will have serious environmental effects on both the site and adjoining lands.

It is important to recognise that the application has been submitted prior to receiving the Government’s Inspector's report on the examination of the Council’s draft Local Plan, especially in light of the recent publication of the Government’s NPPF, and the governments stance on avoiding development on Green Belt land and promoting the development of brownfield sites. 

We understand that MVDC has not been able to update its identification of suitable brownfield sites since 2017. In the last seven years the country’s economic characteristics have substantially changed which common sense dictates will have created increased potential for brownfield sites within Mole Valley especially in its larger towns.

The BRA also have concerns that as an Outline Application with all matters reserved except for means of access, makes a full appraisal of its potential adverse effects quite difficult, so we have focussed on the obvious issues but suspect that many others may emerge once the reserved matters are published.

Furthermore, the nature of the proposed dwellings, and the basis of financing the management of completed development including the potential community assets and park are unknown and, having regard to examples elsewhere, may result in the local community bearing unexpected and continuing costs whilst the developer makes substantial profits and sets up a future income flow.


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