In July 2016 Surrey Heath Borough Council submitted to the Homes and Communities Agency an Expression of Interest for a Garden Village bid at Fairoaks Airport.
Previously this information was classed as ‘exempt’, ie not made public, as the landowners had not made their intentions for the site public.
As the landowners have now made their decision public, including holding a meeting with Chobham Parish Council, and the planned Community Planning Weekend for the public on 24 and 25 February, the Council is now able to publish the Expression of Interest and covering letter relating to the Garden Village submission.
The Council has recently received a number of requests for information about the submission of an Expression of Interest (EOI) to the government for funding for a Garden Village pilot scheme at Fairoaks Airport. A summary of the information released in response to those requests will be attached to the webpage shortly.
The approach taken by the Council on this matter is summarised below.
In March 2016 the government issued a prospectus inviting expressions of interest for locally led garden villages. The Council had at that time been approached by the owners of Fairoaks who were exploring options for developing the site for alternative uses. In July 2016 the Council with the support of the owners submitted an EOI to the government for funding for a Garden Village.
If successful, the EOI would have provided some funding to assist the Council to undertake studies to look at the issues arising from such a scheme such as Traffic Impact Assessments and feasibility of development. This is a similar approach to that which the Council took at Deepcut where the government provided the Council with support in drawing up planning guidance for the site.
In addition, the Council had hoped to use some of the EOI funding to undertake its own community engagement in addition to that being undertaken by the owners to explore, with the local community, issues arising from any future project on this site.
It is understood that the owners wish to submit a planning application at the end of 2017. This will need to consider some significant planning issues and identify how these will be addressed before any such planning application can proceed.
The EOI clearly sets out the matters that the Council believes any such scheme will need to address. The site contains a substantial element of previously developed land. This could deliver much needed new homes for the area and address the current shortfall in housing land supply. In addition any scheme should also protect employment on the site and address issues such as the impact on the Green Belt, the impact of traffic on the nearby villages of Chobham and Ottershaw, impact on The Bourne catchment, as well as other issues such as the schools needed to support new housing and effect on wildlife and the wider environment.
In particular the EOI makes it clear that any scheme must be an exemplar development that is a freestanding and sustainable community in its own right based around a landscape led approach to development.
The Council wishes to make it clear that the EOI does not confer any approval or permission for development and the Council has not seen any scheme for comment, nor does it change the current designation of the land in the Local Plan as a Major Developed Site in the Green Belt.
The Council has now received a copy of the letter from the Homes and Communities Agency setting out the decision in respect of the Garden Village bid. This can be viewed below: