This is a controversial subject! Should greenbelt ALWAYS be greenbelt? Are there any instances when perhaps the rule should be flexible and possibly be considered for development?
We were contacted by readers living near The Bugle in Upper Halliford. A recent application for development of adjoining land had just been considered by the planning committee at Spelthorne Council. The proposals were to turn an extremely ugly plot of land into a nice respectable close, with a nature reserve at the back for the enjoyment of the community. The proposal had been overturned despite a lot of support from locals.
We were intrigued so went to have a look.
We have heard so much about the need for housing. An ambitious target of close to 600 additional homes per year has been forced upon Spelthorne and the current local plan is under scrutiny. We do not yet know the outcome but one thing we must be reassured to know is that the greenbelt CANNOT be under threat.
The plot in question on Upper Halliford Road is the site of the old Bugle nurseries. It is a mess of waste, lorries, buildings in poor repair and associated overgrowth and vermin. This is certainly not what I would ever consider to be prime green belt. The use of the land over the past 20 years has according to locals, been dubious; apparently unlicensed activity turning the site into an industrial estate with tumbling buildings, some with asbestos, dumped vehicles and machinery and discarded building materials.
There was an application in the early 1990s to develop the 5 acre site into a residential housing estate which was rejected by the council. The industrial activity which escalated since then has led to contamination of the land. Many developments were apparently illegal, but retrospective planning permission and licenses were granted by both Spelthorne and Surrey County Council.
The recent application by a developer to build an estate of dwellings (50% affordable) and a nursing home was refused on the basis the land is greenbelt. Ward councillors, local residents and the Shepperton Residents Association supported the application. Councillor Tim Evans described the site a “this disgusting unsightly junkyard”. The refusal raises the issue of when is greenbelt not greenbelt and what should be done to preserve it. This site is a blot on the landscape.
If it cannot be developed, then surely we need to put pressure on the land owner to clear it up. Greenbelt needs to be preserved and we hope that will be the case moving forward when the local plan is revealed. But we don’t want these unsightly industrial wastelands to be allowed because of the current designation of the land. There needs to be inspection of these sites to ensure they are NOT being turned into industrial wastelands.