Author Archives: tejstevens

News update, June 2017

Dear all,

Local Plan consultation – objection to Blackwell Farm
As I’m sure you are aware, the Local Plan consultation is underway, and it is important that as many people as possible write in to object to continued inclusion of the Blackwell Farm scheme (policy A26). Please spread the word as widely as possible. A standardised response postcard has been produced by Save Hogs Back (see attached).

The following objection can be sent directly by email to: to arrive before midday 24th July 2017. This must be accompanied by your full name and address.

We object to Guildford Borough Council’s changes to the draft Local Plan and the inclusion of Blackwell Farm as a development site [Policy A26 & para. 4.1.9], which:

  • disregards an independent expert landscape study, which demonstrates that part of the site merits Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty status following Natural England’s forthcoming boundary review [para. 4.3.8]
  • directs more office space to an extended business park [Policy E4], which will increase peak time congestion – particularly around the hospital and A&E – and will also encourage rat-running through residential areas
  • ignores independent expert traffic studies, which show the impact of development at Blackwell Farm on the local network and question the viability of the development [2.14a]
    adds to air pollution in neighbouring areas, which already exceeds safe EU limits.

Please forward this to anyone who might be interested. If you would prefer to draft your own objections to this site, that would be even better, but please remember to refer to a change in the Local Plan policies and to cite the policy number, and (where relevant) the paragraph, otherwise the Council will disregard it.

Beechcroft Drive access
The latest draft of the Local Plan also removes the provision for an alternative access to Beechcroft Drive & Manor Cottages. The current access (a 90 degree junction on a blind bend of the A3) is dangerous not just to the residents of Beechcroft Drive, who use the junction on a daily basis, but to all drivers travelling on the A3. I would urge everyone to object to the removal of this scheme (SRN6) on safety grounds.

The removal of the proposed Beechcroft Drive access suggests that the A3 widening is not going ahead during the Local Plan period, and without this widening, the growth planned for borough in the Local Plan cannot be accommodated.

Day of Action – call for volunteers
The London Green Belt Council is organising a “Day of Action” for Save Hogs Back on Monday, July 3. Many thanks to everyone who has already helped to distribute the postcards across the west of Guildford.

We’ve had some great coverage in the Surrey Ad and on the Get Surrey and Guildford Dragon websites:

Please comment on these, especially on the more recent Dragon article, as this will help to keep it “live”.

Please could everyone with a Twitter account follow: @savehogsback and retweet the Save Hogs Back tweets.

Waverley BC Public Inquiry
Waverley Borough Council’s Local Plan Public Inquiry is currently taking place, and reports coming out of it are not positive. It seems that Waverley is being pushed to accept a housing increase of around 25% to meet the “affordability” test and an addition to the 5 year housing supply, which developers claim is not sufficiently robust. The now agreed starting point for Waverley is 396, (which implies that in order to comply with NPPF 182, Guildford’s starting point would be 600 and Woking’s 301).

The Planning Inspector presiding over the Waverley Inquiry was not swayed by arguments about environmental or traffic constraints. He said that “he’d rather have a new house than worry about sitting in traffic“.

Update, 12 June 2017

Dear all,
Local Plan consultation
A ‘targeted’ consultation on Guildford Borough Council’s Proposed Submission Local Plan (2017) began on Friday and runs to 12 noon on Monday 24 July 2017.  The draft Plan can be viewed on the Council’s website at, and the policy relating to Blackwell Farm (Policy A26) can be found on page 202.
It is very important that everyone writes in to object to this proposal – even if it is just a couple of lines. The Planning Inspector will take into account public feeling when deciding whether this site should be developed, and we need to demonstrate that the people of Guildford want to save the Hog’s Back.
In making your response, please note the following:
  • You can email or send a letter to: Planning Policy Team, Guildford Borough Council, Millmead House, Millmead, Guildford, GU2 4BB.
  • You must clearly state that you “object” to Policy A26 (Blackwell Farm).
  • You must include your full name and address.
  • The Council will only consider comments on changes to the Plan, and has stated that all comments should clearly state and identify which paragraph number or policy they relate to in the Local Plan document. To help you with this, a few examples of key arguments are outlined below:
Inclusion of Blackwell Farm as a development site [Policy A26 & para. 4.1.9]:
1) disregards an independent expert landscape study, which demonstrates that part of the site merits Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty status following Natural England’s forthcoming boundary review [para. 4.3.8]
2) directs more office space to an extended business park [Policy E4], which will increase peak time congestion – particularly around the hospital and A&E – and will also encourage rat-running through residential areas
3) ignores independent expert traffic studies, which show the impact of development at Blackwell Farm on the local network and question the viability of the development [2.14a]
4) adds to air pollution in neighbouring areas, which already exceeds safe EU limits for Nitrous Oxide [Policy A26].
Traffic study
Compton and Worplesdon Parish Council’s have jointly agreed to fund an addendum to the professional Technical Note, which identified problems with the proposed link road from the A31 to Egerton Road (which will form the sole access to the Blackwell Farm site). The addendum will look at the impact of this new road (and of the entire development) on the surrounding road network in the light of changes to the Local Plan. The planned new road will cross the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, an Area of Great Landscape Value, and historic parkland. It will also pass through, or very close to, a belt of ancient woodland. Many thanks to the two parish councils for their contributions.
Question over housing need number
A review of the Strategic Housing Market Assessment commissioned by Guildford Residents Association has identified a flaw in the way that the housing need figure has been calculated. This is outlined in the two paragraphs below:
 “A review of the latest ONS population estimates and projections has found compelling evidence that there are substantial errors in past estimates of student migration flows. It is probable that migration flows out of Guildford, both to other parts of the UK and abroad, have been under-estimated by sizeable amounts. 
“Owing to the way in which migration estimates are used to construct population and household projections, the errors in past migration estimates are likely to mean that the latest demographically-based housing need estimates by GL Hearn overstate the number of homes needed by over 25%.”
Please note that it is important to distinguish between a “demographic need” (births, deaths, migration), an adjusted need figure (which takes into account economic growth and affordability), and the “housing figure” used in the Local Plan (taking account of constraints and ambition). The GRA review is saying that it is a fundamental demographic building block that is wrong.
Day of Action
The London Green Belt Council (LGBC) has today issued a press release announcing its support for the Save Hogs Back campaign. This will distributed to the media on June 12. It will also promote the CPRE film featuring Blackwell Farm. A 30 second abridged version has been tweeted @savehogsback.
Please could all those who use social media retweet this as widely as possible.
The LGBC is also planning a Day of Action on behalf of Save Hogs Back. The date has yet to be confirmed, but it looks likely to be July 3. We will be looking for volunteers to help hand out leaflets at Guildford Railway Station and other strategic locations. In addition, we will be posting ‘consultation response’ postcards through letter boxes across Onslow Village, Wood Street Village, Park Barn, Compton, and the Hogs Back/Flexford area during the consultation period. Please let me know if you could spare some time to help.
New members
Many thanks to Graham and Lisa for their work in helping to boost the Save Hogs Back membership, and thanks also to our new members and all our existing members for their support. If any new members do not wish to be included in the blind-copied circulation list for these updates, please let me know.
Best wishes,

Update, April 2017

Dear all,

Local Plan – revised draft published
The latest draft of the Guildford Local Plan was published today, and the Blackwell Farm site continues to be put forward. I haven’t had time to digest all the documentation, but the key points are as follows:

  • The allocation for housing at Blackwell Farm has been reduced by 300 to 1,500. This “due to phasing of delivery expected beyond 2034”, which I take to mean that the additional housing will be built after 2034. There is no reduction in the land area taken out of green belt.
  • The site will now include a high school as well as a primary school.
  • The access road from the A31 appears to be a widening of the existing single-lane, tree-tunnelled track to Down Place. A through vehicular link to Egerton road will be “controlled” to provide a new route for employees and emergency services to the Surrey Research Park, the University of Surrey’s Manor Park campus and the Royal Surrey County Hospital, as well as the new residents of Blackwell Farm estate.
  • The Surrey research will be extended onto Blackwell Farm and no longer be categorised as B1 a/b, but will comprise “an Office and Research & Development Strategic Employment Site”.
  • A new rail station at Guildford West, Park Barn is now included as a site allocation.
  • The proposed development site at Normandy site has been removed from the Local Plan.
  • The allocation for housing at Gosden Hill has been reduced by 300 to 1,700.
  • The allocation for housing at Wisley remains at 2,000.
  • A further consultation (the 4th since 2013!) will take place between June 9 and July 24, and once again it is very important that everyone responds with their views. More information about the Plan can be viewed here:

CPRE video/newsletter
The CPRE National Office has produced a video promoting the green belt which prominently features Blackwell Farm. It is interesting that, of all the green belt sites across England, the CPRE has selected Blackwell Farm for this role. The video can be viewed here:

Blackwell Farm is the field which the artist is painting, and it is worth watching to the end for the “punchline”.

The CPRE Surrey Branch newsletter also features Blackwell Farm (see attached).

London Green Belt Council
The London Green Belt Council the London Green Belt Council has chosen to support the Save Hogs Back campaign.

Planning application for student homes
A planning application has been submitted to build accommodation for 550 University of Surrey students on the Guildford College campus (17/P/00509). Whilst Guildford needs more student accommodation to built, because it is denser and relieves housing need in the town centre, the University appears to be avoiding building this on its own campus at Manor Park. A disadvantage of building accommodation for University students near Stoke Park is that students would have to travel through the town centre and out again to reach the Stag Hill campus. It’s over a mile’s walk away from the main student campus, and more than 2 miles away from the Manor Park campus and Vet School, which will encourage University students to bring their cars and park around the neighbouring residential streets (not to mention clog up the roads). The local residents association has objected to the application on the grounds that, at 7 storeys, the building is too tall – currently the tallest classroom block is 5 storeys high.


Update, January 2017

Happy New Year to everyone – I hope you’ve all had a relaxing break.

Local Plan update

In March, we are due to see yet another iteration of Guildford’s Local Plan and my guess is that the proposed development site at Normandy may be removed (which is good news), but that the Blackwell Farm, along with the other strategic sites, will be put forward again.

In December, The Times reported that GBC would gain £68m (in new homes bonus payments) for building 8,200 homes on the green belt. This incentive is probably the Council’s driver – along with pressure from the University, which seeks to secure its financial future, and from the Local Enterprise Partnership.

The only obstacle to the Council’s development plans is the lack of infrastructure. The Council is now looking at a tunnelled A3 bypass, but such a scheme would be costly and take years to deliver (if ever). In the meantime, if mass development goes ahead, Guildford will probably become like central London, with average speeds on its main roads of 17mph.

University application (02/P/02505/S106/01)

Just before Christmas, the University submitted planning application 02/P/02505/S106/01, which seeks to remove the conditions imposed it when Manor Farm was taken out of green belt to facilitate the University’s expansion.

This application includes its request to overturn Clause 15 of the S106, which relates to Hazel Farm. Under this clause, the University was required to relocate students living on the Hazel Farm campus to Manor Park once 2,500 students residences had been built, and to release the 132 residential units at Hazel Farm onto the housing market for refurbishment or redevelopment.

The University is now arguing that this obligation is no longer deliverable because of the change in policy relating to the Thames Basin Heath Special Protection Area (SPA), which does not allow residential development within 400m of the SPA. This is only partially true; whilst the Hazel Farm site would not be suitable for general residential development (presumably because of the impact of family pets on protected bird species) Natural England would allow the site to be used as a care home or home for the elderly.

If Hazel Farm were put to this use, it would reduce some of the housing need in Guildford by providing much needed accommodation for the borough’s ageing population. Given Guildford’s ‘acute’ housing need, and particularly the need for affordable housing, I would expect GBC to ensure that this S106 clause was enforced.

I have contacted the Lib Dem ward councillors for Onslow and requested that they call in this application, but have not yet received a response. Therefore, it would be great if Save Hogs Back supporters could object to this application by emailing, ideally citing your address, before January 17. If the Council refuses this application, it will mean 132 residences that don’t have to be built in the countryside or crammed into the town centre.

This application is of particular concern to residents at Beechcroft Drive as it also includes a clause to waive the requirement for a visitor centre at Manor Farm, but to retain a car park (for disabled visitors). The car park would be adjacent to the ancient woodland at Manor Copse. The homes at Beechcroft will overlook this car park. It seems unnecessary to tarmac over part of a field to provide disabled parking for a visitor centre that doesn’t exist and a belt of ancient woodland that is poorly maintained and inaccessible to wheelchair users.

Public Rights of Way

Blackwell Farm Developments (a subsidiary of the University of Surrey) has submitted a deposit relating to the public and permissive rights of way across its estate at Blackwell, Chalkpit, Wildfield and Manor farms. I suspect that this is to lock down the land ready for development.

The new deposits can be viewed here:

Blackwell and Chalkpit Farms

University of Surrey, Stag Hill

Tim Harrold (Chairman of CPRE Guildford) has alerted the Open Spaces Society to this deposit and will keep us posted.

Many thanks,

Update, November 2016

Dear all,

Media coverage
The Times has reported on a leaked document suggestion that the Government plans to further relax green belt protection.

Housing debate tonight
There is to be a debate about housing in Guildford this evening at 7pm at the University, chaired and broadcast by the Surrey Advertiser.
The panel comprises 4 pro-housing representatives – Neville Bryan, who was due to represent the Guildford Greenbelt Group, has been deselected (not really a balanced debate!)
It will be an excellent opportunity to point out some of the flaws in the Council’s approach to the Local Plan generally and to Blackwell Farm in particular.
I’ve outlined below a few of the questions I think it would be good to have answered, and it would be great if as many of you as possible could go along and raise some of these, as well as any questions you yourselves may have. All these questions have been raised by many of us before, but we still haven’t had any satisfactory or straight answers to them.
Best wishes and good luck!
  • Who is the local plan for? Shouldn’t it be for the people of Guildford? If Guildford cannot deliver genuinely affordable homes (which it won’t) then it would only appear to serve only landowners and developers who are going to cash in, as well as the Government’s agenda to build the country out of the current economic crisis. It wouldn’t appear to do anything to improve the quality of life of people who currently live in Guildford or for future generations.
  • How is Guildford Borough Council going to deliver genuinely affordable homes? Does the Council really believe that by building 14,000 homes (the vast majority of which will be on the green belt), it will bring down the price of housing in Guildford? Local estate agents and Edge Analytics (the consultant which advised the Council on the SHMA) all confirm that Guildford house prices are driven by the London market and by an outflow of workers seeking better value-for-money homes in attractive locations within the commuter belt. [Edge Analytics writes: “Whilst it is evident that Guildford Borough has a particularly acute affordability issue, it is less clear how an upwards adjustment to housing provision would manifest itself as an improvement to the affordability position.”]
  • Affordable homes are only 80% of the market and therefore still beyond the reach of most young people. But, even supposing this was affordable, how is Guildford Borough Council going to ensure that:
    1. 40% of housing that landowners and developers deliver is actually affordable when the Local Plan allows them to simply argue that infrastructure costs make this level of affordable housing provision non viable. The infrastructure costs associated with Blackwell Farm, for example, are in excess of £50m – and this doesn’t even include the costs of the school, the reservoirs to prevent flooding, or any sewerage infrastructure etc.
    2. housing remains “affordable” and is not sold on the open market downstream
Won’t you end up with a bigger Guildford but with all the same problems in the longer term? But of course, with more congestion/noise/ pollution and loss of the natural environment as a result of green belt being lost.
  • The University has repeatedly and publicly argued that it needs to build on Blackwell Farm in order to provide homes for its staff and key workers. However, it was given the opportunity to build 300 such homes in the last Local Plan and has only built 30 of them (ten per cent). These were supposed to be separate dwellings with gardens, but in reality, they formed units within the student halls of residence. If the University needs these homes to be built, why doesn’t the Council take steps to ensure that it builds the remaining 270 homes on some of the 63 hectares the land that was taken out of green belt for this purpose in 2003? Refusing to roll back the green built a second time, will ensure that the University builds these houses where it promised they would be built.
  • At the last Local Plan in 2003, the University pushed for 63 hectares at Manor Farm to be removed from the green belt specifically so that it could expand and provide student and staff housing. Most of that housing has not been delivered – it still owes 3,200 units – despite the student population growing to 14,000 (1,500 above what it planned in 2003). The University is now asking for more green belt land. No wonder Guildford’s residents feel aggrieved. If this housing was built, it would free up around 1,500 of the cheaper homes in the town centre, which key workers desperately need. Shouldn’t Guildford Borough Council be pushing for this rather than planning to build across farmland at Blackwell Farm, which forms the views from an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty?
  • The University has been wasteful with the former farmland already gifted to it by the people of Guildford. Its Research Park has been built at very low density – 27 hectares for just 65,000m2 of office space, and there are more than 20 hectares of surface level car parking across its estate. Shouldn’t GBC be encouraging the University to use this land more efficiently  by building additional office space above the surface car parks, and by introducing mixed-use development across the site. and to build offices and flats above its car parks before handing over more green fields? Building at the same plot-ration as the approved Master Plan for Manor Park would provide six times the office accommodation on the Research Park than exists at present. Can GBC really justify taking neighbouring land out of green belt instead? Doesn’t GBC have a duty to protect our natural environment – particularly when the Council was elected on its manifesto to protect the green belt – naming Blackwell Farm in its election literature in particular?

News update (June 2016)

Local Plan consultation
The consultation on the Local Plan will begin tomorrow (June 6 2016) and it is very important that everyone responds – even if you simply resend a previous objection. Despite receiving 20,000+ comments on the previous draft of the Plan (not dissimilar to this one), the vast majority of which were objections, Guildford Borough Council has voted this through and is claiming that those who objected to its proposals are in the minority. The responses to this consultation will be the ones that the Inspector sees, and we need to demonstrate that there is no appetite to grow Guildford by 24%, to add to congestion and to build large-scale developments on areas of high landscape value such as Blackwell Farm. You can object by emailing:

The consultation closes on July 17, 2016.

There was a huge amount of unrest in the public gallery at the Special Council Meeting on May 24, 2016 as people felt that councillors had broken their pre-election promises to protect the green belt (70% of the 14,000 new homes will be on the green belt).

Clls Phillips and Goodwin (representing Onslow Ward) put forward an amendment to remove Blackwell Farm from the Plan, but it was not carried, and all the councillors representing Shalford and Worplesdon (except Bob McShee) voted against the motion. Cllrs Phillips, Goodwin and McShee also voted against the Local Plan going to consultation. They raised concerns that the Plan was going forward without councillors having sight of the proposed transport strategy to accompany it.

Cllr Phillips put forward his case for the amendment at 2 hrs 19 into the meeting and I spoke at around 31 minutes.

Further coverage of the meeting can be found on the Dragon:

Normandy Action Group & Save Hogs Back
Normandy Action Group and Save Hogs Back have agreed to work together to oppose Blackwell Farm site (1,800 houses) and the Normandy site (1,000 houses behind Wanborough Station) going forward for development. GBC has agreed that if the secondary school proposed for the Normandy site is not needed, there would be no “exceptional circumstance” for removing the Normandy site from the green belt. The school will, in a large part, serve the proposed new Blackwell Farm development so if Blackwell Farm is removed, it is highly likely that Normandy will be also.

Media coverage
Save Hog’s Back received some coverage in last week’s Sunday Telegraph online news: Sadly, the story was cut back in the printed version.

There was also a good letter from Peter Elliot on the Dragon:

Update, May 2016

Local Plan consultation
The local plan consultation will begin on June 6, 2016 and last for six weeks. I will forward details about how you can object to the Local Plan and the inclusion of Blackwell Farm as a potential development area in a future update. It is very important that everyone responds to this third round of consultation.

GBC Special Council meeting – June 24
On May 11th the Executive agreed that the latest draft of the Local Plan could go forward to the next stage. It will therefore be debated at a Special Council meeting tomorrow evening at 7pm at the Council Offices. Fiona and I have secured speakers’ slots. It would be great if as many of you as possible could turn up for the meeting as a full public gallery will demonstrate to councillors the strength of public opposition.

I put forward a formal question to the Council Exec at the May 11th meeting. In response, Council Leader Paul Spooner put forward the following arguments for development on Blackwell Farm:
The new link road from the A31 to the research park/hospital would relieve traffic on the A3. (There was no mention of the additional pressure on the A31.)
The site would offer considerable benefits to the community, eg a new junior school and SANG (suitable alternative natural green space), which is a requirement for development within 5kms of the Thames Basin Heath Special Protection Area.
It enables the Research Park to expand and this is the only place in Guildford where knowledge-based businesses can be located
The additional residential and employment demand will provide Guildford with a better business case for a rail halt at Park Barn (although he adds that the business case has not been proven)
The development will help fund delivery of the new rail halt at Park Barn.
If you’d like more detail, please visit:
(Annex 1)

A31 gap
The Local Committee meeting to discuss the proposed closure of the gap at East Flexford Lane will take place on 22nd June. Residents are concerned that the closure of the gap is linked with the proposed new junction on the A31, which will provide access to Blackwell Farm. Any written questions must be submitted to Surrey County Council before 15th June.

Mayoral petition
Monika Juneja’s petition seeking a referendum on whether Guildford should have an elected mayor has been validated. See (

Media coverage
The Surrey Ad published my letter complaining about a one-sided video promoting housebuilding in general and the University development in particular (see attached). I’m told that the video cost £72,000 to produce. The video can be seen at – about 8 minutes into the recording.

Donations and membership
Many thanks to everyone who has generously donated to Save Hogs Back. It is important that we have funds to pay the experts who are advising us on planning issues and to build our membership to demonstrate support. Please could those who has not already done so donate a nominal sum to Save Hogs Back – £1 will do! If you could ask friends and family to donate too that would be great. There is a “donate” button on the website

Local Plan events – let the Council know your views!

There’s an opportunity to find out more about Guildord’s Local Plan and the proposals to remove land from green belt by visiting a number of events held by Guildford Council:

Make sure you respond by writing to your Councillor.  Take a look at our Call for Action which sets out issues regarding the development and who you should contact.

Homes on Hog’s Back land would ‘totally destroy’ countryside – get Surrey

Take a look at the beautiful photograph on the Get Surrey website and the article about our campaign to save the Hogs Back:

23 Sep 2013 09:30
Neighbours launch campaign to save the Hog’s Back after the University of Surrey confirms it has made its land available for residential development of up to 2,000 homes


Photo courtesy of get Surrey

Petition up and running

Sign our e-petition to stop development on the Hogs Back.


Once you’ve completed your details on the government website, please make sure that you confirm the email from HM Government e-petitions otherwise your objection won’t be counted.