Hogs Back – why is it worth saving?

The Hogs Back is beautiful – large swathes are designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and other parts as Areas of Great Landscape Value.  The remainder is covered by farmland, ancient woodland and is dotted by pretty villages, such as Wanborough, Puttenham and Compton.


The spectacular chalk ridge is steeped in history.

The Hogs Back is a great resource for people in the local area attracting walkers, joggers, cyclists and horse riders and forms part of London’s Green belt.  However, this is set to change and parts of the Hogs Back are under threat from development.  In particular, Blackwell Farm (once owned by Lord Dennis) is set to provide space for 3250 new homes and the result will be the loss of a beautiful landscape forever. So please help us protect the Green Belt by signing our petition at this link.

The University of Surrey is planning to build 3250 homes on this open farmland.

The University of Surrey is planning to build 3250 homes on this open farmland.

See our Call for Action and write to your Councillor.


44 thoughts on “Hogs Back – why is it worth saving?

  1. Angry from Surrey

    Can’t wait for the extra traffic in west Guildford, well done Surrey Uni and Guildford Council, another great joined up idea, guess there was another flurrey of brown envelopes flying about, credit to those in the past with the foresight, integrety and decencity to set green belt rules to protect the area in anticipation of this, sadly we fail them- but only if we allow this!

  2. Ben Horsley

    I’m very passionate about the area I live in. I reside in Ash/Normandy, and I have family and friends through Flexford, Normandy and Wood Street. My primary concern here, as like many others, is protecting the Hogs Back and surrounding land. I am also very aware of the awful congestion to the west of Guildford almost every day. And it’s only getting worse. The infrastructure is struggling and has been for some time. The improvement of roads, amenities and local services to support this new development will have a detrimental effect on neighbouring areas, towns, villages, and to Guildford itself.

    If there is a need for additional housing in Guildford, this certainly isn’t the answer.

  3. Richard Taunton, Puttenham

    Guildford Borough Council are a disgrace when it comes to planning.
    Look at all the dithering and delay in sorting out the saga of the proposed Casino, before finally acting to stop it. I think that the Surrey Advertiser should do a bit of digging and ensure that our Council are not being corrupted by their power.
    Like many people who live in the affected, or surrounding areas, or just visit to enjoy the many AONBs, I am sick to death of our rubbish council taking more and more money from us all and giving us less every year.
    The roads and pavements in Guildford town centre are a disgrace as well.
    This latest plan is just typical of their lack of forward thinking in planning , just like evrything else they are involved with.

  4. Kas Sommers

    I am a newcomer to this part of the world, but I don’t quite understand why we are in desperate need of new housing when there are so many empty dwellings in Guildford, boarded up. And across the whole country there are thousands of empty houses. Why aren’t they being utilised?

  5. Tongham Resident

    Yesterday I saw the banner up on the Hogs Back. Really sorry to hear about this. It’s one more nail in coffin to us having a leafy green and pleasant land we live in, which we all pay a premium for. I live in Tongham and we have been fighting all manor of planning permissions and have been attacked from every corner from developers. The Guildford Borough Council have been inadequate in finding the required amount of new builds for each year for the next so many years so if anyone fancies building anywhere the GBC will just say YES (this is a fact)…..we even got Eric Pickles the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government involved but he was not interested in stopping a 400 housed build in the most inappropriate place in Ash. Unfortunately 2000 houses is a beautiful number for the council to have set off against their targets. I just hope you can find something that can stop it such as endangered animals living there or some historical remnants that can’t be moved! One big problem they have to deal with is vehicle traffic. I come across the Hogs Back each day to Guildford and after 7.15am until 8.45am the Hogs Back is grid locked and the A3 slip road and the A3 is incredibly slow so how on earth can it accommodate potentially 4000 extra cars at rush hour? The A3 can hardly be widened into 3 lanes which could be a possibility but just can’t see that happening as in some places houses are in the way (just past the hospital exit). Perhaps that’s your attacking area….traffic……anyway good luck.

  6. Wood Street Village resident

    Last night I found out that the access to this new development is going to be on the track next to the village green in Wood Street Village, specifically by that green bouncing thing (playground type thing) on small triangle of land by the village green in Wood Street Village, this is also the place where the local council wanted to put a play area a few months ago and there is an enquiry relating to that going on at the moment. Anyhow I heard they are going to introduce a level crossing to get across the the train track which would obviously also mean building a new road through the fields to get to this new development. Also only 700 people have commented in total about the overall plan, with only 700 questionnaires completed. Im going to be canvassing around wood street in the next week to raise awareness as people arent aware that this is happening ontheir door step and the deadline is 29th November is fast approaching,

  7. Steve

    I understand the council will now not accept the ‘e-petition’ as any petition has to be signed purely by local people and this does not distinguish. I have further heard there is a paper petition doing the rounds instead-does anyone know how we can sign?

  8. Phyl Kirkland

    What is the matter with Guildford County Council all of a sudden? They seem to have gone stark raving mad with their desire to build an unbelievable number of houses all over the area. Have they not heard of farm animals and wildlife who still need places to live – and have the right to?

    Why not just stop people moving into the area if there is currently insuffic8ient accommodation?

  9. Louise Cecchi

    When I worked at the Royal Surrey we were told that approval would not be granted to increase the number of parking spaces due to the increase in A3 traffic it would cause, so how about at least another 2000 cars?

  10. Mike Aaronson

    I would like to support the comment of Brad (17 Oct). It is really important that all the different campaign groups that are forming in response to this consultation process get together and present a united front. Otherwise GBC will just be able to “divide and rule” in the best British colonial tradition. I live in Normandy; we, too, are threatened by GBC’s plans, with 750 houses ‘planned’ in the first instance and a further 2,700 down the line. See our blog at: http://mynormandyvillage.wordpress.com/2013/10/30/face-up-to-the-local-plan/#comments

    It is too easy to think: ‘not in my back yard, as long as it’s in his’. We need to fight this at the level of principle; why should unimaginative planners be allowed to degrade our precious natural environment? We all know there needs to be more housing in this country; to deny it is irresponsible as well as unrealistic. But that doesn’t mean we have to give private developers free rein to dig up our green fields; we need a more intelligent, planned, approach to development.

    Please could we all get together to discuss this and agree a plan of action?

  11. Mike Barden

    Absolutely NOT to more houses being built in or near Guildford or anywhere else in the UK. It should be painfully obvious to anyone with even a tiny brain that there isn’t room in Guildford for the number of people and cars here already. Nowhere in the UK needs more houses – it needs fewer people. This is the ONLY answer. The Country is vastly over-populated and the sooner the incredibly stupid people in government admit this and do something about it the better.

  12. Alicia


    I feel we have created housing problem in UK ourselves! I lived in HK for many years, every family have 3 or 4 children at least, parents, grand-parents still lives. So, do the calculation, you don’t need a university degree to see what UK will be like soon!

    By the way, parent and 4 children live in a 2 7′ x 10′ size bedrooms flat in HK are ‘well off’ families. But, in UK, it will not do! Again, we, are the ones who created the problem.

  13. andy

    I have only just heard the news about building on the hogs back, and I am shocked. I have been walking the woods and fields there for years now, and its a beautiful place. I will help in any way to stop this going ahead..

  14. Brad

    Hi, a couple of suggestions. You need to put a van on the hogs back with this website address on a board on the side to raise awareness. ALSO try contacting other local protest groups i.e. hands off the green belt.com, saveourshalford.com to build a larger opposition to the council’s general plans. Good luck.

  15. Rachel

    We moved to Park Barn so that we could be beside these areas of outstanding beauty. It really saddens me that this could be built over. We have seen some amazing things in our family walks in these fields, locals have been coppicing the hazels there for decades, we’ve seen rare birds there, and birds of prey frequently fly over our garden in Park Barn because of the farmland surrounding this part of Guildford.

  16. Suzanne Morris

    Please don’t build on these beautiful land, natural home to much wildlife, walks for families to enjoy getting wawy from everyday life. A place to breath fresh air, a feeling of freedom. We are losing our countryside this is not good for the environment. Bringing congestion into an already busy area. There must be other area’s.

  17. William Gossage

    Whilst I am in complete agreement that developing the Hog’s Back is innapropriate, I am also very concerned to make sure that the need for affordable new houses is met. Are there any suggestions of more sensible places to develop that will above all benefit the community? As I understand it, the council are looking for opinions in their development of the new local plan: http://www.guildford.gov.uk/localplanstrategy The consultation ends on 29th November which isn’t far away!

  18. Martin Dowland

    We are going to need all the farmland we can have. We need green spaces, particularly beautitful spaces like this for quality fo life.
    We do not need to build houses here if they are indeed needed. That is another matter.
    There are plenty of more convenient brown field sites in Guildford. It is just too easy to flog farmland and appease greedy business posing as suppling shelter, education, boosts to the economy. This is not the way.
    There has already been too much sprawl, bad planning across Surrey. Lets grow up and learn from past mistakes.
    Yes, new building can be done. But not here or you might as well build flats all the way up Leith Hill. Otr anywhere protected.

  19. Worplesdon and Distrcit Bridleways Association

    Aside from our members personal views on whether there should be housing on the University land at the Hogs Back. The Worplesdon and District Bridleways Association are concerned with the amount of open space designated for cyclists, pedestrians and equestrians alike that will be lost forever. Subsequently, other areas of open space where the public gain access to fresh air, exercise and freedom of movement will have to cope with the impact of increased usage. We are also concerned with the loss of wildlife, birds, trees, animals and flowers.

    Our committee and members work hard to raise funds to improve and maintain our network of bridleways for everyones use. For the last two years the University of Surrey has granted us access to hold two fun rides across their land. It is very popular day out for everyone as the land and views from it are simply stunning. We know the land well and have a Permissive Horse Ride and Bridleway bordering the designated housing area.

    Please contact us so we may discuss the best way forward.

  20. Karen

    The woodland should be safe, but then the whole area should be protected under GBC’s own guidance. In its Landscape Character Assessment (Jan 2007), it states:
    ‘The Hog’s Back Chalk Ridge landscape should be conserved, in particular the open nature of
    the landscape which forms a backdrop to the surrounding rural areas and Guildford, the
    wide and far ranging views from the many viewpoints along the ridge line and the sparse
    settlement pattern…’ The strategy outlined in this document is completely at odds with the University’s proposals for a 2,000-home ‘urban village’ and with GBC’s recently commissioned Green Belt and Countryside study which, unbelievably, gives this area a ‘zero’ score for ‘preserving the rural environment’!

    1. Rachel

      I unfortunately doubt that the woodland would be safe unless the council does something. In developing their Research Park, the University has felled many mature oaks and other broadleaved trees, and buried them under ground.

  21. B.Carter

    with the planned 200,000 houses a year “needed” in the U.K I guess that the government has no time for the countryside lobby, the countryside will be ruined one way or the other not to mention our ever more reliance on imported food….every field concreted over will be another field of food to be imported….mind you with the deficit running at £120 Billion pounds every year in the U.K we are heading for a catastrophe that the politician’s are also keen to ignore but the financial institutions will not.

  22. J Brown

    Do you have any links to the planning application? It’ll take a lot more than a petition to solve this: we need to write letters to the council to submit our objections to the specific housing scheme, at the planning stage, at a minimum. If enough Borough residents object (with valid, measured views) the council will have no choice but to deny the application. Having the local press on board is also an absolute must.

    Valid objections to a scheme can be found here: http://m.richmond.gov.uk/home/environment/planning/planning_consultation_comments_and_applications/objecting_to_or_supporting_a_planning_application/what_is_a_valid_objection_to_a_planning_application.htm

    1. tejstevens Post author

      Thanks James, we will add contact names of Guildford Borough Council and the councillors to our website to make it easier for people to write in with their views. We are also hoping people will take the opportunity to share their views as part of the local plan consultation process – your link will help.

    2. tejstevens Post author

      James, please see our “Call for Action” with our objections to the proposal and details of how you can write to your Councillor.

    1. tejstevens Post author

      Thanks Bernard, I’ve heard similar views expressed about special arrangements when the University moved from Battersea College. Does this apply to Blackwell Farm (acquired by the University more recently) as well as Manor Farm? Please see the page titled ‘Is the University Jumping the Gun?’ under the tab titled ‘Threat’, which begins to expand on this discussion.

    2. Ramsey

      Bernard was Mayor and on the Planning Committee at the time The University were granted right to build on part of Manor Far. They were never given the right to Build on Blackwell farm and the fact Bernard confuses this is very deeply concerning. The University are seeking to act as outright property developers
      and risk losing any area for future growth of the Research Park or University.

  23. William Cardiff

    Sorry to come to this party very late but I’m stunned to read about this in the surrey ad on Friday. I live on east flexford lane in “green belt” . We can’t even put up a garage, exercise our permitted development rights without a fight and generally a losing battle. This is not a case of sour grapes but it must be one rule for all and certainly not for commercial gain
    Anything I can do to help let me know

  24. Peter de Snoo

    This will only be the start. Once they have built 2000 houese all hell will be let loose and the infrastructure ruined by more roads creating absolute havoc on the A3 which is clogged at most times already.

  25. Bernard Parke

    I seem remember that it was believed that the planning policy for the for building on Blackwell and Manor Farms pre-dated the Green Belt regulations

    I was serving on the planning committee at the time.

  26. Bernard Parke

    When the University started to build on the Blackwell Farm site it was said at that time that the green belt restriction did not effect them.

    I do not think that this was challenged at the time.

    1. tejstevens Post author

      My understanding is that Green Belt restrictions were lifted on parts of Manor Farm about ten years ago (despite opposition at the time) and the University built the Surrey Sports Park on part of the site as well as student accommodation. The land for the remainder of Manor Farm and neighbouring Blackwell Farm still remains as Green Belt and I believe that a commitment to keep this area green helped to persuade the planners to allow the development on part of Manor Farm.

      No new buildings have been built on Blackwell Farm by the University – yet. We are challenging the proposal to remove green belt restrictions on parts of Manor Farm and Blackwell Farm and, along with it, plans for 2000 houses. Unlike the existing development on Manor Farm – none of the planned houses would serve the University. – Tom

      1. Alicia

        Ah…. It serves the Uni’s pocket!

        Sport’s Park started with a very small car park, later, add on a temp. car park, I think there was under table exchange, Uni give the county the land to built a Park & Ride (it will start ‘business’ before 2013 X’mas) and with all the work on the hospital roundabout, on their land in exchange of Sports Park get to built the extra car park.

        So, look deeper, see what Uni gets…. In exchange of Blackwell Farm! I don’t think there’s ‘just’ money!

    2. ramsey

      The University have not built on the Blackwell farm site, when they obtained permission to build on the Manor Park / Manor Farm site they specifically promised blackwell farm as open space with greater access for the community and not for development. Since the University obtained permission to build on the Manor Farm site limited efforts have happened to provide what was promised, a few trees planted oppopsite beechcroft but meanwhile the University have been working to get approvals for developments/ roads etc sometimes giving misleading not correect reasons such as the farmer needing access to get approvals- This does not give one confidence in what the University say!

    3. ramsey

      Bernard Parke’s comment is incorrect. Permission was only granted to build on part of Manor Farm and assurances were givewn by the University that Blackwell Farm countryside would be maintained and greater leisure access for the community. Lots of people jog, walk, excercise their dogs or ride horses across the farmland and byeways and permissive footpaths everyday.

  27. stephanie hearnshaw!!!

    i live here! i hate this plan! myself and my parents moved here to escape the city and town life. it’s quiet, no trouble and very little traffic. they aren’t building any schools, shops or doctors in it and all the ones in the area are full to the brim as it is. i know we need new houses but this silly!

  28. Andy Young

    This is simply unbelievable. Whatever happened to Green Belt and areas of outstanding beauty. I lived in Burpham 45 years ago only to see the gorgeous farmland turned into “Waylea Farm” housing estate.. Farm by bloody name only.. no fields left! And they want to do this to the rest of Surrey now ?? Stop this disgusting idea now !!!!!!!

    I will be blogging about this disgraceful scheme and ensure all my blog followers and twitter followers are aware and act accordingly. You cannot allow such a repugnant misuse of green belt land to continue. Help keep this country green! The University wants accomodation ? Let them build apartments on their own land – Ones which do NOT of course block the views of the cathedral.. their problem… just stop this ridiculous and disgusting proposal!



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