Mole Valley District Council has revealed plans to build 563 new homes in Hookwood as part of a draft Local Plan which outlines the land where new development will happen up to 2037. The proposals, which are publicised under the title 'Future Mole Valley', would have the effect of trebling the size of Hookwood and has caused huge concern in our local community.
The Parish Council is holding a Public Meeting at Hookwood Memorial Hall next Monday (October 11th) at 6pm to discuss the plans and explain how residents can lodge objections and persuade the ruling Liberal Democrats on MVDC to change their minds. Chaired by the Parish Council's Penny Shoubridge, the meeting will be attended by the MP for Mole Valley, Sir Paul Beresford, Helyn Clack, the chair of Surrey County Council and a resident of Charlwood, Charles Yarwood, the Mole Valley District Councillor for Charlwood, and Mike George, Chairman of Horley Town Council's planning and development committee.
If they get the green light, the proposals would seize for housing large areas of precious protected Green Belt to the west of Hookwood - stretching from Reigate Road almost down to Farmfield. Residents have until 7th November to submit their comments to MVDC and the Parish Council is urging every household to object.
Not only those in Hookwood but those in Charlwood and Horley as well. The impact of this significant increase in population - the impact on health and education provision and on local roads - would be felt far beyond the Hookwood boundary.
**Update - an audio recording of the public meeting held in Hookwood on 11th October is available for those who were unable to attend. It can be accessed via this link ...https://us06web.zoom.us/rec/share/pgsSmdEsZ6Sqxv-wXXQMQ4yDjud28p4sZ_FcP79i6K_XNmZP2C3bLfhmp8BWBxgz.X9_jNaIUuTPC9I2w
In addition a press release went out following the meeting and can be read further down the page.
Charlwood Parish Council chair Penny Shoubridge commented "The vast majority of residents are wholly against such a huge development. The infrastructure is not here, it trebles the size of our village and the area would struggle to cope.
"It is all green belt land. We don't feel that this is the right way to go. The green belt needs to be protected at all costs. The proposals are over four sites and they are all on flood plains, which obviously just doesn't make sense. We feel that it really is a very unsuitable area for this sort of large scale development."
Horley Councillor Mike George said: "Because it's on the border, they will be looking to Horley to provide infrastructure like education and medical services and the town is already struggling to cope with all the development within the town itself."
Horley Town Council has submitted its concerns to MVDC and they can be accessed via the link at the foot of the page along with its original objections in March 2020.
The full information is available from futuremolevalley.org and particularly at http://futuremolevalley.org/evidence-documents/. To help residents find a way through the mass of detail, MVDC has provided the following short-cuts to the parts of the documentation which focus on Hookwood:
A1: The Draft Local Plan, development sites DS41, DS42, DS43, DS44
H16: Development Site Selection Process, whole document. It explains how sites have been chosen
H17: Appendices to the Development Site Selection Process
H18: Green Belt Exceptional Circumstances Topic Paper, pages 177-193. This explains the reasons for de-designating the Hookwood sites from the Green Belt
L11: Strategic Flood Risk Assessment Level 2, pages 38-41. This gives the flood risk assessment for site DS41.
L12: Strategic Flood Risk Assessment Level 2 Update, pages 39-43. This gives the flood risk assessment for site DS42.
B6: Strategic Highways Assessment Report, page 54. This sets out SCC's opinion on development in Hookwood.
MP Sir Paul Beresford has hit out strongly at Mole Valley’s proposed new Local Plan, saying an opportunity has been missed to revitalise Leatherhead and Dorking which he claims are ‘dying’.
Sir Paul was speaking at a public meeting in Hookwood this week which drew around 200 members of the public angered by the plan to build 563 houses on Green Belt land in the village and treble its size.
The meeting voted unanimously to oppose the Local Plan, known as ‘Future Mole Valley’, which Mole Valley District Council will put forward for approval in early 2022.
The Mole Valley Conservative MP said the logical option was to enlarge towns rather than build in villages which lack the necessary infrastructure.
Sir Paul said of the Liberal Democrat-led council: “They have missed an opportunity. There was an opportunity to save our Green Belt and revive our towns. If you go to Leatherhead and Dorking they are dying but [MVDC] have gone for the easy things. They’ve gone for the Green Belt.
“They will tell you it’s down to the Government who set the numbers but that is not true. A calculation has been made on the number of homes – and I stress that, homes not houses – that should be available in every district council in the country.
“That is a guide. If there are reasons why you should not meet that number, or could not meet that number, then use that as a reason for a reduction in the numbers. A very high proportion of Mole Valley is Green Belt and should be left alone.”
The Conservative MP for Mole Valley said the group of Surrey MPs had already voiced their objection to the plan and added that Michael Gove, the new Secretary of State for Housing, would receive “one, two, three, four visits from me until I get it through to him but I don’t think I need to – he’s a Surrey MP.”
The meeting was chaired by Councillor Penny Shoubridge, Chairperson of Charlwood Parish Council, who explained where the proposed sites were in Hookwood.
“The plan is to build on an area stretching from Reigate Road almost down to Farmfields, the medium secure hospital for male patients detained under the Mental Health Act,” she said. “Available brownfield sites should be utilised first.”
Residents have until 7th November to comment and Sir Paul urged them all to protest. “Get your husband, your wife, your children, your dog to write in,” he said. “Explain why you do not want all these houses, why you do not want this Plan, why you do not want the Green Belt to be chewed up.”
The meeting also heard from Helyn Clack, chair of Surrey County Council and member for Dorking Rural, Charles Yarwood, the Mole Valley Councillor for Charlwood, Mike George from Horley Town Council as well as Parish Councillors.
Mrs Clack said the lack of infrastructure was of huge concern. “Rural villages like Charlwood and Hookwood are not made to support massive amounts of new housing. Where are the doctors surgeries, where are the schools going to be?”
She added that the proposed expansion at Gatwick – nearly doubling the airport’s capacity – was also a serious worry. With the added traffic congestion and other problems associated with air travel, villages like Charlwood and Hookwood would be “annihilated” she predicted.
Mr George made a similar point, saying that Horley’s infrastructure already faced serious challenges. “The sewage works is at breaking point, there was a leak of effluent on to a public footpath last week,” he said. “More houses will put intolerable strain on our services.”
Mr Yarwood pinpointed the fact that Hookwood was on a flood plain and said: “If one of the new houses floods it would devalue each and every house and insurance costs would go through the roof.”
Residents were asked to make their views known to Mole Valley Council by emailing email@example.com or by writing to Planning Policy, Mole Valley District Council, Pippbrook, Dorking, Surrey RH4 1SJ. An email address - Mv.firstname.lastname@example.org – has been set up for them to access more information.