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We have objected to the policy in Runnymede Borough Council’s draft local plan core strategy which would remove land from the green belt and build 1500 houses there, next to Chobham Common in Surrey.
We are concerned that the proposed development adjoins Chobham Common, an important lowland heath with a multitude of designations, which reflects its international, national and local importance: national nature reserve, site of special scientific interest, special protection area, special area of conservation, site of nature conservation importance, and registered common land with rights to walk and ride.
It is outrageous that Runnymede Council can even consider putting this valuable, sensitive and much-loved common at risk by building a massive development right next door.
Although the plan is to provide ‘Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space’ (SANG) this cannot be sufficient to mitigate the major impact of the development on the common.
The draft plan waxes lyrical about the importance of the Runnymede Green Belt, its vital role in separating the urban areas and maintaining their identity, and providing valuable open space for nature conservation and recreational use. But when that designation is inconvenient to the council, it just proposes to remove it, rather than respect the green belt boundaries and work round them.
We have pressed the council to abandon this plan to develop the site and to ensure that both the green belt and Chobham Common are safeguarded.