Local Outrage At Proposed Greenbelt Development Plans

Under current government plans, England will have to make space for 330,000 new homes per annum. After the redevelopment of Woking town centre, Woking Borough Council is now looking towards its suburbs like West Byfleet to develop more residential areas. There has been uproar within the communities affected.

The West Hall site outlined in Woking Borough Council’s site allocation development plan is the third projected development in West Byfleet following the proposed regeneration of the town centre and the Broadoaks project, which is currently being developed by Octagon. The development plan projects 555 houses for West Byfleet. Combined with the Broadoaks project, the new development plans project an estimated 80% of West Byfleet Green Belt being lost and a possible 900 more cars, 1800 more children at local schools and 750 more families using the overstretched local health centre. Local residents say that this is too much for the town to handle. ‘Parvis Road is often at a virtual gridlock as it is. How on earth would it be able to cope with all the extra cars?’ stated a resident of West Byfleet, who asked to remain anonymous.

So, how is the local community opposing the development? Members of the Byfleet Forum and the West Byfleet Residents’ Association have started a petition and made large banners to display around the town. A crowdfunding site was also set up to help fight the proposals and to ensure as many residents as possible know about their concerns and can voice an opinion. In addition to this, a Facebook group has been set up to discuss concerns over Woking Borough Council’s draft site allocation. 

Many of the local residents have been in contact with their MP, Jonathan Lord, to object to the plans. However, according to wokingconservatives.org.uk, Mr Lord stated ‘Unfortunately, as MP, I have no formal decision making role whatsoever in this process.’ Nevertheless he has voiced his opinion via Twitter, posting, ‘I want to amend the development plan document to retain our current green belt designation and protection for the land near West Hall.’ 

According to the Daily Telegraph, a Ministry of Housing source recently stated, ‘We are working on a fairer formula, which still meets our housing targets but is rebalanced so that more homes are built in urban areas.’ Objectors to the proposals will be waiting to hear updates on further developments.