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West Byfleet: Around 60 residents from Woodlands Avenue, West Byfleet, braved pouring rain to meet with Woking MP, Humfrey Malins, in their campaign to prevent a back-gardens development of five houses and four flats in their street. The weather helped to hammer home one of the residents’ key points, that the homes would be built on a low-lying area prone to flooding, and incur foul drainage problems. They are also concerned that they will damage the environment and wildlife of the Basingstoke Canal conservation area, and ruin the 1930s character of the road. Speaking in Woodlands Avenue car park, Mr Malins praised the residents for turning out in such weather, and said he would do all he could to help their fight. Also at the meeting were West Byfleet councillors Richard Wilson and Gary Elson, county councillor Geoff Marlow, and councillor Anne Roberts, a member of Woking council planning committee. Afterwards councillors and some residents inspected a garden next to the development, and saw for themselves the existing drainage and water table problems. The latest news is that planning officers and councillors have now turned down the application under delegated powers, before it even got to the full planning committee meeting. Their reasons included the fact that the development would be out of character with the area, and that the developers did not get an ecological survey done in advance. The developer can appeal against that decision to the local inspector.

St Johns: Making a lot of noise can make a difference! Protesters have won their battle to stop a new development on St Johns Lye. Residents, young and old, who rallied outside Woking council’s planning committee  meeting, bawled out: “Hear our scream, save our green” outside the council offices. It seemed to work. The council had planned to build a new memorial hall on St John’s Lye, and extend an existing car park. A second proposal was to demolish the current memorial hall and build town houses in its place. The plans included two junior football pitches and a small cricket pitch. The council received about 900 letters from objectors and about 170 supporting the application. Objectors do want a new memorial hall for the village, but would like it built on the current site to preserve the common land of the Lye. St John’s Village Society is reported to be submitting an alternative plan for a new memorial hall on the present site. One councillor said she felt the application was over-development in the green belt. The plans were eventually, unanimously, refused, on the grounds of them contravening the Local Plan and being detrimental to the open character of the area. Councillors also decided the effects on the ecology in the area had not been demonstrated, and the application for the town houses on the current memorial hall site was also refused.

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