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The good folk of Woodlands Avenue in West Byfleet are up in arms again and have their pictures in the local paper because once more a developer is attempting to build a block of houses – eight, this time – at the bottom of gardens in their road. Coincidentally, the plan has been put forward when the new coalition government has made clear its strong disapproval of such ‘garden-grabbing’ developments, and has suggested that local councils should also make clear their opposition to them. In the case of Woodlands Avenue,  the same arguments that were made against a plan in 2008 https://heartofsurrey.wordpress.com/2008/11/08/residents-on-the-rise-2/ that was actually thrown out before it was even considered by councillors still apply: out of character with the bungalows in the street,  creating a traffic hazard on a busy, narrow road, building homes on land that is prone to flooding,  and the potential devastation to wildlife in the nearby Basingstoke canal conservation area that years of construction will inflict. Surely the council will once more thrown this plan out at an early stage, for the same reasons as it did the one before.  But it should also take this opportunity to formulate a policy firmly against ‘garden-grabbing’, so that residents across the borough of Woking can rest easier in their beds, without worrying that the next speculative developer with designs on their neighbours’ back gardens is lurking just around the corner.

February 2011 update Again this plan was thrown out before it reached the planning committee stage, but in this case the developer, Keane Property Ltd, has appealed to the government’s planning inspector. Since the same company is seeking permission to build a block of bijou homes snuggling under a couple of electricity pylons and next to the electricity sub-station in Woodlands Avenue car park, this does not appear to be the end of Kean’e ambitions in Woodlands Avenue. More attempts at garden-grabbing on the way?

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