Since the end of the public consultation in December, which sought people’s views about Farnham’s draft Neighbourhood Plan, Farnham Town Council has been working hard to take the plan to its next stage.

Additional consultation has taken place with statutory consultees such as Natural England, Surrey Highways, Surrey Education, Thames Water and South East Water. The organisations were asked to give their views on whether they felt their services would be able to cope with the additional number of people that would result from the proposed additional housing.

Councillor Carole Cockburn, Lead Member for the Neighbourhood Plan says: “The consultation with statutory bodies is an important stage. We have received advice from Natural England that for our Neighbourhood Plan to be acceptable and deliverable, we must be able to show that we have identified enough suitable green space for recreational use by the community. This is because much of Farnham sits close to a green space, which has been designated as a Special Protection Area for vulnerable ground nesting birds. This was originally an EU Habitats Directive, which has since become UK law. The requirement for Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace, also known as SANG is an attempt to alleviate the harmful effects that new development may have on the protected area.

“We understand that as part of their work on their Local Plan, Waverley Borough Council has commissioned a report on the provision of SANG in Farnham. Although we believe the report has been completed, it has not yet been published or made available to us. To expedite progress, we have taken more of a leading role in facilitating discussions between landowners who have expressed an interest in making their land available as a suitable alternative green space. Identifying this land is crucial because without SANG provision the draft Neighbourhood Plan cannot be submitted for inspection.”

Farnham Town Council is having further meetings with landowners and additional meetings are being held with Natural England and Waverley Borough Council to discuss suitable green spaces that would support the housing proposals.

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