Sunday, 1 February 2015

Lord backs development at Horsell Common

Interesting to see in the local press that Woking's MP Jonathan Lord has given his support to McLaren's latest expansion plans at Horsell Common.  McLaren has applied to almost double its current footprint on land designated for public access.

The company wants to build a new research facility to include a wind tunnel, workshops, meeting, teaching and training rooms.  I blogged here with the details of the application which is expected to go before Woking Council's planning committee this month.

I'm a little surprised that our MP appears to have fully supported McLaren's plans without considering the impact on residents or the natural habitat. 

Existing Planning Permission

This application follows a successful 2012 application for land across the A320 from the existing site.  It seems there are too many issues with the site that already has planning permission so McLaren have decided on a new application next to the existing site.  The company say they would sign an agreement not to go ahead with the currently approved plans if the new application is accepted

Questions and Concerns

Whilst welcoming the employment and innovation that McLaren bring to Woking I have a number of questions and concerns over  this planning application.

McLaren have permission to build across the road.  Having put local residents and the Council through all the work of dealing with and responding to that application what are the real reasons for starting again in a new location?

McLaren say the new development plans replace the permission they were given for the other side of the A320 and that there would be  legal agreement on this. Would this be a watertight agreement or could further development happen anyway?  We are still yet to see a visitor centre, agreed in the first development on Horsell Common.

Why did McLaren not inform Horsell Common Preservation Society, who own the freehold of some of the land, of their plans until the application was being submitted.

The application involves land covenanted for public use when McLaren was first given permission to develop in the green belt back in 1996.  A public footpath will have to be re-routed, we are told temporarily, but given it cuts right across the proposed new site would access ever be returned?

The application says that more parking is needed on site.  This suggests that McLaren may not be within its agreed level of traffic movements.  Surely if the company is looking for a sustainable future and to provide local employment they should already have been promoting other forms of personal or public transport rather than increasing traffic to the site.

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