Hook Heath Neighbourhood Forum

  5 March 2024


This Update is shorter than normal as there have not been many planning applications. In addition, timing clashes with the Residents’ Association Newsletter and I’ve tried to avoid duplication.

Woking Borough Council finances

If you’re interested in the details, then the Government-appointed Commissioners published a second report on 13 December; it can be found on the Government website here:


 As you will probably have read elsewhere, in order to achieve a balanced budget, the Council will remove all grant funding for charities and voluntary bodies but is providing some transition funds for the organisations affected. While the swimming pool can survive by increasing its prices, organisations which relied on the Council to subsidise their services may have to close if they can’t revise their business models.

Rights of Way

Surrey County Council have asked the Residents' Association to publicise a survey they are carrying out to help develop a Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP). If you would like to participate, this survey is at

https://www.surreysays.co.uk/environment-and-infrastructure/rowip-public/ and closes at midnight on 10 March 2024.

National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)

The Government updated the NPPF in December last year. The NPPF contains the national planning policy for England and Wales. It covers topics such as housing, the green belt and heritage. WBC intend to update their Core Strategy based on the NPPF but are unable to formally start as regulations, policy and guidance for a new procedure for plan-making have not yet been published. There will eventually need to be consultations on the new draft Core Strategy and if the changes are extensive or controversial then it will take a lot of time to respond to them. If there is a new government later this year, they will inevitably make changes to the planning framework - and experience suggests that these would take some time. So while a new Core Strategy and Neighbourhood Plan are due in 2027, this date may turn out to be optimistic.

Some key points from the new NPPF are:

There is a requirement on councils to prepare and maintain up to date plans which help to provide adequate local housing.

In future there is no need for councils to demonstrate a rolling 5-year housing land supply if (a) their local plan is less than 5 years old and (b) the plan when adopted demonstrated a 5 year supply.

If the local plan is more than 5 years old, but their new emerging local plan is nearly finished, the council will only need to demonstrate (and update annually) a 4-year supply.

Reaffirmation that the standard methodology for housing need is only an “advisory starting point” and so councils do not necessarily have to follow it when making their local plans.

The “Urban Uplift” which prioritises development on brownfield land is applicable to certain cities as set out in National Planning Guidance. However, development does not need to be permitted in such areas if it results in the increased density being wholly out of character with the existing area.

Local planning authorities should seek opportunities to support small sites to come forward for community-led development for housing and self-build and custom-build housing.

The list of specific groups for which the housing need must be established has been expanded to include those who require retirement housing, housing with care and care homes.

If housing delivery in a borough/district falls over the previous 3 years, the following happens:

There is no requirement for green belt boundaries to be reviewed or altered. This is one of the most controversial changes, fuelling concerns about future local plans delivering less, not more housing.

There is a continued emphasis on beauty.

Unfortunately, these changes don’t really address the key issue of getting more houses built. In fact, the change to targets and not reviewing green belt boundaries make it more likely that fewer houses will be built, especially in the South-East.

In addition, the changes don’t address developers’ complaints about the complexity of the planning process. In any case I wonder if there is enough money around to build many more new houses. Purchasers in Hook Heath may be OK, but many are struggling elsewhere. There is little doubt that changes to building regulations are making houses more expensive as well.

Some developers are planning to build fewer houses this year because of concerns about sales rates irrespective of planning issues. I doubt local councils will have much enthusiasm for building houses following Woking’s experience so NPPF changes may have little impact.

Another question is whether there are sufficient builders and trades people in the country post-Brexit to build more houses. As demand has fallen, trades people will have gone elsewhere to work, and may be unable or unwilling to return.

Local Planning Applications in the Hook Heath Neighbourhood Area

Two applications reported in the last Update have been approved by the Council.

PLAN/2023/0846 Erection of a two-storey side extension, two storey front extension, single storey rear extension and annexe, detached car port and external alterations including changes to external finishes, following demolition of existing detached garage and annexe at September Lodge, Mile Path.

PLAN/2023/0968 Proposed single storey rear extension linking house to existing detached garage at 5 High Gardens.

One application reported in the last Update remains undecided.

PLAN/2022/0657 Erection of single storey extensions to the front, side and rear elevations and roof extension to increase ridge height including insertion of front dormer windows and rear and front roof lights to facilitate additional accommodation within the roof space at Eastwood, Hook Heath Road.

It looks as if this application will be allowed to lapse.

There is one new planning application which is currently undecided.

PLAN/2024/0077 Erection of a front outbuilding at Saketha, Golf Club Road.

There is one new application for a Certificate of Lawful Development

PLAN/2023/1020 Certificate of Proposed Lawful Development for a side extension to form an attached garage following demolition of existing garage at The Chase, Hook Heath Road.

This is an unusual application as it is for a Certificate of Lawful Development which is usually a technical decision with no need for consultation. Despite that, there have been comments from two neighbours.

This section continues to be much shorter than in the past, with new planning applications arriving at a much-reduced rate.

Many thanks for your interest and support Sincerely,

Mike Cooke, Chairman

On behalf of the Hook Heath Neighbourhood Forum Management Committee

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