The Trust's Planning Team would like to draw your attention to this latest planning application at Norwood Farm.
Proposal: Construction of new rural business centre, conversion of existing stable building to B1 office use, alterations to existing green keeper building and construction of new green keeper building on footprint of existing buildings (2,766 sq.m net increase)
Location: Norwood Farm Buildings, Old Common Road, Cobham, Surrey KT11 1BS
Application Number: 2014/1993
It is described as "a rural business centre". It is in the Green Belt and what is proposed is, in fact, a commercial office development of 2,766 sq. metres (30,000 sq. feet) – a large development with 65 or more car park spaces and up to 200 employees. Our community needs to ask whether there is any case for this large development in the Green Belt on what was a farm and consider the wider implications.
There is at present a varied collection of farm buildings. Will the proposed new development have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt than the existing buildings? Undoubtedly, as current permitted use takes in green management for the Burhill Golf Course (with storage of machinery for that which will be dislocated) and very small-scale artisan and equine use. The Applicant states that only 17 employees are currently involved.
The access will be via Elvedon Road off and onto Portsmouth Road. The location is far from reliable or convenient public transport and to discourage car use the Applicant proposes a shuttle bus to and from Esher Station at peak times and to Esher at lunch time. But employees will commute from other directions and how long before employees supposed to use a bus took to their cars? The Trust believes there would be heavy additional vehicle use, adding to local traffic, not only from that but also from numerous regular deliveries and visitors.
There would be no benefit to the local Cobham community, just loss of amenity. The proposals would significantly affect the amenities of the residential occupiers of Norwood Farmhouse, who are at present in a rural situation but could potentially have a full scale office development on their doorstep.
The Trust believes that this Application for a significant development contravenes the objects of the Green Belt. If permitted it could set a dangerous precedent. The Trust will be writing to the Planning Department at Elmbridge objecting. It would ask members to also write objecting if they can.
This application comes at a time when Cargills have notified a change (as new regulations entitle them to) of use of their extensive premises at Knowle Hill Park, off the Fairmile Lane, from business to residential in the form of 21 flats, indicating a lack of business demand. These premises are not dissimilar in size to what the Applicant looks to add in the Norwood Farm proposals.