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Chapter 3

THE PLANNING STRATEGY FOR MOLE VALLEY

INTRODUCTION

3.1 The strategy of the Plan seeks to ensure that development is accommodated in an environmentally sustainable way and that the District contributes to the achievement of national, regional and county objectives.

3.2 The aims of the strategy are set out in the following paragraphs. More specific objectives are put forward in the subsequent topic chapters.

AIMS OF THE STRATEGY

Aim 1 - To maintain and enhance the quality of the District's environment and ensure growth and development are environmentally sustainable.

3.3 The District has a high environmental quality which is subject to pressures for development which in turn lead to greater levels of activity. The Council considers that care of the District's environment is the paramount aim. This includes the District's towns, villages, countryside and open spaces. Environmental concerns cover also the levels of noise and pollution and the conservation of energy and resources. The Plan's strategy seeks to reflect the concept of environmental stewardship and to ensure that the qualities and resources of the District's environment are sustained and not undermined.

Aim 2 - To protect the Green Belt from inappropriate development and maintain the open and rural character of the countryside.

3.4 The protection of the Green Belt, which accounts for 75% of the District's area, is a central theme of this Local Plan, especially the maintenance of its open character and the prevention of urban sprawl.

3.5 The Plan seeks to ensure that the open rural character of the District's countryside and its attractive landscape quality is maintained. The best and most versatile agricultural land will be protected. Development will be confined to that which is appropriate to the character of the countryside and which will not lead to its urbanisation. Infilling and limited development may be permitted within specified villages subject to strict environmental safeguards. It is also recognised that in order to retain the economic base of the countryside, some small scale development may be necessary. The Plan seeks to ensure that such development takes place in a way that contributes to the sensitive and sustainable management of the countryside and does not compromise its open rural character.

Aim 3 - To make the best use of land within built-up areas while safeguarding their individual character, appearance and amenities.

3.6 The extensive area of the Green Belt and countryside of national and local significance limits the scope for significant growth of new development in Mole Valley. Development will take place principally in the built-up areas, mainly through redevelopment and infilling but subject to specified environmental safeguards.

3.7 New development in the built-up areas will be expected to be in keeping with its surroundings. The Council will seek to ensure that the diversity and individual identity of the built-up areas, particularly the mix of development and open space is maintained and the overall character and amenity of existing residential areas is not harmed. Over intensive development will be resisted and account will be taken of the need to limit the impact of traffic.

Aim 4 - To protect the District's heritage from inappropriate development and encourage high standards of design and the creation of developments that are efficient and where possible accessible to all.

3.8 Mole Valley's heritage includes listed buildings, conservation areas, historic parks and gardens, special landscapes and archaeological remains. They represent an irreplaceable asset and give the District its distinctive character. Development which would adversely affect the historic or architectural integrity or appearance of these features will be resisted. Positive schemes for the conservation and enhancement of the character and appearance of conservation areas will be promoted.

3.9 The Plan seeks to ensure the good design of development. Particular care will be exercised in environmentally sensitive areas, including the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and conservation areas. Where possible, development will be encouraged to be designed to take account of the access requirements of everyone, and to encourage energy efficiency.

3.10 A general requirement will be that new development should not materially harm the amenities and existing use of land and buildings which ought to be protected in the public interest. Development resulting in unacceptable levels of noise, nuisance, traffic, overlooking or loss of privacy will not be permitted.

Aim 5 - To reduce the demand for travel by car where possible.

3.11 Demands for travel by car are likely to rise further and reflect the relative prosperity of the District. While the Council wish to promote a healthy economy in the District, the demand for travel by car cannot be met in full without causing significant environmental damage. It is therefore part of the Plan's strategy to influence the demand for travel where this is practicable within planning powers. The use of energy efficient modes of transport will be encouraged where possible through the location and form of development and the Council will support the County Council's intention to prepare a cycle network in the District.

Aim 6 - To give priority, within the District's environmental and infrastructure constraints, to development which responds to the needs of the District's population.

3.12 Given the strategy of maintaining the Green Belt, and high quality of the District's environment, the main provision of new development will take place in the built-up areas as indicated in Aim 3. Although the scope for development is limited, it is considered there will be sufficient opportunities to respond to local needs over the Plan period without causing over development or town cramming. Priority will therefore be given to development which contributes to meeting local needs including affordable housing and small dwellings.

Aim 7 - To assist in the maintenance and renewal of the local economy and the vitality and viability of the District's town centres and local centres.

3.13 It is recognised that a delicate balance must be struck between ensuring that the District remains prosperous and that at the same time the environment of the area is safeguarded. It is also important to take a long term view of what is needed to sustain a healthy economy in the District and not opt for short term expediency which may store up economic as well as environmental problems for the future. A balanced view has been taken and the Plan seeks to make provision within the environmental and infrastructure constraints of the District for development that will contribute to the prosperity of the local economy.

3.14 The Plan encourages the recycling of commercial and industrial land in the built-up areas and makes provision for the diversification of the rural economy subject to environmental safeguards.

3.15 It is also important to ensure that the shopping and business functions of the Dorking and Leatherhead town centres are successful and support the continued operation of the other facilities they provide and to promote confidence and encourage investment. Policies are put forward for the town centres to achieve this aim. The Plan also seeks to maintain the vitality and viability of Ashtead, Fetcham and Bookham Shopping Centres.



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