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Chapter 4




4.1 Mole Valley contains very beautiful countryside, an extensive heritage including towns and villages of character and many other attractive built-up areas. Protection of the character of Mole Valley is a top priority of the Council. The policies of this Chapter apply to all proposals for new development where relevant.


4.2 The objectives of the strategy to protect the District's environment are as follows:

  • To protect the openness of the Green Belt and not to change its boundaries.

  • To protect the attractive Wealden landscape beyond the Green Belt from inappropriate development.

  • To protect and wherever possible enhance areas designated as of high landscape or ecological importance.

  • To encourage wherever possible the sensitive management of the countryside, particularly areas of the urban fringe.

  • To safeguard and enhance the heritage of Listed Buildings and gardens, conservation areas and archaeological remains.

  • To protect residential areas of special character.

  • To recognise the public amenity role of many open spaces in the built-up areas and to prevent their development.

  • To avoid development causing significant harm to the occupiers of neighbouring properties, the immediate setting and the character of the locality.

  • To encourage a high standard of design in new development, including provision for people with disabilities.

  • To encourage where possible the conservation of energy and non renewable resources.


4.3 The Metropolitan Green Belt has been the main instrument of strict control over new development in Surrey and Mole Valley for many years. Most of Mole Valley's countryside is in the Green Belt, apart from the area to the south of Capel.

4.4 The need for a Green Belt around London is a fundamental and long-established principle which was first given statutory authority in 1931. The Metropolitan Green Belt comprises almost half a million hectares of open land around London. It is one of several Green Belts established throughout the country. Planning Policy Guidance Note 2 indicates that the fundamental aim of Green Belt Policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; the most important attribute of Green Belts is their openness. PPG2 also sets out the purposes of including land in Green Belts. These are:

  • to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;

  • to prevent neighbouring towns from merging into one another;

  • to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;

  • to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns;

  • to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.

Green Belts also have a positive role in providing public access to open countryside. Such access may be for active outdoor sports or for informal recreation.

4.5 In Mole Valley, strict control over development in the Green Belt has helped to protect the character of the District. The quality of the countryside in Mole Valley is highly valued, and if it is not to yield to the many demands made of it, it is imperative to maintain tight controls over development. This is particularly important as the District has experienced great pressure for new development for a number of reasons related to its attractive environment, relative prosperity, the convenience of its location and communications relative to large centres of population and economic generators, and recent changes in farming.

4.6 The Council aims to maintain the open nature of the countryside within the Green Belt. The encroachment of urban areas into the countryside will be resisted. The Council also aims to resist inappropriate development within the Green Belt and ensure the effective use of land for suitable rural purposes. The policies of the Plan therefore continue to impose strict control over new development in the Green Belt.

The Green Belt Boundary

4.7 The approval of the Surrey Structure Plan 1980 established the general line for the outer edge of the Green Belt in Surrey and provided for the precise boundary to be established in Local Plans. Prior to this, much of Mole Valley was subject to either formal or interim Green Belt policy under the former Surrey County Development Plan and amplified in former Town Maps for Dorking and Leatherhead. The precise boundary of the Green Belt in Mole Valley was established during the 1980s with the adoption of the Dorking Area Local Plan in 1983, the Leatherhead Area Local Plan in 1987 and the Mole Valley (Rural Areas) Local Plan in 1988 which together provided comprehensive Local Plan cover for the District.

4.8 National policy emphasises that an essential characteristic of the Green Belts is their permanence and that where existing local plans are being revised and updated, existing Green Belt boundaries should not be changed unless alterations to the Structure Plan have been approved or other exceptional circumstances exist which necessitate such revision.

4.9 This Local Plan has been prepared in the light of the policies and proposals of the Surrey Structure Plan 1994 which indicates that once local plans have established precise Green Belt boundaries they will be altered only in exceptional circumstances.

4.10 This Local Plan reaffirms the boundary of the Green Belt established in the Dorking, Leatherhead and Rural Areas Local Plans, but has excluded the villages of Capel and Charlwood in the light of the provisions of PPG2 - Green Belts.

4.11 Provision has been made in this Plan for Mole Valley District to meet the development requirements of the Surrey Structure Plan 1994.

The Green Belt in Mole Valley will extend over the area shown on the Proposals Map. The boundaries will remain unchanged.

4.12 The Proposals Map shows the precise boundaries, which are drawn around the edges of the towns of Dorking and Leatherhead and the built-up areas of North Holmwood, Ashtead, Fetcham and Bookham. This means that these areas are excluded from the Green Belt. The Green Belt boundaries are also drawn around the edges of the larger and more close knit villages of Westcott, Brockham, Strood Green, Capel and Charlwood which means that these too are excluded from the Green Belt. The principle of infilling and limited development is acceptable in these villages (see Policy RUD2), and in the case of Strood Green and Westcott, reserve housing sites are also identified (see Policy HSG6).

Development Policy in the Green Belt Outside Villages

4.13 It is essential that the Green Belt should endure for the foreseeable future. PPG2 on Green Belts indicates there is a general presumption against inappropriate development in the Green Belt and such development should not be approved except in very special circumstances. The Council wishes to ensure that the open character of the Green Belt in Mole Valley is not eroded and that development does not conflict with the purposes of the Green Belt.

In the Green Belt outside the boundaries of the villages defined in accordance with Policies RUD1, RUD2 and RUD3 there will be a presumption against inappropriate development.
The construction of new buildings inside the Green Belt is inappropriate unless it is for the purposes of agriculture and forestry, or comprises essential facilities for outdoor sport and outdoor recreation, or for cemeteries or other uses of land which preserve the openness of the Green Belt and which do not conflict with the purposes of including land in it.
Development involving the limited extension, alteration or replacement of dwellings, the re-use of buildings and the limited infilling or redevelopment of Major Developed Sites identified in the Plan is not inappropriate in the Green Belt provided the requirements of the relevant policies of the Plan are satisfied.

4.14 The Council will not allow development which would compromise the purposes of the Green Belt or its openness. It is important that the visual amenity of the Green Belt should not be damaged by development proposals within or conspicuous from the Green Belt which, although they might not prejudice its main purpose, might be inappropriate by reason of their siting, form, materials or design.

4.15 Agriculture and forestry development is not inappropriate development in the Green Belt. However, if permitted development rights have been withdrawn for a particular agricultural unit or holding then very special circumstances would need to be established for a new agricultural building to be permitted.

4.16 Some uses of land in the Green Belt may require new buildings for essential facilities. These will only be permitted where they are genuinely required for uses of land which preserve the openness of the Green Belt and do not conflict with the purposes of including land in it. The Council will require evidence that such facilities are essential as well as evidence of the environmental impact and proposals for minimising such impact.

4.17 Possible examples of essential facilities include small changing rooms or unobtrusive spectator accommodation for outdoor sport, or small stables for outdoor sport and outdoor recreation. Detailed policies covering essential facilities for outdoor sport and outdoor recreation are set out in Chapter 12.

4.18 Chapter 5 of the Plan - "Development in Rural Areas" sets out detailed policies in respect of limited new housing in villages (RUD4), limited affordable housing (RUD5), the extension, alteration and replacement of existing dwellings (RUD7 and RUD8) and the re-use of buildings (RUD19) in the countryside. It also includes policies in respect of farm diversification (RUD17), and Major Developed Sites in the Green Belt (RUD21).

4.19 The Green Belt in Mole Valley contains low density housing areas at Tyrrells Wood, Givons Grove and Pachesham Park, Leatherhead. Proposals in these areas will be considered in the light of Policy ENV2 and, in particular, proposals for the extension, alteration or replacement of existing dwellings in these areas in the light of policies RUD7 and RUD8.

4.20 Proposals in the Green Belt involving mineral workings or waste disposal will be judged against the policies in the Surrey Mineral and Waste Local Plans.

Development Policy in the Countryside Beyond the Green Belt

4.21 The area of the District to the south of Capel is beyond the Green Belt. This narrow band of countryside is part of the attractive Wealden landscape which provides the setting for pleasant rural villages. Part of this area is within an Area of Great Landscape Value (see Policy ENV6). In order to safeguard this countryside including the setting and character of those villages and in recognition of the infrastructure and environmental problems likely to occur, development in this area will be strictly controlled in accordance with the following policy.

In the rural areas not covered by the Green Belt, and outside the area of Ockley defined in accordance with Policy RUD3, the countryside will be protected for its own sake, and development adversely affecting its open character will not be permitted.
Development within the countryside beyond the Green Belt will only be acceptable for the reasonable needs of agriculture, and forestry or comprises essential facilities for outdoor sport and outdoor recreation, mineral extraction and waste disposal. Small scale development to diversify the rural economy may be permitted under Policies RUD17 and RUD19. Other development in the countryside beyond the Green Belt including the extension and replacement of dwellings, the extension and redevelopment of industrial and commercial premises and other development appropriate to the countryside may be acceptable provided the relevant policies in the Plan are satisfied. All development must be appropriate in scale, form, impact and siting.

4.22 Paragraphs 4.14-4.17 above also apply as amplification to Policy ENV3. The chapter on Development in Rural Areas also sets out more detailed policies which help to determine the circumstances in which certain types of development in rural areas may be acceptable.


4.23 The District has several distinctive landscape types which are based on inter-related factors including geology, topography, settlement pattern, land use, vegetation and building styles. The features which make the variety of landscape in Mole Valley distinctive and different from each other are set out in Appendix 1. Proposals should show an appreciation of these landscape characteristics in the siting, choice of materials and the landscape design for new developments.

4.24 It is recognised that the principal agent of landscape change in the countryside is agricultural practice most of which is largely outside planning control. However, the Government's Agri-Environment package introduced in 1993 provides incentives to farmers to manage the countryside in an environmentally beneficial way with a greater emphasis on conservation. New development in the countryside and in rural settlements can erode distinctive landscapes through inappropriate siting, design and use of materials and the planting of uncharacteristic tree species. This Local Plan aims to ensure that the countryside of Mole Valley continues to be rich and diverse, reflects and even strengthens local character and a sense of place and in this way is consciously thought about and managed.

4.25 The Council will seek to ensure that development meeting other policies in the Plan respects the varied and distinctive character of the landscape as outlined in Appendix 1, especially the scale, and relationships of buildings, their materials and local building style and effect on distant views.

4.26 The District Council is consulted by the Forestry Authority on certain forestry proposals and in responding to such consultations regard will be had to the impact on local landscape character. Where new agricultural buildings are proposed which would have a significant impact on the landscape and require planning permission, supporting information will be required to demonstrate that an appraisal of alternative locations and building types has been carried out.

The Council will seek to ensure that development proposals and forestry schemes in the countryside and rural settlements conserve and will not detract from the character of the local landscape. In determining planning applications account will be taken of the visual impact of the proposed development on the landscape, the extent to which the impact of new buildings has been softened and integrated into the landscape by careful consideration of siting, design, colour and associated planting and whether any existing landscape features such as trees and hedgerows should be retained.

4.27 In implementing this policy, account will be taken of the descriptions of the Landscape Character Areas set out in Appendix 1, together with 'The Future of Surrey's Landscape and Woodlands' published by Surrey County Council in 1997.

4.28 Where major developments are proposed, the Council will require a landscape appraisal to show how development proposals relate to the particular characteristics of their landscape setting.

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Great Landscape Value

4.29 Extensive areas of the District lie within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), designated by the Countryside Commission in view of their nationally important landscape. They include the chalk hills and largely beech woods of the North Downs together with the undulating wooded greensand ridge around Leith Hill.

4.30 Additionally these areas together with further landscape in the south west of the District have been defined by Surrey County Council as being an Area of Great Landscape Value (AGLV) which is important in the context of Surrey. The Plan has extended the boundary of the AGLV to include land to the east of Givons Grove, Leatherhead up to the Reigate Road which provides an appropriate physical boundary enclosing an area where the quality of the landscape is similar throughout.

4.31 The extent of the AONB and AGLV is shown on the Proposals Map.

The Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is of national importance and will be subject to the most rigorous protection. Development inconsistent with the primary aim of conserving and enhancing the existing landscape character will not be permitted. Small scale development for the reasonable needs of agriculture, forestry or outdoor recreation as well as that in support of services for the local community will normally be acceptable in the AONB provided that proposals conserve the landscape character and are in accordance with the policies of this Plan.
Development within the Area of Great Landscape Value defined on the Proposals Map which would be inconsistent with the intention of protecting the Area's distinctive landscape character will not be permitted.
Small scale development for the reasonable needs of agriculture, forestry or outdoor recreation, as well as that in support of services for the local community, will normally be acceptable in the AGLV provided that proposals conserve the landscape character and are in accordance with the policies of this Plan.

4.32 The Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the contiguous Area of Great Landscape Value include the chalk hills of the North Downs which cross the District from Abinger in the west to Buckland in the east. The distinctive profile and scarp face of the Downs dominate the landscape to the east and west of Dorking. The Downs contain extensive areas of beechwoods and chalk grasslands. The Downs are paralleled to the south by an undulating woodland Greensand ridge rising to Leith Hill. There are several small villages and hamlets in the AONB and AGLV but generally it is a relatively sparsely populated and undeveloped area which is dominated by open countryside and extensive attractive views punctuated by woodlands and hedgerows.

4.33 The AGLV also extends over the area to the south of Forest Green and west of the A29. This is a very open rural area which has an undulating landscape that is dominated by the Greensand ridge to the north. It contains extensive areas of woodland and actively managed farmland.

4.34 In considering development proposals in the AONB and AGLV, the Council will have particular regard to the landscape character of the locality as described in the Landscape Profiles in Appendix 1 of the Plan to ensure that the development would not prejudice the special landscape quality of the area.

4.35 The landscape qualities of these areas and their relative quiet and peacefulness justify extra vigilance in considering development proposals. A development meeting other policies in the Plan including the landscape considerations in Policy ENV4 will be subject to additional scrutiny to ensure that harm will not be caused to the character of these important landscapes and that opportunities are taken for enhancement. Their status justifies a strict degree of control and the highest standards of design to ensure the development contributes to or integrates with the established character in terms of siting, scale, design, choice of external materials and colour. Landscape enhancement works or other environmental benefits may be required.

4.36 To be consistent with the aim of conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the AONB and landscape character of the AGLV, new development which satisfies other policies in this Plan, especially those relating to the Green Belt outside villages and the countryside beyond the Green Belt will normally be expected to be small scale. However, in order to meet the reasonable needs of agriculture, larger buildings may be necessary. In these circumstances the siting, design, and external materials will require very careful consideration.

4.37 Sufficient information will be required to be submitted with the application for a proper judgement on these matters. This may include illustrations as to how the development will appear in its landscape setting.

4.38 It is most important to protect the integrity and qualities of these attractive areas from even small unsuitable proposals, including unsympathetic extensions to dwellings. In considering proposals for small scale development the Council will have regard to the potentially damaging cumulative effect if similar proposals were to be repeated.

Protecting the Urban Fringe

4.39 Land on the edge of the built-up areas can through urban pressures be more susceptible to landscape degradation than the countryside beyond. In Mole Valley there are relatively few urban fringe problems at present. Dorking, in particular, is surrounded by landscape of a very high quality. Around Leatherhead, Bookham, Fetcham and Ashtead most of the landscape on the urban fringe is also of a high quality and contains extensive commons and woodlands providing public access for informal recreation. Parts also contain recreation development largely generated by those living in urban areas, such as horse riding schools as well as public utilities including sewage treatment works and civic amenity tips.

4.40 There are no significant areas of damaged landscape on the fringe of built-up areas in Mole Valley. But the landscape on the urban fringe is fragile and without sensitive management can soon deteriorate as a result of neglect and pressure from the built-up areas. It is therefore important to seek good management and improvements to the landscape in these areas through such measures as the Lower Mole Countryside Management Project which operates in the countryside to the north of Ashtead, Leatherhead, Fetcham and Bookham. The Project has achieved significant environmental improvements to the area and has enhanced public access to the countryside adjacent to these built-up areas. The Council also supports the Horley/Crawley Countryside Management Project which has been established to enhance the countryside around Horley and Crawley including the adjacent areas in Mole Valley.

The Council will seek to preserve the quality of the landscape on the urban fringe by the vigilant control of development and where necessary encourage and promote enhancement through active involvement of existing and any future countryside management projects.

4.41 The Council will review with the County Council the need for further urban fringe countryside management projects in the District. The degree of support for any new project will depend on the Council's financial position. The above policy will be applied in association with the Plan's recreation policies including those on built recreation facilities in the countryside, golf courses, horses, camping and caravanning and noisy sports and war games.

The River Mole, the Tilling Bourne and the Pipp Brook

4.42 The River Mole is an asset to the District. Its amenities need protection and there is also scope for more to be made of its attributes. It flows entirely through the Green Belt except for a short length where the river enhances the built-up area of Leatherhead.

4.43 Although there are footpaths along some stretches of the river, public access is denied for much of its length. Whilst this can have ecological and wildlife advantages, the public could be allowed to enjoy the amenities afforded by these areas through proper management. The Environment Agency have indicated that between 1997 and 1999 the river quality objectives for the length of the River Mole in the Mole Valley were complied with. Wherever the Council has an influence, it wishes to encourage an improvement to the quality of the water.

4.44 The Tilling Bourne runs through the west of the District and similarly its visual qualities, amenities and environmental value need to be safeguarded and enhanced. It is obviously of a much smaller scale than the River Mole and it is not considered that it is appropriate to increase public access to it. Similar considerations apply to the Pipp Brook which rises below Leith Hill and joins the River Mole at Dorking.

Development which would have a significant or adverse effect on fisheries, the nature conservation, landscape and recreational value of the River Mole, the Tilling Bourne, the Pipp Brook and other areas of open water will not be permitted.

4.45 In seeking to provide further public access to the banks of the River Mole the Council will liaise with nature conservation bodies to ensure that conservation and ecological interests are respected. The Council recognises that river corridors are of great importance for water resources, nature conservation, fisheries and recreation and often make a significant contribution to the character of the landscape. Rivers, groundwater, ponds, wetlands, appropriate public access and water related recreation all deserve conservation and restoration and enhancement where appropriate. The Council is concerned that new development should not place these aspects of the water environment at risk. However, it is recognised that development and redevelopment can result in an enhancement of the environment of rivers, for instance by increasing public access, improving water related habitats, landscape or water quality or by securing the restoration of natural features.

4.46 The Council will generally promote and support initiatives which seek to conserve, restore or enhance the natural elements of these river corridors and other waterside areas or which encourage water based recreation (see Policy REC13). The aim at all times is to achieve an appropriate balance of activities.

4.47 The Council will have regard to the Environment Agency's Local Environment Agency Plan (LEAP) for the River Mole and its tributaries and will seek to ensure that development which affects the River Mole and its tributaries incorporates proposals for enhancing the river's environment and increasing its nature conservation and recreation value.

4.48 The River Mole runs through Gatwick Airport. When consulted on development proposals at Gatwick Airport which are likely to affect the river, the Council will make representations to Crawley Borough Council, BAA Gatwick and the Environment Agency to ensure that the water quality and character of the river are not adversely affected.


4.49 The heritage of wild flora and fauna, together with their habitats and geological and physiographic features in rural and urban areas, is important to the character, interest and general health of the District. The strategy of the Plan is to conserve and enhance this heritage and to ensure that the diversity of the natural environment is preserved and, where possible, increased.

4.50 If these objectives are to be realised, it will be important to give careful consideration to nature conservation factors when dealing with land use proposals and particularly where these fall within and adjacent to specially designated areas, such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). The natural heritage can be lost as a result of neglect and poor management. Opportunities can arise, in the course of the development process, to encourage good practice in management for nature conservation and even to create new habitats. Where added protection is necessary through greater control, the Council will seek the Government's agreement to the making of Article IV Directions to remove certain specified permitted development. During the period covered by the Plan the Council will prepare a nature conservation strategy to recognise the importance of local wildlife habitats and put forward positive proposals for protection, management and habitat creation.

Special Areas of Conservation

4.51 The European Habitats Directive lists habitats and plant and animal species that are of European importance because of their vulnerability or rarity. Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) are the best examples of the listed habitats and species occurring in the UK. Special Areas of Conservation are first designated as SSSIs in the UK.

4.52 The Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions considers that part of the Mole Gap to Reigate Escarpment SSSI as shown on the Proposals Map should be included in the list of candidate Special Areas of Conservation (cSAC) to be sent to the European Commission. The Mole Gap candidate SAC is important because it represents habitats and plant communities that are nationally rare, including box, beech and yew woodland.

4.53 The Council will consult English Nature in respect of proposals affecting the cSAC. Development or forestry proposals which would prejudice its nature conservation interest will not be permitted.

Development proposals affecting the candidate Special Area of Conservation as identified on the Proposals Map will be subject to the most rigorous examination. Development which is not directly connected with or necessary to the management of the site and which is likely to have significant adverse effects on the integrity of the site will not be permitted unless the Council is satisfied that:
  1. there is no alternative solution; and
  2. there are imperative reasons of over-riding public interest for the development proposed. Where the site hosts a priority natural habitat type and/or a priority species, development or land use change will not be permitted unless the Council is satisfied that it is necessary for reasons of human health or public safety or for beneficial consequences of primary importance for nature conservation.

National Nature Reserves

4.54 National Nature Reserves (NNRs) are sites of national or international importance for nature conservation which are owned, leased or managed under agreement with English Nature. Ashtead Common was designated a National Nature Reserve in 1995. It is owned and managed by the Corporation of London.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest

4.55 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) are nationally important wildlife habitats, geological features and landforms. English Nature has identified 11 SSSIs in Mole Valley which are indicated on the Proposals Map. The protection of these important sites is essential and development proposals in or likely to affect them will be subject to special scrutiny and strictly controlled.

4.56 Further sites may be notified during the duration of the Plan and those will receive the relevant protection as described in Policy ENV10.

Proposals for development in or likely to affect Sites of Special Scientific Interest as identified on the Proposals Map will be subject to special scrutiny. Where such development may have a significant adverse effect, directly or indirectly on the SSSI it will not be permitted unless the reasons for the development clearly outweigh the value of the site itself and the national policy to safeguard the intrinsic nature conservation value of the national network of such sites.
Where the site concerned is a National Nature Reserve (NNR) or a site identified under the Nature Conservation Review (NCR) or Geological Conservation Review (GCR) particular regard will be paid to the individual site's national importance.

4.57 While all SSSIs form part of a nationally important series, some have the additional designations of National Nature Reserve (NNR), Nature Conservation Review (NCR) and Geological Conservation Review (GCR) sites. National Nature Reserves and SSSIs which meet the criteria set out under the Nature Conservation Review and the Geological Conservation Review are key sites of national importance. SSSIs of international importance may be designated Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) by the European Commission. English Nature and the Surrey Wildlife Trust will be consulted on planning applications affecting SSSIs.

Local and Non-Statutory Nature Reserves

4.58 Local Nature Reserves (LNRs) are sites owned, leased or managed under agreement by Local Authorities. LNRs are of nature conservation value and managed partly for educational objectives. Edolphs Copse to the north of Charlwood is a Local Nature Reserve and part of the Hackhurst Downs Local Nature Reserve above Abinger Hammer lies in Mole Valley. The possibility of establishing a small Local Nature Reserve in Dorking is put forward in Policy DTC11. There are also four non-statutory nature reserves in Mole Valley which are owned and managed by the Surrey Wildlife Trust. They are particularly important for their educational value.

Development within or which would have a significant adverse effect on designated Local and Non-Statutory Nature Reserves will not be permitted unless it can be demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Council that there are reasons for the proposal which clearly outweigh the need to safeguard the intrinsic nature conservation value of the site. The Council will support the establishment of local nature reserves if it considers the necessary criteria are met.

4.59 In considering development proposals affecting Local and Non-Statutory Nature Reserves the Council will consult and take into consideration the views of the Surrey Wildlife Trust.

Sites of Nature Conservation Importance

4.60 The Surrey Structure Plan 1994 requires local planning authorities to identify Sites of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCIs). They contain flora and fauna of county or regional value and include a variety of sites such as ancient semi-natural woodlands, unimproved grasslands, marshland, downland, ponds and features of geological interest. Some are important because of the long continuity of habitat and others because they are examples of rare or declining habitats for flora and fauna. The Surrey Nature Conservation Liaison Group has identified Sites of Nature Conservation Importance and these are identified on the Proposals Map and listed in Appendix 2. In addition, potential Sites of Nature Conservation Importance are identified on the Proposals Map and also listed in Appendix 2. These sites have not been surveyed but the Surrey Wildlife Trust believe they could have a nature conservation interest.

Development and land use change likely to have an adverse effect on a Site of Nature Conservation Importance identified on the Proposals Map will not be permitted unless it can be clearly demonstrated that there are reasons for the proposal which outweigh the need to safeguard the nature conservation value of the site. In all cases where development or land use change is permitted which would damage the nature conservation value of the site, such damage will be kept to a minimum. Where appropriate, the Council will consider the use of conditions and/or planning obligations to provide appropriate suitable measures.
In considering development proposals and land use change that are likely to have a significant effect on the integrity of a potential Site of Nature Conservation Importance identified on the Proposals Map, the Council will consult and have regard to the views of the Surrey Wildlife Trust on the impact of the proposal and any nature conservation value of the site.

4.61 The Council will consult and have regard to the views of the Surrey Wildlife Trust in respect of development proposals and land use changes affecting SNCIs. The Surrey Wildlife Trust will also be consulted on proposals affecting potential SNCIs. If the Trust consider a potential SNCI has a nature conservation value that would qualify it for SNCI status and its integrity would be significantly and adversely affected by the proposed development, the Council will consider the Trust's advice in the light of any other material factors including the reasons for the proposed development and the advice in PPG9 that planning permission should not be refused if development can be subject to conditions that will prevent damaging impacts to the site's nature conservation value.

Features of Local Importance for Nature Conservation

4.62 In addition to the sites which are subject to Policies ENV9, ENV10, ENV11 and ENV12, there are other areas and features of particular local ecological importance which include small areas of semi-natural ancient woodland and important ancient hedgerows, important ponds and streams and unimproved grassland.

4.63 Such habitats are important in supporting a variety of plants and animals and by acting as reservoirs from which species may spread. They make a valuable contribution to the conservation of the biodiversity of the District's natural heritage. However, it is impractical to identify them all on the Proposals Map.

4.64 Nevertheless, where it becomes evident, through the consideration of development proposals that a particular site which is not covered by Policies ENV10 - ENV12 may have a conservation value, the Council may require that the applicant provides an assessment of its nature conservation interest. The proposed development will be considered in the light of the assessment, the reasons for the proposal and any other material considerations.

The Council will seek to safeguard sites and features of nature conservation importance that are not identified on the Proposals Map but which contribute to the natural heritage of the District. The development of such features will not be permitted unless either:
  1. the development would not significantly and adversely affect the features or
  2. the features will be protected from harm or transferred to another habitat or
  3. the importance of the development outweighs the nature conservation value of the features.

4.65 Where planning permission is granted, the Council will, where appropriate, specify the measures necessary to protect the nature conservation interest of the site so that any damage to its nature conservation value is kept to a minimum. Where appropriate the Council will consider the use of conditions to provide appropriate compensatory measures.

Enhancement, Management and Creation of Nature Conservation Features

4.66 The protection of key sites in isolation will not alone achieve the central aim of nature conservation. Other, often smaller or less obvious, natural features not falling within those key sites also need protection. Opportunities also need to be taken to create new wildlife areas if the overall aim of fostering nature conservation, and consequently the contribution it makes to the quality of living in Mole Valley, is to be achieved.

In considering development proposals account will be taken of any measures relevant to the proposals concerned to protect or enhance existing nature conservation features and scope to create and manage new areas of nature conservation value.

4.67 The retention of natural features such as important ancient hedgerows, tree belts, ponds and species rich meadows will be considered for their contribution as wildlife habitats and as a visual amenity.

4.68 It is not intended that this policy should apply to small scale proposals particularly within the built-up areas, but to the more significant proposals and especially farm diversification schemes.

4.69 In negotiations for planning permission the Council may seek, if necessary, through legal agreements, measures to protect, maintain or enhance such features. Moreover, in suitable circumstances the creation of new areas of nature conservation value and linked with arrangements for their proper future management could be an influencing factor in determining whether on balance permission should be granted for a particular development.

4.70 The Council recognises its wider environmental and ecological responsibilities in managing its own land holdings. These include setting a good example in promoting nature conservation for the overall well being of the District in the interests of local residents and visitors.

4.71 The County Council owns a considerable area of countryside and a number of properties in Mole Valley, most notably Norbury Park, and already does much to promote nature conservation. The District Council will support the County Council's continuation of this policy.

Species Protection

4.72 Certain plant and animal species, including all wild birds, are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is an offence to harm a protected species or intentionally damage its habitat. It is also an offence to harm species listed in the European Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds and the Directive on the Conservation of Natural Habitats of Wild Flora and Fauna.

4.73 Where there is evidence of the presence of a protected species the Council will pay particular regard to this issue and will apply the following policy.

Where it is evident that a proposed development would be likely to result in harm to a protected species or its habitat, a thorough site investigation will be necessary by the applicant and the relevant nature conservation bodies will be consulted. Development that would materially harm a protected species or its habitat will not be permitted.

4.74 The Council will consult English Nature and the Surrey Wildlife Trust before granting planning permission and will consider attaching appropriate planning conditions or entering into planning obligations under which developers would be required to take steps to secure the protection of the population of the species affected by the development. Developers will also be advised to ensure that they conform with any statutory species protection provisions affecting the site concerned.

Regionally Important Geological/ Geomorphological Sites

4.75 The Surrey Structure Plan 1994 requires local planning authorities to identify Regionally Important Geological/ Geomorphological Sites (RIGS). RIGS are geological and geomorphological sites, other than SSSIs, that are considered worth protecting for their educational importance, and for their research, historical or aesthetic interest.

4.76 Whilst nationally or internationally important sites are statutorily protected as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, those of a regional or local importance (RIGS) can be safeguarded on a voluntary basis by county RIGS groups. In Surrey, RIGS have been defined by the County Council in partnership with the Surrey Wildlife Trust and English Nature (the Surrey RIGS Group). These sites are identified on the Proposals Map and listed in Appendix 3.

4.77 The Surrey RIGS Group is seeking to preserve at least one exposure of every type of rock that occurs in the County of Surrey. Each feature selected is a relatively rare and good example of its class. The Surrey RIGS Group tries to identify sites which show features other than just a single rock type, such as sandstones with ripple bedding and marine fossils that clearly show the process and environment of deposition, or junctions between rock types that show transitions between, for example, clays and sands as the environment of deposition changes.

4.78 Each site must be of educational/ scientific value and capable of preservation. Safety needs to be considered as does access. Sites merit preservation even if the present landowner will not permit access. The preservation of features designated as RIGS relies on the co-operation of landowners.

Development will not be permitted within or affecting Regionally Important Geological/ Geomorphological Sites as identified on the Proposals Map unless it can be shown that it will not materially harm the geological or geomorphological interests of the site.

4.79 The Council will seek to protect the sites included in Policy ENV16 from damaging development and will consult the Surrey RIGS Group before determining planning applications affecting Regionally Important Geological/ Geomorphological Sites.



Residential Areas of Special Character

4.80 Within the built-up areas of the District there are long established lower density residential areas whose special character and appearance make a significant contribution to the urban fabric. These areas do not contain Listed Buildings and do not meet the criteria for designation as Conservation Areas where additional controls exist.

4.81 Six low density housing areas were identified in the Dorking and Leatherhead Area Local Plans and were subject to policies which sought to protect them from development which would prejudice their character and appearance. Three additional areas which have similar qualities that warrant special protection have been included in this Plan:

  • Highfields, Ashtead.

  • Highlands Road/Headley Road, east side of Reigate Road, Leatherhead.

  • Chichester Road/Calvert Road and Keppel Road, Dorking.

4.82 The criteria used for the selection of these Residential Areas of Special Character are as follows:

  1. They are located within defined built-up areas but outside designated Conservation Areas where other special controls already operate.

  2. They are generally homogeneous areas recognisable as possessing one identifiable, distinctive and cohesive character.

  3. They are mature lower density developments of mostly substantial houses that generally have spacious arcadian landscaped settings where the landscaping dominates the buildings.

  4. They possess a character and high level of residential amenity that should not be undermined by unsympathetic new development.

4.83 In general the areas selected comprise attractive large early 20th century houses usually with mature trees, gardens and hedges. Often they have grass verges and street trees all of which enhance the setting of the houses and create a very pleasant environment. Each of these areas is described in Appendix 4.

4.84 Since properties in these areas have large gardens there is a tendency for some owners either individually or collectively to propose the subdivision of the land to create a new housing plot or plots. If plot subdivision is smaller than the characteristic curtilage size of the area the attractive setting of the original houses and their surroundings can be spoilt. Trees and shrubbery are removed not just directly for the buildings and accesses themselves but especially in time to give more light to the new houses and the smaller than previous gardens. Front hedges tend to be removed for access and visibility and more hard surfaces created for access, turning and car parking. Cumulatively this trend severely erodes the character of the area.

The following residential areas have been identified on the Proposals Map as being of special character:
  • The Warren, Ashtead
  • Park Lane, Ashtead
  • Rookery Hill, Ashtead
  • Highfields, Ashtead
  • Highlands Road / Headley Road, east side of Reigate Road, Leatherhead
  • The Mount / Hawk's Hill, Rookery Drive, The Ridgeway, (south east) Fetcham
  • The Park, Park View / Meadowside, Bookham
  • Chichester Road / Calvert Road and Keppel Road, Dorking
  • Deepdene Wood, Dorking
In such areas development will only be permitted where it reflects the particular character of the area in terms of density, the space about buildings, scale, design, materials and degree of landscaping. Alterations and extensions to existing buildings will only be permitted if their location, scale, and design are in keeping with the character of the area, particularly if seen from the public highway.

4.85 In considering proposals for the extension or redevelopment of dwellings within the areas covered by Policy ENV17, the Council will apply the tests within the Policy taking into account not just the effects of the proposal itself but the likely cumulative impact of such development if repeated in the area. The Council will consider making Tree Preservation Orders on trees within the areas covered by this policy which are threatened by development proposals and whose removal would have an adverse impact on the environment and its enjoyment by the public.

4.86 In considering proposals for development within the Residential Areas of Special Character, the Council will have regard to the special characteristics of each area which are set out in Appendix 4 of the Plan.

South Dorking Policy Area

4.87 A large part of the residential area of South Dorking contains a variety of attractive dwellings and generous tree cover. During the 1960s and early 1970s the attractive character of the area was threatened by insensitive development. As a result the Council introduced an informal policy statement in 1975 to safeguard the area's character and appearance. That policy was embodied in the Dorking Area Local Plan.

4.88 The Council considers there is a continuing need to operate a special policy that recognises those aspects and qualities of the area that makes it stand apart from other areas. Development will continue to be resisted where it involves the more intensive redevelopment of the Victorian and Edwardian buildings and the loss of the generous tree cover and spaciousness about certain buildings. It is these characteristics that give the area its special character.

4.89 Moreover, any new developments that do take place should draw upon the best architectural styles of the area to reinforce that character and sense of identity.

Development proposals within the South Dorking Policy area as identified on the Proposals Map will be considered as follows:
  1. The intensification of development through the demolition and redevelopment of any Edwardian or Victorian dwellings will not normally be permitted.
  2. In respect of the conversion of existing buildings into additional dwellings regard will be had to the suitability of the building for conversion, any likely change in the character of the area or the building, including the likely need for extensions, the effect on neighbouring properties and the availability of satisfactory parking spaces and garaging.
  3. Other housing developments will be permitted only where they reflect the particular character of the area in terms of the space about buildings, scale, design and landscaping and there is no loss of trees of amenity value.
  4. Where subject to control, demolitions, including the loss of walls indigenous to the character of Dorking, will not normally be permitted and where new walls are required the use of flint walls to an approved specification will be encouraged.

4.90 Rather than redevelop very substantial old houses that are too large for modern day living by one family, preference will be given to their subdivision vertically into smaller houses or their conversion into flats whichever in the circumstances is practical and the least damaging to the character of the building, garden and setting. Some properties have larger curtilages than their neighbours and this variety contributes to the character of the area and its generous tree cover. Proposals for the redevelopment or sub-division of existing dwellings may create plot sizes equivalent to many of those nearby. However, the Council will not necessarily accept this as justification for development in this area of special control where the priority is to retain the area's particular character.

4.91 The policy area includes land at Marleymead, which is identified as a reserve housing site in Policy HSG6. Any development on this site will be required to be of a quality and nature that reflects the best attributes of the policy area in terms of layout and design so as to strengthen its sense of identity.

Larger Modern Housing Estates

4.92 There are several modern housing estates in the District which were granted planning permission subject to a condition that no dwellings shall be extended without the prior permission in writing of the Council. The purpose of this condition is to enable the Council to retain control over any subsequent enlargements of dwellings in the interests of the visual and residential amenities of the estates. These include the cohesive and integrated designs of the estates which could readily be damaged by unsympathetic extensions, including conservatories, particularly where they are open to public view. It is considered important to control the progressive additions of building mass on these estates and Policy ENV19 therefore sets out the criteria against which the Council will consider proposals for extensions to dwellings on these estates.

4.93 In the design of these housing estates some garden fences and walls were deliberately set back from footways and carriageways to allow for the landscaping scheme to soften their impact and provide a better landscaped setting to the development. Some of this land has been conveyed to individual house purchasers who often wish to enclose and include them within their private garden. Such proposals may either require planning permission in their own right or to overcome a planning condition on the original permission for the development. This open land is of particular value to the setting of houses and the layout of these higher density estates. To allow proposals for enclosure would seriously damage the character and appearance of these housing areas and undermine the original design objectives.

In the modern housing estates of:
  • Holmwood Park, North Holmwood, Dorking
  • Tanners Meadow, Strood Green
  • Markham Park, Capel
  • Copperfields, Bickney Way and Sherwood Close, Fetcham
  • The Murreys and Summerfields, Ashtead,
as identified on the Proposals Map, the following policy will apply:-
  1. Extensions to dwellings will be strictly controlled and subject to meeting the design policies of this Plan, proposals will normally be permitted provided that they do not include:
  1. first floor or two-storey side extensions or single-storey side extensions on corner plots, which materially increase the developed appearance of the estate when seen from the roads and principal footpaths, (even though the extensions themselves are small in scale);
  2. conservatories and other rear single and two-storey extensions which are readily visible from roads or principal footpaths, except for small extensions, relative to the size of the house, which are sensitively designed;
  3. covered porches out of character with the design of the house and its neighbours.
  1. Proposals to extend private gardens through the erection or movement of fences or walls will not normally be permitted where they enclose land of general visual amenity value important to the character of the estate.

4.94 The Council may wish to apply similar controls to further residential estates built after the preparation of this Plan .


Strategic Open Land Within Built-up Areas

4.95 Open spaces make a most important contribution to the character of the District's built-up areas for recreation, visual or more general environmental reasons and will be safeguarded. Retention of these open spaces has assumed more significance as the intensification of development in the built-up areas has increased.

4.96 Areas of open space which make a significant contribution to the structure, character and environmental quality of the built-up areas are identified on the Proposals Map. These are areas of strategic open space and are seen by many people from public vantage points on a daily basis and are generally more than 0.4 hectares in area. There are many other open spaces on the edge of built-up areas which are already protected by Green Belt policy.

The development of strategic open land as defined on the Proposals Map will not normally be permitted other than for purposes ancillary to the use of the land for outdoor recreation appropriate to the character of the area.

4.97 The areas identified on the Proposals Map as Strategic Open Land perform a variety of amenity, visual and environmental functions. These various individual spaces form a network of open space which is greater than the individual parts. The Council will have regard to the integrity of this network of open space when considering applications on individual sites.

4.98 In considering proposals for ancillary buildings on an area of Strategic Open Land the Council will have regard to Policy REC10 relating to built recreational facilities in the urban area. Exceptionally development which has been fully justified for operational purposes on land adjacent to existing buildings may be permitted provided that it would not detract from the character and appearance of the Strategic Open Land.

4.99 This Policy should be read in conjunction with Policy REC2 on playing fields and sports grounds.

Locally Important Open Spaces

4.100 Other areas of open space within the built-up areas while not of strategic importance, because of their size or location, are nevertheless important. They provide pleasant visual relief from otherwise continuous development and in some cases offer public access. They contribute to the variety and network of open space and complement the larger strategic sites.

There are locally important open spaces in built-up areas and villages which although not designated as strategic open land have a significant public amenity value.
Development of these open spaces will not normally be permitted, other than for the essential needs of suitable outdoor recreation, where the land:
  1. makes a significant contribution to the character, environmental quality and amenity of the surrounding area, or
  2. provides essential social, community, or recreational use, or
  3. is of high ecological value. Exceptionally, limited development of a small part may be permitted where it ensures the retention and enhancement of public access on the remainder and does not significantly undermine the contribution made by the land as open space.



4.101 The high environmental quality of both the built-up and rural areas in Mole Valley is important to the quality of life of local people and also to the promotion of the local economy. The Council is determined to protect and wherever possible enhance the quality of the built and rural environment and the heritage of the District. It regards good design of buildings and the spaces between as being of very high priority and a lasting investment for the future. Through the policies in this section of the Plan the Council aims to raise the general standard of design of new buildings.

4.102 Underlying the design policies is the basic intention of the Council to strive to achieve quality in the appearance of the environment. But quality cannot be achieved by superficial or merely broad controls of building or landscape design. The Council does not wish to be prescriptive about design but design control does need to be often seen through to a detailed level as many economic and other pressures may lead to a skimping on design and quality of external finish. Furthermore, unless careful control is exercised, particularly in sensitive areas, well intentioned original design concepts can be spoilt by poor detailing. Careful design control therefore forms a basic tenet of the design strategy of this Plan.

4.103 Applicants and their professional advisers will be required to meet the design policies of this Plan. The employment of architects is encouraged for all but the smaller scale proposals where other professionals may also be appropriate. Early informal consultations with planning officers are encouraged. These will be assisted if applicants provide sufficient illustrative material to show their proposals in their context. The Council does not intend to stifle the originality, imagination or initiative of an architect as buildings arising from such inspiration can make a strong contribution to the vitality and interest of the environment. But this must not be taken as justification for a design to detract from its setting.

General Development Control Criteria

4.104 There are certain considerations, generally representing good planning practice, that are applicable to all development proposals. They encompass long established fundamental planning principles aimed at protecting the public interest from environmentally unsuitable development. The policy below obviates the need for those considerations to be repeated in many of the policies in this Plan. The policy is applicable to the consideration of all development proposals.

Where the principle of proposed development accords with the other policies of this Plan a design and layout will be required which:
  1. is appropriate to the site in terms of its scale, form and appearance and external building materials;
  2. does not significantly harm the amenities of the occupiers of neighbouring properties by reason of overlooking or its overshadowing or overpowering effect, noise, traffic or other adverse environmental impact;
  3. respects the character and appearance of the locality;
  4. has regard to attractive features of the site such as trees, hedges, walls or buildings that contribute to the character of the locality;
  5. provides any necessary screening and landscaping suitable to the character of the locality;
  6. provides safe access to the site and adequate parking to adopted standards;
  7. provides a satisfactory environment for occupiers of the new development.

4.105 These criteria are to preclude developments that would unacceptably affect the amenities and the existing use of land and buildings which ought to be protected in the public interest. The planning system does not exist to protect the private interests of one person against the activities of another, although private interests may coincide with the public interest in some cases. It is often difficult to distinguish between public and private interests, but this may be necessary on occasions. The basic question is not whether owners and occupiers of neighbouring properties would experience financial or other loss from a particular development, but whether the proposal would unacceptably affect amenities and the existing use of land and buildings which ought to be protected in the public interest. Good neighbourliness and fairness are among the yardsticks against which development proposals can be measured. For example it might be material to consider the question of 'overlooking' or loss of privacy experienced by a particular resident, but not necessarily the loss of a private view.

4.106 The neighbourly aspects relating to extensions to houses is amplified in Policy ENV32. Where there is a significant change in level between one property and another this should be shown on the submitted plans and be taken into account in the design of the proposed development. The Council has published separate supplementary design guidance on house extensions and will take this into consideration in the determination of planning applications.

4.107 In relation to criterion 2 of Policy ENV22 the environmental effects of traffic, especially lorries, generated by some development can have an environmentally damaging impact on the surroundings. Even though in highway operational terms the access may be acceptable, the environmental effects of the traffic will also be taken into account.

4.108 'Other adverse environmental impact' is to be taken to mean any other form of environmental pollution, including fumes, grit, dust, particulates, odours, smoke, vibrations and light, and is addressed by Policy ENV55. Excessive light can be unneighbourly and light pollution is addressed by Policy ENV57.

4.109 A planning condition to limit the working hours of operation of a proposed use will be imposed on any permission where the use is only acceptable if occupiers of affected properties are not disturbed at anti social times. These will normally be during the night, early morning, Saturday afternoons, Sundays and Bank Holidays.

4.110 Policy ENV23 below amplifies those factors needing to be taken into account in criterion 3 of Policy ENV22 which refer to respecting the character and appearance of the locality.

4.111 The highway requirements for safe access and parking arrangements in residential areas are contained in -Roads and Footpaths - A Design Guide for Surrey'.


Respect for Setting

Development will normally be permitted where it respects its setting taking account of the following:
  1. the scale, character, bulk, proportions and materials of the surrounding built environment. Developments will not be permitted where it is considered they would constitute over-development of the site by reason of scale, height or bulk or in relation to the boundaries of the site and/or surrounding developments;
  2. public views warranting protection. Opportunities will be sought to create attractive new views or vistas;
  3. townscape features such as street patterns, familiar landmark buildings, and the space about buildings;
  4. the roofscape. Pitched roofs will normally be expected and any plant, machinery or lifts being incorporated within the roof structure;
  5. the impact of the development within or conspicuous from the Green Belt on the rural amenities of the Green Belt by reason of its siting, materials or design;
  6. the impact on the landscape of the proposed siting and appearance of new agricultural buildings or works or any other appropriate/exceptional development in the countryside.

4.112 Applicants for planning permission will need to demonstrate that they have considered the wider setting of the proposed development. The context of a building will impose certain constraints and often at the same time, opportunities. The settings in Mole Valley are diverse and range from beautiful countryside, through more suburban residential areas to tight town centre locations. Each will demand a different design approach which cannot be considered in detail in this Plan. Consequently the Plan sets a framework within which to work.

4.113 New development should respect but not necessarily copy the character of their surroundings. The section on architectural detailing and materials expands upon this. Note needs to be taken that there will sometimes be existing landmark buildings that are familiar features to the public. It is essential that new developments retain the setting and role of such buildings in the appearance of the locality and integrate sensitively with them. This may mean that new development should be subservient to them.

4.114 The setting also encompasses familiar views and roofspaces. In the second criterion of Policy ENV23 public views refers to views from public places as distinct from private properties. The hilly nature of parts of the District and Dorking in particular, affords opportunities for many fine views, vistas and skylines, which warrant protection. In Dorking care will need to be taken not to spoil public views of St Martin's Church spire, an important feature of the town and subject to Policy DTC9. Views onto roofs can be very important and large areas of flat roof are unsightly and contrary to the established character of the area. Therefore an integral part of an overall design should be the inclusion of an attractive pitched roofscape which incorporates any necessary plant or similar equipment. Flat roofs for rear extensions to houses in the built-up areas may be acceptable if they are not visible from public places.

4.115 Development that is not inappropriate to the Green Belt and countryside should be sited to blend into the landscape as far as possible. Skyline sites should be avoided and natural landscape features should be used to minimise the impact. On sloping sites buildings should be set into the slope. Buildings should not normally stand in isolation but form part of an existing group if possible.

4.116 The degree to which additional drawings are needed depends largely upon the scale of the proposal and its location. In town centres the relationship of proposals, to adjoining buildings should be shown. In some cases wider street elevations may be required. Depending upon the scale and sensitivity of the proposals, perspectives or similar images may be needed. Where sites are not level either in themselves or in relation to neighbouring properties, it may be necessary to submit cross sections. Large scale drawings of architectural features such as windows, may also be sought, possibly by planning condition, especially where alterations to Listed Buildings are involved.

Density of Development and the Space About Buildings

Development will not be permitted where it would result in a cramped appearance having regard to the general space around buildings in the locality.

4.117 This policy applies to all types of development, but will be particularly relevant when considering applications for new housing, ranging from new estates to individual infill plots. New dwellings should normally be constructed at a density appropriate to the character of the locality, and the individual circumstances of each site. No prescriptive standards have been set down nor is there a specific requirement for densities to remain constant. However developments involving sudden contrasts in density, which would adversely affect the character and appearance of the locality as a whole will not normally be permitted.

4.118 Where lateral space is a valuable characteristic feature of the locality it should not be lost by development which would result in a cramped appearance. As a general rule the larger the house the more space there should be around it. Some recent estates of larger detached houses have tended to be cramped with insufficient lateral space between the houses. In these cases 2 metres between the houses is likely to be insufficient. Further the positioning of detached double garages in front of houses can suggest that the house is too large for its plot.

4.119 Where a house is being inserted into a substantially built-up frontage it may be necessary to hip the roof to allow light and visual separation to a neighbouring house.

4.120 The space around buildings makes a strong contribution to environmental quality. Existing space often plays an important role in the character of a locality. Elsewhere new attractive spaces can be created by buildings and to instil a sense of identity.

Landscape Design of New Developments

Proposals for development should demonstrate that particular care has been taken in the provision, use and design of spaces between buildings and that the hard and soft landscape design is suitable for the site and form of development. Sufficient space should be allowed to enable existing trees of significant public amenity value to be retained.

4.121 In considering development proposals, the Council will have regard to the Landscape Character Areas in Appendix 1 and to "The Future of Surrey's Landscape and Woodlands" produced by Surrey County Council. The Council will seek to ensure that the design, detailing and selection of hard ground materials complements the design and layout of buildings in the scheme and that they also contribute to the character and appearance of the locality. Particular attention will be paid to the design of car parking areas to ensure that they do not detract from the character and appearance of spaces and buildings.

4.122 The Council will also pay particular attention to the choice of tree and plant species which are used in the landscape design of new developments. In rural areas native trees, shrubs and hedges should be used. In designing housing developments, trees and shrubs should be used to provide a firm landscape structure to the scheme to provide a context for buildings and detailed domestic garden planting.

4.123 The abundance of trees in Mole Valley greatly assists in softening the impact of development. For this reason and their intrinsic value the Council places great weight upon their retention wherever possible. Consequently accurate survey drawings of any existing trees or substantial shrubs on development sites will be required. Plans should indicate the tree species and any changes of level or lines of services including public sewers within the root spread of retained trees. Sufficient space should be provided around any existing trees which are retained in a development scheme to enable their continued growth and to avoid overshadowing and overhanging adjacent dwellings. Similar considerations apply to the provision of space around new trees in housing developments so that they may become significant and valued features in the built-up areas.

Comprehensive Treatment of Areas

Where a development proposal is put forward on land that forms part of a wider area considered by the Council appropriate for development, its layout and design should not prejudice the proper planning of that wider area and will be required to relate to a satisfactory phased overall plan.

4.124 The multiplicity of small land ownerships can create difficulties in the proper planned development of an area where a scheme is being promoted for a part of a wider area appropriate for development. It is often desirable that the whole area should be developed as one but this is not always possible. In that event the proposal should be shown to relate to an overall plan covering the whole site. This should achieve a properly co-ordinated development, an integrated design and such matters as a reduced number of access points. Each phase should not rely or be dependent upon a future phase being implemented to achieve a satisfactory form of development in itself. To appreciate whether these above factors are likely to be applicable, pre-application consultations with Council Officers are advised.

Replacement Buildings

4.125 Modern space requirements can result in replacement buildings that are higher and bulkier than the building being replaced. In some circumstances such redevelopment can have an adverse effect on the character and appearance of the locality. To safeguard against this the Council intends to ensure, so far as is possible, that the scale and bulk of any future replacement buildings respect the surrounding development.

Proposals for the replacement of buildings will normally be permitted provided the development would result in an acceptable bulk and form having regard to Policy ENV23.

4.126 Building forms should be adopted which minimise the adverse effects arising from visual scale and bulk and it may be necessary to use floorspace within a pitched roof for accommodation.

4.127 In some circumstances the Council may require that a replacement building contains less floorspace than the building it replaces to ensure the scale of the development is appropriate to its setting.

4.128 The replacement of dwellings and commercial/industrial buildings in the countryside will also be considered in the light of Policies RUD8, RUD22 and RUD23 respectively.


Building Detailing and Materials

4.129 The Council is keen to encourage a high standard of development throughout the District. The Council does not intend to be prescriptive about architectural style, detailing or materials but it will be necessary for applicants to demonstrate that these matters and the setting of the proposed development have been carefully taken into account when preparing proposals for new development.

4.130 Areas with a local identity should not be compromised through insensitively designed and detailed development often resulting from the application of standardised building designs. Instead local identity should be reinforced and to achieve this it may be necessary to draw from the best of the local architecture.

4.131 Close attention to detail is particularly relevant in Conservation Areas, the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Areas of Great Landscape Value, Residential Areas of Special Character and other locations which are prominent to public view.

Development should not detract from the identity and character of the locality. The nature and quality of external materials used in new development should be in harmony with surrounding buildings and area.
In Conservation Areas, the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or the Area of Great Landscape Value and in other publicly prominent locations, traditional external materials will normally be required and planning conditions will normally be imposed requiring specific detailed specifications of architectural features to be submitted and approved.

4.132 External building materials have a considerable effect on the quality and appearance of the environment. Regional identity partly derives from the materials used locally. Mole Valley, lying within the heart of Surrey, has a strong tradition of plain clay tile or natural slate for roofing. Walls are usually of stock brick, painted render and often clad in clay tile hanging. Flint also features in buildings and particularly in boundary walls and is a material the Council would like to see more widely used.

4.133 Roofs at a steeper pitch than the practical minimum will be required in some locations. This is to improve the proportions of buildings and to allow for the use of plain clay tiles. Such roofs may encourage developers and occupiers to convert the additional roofspace into rooms. However, the insertion of rooflights and dormer windows may need to be controlled through the application of restrictive planning conditions as they can undesirably alter the appearance, character, intensity of use and sense of scale of the building. The inclusion of functional chimneys will be encouraged as they add interest to the roofscape. In flats or commercial buildings the necessary extract and ventilating pipes should be grouped together into stacks or roof lanterns which can be a substitute for chimneys.

Planning and Crime Prevention

4.134 It has become increasingly apparent that the design and layout of the urban environment can have an influence on the incidence of vandalism and street crime. A guiding principle should be that public spaces should be self-policing, where crime is more difficult to commit and/or the risk of detection for potential offenders is increased.

In considering development proposals the Council will seek to ensure that the design and layout, and where necessary, use of buildings and spaces about and between buildings take account of the opportunities to reduce the incidence of crime.

4.135 The layout and design of new development can play a significant part in crime prevention; for instance ensuring that car parking is overlooked by buildings and not arranged as distant and secluded areas. More dwellings integrated with the commercial areas of town centres can reduce evening crime. Fittings and materials should be selected to deter vandalism but must be attractive and appropriate to their surroundings. Footpaths should have sufficient space to their sides to avoid a tunnelling effect from the proximity of fences. Windows of houses can sometimes be positioned to offer some surveillance. Both footpaths and larger parking areas should be well lit although sensitive handling of this will be necessary in rural areas. The Police advise the Council on larger schemes and this advice will be taken into account in determining planning applications.

4.136 Conflicts can arise between designing for crime prevention and the best appearance or ease of use of developments. In these cases and where no acceptable alternative is available decisions will be made based upon the relative importance of each in the particular circumstances of the case.

Access for Disabled People to Non-Domestic Buildings and Their Sites

4.137 The Council wishes to ensure that people with disabilities are not prevented from playing a full role in the life of the community and are able to participate in and contribute to community activities, whether as residents, employees or visitors in the area.

4.138 The overall strategy is to encourage access throughout the District for everyone, including wheelchair users and people with other disabilities, elderly people, and those with toddlers or infants in pushchairs, and ensure that appropriate provision is made for the needs of these people in all developments.

4.139 This strategy will be applied to all situations where the public have general access and it will be for the developer to demonstrate that the provision of a suitably accessible environment is impracticable or unreasonable in individual cases.

4.140 The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 requires the provision of suitable means of access for the disabled to public buildings wherever practicable and reasonable. The Council endeavours to do this in drawing developers' attention to the provisions of the Act and the Code of Practice for access for the disabled to buildings requiring adequate wheelchair access. Those developments include all buildings to which the public is to be admitted, including offices, shops, halls, railway premises, factories and educational establishments. An important consideration in Leatherhead is that the town is used by many residents of SeeAbility (the Royal School for the Blind), Queen Elizabeth Foundation, Dorincourt, Headley Court and The Grange.

Applications for the development of buildings open to the public and buildings used for employment and education purposes will normally be required to provide suitable access for people with disabilities, as customers, visitors and employees. Where practicable and reasonable, this should also apply to the change of use or external alteration to a building.
Exceptionally, planning standards or policies may be relaxed where it is essential to make a Listed Building accessible to people with disabilities.

4.141 This policy is not intended to duplicate the requirements under the Buildings Regulations but to achieve a co-ordinated approach so that the whole environment both inside and outside a building is as accessible as possible.

4.142 When considering whether the access requirements for disabled people have been met the Council will have regard to the Surrey Access Forum's guide "Access".

4.143 When applying this policy to Listed Buildings, consideration will also need to be given to Policy ENV43 and each case will need to be considered on its merits depending on the relative weights of the two factors. As a general rule, whenever alterations are proposed to the internal layout of Listed Buildings which are open to the public or used for educational or employment purposes, the opportunity to improve access for disabled people should be taken.

4.144 Often disabled access can be achieved at no extra cost by simply paying attention to the details of a scheme. The flush entrance to a new shop front, for instance, enables easier access for all. The following are three standard requirements which will normally be expected:

Disabled parking spaces.

In larger developments specifically marked out parking spaces of a minimum width of 3.6 metres shall be provided in easily accessible locations to enable the disabled to transfer from a car to a wheelchair at the following recommended levels:

Between 20 and 49 car parking spaces 1 disabled parking space.

Between 50 and 99 car parking spaces 2 disabled parking spaces.

etween 100 and 200 car parking spaces 3 disabled parking spaces.

Over 200 car parking spaces 4 disabled parking spaces.

Access ramps.

The route from the disabled persons parking spaces serving the development and/or public highway to the entrance doorway should be unimpeded by steps. Any ramps involved should have handrails and a maximum gradient of 1 in 20.


At least one entrance doorway of buildings to which the general public have access and including all shops should have a minimum width of 900mm (1800mm for a double door) and the door threshold needs to have a flush surface.

4.145 The Council has published supplementary guidance on shopfront design, including access to shops for disabled people, and will take this into consideration in the determination of planning applications.

Art in the Environment

4.146 The Council recognises the contribution that art can make to the environment and it will generally welcome the provision of sculptures, and other appropriate decorative features within the outside environment. The Council will encourage through negotiation with applicants in appropriate cases on larger new development the provision of forms of art which are beneficial to the public.

In considering larger scale development proposals, the Council will encourage the provision of new works of art and craft which introduce character and visual interest into the external environment of the scheme.

4.147 Works of art and craft can include a wide range of decorative features such as decorative street furniture, sculptures, ground surfaces, metalwork including decorative railings, lighting features, formal gardens, water features and woodcarving.


House Extensions

4.148 Proposals for extensions to dwellings need to be assessed both in respect of the effects they will have on the amenities of neighbouring properties and to ensure they complement the character of the house and where applicable, that of the street scene as well. Paragraph 4.105 sets out the context of Central Government advice within which planning authorities should judge the neighbourly aspects of development proposals. The circumstances of each case will vary but in respect of house extensions certain factors will nearly always need to be considered and these are listed in Policy ENV32 below. The weight to be attached to each factor will to vary from one case to another depending upon the circumstances and for this reason the policy is not prescriptive.

The extension or alteration of houses, including conservatories, will normally be permitted provided such development:
  1. does not harm the reasonable privacy and adequate daylighting and sunlighting for neighbours;
  2. is not unduly prominent from neighbouring properties or in the immediate locality;
  3. retains the character and style of the existing property;
  4. does not result in a cramped appearance having regard to the general spacing around buildings in the locality;
  5. uses external materials that match or are in harmony with the existing building; 6. would not be likely to result in on-street car parking which would cause congestion or be detrimental to highway safety or the visual amenities of the area.

4.149 The Council has published supplementary guidance on house extensions and will take this into consideration in the determination of planning applications. Extensions to dwellings in rural areas must also comply with Policy RUD7. Extensions to houses on the larger housing estates specified in Policy ENV19 must also comply with the terms of that policy.

Residential Fencing and Walls

4.150 The following policy applies to the erection of fences or walls which are not permitted development by virtue of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995. It also applies to those housing estates where in the interests of maintaining their open character, planning conditions have been applied requiring the Council's permission for the erection of fences and walls.

Where required, planning permission will normally be granted for fencing or walling unless it would result in:
  1. the enclosure of an incidental amenity area of open plan gardens which contribute to the pleasing character of a residential or rural area;
  2. a harsh and incongruous feature in a rural area;
  3. an adverse effect on the amenities of neighbours or on the character and appearance of a locality by reason of the materials used (including colour staining).

4.151 Most of the newer housing estates have open plan front and side gardens which function as informal amenity spaces and are an integral part of the overall design of the estate. The openness of these areas is necessary because of the visual relief they give in an intensive development. In many cases at the side of houses the garden fence or wall is set back to provide a landscaped area alongside a road or footpath. Often this area is conveyed to the owner of the adjoining dwelling. It is most important in the interests of the visual amenities of the locality that, notwithstanding the ownership, these areas continue to be unenclosed and that no undesirable precedent is set. Such a practice could be repeated too often and undermine the overall amenity character of the housing area.

4.152 In older housing areas front gardens are sometimes enclosed by low walls, hedges or fences. Their function is not to screen the gardens but delineate the boundaries. Collectively, the openness of the garden contributes to the pleasant character of the locality. The erection of higher fences or walls in these instances can introduce a harsh feature or impede highway safety by obscuring visibility at driveway entrances or road junctions.

4.153 The provision of brick walls and tall gates at the entrances to properties can be out of character in rural areas. The use of native hedging and wooden fencing will usually be more in keeping with the informality and rural character of such areas.

4.154 Any publicly visible fencing should be of high quality and not be intrusive in the street scene by reason of the materials and/or colouring used.

Domestic Satellite Receiving Dishes

4.155 The Council recognises that there is demand for satellite television. However dishes, both individually and collectively, can be an alien feature which can have a detrimental impact on individual properties and the wider environment. Generally the environmental concern stems from poor selection or siting of a dish or from a dish colour and appearance that contrasts conspicuously with its background.

Satellite dishes will normally be permitted where they do not have a significant and adverse effect on the visual appearance of the building and the surrounding area.
New residential estate development, blocks of flats or other buildings in multiple occupation will be expected to have a combined receiving system to serve all occupiers.

4.156 In considering applications the Council will have regard to the supplementary guidance produced by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions indicating suggested suitable locations.1

4.157 Householders have a responsibility for siting a dish in such a way as to minimise its impact on the external appearance of the building. Permitted development rights available for dishes are dependent on this assumption. If the Council considers it could be reasonably positioned less conspicuously, those responsible for erecting a dish without planning permission will be asked to resite the dish, at their own expense, to a more suitable location.

4.158 The erection of several satellite dishes to flats can be most unsightly and permission is unlikely to be granted. Instead the Council strongly favours the use of one communal satellite dish.

4.159 A satellite receiver dish should, whenever possible, be in a suitable colour to be visually unobtrusive and match the background against which it can be seen. Wherever possible dishes should be sited unobtrusively.

4.160 Siting of dishes within the curtilage, or adjacent to, a Listed Building or within a Conservation Area or similar sensitive area, will be strongly resisted where this would prejudice the character of the building or the visual amenity of the area.


Design of Shopfronts

4.161 The character and image of a town or village centre is determined to a considerable extent by the quality of its shopfronts. Traditionally, shopfronts had a diversity and local character which reflected the range of businesses and created visual interest and a sense of place. Modern shopfronts have tended towards standardisation, eroding the differences between one centre and another. Security shutters can also detract from the character of buildings and the street scene. Many shops are in Conservation Areas where particular care will be needed in their design to meet the overriding requirements of Policy ENV39.

New shopfronts or alterations to existing shopfronts should reflect in their size, scale, detailing, colour and use of materials, the character of the building and the street scene. The design of shopfronts should incorporate entrance and access arrangements suitable for the less mobile and disabled people.

4.162 The Council has published supplementary guidance on shopfronts to encourage more creative designs based on traditional styles and classical detailing, which are more appropriate in the historic streets and on the historic buildings of the District. This will be taken into account by the Council in the determination of planning applications. Exceptionally a modern shopfront design may be acceptable if it is of a particularly high design standard and is appropriate for the character of the building and its setting. Existing traditional shopfronts and features should be preserved, where they survive, and replacement shopfronts should be in harmony with the building into which they are placed and the street scene.

4.163 New shopfronts should incorporate entrance arrangements which provide convenient access for all including less mobile shoppers, those with disabilities, people with prams and elderly people with trolleys. Detailed advice on this matter is contained in the supplementary guidance on the design of shopfronts which has been published separately by the Council.

Advertisement Control

4.164 Signs and advertisements are designed to be eye-catching and they can therefore have a strong influence on the character of an area. When well designed, modest and respectful of local character they can be a positive element. Too often they can appear brash, over dominant or incongruous. Cluttered, unnecessarily large and internally illuminated perspex signs detract considerably from the appearance of buildings and their surroundings.

4.165 The high amenity value of the District warrants strict control of advertisements. Much of the District lies within an Area of Special Control of Advertisements (see Appendix 5) which imposes stricter limits on the permitted height and size of advertisements than exists elsewhere.

4.166 Applications for advertisements will be considered with regard to their impact on the character and appearance of the locality and the cumulative effect of similar proposals and existing advertisements in the vicinity. Where advertisements are proposed on buildings, their suitability to the character of the building will also be considered.

4.167 Excessive signage can be self-defeating as it reduces the impact of the message and it encourages others to display even more garish signs in order to be noticed. Such a process can start a spiral of decline of the visual environment.

Proposals for the display of advertisements will be strictly controlled. Applications will be determined taking into account the interests of public safety and amenity.
Externally illuminated signage may be permitted on hand-painted shop fascias or shop fascias employing individually applied letters of timber or metal where light fittings are discreetly sited. Externally illuminated signs and fascias may be acceptable on other premises where the functional need has clearly been demonstrated. This may include hotels, public houses and restaurants, but not as of right.
Internally illuminated advertisements will not normally be permitted.
Advertisements within Conservation Areas will be required to preserve or enhance the character of the locality.
Outside built-up areas, within the Area of Special Control of Advertisements, advertisements will be required to respect the rural character of the area.

4.168 The Council has published separate supplementary guidance on advertisements and will take this into consideration in the determination of planning applications. External illumination of traditional timber fascias with hand-painted or metal letters may be acceptable but only where light fittings can be discreetly sited in relation to the design of the fascia and cornice. Projecting lights, swan neck brackets or similar features, where they give a cluttered appearance, will not normally be acceptable.

4.169 Internally illuminated signs will not normally be permitted. Possible exceptions include petrol filling stations, provided the area of internal illumination is small in relation to the overall size of the advertisement, and the impact of the sign is otherwise acceptable.

4.170 Advertisements will normally be restricted to areas at or below ground floor fascia level in order to protect the character of the locality and individual buildings from unnecessary dominant display. Signs above ground floor level and on gable ends or flank walls will generally be resisted unless in particular circumstances the character of the building and the locality will not be harmed.

4.171 In Conservation Areas, the design, colour, materials and positioning of all signs will be required to preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the Conservation Area and the existing buildings. Advertisements should not unnecessarily obscure or damage original architectural features such as cornices, string courses, pilasters and mouldings.

4.172 Outside the built-up areas in the Area of Special Control of Advertisements there should be particular restraint on the extent of any signage. In these locations the reasonable need and visual impact of the signage on the rural character of the area will be carefully considered.

4.173 Permitted development rights exist for the erection of some temporary signs. However, the Council will also press the County Council to continue its efforts to remove the plethora of temporary signs erected on lamp posts and elsewhere on the highway for events of a commercial nature such as car boot sales and other one day commercial sales. There has also been an increasing tendency to erect signs on the highway giving drivers advanced notice of a facility attracting car-borne trade. Where consent is necessary, the Council will seek to restrict such signs except where there is a clear cut case in the interest of highway safety.

4.174 The control of advertisements on Listed Buildings is covered in Policy ENV45.

Area of Special Control of Advertisements

4.175 There is a large part of the countryside in Mole Valley, including villages which are especially sensitive to the impact of advertisements, that has been designated as an Area of Special Control of Advertisements. This imposes stricter limits on the permitted height and size of advertisements than exists elsewhere. The rural area of Mole Valley is already included in the designated area, the extent of which has been reviewed in this Local Plan.

The rural areas of Mole Valley are designated as an Area of Special Control of Advertisements. The approval of the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions will be sought for revisions to the boundary as shown on the plan at Appendix 5 and for the inclusion of other areas requiring special protection on grounds of amenity and where stronger controls are necessary.

4.176 The proposed revisions are set out in Appendix 5 and need to be approved by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions. They reflect development that has taken place on the edge of Dorking and an anomaly in the vicinity of Gatwick Airport. Other changed circumstances or evidence of the need for stronger control in the future may warrant further revisions.

Advertisement Discontinuance Action

4.177 The Council is empowered to take discontinuance action against any deemed consent advertisement where the planning authority is satisfied it is necessary to do so to remedy a substantial injury to the amenity of the locality or where it endangers public safety.

The Council will take discontinuance action where advertisements displayed under deemed consent are judged to cause substantial injury to the amenity of the locality or endanger public safety. Replacement advertisements will be expected to comply with Policy ENV36.

4.178 The Council aims to improve the standard of advertising in Dorking and Leatherhead town centres as part of the wider strategy to enhance their shopping environment. The aim is to reduce the garishness and ugliness of some advertisements and replace them with displays that enhance the historic and architectural character of the towns' Conservation Areas. This will also assist in establishing a higher benchmark for the design of subsequent advertisements. (See also Policies DTC8 and LTC12 - Improving the Appearance of Existing Buildings).


4.179 The built heritage in Mole Valley is very rich and varied, and highly valued by residents and visitors alike. It includes 28 Conservation Areas; historic parks and gardens (including five on the English Heritage Register); archaeological remains, and just under 1000 Listed Buildings. Together they give to the District its distinctive character, reflecting its historical development and providing a sense of continuity with the past. The Council accords a high priority to the conservation and enhancement of these valuable assets which is reflected in the following policies.


4.180 Under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 the Council has powers to designate as Conservation Areas those parts of the District whose character or appearance it is desirable to preserve or enhance. There are 28 Conservation Areas wholly or partly within Mole Valley. They are as follows:

Abinger Hammer

Forest Green

Ashtead - Ashtead House

Friday Street

Ashtead - Rectory Lane

Great Bookham

Ashtead - Woodfield Lane

Holmbury St Mary








Little Bookham




Milton Street



Dorking Town


Dorking, Pixham Lane




The boundaries of each Conservation Area are shown on the Proposals Map. The Council will keep the boundaries of the District's Conservation Areas under review. New areas will only be considered for designation where their special interest can be identified.

Development in Conservation Areas

4.181 In Mole Valley there is a considerable variation in character between Conservation Areas. It is this variation and distinctiveness which the Council will expect to be reflected in the detailed design of new proposals.

Development in Conservation Areas, or adjacent to and affecting their setting, shall preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the Area. Within this context:
  1. developments, including extensions, shall be of a high standard of design and well detailed such as to reflect the local historic character, scale, quality of buildings, settlement form, and materials;
  2. features which contribute to local character, including significant spaces, trees, walls and traditional architectural details, shall be retained;
  3. the design of spaces between buildings, and their surfacing shall be sensitively treated;
  4. significant views into and out of Conservation Areas will be safeguarded. To demonstrate that the above requirements have been satisfied, detailed rather than outline planning applications will normally be expected. The rigorous application of general planning and highway policies may be relaxed where they would be in conflict with the preservation or enhancement of the Area's character or appearance.

4.182 When considering proposals in Conservation Areas, the Council is required to pay special attention to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of the Area. Appendix 6 of the Plan provides a character analysis of each Conservation Area, which will be taken into account when considering the appropriateness of new development proposals and their effect on the character and appearance of these Areas.

4.183 Development proposals for Conservation Areas will be expected to pay particular regard to their landscape setting, street patterns, trees, roofscapes and formal and informal spaces, including gardens. The character of an Area depends not just on the street frontages of its buildings but on their integrity as historic structures and the contribution which they may make in all dimensions (to an interesting roofscape, for example). Rear elevations can also be important as can side views from alleyways and yards. Traditional building materials which again will vary between Conservation Areas, should be employed.

Demolition in Conservation Areas

4.184 In order to protect the character of Conservation Areas, most buildings, structures and architectural features cannot be demolished without the consent of the Council. There are many buildings within Conservation Areas which are not of special interest in their own right but, when taken together with other buildings, do contribute to the character of the street, town or village. Application of this policy will also need to have regard to Policy ENV30 - Access for the Disabled.

The demolition of a building, structure or significant architectural feature within a Conservation Area will not be permitted where it makes a significant contribution to the character and appearance of the Area and its retention is practical and can fulfil a useful purpose.

4.185 Where significant demolition is permitted it will usually be conditional upon demolition works not commencing until a contract has been let for a replacement building that has full planning permission. This will avoid vacant sites which detract from the appearance of a Conservation Area or for subsequent pressure to lower the design standard of any replacement building.

Enhancement Schemes in Conservation Areas

4.186 Designation of a Conservation Area is only a preliminary to the Council adopting schemes to preserve or enhance their character and appearance. Further, the number and quality of areas that have deserved designation as Conservation Areas in Mole Valley underlines the high environmental quality of the District. The Council wishes to safeguard this quality and considerable scope exists for the Council, other statutory bodies, businesses and individuals to enhance Conservation Areas.

4.187 Section 71 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 places a duty on local planning authorities to formulate and publish proposals for the preservation and enhancement of its Conservation Areas. The Council will continue to promote an annual conservation and enhancement programme in fulfilment of this duty. Annual priorities will be determined in the light of conservation strategies, opportunities for partnership projects and the need to tackle urgent problems that may arise in the short term. The Council's approach to the preservation and enhancement of its Conservation Areas will be to combine investment and grant aid with statutory controls.

The Council will continue to promote the enhancement of Conservation Areas by:
  1. undertaking a planned programme of enhancement works to be carried out by itself or in conjunction with other bodies particularly the County Council;
  2. encouraging the sympathetic redevelopment of opportunity sites which detract from the character or appearance of the Area;
  3. offering grants to property owners for certain qualifying works within special Council operated schemes designed to give substantial benefit to a particular Conservation Area;
  4. offering advice and encouragement to property owners on enhancement measures; 5. using its statutory powers to introduce Article 4 Directions, Urgent Works or Repair Notices, Section 215 Notices or Discontinuance Notices, or undertake enforcement action as appropriate.

4.188 The Council has already carried out a range of improvements and subject to the availability of resources intends that this be continued. Environmental improvements should strengthen local character by accentuating those key elements which make an Area distinctive. A grant scheme has operated in parts of Dorking Conservation Area to stimulate external improvements to buildings and to allow the Council greater involvement in the details than it would otherwise have.

4.189 Paragraphs 4.227 - 4.231 of this Plan set out policy and guidance relating to trees in Conservation Areas.


4.190 There are just under 1000 buildings in the District which are included on the statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, compiled by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. They are a very special and rich component of the heritage of Mole Valley. The full statutory List and description are available for inspection in the Council's Planning Department. Brief details of the Listed Buildings existing at the time of preparing this Plan are set out at Appendix 7. It should be remembered however that the protection offered to Listed Buildings by legislation and Listed Building policies in this Plan also applies to freestanding unListed Buildings in the curtilage of a Listed Building if they were constructed before 1st July 1948.

4.191 Planning legislation gives local planning authorities special powers to protect Listed Buildings and to ensure that they are kept in a state of proper repair. This legislation together with Government advice on the protection of Listed Buildings and the handling of development proposals affecting them is comprehensive and is not repeated in this Local Plan but will be taken into account before contemplating any development proposals.

4.192 Listed Buildings are a valuable finite resource which once lost cannot be replaced. The same can also be said of internal or external features which give these buildings their particular character. Very strict control is therefore warranted over any proposals for demolishing and altering any part of a Listed Building that would affect its architectural or historic character.

Preservation and Restoration of Listed Buildings

There will be a presumption in favour of the preservation of Listed Buildings. Planning standards or other planning policies may be relaxed where they would otherwise prejudice the preservation of Listed Buildings. If the continuation of the original use is impractical an appropriate change of use which would preserve or restore the building will be considered favourably provided that the associated works or use would not:
  1. detract from the special character or appearance of the building or its setting;
  2. damage, remove or conceal any internal or external architectural or historic features of the building.

4.193 In considering whether to grant Listed Building Consent, Section 16(2) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 requires local planning authorities to have special regard to the desirability of preserving Listed Buildings, their setting, and any special architectural features or historic interest which they possess. The circumstances surrounding each case are so diverse that each proposal needs individual assessment rather than broad application of policies and standards.

4.194 Usually the original use for a Listed Building is the best use in terms of ensuring the retention of the original character as that was the use for which the building was designed. However occasionally the existing use may no longer be practicable. Also, exceptionally, where there is no other practical course the key to preservation may be in a change of use to one not otherwise normally acceptable. All conversions will need to respect the integrity and character of the Listed Building and to other policies in the Plan where these do not conflict with the preservation aims. There may also be occasions where the use of a building will have changed from the original use for which it was designed. That use may be unsuitable in terms of its effect on the special character of the building and a change to a more sympathetic use, preferably its original use, will be encouraged. Building Regulations will be applied sympathetically where they would otherwise prejudice the preservation of Listed Buildings.

Alterations and Additions to Listed Buildings

Alterations and additions to the external or internal fabric or setting of a Listed Building will normally be permitted provided that:
  1. the proposal preserves the original architecture, scale, materials, colour, detailing and other significant architectural or historic features of the building concerned and
  2. the proposal does not detract from the character or setting of the building.

4.195 Some Listed Buildings are the subject of successive applications for alteration or extension. In such cases it needs to be borne in mind that minor works of indifferent quality, which may seem individually of little importance, can cumulatively be very destructive of a building's special interest.

4.196 Any alterations to the interior of a Listed Building will require consent if the works affect its character and appearance as a building of special architectural or historic interest. It is essential that any proposals affecting the interior of a Listed Building include detailed drawings that clearly indicate any proposed alterations to the structure. With regard to external features, drawings should be sufficiently detailed to indicate clearly what is proposed.

4.197 The application of this policy will need also to be considered with that of Policy ENV30 - Access for the Disabled. Decorative lights on Listed Buildings will not be acceptable.

Development Affecting the Setting of Listed Buildings

Development will not be permitted where, by reason of its design, scale or proximity, it would significantly and adversely affect the setting or attractive views of a Listed Building.

4.198 The setting in which a Listed Building stands makes a vital contribution to the overall quality of the building. Development proposals which are in the vicinity and seen in relation to a Listed Building need particularly careful consideration. As such, proposals that otherwise might normally be acceptable may warrant refusal if they significantly and adversely affect the character of the setting of the Listed Building.

Advertisements on Listed Buildings

The display of advertisements on Listed Buildings will only receive consent provided:
  1. the building has an established or permitted commercial or community use;
  2. normal considerations of control in the interests of amenity and public safety are satisfied;
  3. the scale, colour, materials, detailing and number of signs are sympathetic to the character of the Listed Building and;
  4. the signs do not detract from or conceal any significant architectural features. Internally illuminated signs will not be acceptable.

4.199 The commercial pressures for advertising often conflict with the interests of safeguarding the character of Listed Buildings. Whilst recognising commercial interests and the need for a business to operate successfully, the protection of the character of a Listed Building should be paramount. Therefore strict restraint will be placed on advertisements on Listed Buildings where their appearance and character would be adversely affected by the use of insensitive advertisements. This approach extends to nameboards on commercial properties that can themselves fulfil an advertisement function. In particular, advertisements should be of modest nature, normally use natural materials and in general complement the character of the building. External illumination to a small projecting sign or a small business nameplate at the entrance may be acceptable.

Repair of Historic Buildings

In cases where the fabric of a Listed Building is seriously deteriorating through lack of adequate repair and maintenance the Council will consider the use of Urgent Works and Repairs Notices to ensure its future preservation.

4.200 The regular maintenance of buildings avoids the need for more expensive repairs at a later date and in the case of Listed Buildings prevents damage or loss of historic fabric. The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 gives local authorities special powers to require owners to take responsibility for a neglected building.


4.201 There are a number of gardens within the District which have already been identified as being of special historic interest. Five of these are included in the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England, compiled by English Heritage, and are identified on the Proposals Map. Although no additional statutory controls flow from their inclusion in the Register this highlights their historic importance. G

ardens on the Register are:

Polesden Lacey (Grade II*)

Wotton House (Grade II*)

The Deepdene (Grade II)

Norbury Park (Grade II)

Ashtead Park (Grade II)

4.202 The Council recognises the value of conserving all parks and gardens of historic interest and will seek to encourage their proper care and, where necessary, restoration.

4.203 As more becomes known about the District's heritage of historic gardens, through the work of the Surrey Gardens Trust for example, new gardens may be included on the Register. This policy will consequently apply to any additions to the Register for Mole Valley.

The Council will seek to ensure that any proposed development within or adjoining a garden included in English Heritage's "Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest" and identified on the Proposals Map does not detract from its setting, character, appearance or spatial composition, that unsympathetic subdivision is prevented and that any particular features of architectural or historic interest are protected.
The Council will seek to ensure that wherever possible existing views into and from historic gardens are protected. Where appropriate, opportunities will be sought through conditions or planning agreements to achieve the repair, restoration and management of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest on the Register compiled by English Heritage.

4.204 In considering development proposals which would affect gardens on the English Heritage Register, the Council will consult the Garden History Society and the County Council's Historic Parks and Gardens Adviser. In addition, English Heritage will be consulted in respect of those gardens on the Register which are Grade I or II*.

4.205 Also within the District there are a number of important gardens, often, for example, within the curtilage of a Listed Building, which are not specifically protected. They usually help form the setting of the Listed Building but are not themselves given statutory protection.

4.206 The Council will encourage the sensitive restoration of historic gardens where the opportunity arises.


4.207 Archaeological remains are a finite, irreplaceable source of evidence of past human occupation of the area. They are a vulnerable element of the District's heritage which can be easily damaged or lost forever. The Government recognises that the desirability of preserving an ancient monument and its setting is a material consideration in determining planning applications whether that monument is scheduled or not. This Plan therefore aims to ensure that sites of archaeological interest together with their settings are protected or enhanced.

4.208 Until recently archaeological knowledge has been derived largely from chance finds rather than systematic and careful survey. A great deal is still not known about the presence or absence of archaeology over many parts the District. It is therefore important to give consideration to areas where archaeological finds are likely or possible, as well as to those sites that are already known. (As information grows and circumstances alter, new sites may be seen to be of major importance while others may be removed from the lists).

4.209 There are three categories of sites of archaeological significance.

  1. Scheduled Ancient Monuments

    Sites of national importance designated by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. There are 25 in Mole Valley.

  2. County Sites of Archaeological Importance and Nationally Important Sites

    Sites which are locally important in the context of Surrey and identified by the County Council. There are 7 in Mole Valley. Some of these sites are potentially of national importance.

  3. Areas of High Archaeological Potential

    Identified by the County Council as being of archaeological potential based on previous finds, map or other evidence.

4.210 A list of the first two categories of site is contained in Appendix 8 and are also shown on the Proposals Map. There are also approximately 180 sites of high archaeological potential and a plan showing their location is available for inspection at the Council Offices. As part of their research into the development potential of a site, developers will be expected to check whether it is known or likely to contain archaeological remains. Indeed, early consultation is very much encouraged by the Council so that the needs of archaeology and development can be reconciled and potential conflict resolved.

4.211 Known archaeological sites are identified in the Monuments Record and as County Sites, which are listed in Appendix 8 and shown on the Proposals Map. However this situation is subject to change as existing sites of high potential are re-evaluated and further sites are discovered. In addition, County Sites and newly discovered sites, when measured against the criteria contained in Appendix 4 of PPG16: Archaeology and Planning, may be considered to be of national importance and categorised as such. The Sites and Monuments Record maintained by the County Council will record new sites and new information about existing sites which may alter the number of categorised sites.

Scheduled Ancient Monuments, Monuments of National Importance and County Sites of Archaeological Importance

There will be a presumption in favour of preserving nationally important archaeological remains and their setting. Development that would adversely affect a Scheduled Ancient Monument, a Nationally Important Site or a County Site of Archaeological Importance or their setting will not be permitted.

4.212 The Council will encourage the management and interpretation of these sites. The Council also recognises the value of integrating the management of archaeological sites in the countryside with landscape and natural history management initiatives. In Mole Valley nearly all the Scheduled Ancient Monuments and County Sites of Archaeological Importance are situated in the Green Belt. There are therefore unlikely to be circumstances where development would be acceptable to override the need to protect these archaeologically important sites. Where it is considered development involving a Scheduled Ancient Monument or County Site of Archaeological Importance could take place then the Council will expect corresponding exceptional measures to be taken to preserve them in situ. Only as a last resort will recording and, if appropriate, public display elsewhere be acceptable. The Council will consult the County Archaeologist for advice relating to development proposals affecting a Scheduled Ancient Monument or County Site of Archaeological Importance. Scheduled Monument Consent must be obtained from the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport for any proposal affecting a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Sites or Areas of High Archaeological Potential

Where significant development proposals fall within an Area of High Archaeological Potential the developer will be required to provide an initial assessment of the archaeological value of the site preferably before, or otherwise as part of, any planning application.
If as a result of that assessment important archaeological remains are considered to exist:
  1. the developer may be required to arrange for an archaeological field survey to be carried out before the determination of the planning application and
  2. where important archaeological remains are found to exist and can justifiably be left in situ, provision will be made by planning condition or agreement to minimise or avoid damage to the remains. Alternatively, where there is good reason to believe archaeological remains exist but preservation of known remains in situ is not justified, a planning condition will normally be imposed requiring a programme of archaeological work in accordance with a scheme approved by the Council to take place before any development commences and the results and any finds should be published and made available for public display.

4.213 The Council will consult the County Archaeologist for advice on the effects of development proposals on relevant sites which will include prior evaluation and assessment.

4.214 Where a site is already largely developed and a field evaluation is impractical then reliance will be placed upon the knowledge and advice of the County Archaeologist and the initial assessment. The latter need only usually involve a desk-based evaluation of existing information.

4.215 If the Council has good reason to believe there are remains of archaeological importance, it may direct the applicant to supply further information in order for the application to be properly determined.

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