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Chapter 7



7.1 Mole Valley is an attractive area for firms to locate, being situated almost half way between Heathrow and Gat-wick Airports and having convenient access to London and the national motorway network. Leatherhead has a longstanding history as a centre for research and has a range of business parks providing premises for modern technologies and services. Dorking is a more traditional market town providing local services. It is home to two major insurance companies. There is a considerable range of economic activity in the District's rural areas in-cluding agriculture, sand and clay extraction and brick making. Small industrial estates and, in the countryside, converted rural buildings provide floorspace for a variety of service-related uses.

7.2 Regional Planning Guidance seeks to foster economic growth within the environmental constraints of the South East Region. Mole Valley lies within the Region's western arc

7.3 The Surrey Structure Plan 1994 recognises the needs of business and seeks to ensure that the Surrey economy is maintained and renewed while recognising the environmental constraints on development in the County. It em-phasises the need to recycle commercial and industrial land and to make provision for development to meet the particular needs of a range of businesses

7.4 The County Council's 'Economic Strategy for Surrey' recognises that the County faces tough competition from other areas in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world. It emphasises the need to encourage and support inward investment by those firms which will most contribute to wealth creation in the County and the diversity of its local economy while enhancing the quality and value of the County's environment, infrastructure and services.


7.5 The tight environmental constraints on development in Mole Valley require that emphasis must be placed on recycling industrial and commercial land, making the best use of existing sites. However, it is recognised that within these constraints there is a need to ensure that land and opportunities are available for industrial and commercial development to support the local and wider economy. The objectives of the Strategy are therefore:

  • To allow existing firms to expand on suitable sites;

  • To safeguard suitably located industrial and commercial land;

  • To encourage the recycling of commercial and industrial land for purposes which contribute to a variety of employment opportunities and service other uses;

  • To recognise the difference between Dorking and Leatherhead in terms of the scale and character of the existing and available commercial and industrial development in each town;

  • To recognise the locational requirements of inward investment and new firms;

  • To encourage the provision of premises suitable for small firms;

  • To encourage development which contributes to the vitality of town centres;

  • To monitor available relevant information to assess the need to update policies

7.6 The scope for allocating new land for industrial and commercial purposes is extremely limited given the funda-mental constraints of Green Belt and other environmental considerations. Beyond the sites already identified, the Council is not aware of any other sites in Mole Valley comprising, for example derelict or despoiled land, public utility or institutional land, which would be suitable for industrial and commercial development. Also, as part of the Council's overall strategy for an area substantially covered by the Green Belt, there is a need to safeguard existing housing and land allocated for housing, open space, community facilities and other uses serving local needs and demands, including shops and hotels

7.7 It is therefore important in the interests of supporting the local economy to safeguard suitably located industrial and commercial land. This is particularly the case in Dorking where the existing amount of commercial and in-dustrial floorspace and the amount of available floorspace is very limited

7.8 Mole Valley's two main town centres, Dorking and Leatherhead, are focal points for commercial development in the District. There is limited scope to allow new commercial development and provision of accommodation for financial and professional services within these town centres, mostly by redevelopment for mixed schemes. Larger scale development would be likely to increase congestion and adversely affect their character

7.9 The term "industrial and commercial development" includes all uses in classes B1 - B8 of the Use Classes Order 1987

7.10 The following policies seek to meet the objectives set out above, bearing in mind also the constraints identified.

Existing Industrial and Commercial Land Uses

7.11 The majority of industrial and commercial development in Mole Valley in recent years has come about through the redevelopment or change of use of existing industrial and commercial premises. There is scope for this proc-ess to continue, and land that is already in industrial and commercial use will be the main resource for main-taining and renewing economic activity in Mole Valley. The following policy addresses this issue in the built-up areas of the District.

The maintenance and renewal of Mole Valley's economy will be met primarily by encouraging the re-use of suitably located land in built-up areas already in industrial and commercial use by normally permitting de-velopment for:
  1. the expansion needs of an existing firm where it can be satisfactorily accommodated within the existing premises or on immediately adjacent urban land, or
  2. changes of use to other industrial and commercial uses (Class B1-B8 of the Use Classes Order 1987), subject to the provisions in Policy E4 below, or
  3. the redevelopment of suitably located existing industrial and commercial premises, provided that any resulting new or intensified use can be accommodated in relation to the environmental, infrastructure and other development provision policies of the Plan

7.12 Suitably located industrial and commercial land is identified under Policy E2. The main source of development opportunities will be existing industrial and commercial land in the built-up areas and town centres

7.13 The Council will seek to ensure that any new activities are appropriate to the site itself and the area as a whole. When considering new activities or any intensification of a site's use through expansion or redevelopment pro-posals, the Council will take into account particularly the effect on the environment and infrastructure of the area

7.14 There is limited scope for industrial and commercial development in rural areas subject to the policies set out in Chapter 5.

Safeguarding Existing Industrial and Commercial Land

7.15 It is essential to preserve the existing range of suitably located sites in industrial and commercial use to ensure that an adequate resource for future economic growth is maintained and that sites are available for the reloca-tion of non-conforming uses where there are environmental benefits in encouraging this. To ensure that this aim is met, and bearing in mind that in a Green Belt district such land is a finite resource, the Council will normally resist the change of use of suitably located industrial and commercial land to other uses.

The loss of existing suitably located industrial and commercial land in built-up areas to other uses will not be permitted unless its retention for industrial and/or commercial use has been fully explored without success.
Suitably located larger industrial and commercial sites are identified on the Proposals Map.
Smaller sites will be regarded as being suitably located where:
  1. they are located on parts of the highway network where traffic can be satisfactorily absorbed;
  2. they are in a location which is convenient for public transport;
  3. existing or proposed development would not significantly harm the character of the area;
  4. existing or proposed development would not significantly harm the amenities of nearby residents

7.16 Larger industrial and commercial sites which are regarded as suitably located are identified on the Proposals Map. These are:-


  1. Brook Way/Regent Park area, Kingston Road, Leatherhead

  2. Barnett Wood Lane Industrial Area, Leatherhead

  3. Mole Business Park, Station Road, Leatherhead

  4. Leatherhead Industrial Estate, Station Road, Leatherhead

  5. Leatherhead Research Area, off Cleeve Road and Springfield Drive, Leatherhead

  6. Leatherhead Research Area, Randalls Way, Leatherhead

  7. Logica, Station Approach, Leatherhead

  8. Plough Industrial Estate, Kingston Road, Leatherhead

  9. Ryebrook, Bay Tree Avenue, Kingston Road, Leatherhead

  10. Esso, Ermyn Way, Leatherhead xi. Kings Court, Kingston Road, Leatherhead

  11. Bookham Industrial Estate,


  1. Land near Dorking Station, Dorking xii. Curtis Road/Station Road and Dorking Business Park, Dorking

  2. Vincent Lane, Dorking

7.17 In addition, there are many smaller industrial and commercial sites in the District, some of which may also be regarded as suitably located when assessed in relation to the criteria set out in the above Policy

7.18 In implementing Policy E2, the Council will have particular regard to the limited supply of suitably located in-dustrial and commercial land in Dorking.


Additional Commercial and Industrial Land Provision in Dorking for Industrial, Storage and Distribution Development

7.19 The Green Belt boundary in the Dorking Area Local Plan 1983 was drawn to exclude from the Green Belt a 2.2 hectare greenfield site at the end of the Curtis Road in Dorking in order that it be held in reserve for the future industrial needs of the Plan area

7.20 The land provides scope in a Green Belt town for the relocation of industrial users, including businesses affected by redevelopment schemes which are achieving other desirable planning objectives. The land is also intended to serve the needs of starter businesses and firms located in Dorking or the rural areas of Mole Valley wishing to expand or gain improved purpose built premises

7.21 Surrey Structure Plan Policy DP12 recognises that additional land may have to be found for particular kinds of industrial and commercial development needs for which explicit provision should be made in local plans. Within this wider policy framework Policy E3 below is intended to meet the specific planning objectives of assisting the needs of small starter firms, the local industrial economy that might otherwise be limited by Green Belt con-straints, and to help relieve problems of industrial and other similar activities causing environmental problems in the District. Planning Policy Guidance Note 4 - Industrial and Commercial Development and Small Firms has emphasised the need for local authorities, through the planning system, to help small firms. The Council is also aware that there have been local firms looking to relocate or expand locally. Apart from land at the end of Curtis Road there have been few suitable opportunities within the restricted area of Dorking to do so. The development of this greenfield site on the edge of Dorking would not be justified if these particular objectives were not being met.

2.2 hectares of land to the west of the Curtis Road Industrial Estate, Dorking indicated on the Proposals Map is allo-cated for industrial, commercial, storage and distribution development for the following:
  1. small firms, or
  2. existing local firms needing to expand, or
  3. firms providing a service needed by the local community, including low intensity uses, or
  4. firms relocated by public works or as non-conforming users, or
  5. industrial uses listed in 1-4 above likely to cause particular environmental problems if not on an in-dustrial estate, or
  6. a limited extent of small-scale commercial development which would not give rise to excessive traffic generation

7.22 The site shall be developed to meet a variety of the purposes listed in Policy E3. For the purposes of Policy E3 small firms are defined as those requiring a gross industrial floorspace of under 300m2 in line with paragraphs 7.37 and 7.38 relating to Policy E6 - Sites for Small Firms. Local firms are defined as those established for at least 3 years in the Dorking or rural areas of Mole Valley. However, for the purposes of the relocation of non-conforming industry, this area can be extended to cover the whole administrative District of Mole Valley, in-cluding Leatherhead, Ashtead, Bookham and Fetcham. Low intensity uses are intended to include storage and distribution uses

7.23 The Council does not envisage that the entire site will be developed in one operation but will form a contingency to meet the industrial and other needs set out in the Policy, as they arise. Also, any storage and distribution de-velopment should cover a significantly smaller proportion of the total site than industrial development in order to limit the amount of heavy goods vehicle movement from the site. The allocation of this greenfield site was only justified as a contingency to meet the industrial needs of the Green Belt town of Dorking. The limitations of the access road and its junction with Station Road, particularly at peak times additionally makes office development undesirable, with its greater propensity to generate large movements of vehicles. Any office development should therefore only form a limited part of the development of the site and be to meet the specific requirements of local firms. Larger offices will be resisted

7.24 A substantial tree and shrubbery screen will be required to be planted along the western boundary in the first planting season following the grant of planning permission for any development of the site.

Industrial Sites

7.25 Since the introduction of the Business Use Class in the 1987 Use Classes Order, there has been a trend towards a greater provision of floorspace in the District which is suitable mainly for office or high technology/computer based activities. This trend is likely to continue. In a Green Belt district such as Mole Valley where the supply of suitably located industrial land is limited, it is necessary to ensure that there is scope to accommodate a wide ranging employment base including premises for services supporting the local economy

7.26 There are a number of sites in Leatherhead and Dorking which are principally in industrial use and could accom-modate a range of employment related uses. Although these sites may be acceptable for B1 business use when they come forward for development, the Council will particularly encourage their use for light, general and related industrial activities.

In considering proposals for the redevelopment of the following sites as indicated on the Proposals Map, the Council will give particular encouragement to the provision of accommodation suitable for light industrial and general industrial uses, and storage and distribution uses, provided they can be accommodated in relation to the environmental, infrastructure and other policies in the Plan.
  1. Barnett Wood Lane Industrial Area
  2. Plough Industrial Estate
  1. Land at Curtis Road/Station Road
  2. Land at Vincent Lane

7.27 The sites identified in Policy E4 are also included in the list of suitably located commercial / industrial sites which are subject to the provisions of Policy E2. B1 business development may therefore be acceptable, but it is considered that those sites are particularly suitable for industrial and storage and distribution uses, subject to suitable safeguards as set out in the Policy

7.28 Existing firms on these sites provide a range of local and other services which contribute to the variety and strength of the local economy. Therefore, the Council will encourage provision for the relocation of existing firms within any redevelopment unless it can be shown that the need does not exist or it can be met on suitable sites elsewhere

7.29 For the purposes of this Policy, industrial use includes Class B1(c) and Class B2 of the Use Classes Order 1987; storage and distribution includes Class B8 of the Order.

Vincent Lane Industrial and Commercial Area, Dorking

7.30 It is envisaged that much of the industrial land off Vincent Lane, Dorking will come forward for redevelopment during the Plan period but not necessarily at the same time. In addition to the provisions of Policy E4, the fol-lowing policy will also be applied.

In considering any redevelopment proposals in the Vincent Lane Industrial and Commercial Area the Council will have particular regard to:
  1. the extent to which individual proposals might prejudice a comprehensive redevelopment of the iden-tified area;
  2. the proposal's impact on highway safety and traffic congestion;
  3. the need for improvements to the adjoining highway and/or accesses to the site, including any road schemes proposed by the County Highway Authority;
  4. the visual impact of the development, including hard and soft landscaping measures, and its effect on the adjoining Conservation Area;
  5. the need, if any, for stabilising and/or safety measures of the cliff along the western boundary.
The Council will encourage the provision of accommodation suitable for light / general industrial uses and storage and distribution uses and any redevelopment should include, where practicable, the provision of premises suitable for occupation by small firms.
The Council will seek related planning benefits from the development to include the provision of land along the frontage of Vincent Lane to be dedicated, at no cost, for its widening and improvement. Particularly in the case of proposals involving new offices, developer contributions will be sought towards the financing of these highway works

7.31 Existing firms on these sites provide a range of local and other services which contribute to the variety and strength of the local economy. Therefore the Council will encourage provision for the relocation of existing firms within any redevelopments unless it can be shown that the need does not exist or it can be met on suitable sites elsewhere

7.32 The highway improvement of Vincent Lane gained significant public support in the 1998 Dorking Movement Study public consultation. The present road, which forms part of the town's one-way traffic system, is seriously inadequate and in need of improvement to include measures to enhance the safety of pedestrians and motorists. In the further interests of safety and also the free flow of traffic, any redevelopment should reduce the number of existing access points

7.33 The Council would prefer to see this area continue to serve the industrial needs of the town (see Policy E4). However, if a redevelopment contains new office floorspace, the Council considers that in addition to the dedi-cation, at no cost, of sufficient frontage land for highway improvement works, developer contributions should be made towards financing the construction of these improvements. This accords with Surrey Structure Plan Policy EN4 - Planning Benefits, and is justified also by the likely greater traffic movements arising from office floorspace compared to that of industrial, storage or distribution uses. The improvements to Vincent Lane may initially be to provide for a safer and freer flowing one-way road. In the longer term, not necessarily during the Plan period, further improvements are being studied to provide a two-way road. This will then bring significant environmental, safety and movement improvements, including to buses, pedestrians and cyclists, by relieving the shopping streets of West Street, Pump Corner and South Street of southbound traffic. The final proposals will be included in the Local Transport Plan

7.34 The site has an extensive road frontage onto the town's main traffic circulation system and therefore any devel-opment will contribute significantly to the public perception of the character of this part of the town. Numerous residential properties also face the site and the northern part abuts the Dorking Conservation Area. Therefore any new development needs to present itself attractively to the road frontage. In addition the flint wall, a character-istic feature of Dorking, will need to be replaced. Parts of the cliff along the site's west boundary have suffered soil erosion in the recent past. Its future stability needs to be safeguarded by the inclusion of environmentally suitable measures in any redevelopment proposals in accordance with Policy E5

7.35 Care will be needed in the layout and design of any development to minimise the effects industrial uses can bring to residential properties of which there are a number in the locality

7.36 It may be necessary to provide noise insulation to some of the new buildings, restrict outside working and to screen from view any unsightly aspects that can be associated with industrial development.

Sites for Small Firms

7.37 The Council recognises the importance of encouraging and supporting enterprise and economic growth in new and small firms within Mole Valley. The Economic Strategy for Surrey identifies Surrey as a county of small businesses, with more than 90% of all Surrey businesses employing less than 25 people, a situation broadly reflected in Mole Valley. It identifies one of Surrey's weaknesses as the lack of accommodation for small firms. The fol-lowing policy aims to encourage the provision of premises suitable for occupation by small firms and to resist the loss of sites and premises in use by small industrial and commercial firms to other uses.

The Council will encourage the redevelopment of suitably located industrial and commercial land, as identified in Policy E2, to include provision of premises suitable for occupation by small firms.
In order to retain a supply of premises suitable for small firms, the loss of sites providing such accommodation on suitably located industrial and commercial land will not normally be permitted

7.38 In implementing Policy E6, the Council will generally encourage the provision of nursery units up to 150sq.m. floorspace and other small units up to 300sq.m.

Business Development in Dorking and Leatherhead Town Centres

7.39 The town centres of both Dorking and Leatherhead provide a range of office accommodation to meet varying business needs. The business activity they generate contributes to the vitality of the centres, promotes custom for the shops and provides local jobs

7.40 In recent years there has been significant business development in Leatherhead. Indeed business activity has assisted in the viability of the shopping centre

7.41 Business development distributed throughout the town centres in the form of numerous small and medium sized offices all contribute to a thriving business community. A part of this community is the antiques trade in Dorking which this Plan seeks to foster (see Dorking Town Centre Chapter 9 - Policy DTC4)

7.42 There is still some scope for the town centres to absorb mostly small-scale redevelopments of existing business premises to meet local business and service needs and which will also help maintain the economic buoyancy of the centres

7.43 Policy E7 below provides for new business development to take place within the business areas defined on the Proposals Map. Such development should be of a scale, type and design appropriate to the character of the cen-tres and normally incorporate mixed uses, particularly residential. This is important not only in safeguarding the character and enhancing the vitality of the town centres, but also in limiting the demands for new housing in all areas which is strictly constrained by the Green Belt

7.44 Major new business development would be undesirable because it would be likely to increase significantly peak hour traffic movements on already congested town centre access roads. In addition, space in off-street long stay car parks is limited. Proposals for major business development schemes will therefore be required to be accom-panied by proposals for limiting the number of staff travelling to work by car. The Council has adopted the car parking standards for business development as set out in 'A Parking Strategy for Surrey', November 1999, pub-lished by the County Council as Supplementary Planning Guidance

7.45 In order to achieve a desirable form of mixed-use redevelopment in Dorking and Leatherhead town centres and secure planning benefits where they are justified, it may be necessary to include some business development in the scheme.

Development for business purposes in the business areas of Dorking and Leatherhead town centres, as de-fined on the Proposals Map, will normally be permitted providing that it:
  1. accords with Policy E1;
  2. is of a scale, type and design appropriate to the character and role of the Town Centre;
  3. makes a positive contribution to the character of the Town Centre in accordance with Policies DTC9 or LTC13;
  4. does not result in the loss of some other priority use which other policies in this Plan seek to retain;
  5. provides additional residential accommodation unless impracticable and/or undesirable, having regard to the feasibility of proposals, the size and layout of the site, its surroundings and the quality of the residential environment and
  6. provides planning benefits that are consistent with the scale and nature of the development having regard to the circumstances of the site.
Car parking provision for business development in Dorking and Leatherhead Town Centres will be considered in the light of the requirements of Policy MOV5

7.46 The business areas of the town centres of Dorking and Leatherhead are identified on the Proposals Map. All the criteria in the above Policy will normally be required to be met. There may also be circumstances where residential accommodation would be clearly inappropriate

7.47 The application of modern space and design requirements including the higher parking provision required under current standards, may mean that the floorspace of the existing buildings cannot be achieved in the new scheme

7.48 As the Town Centres and Conservation Area design policies require new schemes to reflect the highest standards of design, a good design will not be taken as meeting the planning benefit requirement in the Policy. Planning benefits will be sought in accordance with the terms of Government advice appertaining at the time, currently in Circular 16/91. Planning benefits should therefore be taken to encompass those relating to the environment, such as landscaping, provision of amenity space or improved urban street design or art in the environment (see Policy ENV31), to infrastructure or to the provision within the scheme of community, leisure or cultural services. However, the circumstances of each case and the ability of the scheme to support such benefits will be different and therefore each case will need to be considered on its merits. Where they are applied they will be distinct from any requirements the Council may properly seek to impose in the normal process of development control. Legal agreements will be sought in appropriate cases to achieve these planning benefits.

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