3.1 The Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) comprises landscape of national importance which follows the full length of the North Downs Escarpment within this Borough, from Pebble Coombe Hill in the west to Alderstead Heath in the east. The main purpose of designation, is to conserve and enhance the natural beauty and the traditional landscapes of the area. This includes protecting flora, fauna, geological as well as landscape features.
3.2 Complementing the AONB are landscape areas of county significance with sufficient visual quality to merit special protection. The County Council is responsible for the designation of Areas of Great Landscape Value (AGLVs) and reviewed the boundaries in 1983 to include additional tracts of countryside, including areas within this Borough. The major areas designated as AGLVs include land on the dip slope of the North Downs at Walton and Banstead Heaths, Kingswood, Chipstead Valley, Banstead Wood, and Hooley. Additionally, the Reigate Heath area forms part of an AGLV.
3.3 Recreational demands arising from proximity to London and the completion of the M23/M25 network bring greater pressure to bear on these areas. In addition, they are vulnerable to the changing economic situation in agriculture. The large number of voluntary bodies and land owners active in these areas together with a wide range of recreational pursuits gives rise to conflicting interests and organisational problems in meeting the objectives of designation. The Borough Council will therefore seek, through discussion and voluntary agreements with interested parties, to ensure that pressures for change are managed and co-ordinated in the interests of conservation of the landscape.
Policy Pc 1
The Borough Council will protect the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Areas of Great Landscape Value, as shown on the Proposals Map, from inappropriate development, and will promote measures for the conservation and enhancement of the landscape. Major proposals for development within these areas would normally be inconsistent with the aims of designation. To aid proper consideration they must be accompanied by an appropriate appraisal of their environmental impact.
When considering applications for development in these areas the Borough Council will apply the following criteria:-
(i) there will be a general presumption against any development other than to meet the essential requirements of agriculture, forestry or informal recreation, and development provided for in Policies Ho 24, Ho 24A and Ho 26. Mineral working and waste disposal may be acceptable where no suitable alternative sites are available outside the designated areas and where the need for development outweighs environmental and other relevant considerations;
(ii) special care will be afforded to the siting, scale, impact and design of any development which may be permitted to ensure that it is in keeping with the surrounding landscape. In particular:-
(a) the design, materials, siting and screening of new farm buildings should be compatible with the landscape; and
(b) where proposals are made by statutory undertakers, the Borough Council will ensure that the interests of visual amenity are a key consideration in siting and design.
Within these areas, the Borough Council will promote conservation and enhancement by: -
(i) encouraging the management of open spaces and public rights of way for nature conservation and informal recreational use to ensure that visitors are accommodated without detriment to the environment;
(ii) ensuring that where intrusive development or uses are to the detriment of amenity, action will be taken to improve the environment and extinguish such uses, where practicable;
(iii) the grant aiding of tree planting and conservation schemes taking into account nature conservation;
(iv) the promotion of joint action with private interests, including the management of land by agreement to take account of landscape, conservation and other objectives.
Particular regard will be paid to the provisions of this policy in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in recognition of its national importance.
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) shown on the Proposals Map:
Areas of Great Landscape Value (AGLVs) shown on the Proposals Map:
(1) The winning of minerals will normally only be permitted where there is an overriding economic necessity. If permitted special landscaping measures will be required to ensure the protection of the landscape and agreements and conditions will be imposed to require full restoration .
(2) Informal recreation will be encouraged where no damage would result to the landscape. The Borough Council will endeavour to secure improved public access to recreational areas (see Policy Re 8). Formal recreation and associated facilities are normally inappropriate to the aim of protecting natural beauty.
(3) Where "permitted development" is considered to threaten the quality of the landscape or nature conservation interest, the Borough Council will consider the use of Article 4 Directions in order to bring such development under planning control.
(4) Without careful control, advertisements can severely detract from areas of otherwise good landscape. Those parts of the Borough subject to Green Belt Policy in 1972 were designated an area of special control of advertisements, and this places additional restrictions on the types of advertisement that may be displayed without consent. A review is now necessary but the statutory procedures and requirements for consultation need to be carried out separately from the procedures leading to the adoption of this Plan.
(5) Much of the North Downs escarpment is owned by the National Trust, while the Borough Council also owns a substantial tract around Reigate Hill. The National Trust and the Borough Council, together with the County Council who are responsible for managing the North Downs Way, co-operate in managing the land in this area, which is subject to increasing visitor pressure (see Policy Pc 5).
(6) Specific conservation works and recreation projects, where consistent with the conservation of natural beauty, may be subject to grant aid. Grant aid may also be available for tree planting schemes (see section on Woodlands and Trees). Such schemes should not encroach on existing viewpoints or vistas, but should enhance them or help to create new ones.
(7) In AONBs, some permitted development rights are reduced and others withdrawn entirely, so that some types of normally minor development remain subject to scrutiny by the planning system. AGLVs however, have no direct statutory implications for the planning process in terms of any limitations of permitted development rights, but serve to highlight particularly important features of the countryside that should be taken into account in planning decisions.
3.4 Introduction: The European Union developed a Habitats Directive to meet the commitments made at the Rio Summit. This Directive was adopted in May 1992. It builds on work already done under the 1979 Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds (the “Birds Directive”). The Habitats Directive lists habitats and plant and animal species that are of European Importance because of their vulnerability or their rarity. Those that are particularly threatened are singled out as Priority Habitats or Species.
3.5 The Habitats and Birds Directives require the establishment of a series of sites, the Natura 2000 series. The Natura 2000 network of protected sites will consist of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) designated under the Habitats Directive and Special Protection Areas designated under the Birds Directive. Special Areas of Conservation (SAC’s) are the best examples of all the listed habitats and species occurring in this country.
3.6 The Secretary of State may only give consent for development which significantly damages a Natura 2000 site for reasons of overriding public interest or, in the case of a priority habitat or species, for reasons of human health or public safety. Guidance on the effect of the Habitats Directive on development control procedures is available in the Government’s Planning Policy Guidance Note, PPG 9: Nature Conservation.
3.7 There is one SAC in the Borough within the Mole Gap to Reigate Escarpment Site of Special Scientific Interest.
3.8 Purpose: To ensure the protection of existing and future cSACs and SACs in the Borough.
Policy Pc 2A
The site, as shown on the Proposals Map and listed in Appendix 2 is a Special Areas of Conservation. Development which would affect, directly or indirectly, a SAC or a cSAC will be subject to the most rigorous examination. Development or land use change within or adjoining a SAC or cSAC, which is not an integral part of an acceptable management regime and which is likely to have detrimental effects on the site (either individually or in combination with other plans or projects), will not be permitted unless there are imperative reasons of over-riding public interest for the development or land use change.
Where the site concerned hosts a priority natural habitat type and/or a priority species, development or land use change will only be permitted if it can be shown that:
(i) it is necessary for reasons of human health or public safety: or
(ii) would be beneficial to the conservation of recognised habitat.
Development proposals will be expected to be accompanied by a full environmental appraisal of the scheme. Where such development does proceed conditions or planning obligations will be used where appropriate to secure all compensatory measures necessary to ensure that the overall coherence of Natura 2000 is protected.
(1) The Borough Council will consult English Nature on proposals affecting any SAC or cSAC.
3.9 Introduction: Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) are notified by English Nature as being areas of outstanding value for their plants, animals, geological or physiological features. SSSIs are nationally important places for nature conservation and include the best examples of particular habitats and/or localities of rare species, or important concentrations of animals and plants. SSSIs, along with SACs and cSACs, are given the highest level of protection. There are 4 SSSIs within the Borough.
3.10 Purpose: To identify and protect SSSIs from development which would adversely effect their nature conservation value.
Policy Pc 2B
The sites, as shown on the Proposals Map and listed in Appendix 2 are identified as Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Proposals for development in or likely to affect these sites will be subject to special scrutiny. Within or adjoining SSSIs, development will only be permitted if:
(i) it does not adversely effect the interests of nature conservation; or
(ii) 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.
Proposals for development within or adjoining SSSIs must be accompanied by an appropriate appraisal of their environmental impact. Any damage resulting from a permitted development should be kept to a minimum, and appropriate compensation for any harm caused should be undertaken within or adjacent to the site proposed for development.
(1) Planning applications which involve land within or in the wider setting of SSSIs must be accompanied by an appropriate Environmental Assessment of their environmental impact. Local Authorities have a statutory duty to notify English Nature of applications within or that may affect SSSIs and will also consult the Surrey Wildlife Trust.
(2) Where development is permitted conditions or planning obligations will be used where appropriate to ensure the protection, management and enhancement of the site’s nature conservation interest.
(3) For detailed information, reference should be made to the Code for Guidance for SSSIs pursuant to Section 33 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981(as amended)..
(4) Appropriate enhancement measures will be encouraged in SSSIs. Any action is likely to be co-ordinated through Management Plans.
3.11 Introduction: The 1994 Plan stated that sites then identified as Areas of High Ecological Quality (AHEQs) would be subject to further investigation by the Surrey Wildlife Trust. Subsequently, the SNCI designation has taken over from AHEQs as the nationally recognised term for nature conservation sites of county significance. Accordingly, a phased programme of research and site survey has now been completed by the Trust, to assess eligibility for SNCI status.
3.12 SNCIs are of County wildlife importance and have been selected by the Surrey Nature Conservation Liaison Group. Each site has been surveyed by the Surrey Wildlife Trust and found to satisfy criteria to assess flora and fauna based on national guidelines. The Borough Council has identified 36 SNCIs.
3.13 Purpose: To identify SNCI sites throughout the Borough to secure their protection and implementation through appropriate management.
Policy Pc 2C
The sites, as shown on the Proposals Map and listed in Appendix 2, are identified as Sites of Nature Conservation Importance.
Development within or adjoining SNCIs or that would effect the nature conservation value of an SNCI will only be permitted if:
(i) it does not materially harm the nature conservation value or wildlife interest of the site
(ii) it can be clearly demonstrated that the reasons for the proposal outweigh the harm to the nature conservation value or wildlife interest of the site.
(1) Proposals for development within or adjoining these areas must be accompanied by an appropriate appraisal of their environmental impact. Any damage from a permitted development should be kept to a minimum.
(2) The advice of the Surrey Wildlife Trust will be sought on applications for development affecting SNCIs.
(3) In appropriate cases, Planning Obligations and conditions will be used to secure the enhancement, management, protection or limitation of damage including compensatory measures, to the above sites. Appropriate compensation for any harm caused should be undertaken within or adjacent to the site proposed for development.
(4) The Borough Council will encourage and co-ordinate appropriate advice to landowners to manage and maintain the nature conservation value of SNCIs on their land.
(5) SNCI sites will benefit from the management expertise of the two Countryside Management Projects active within the Borough, which involve volunteers from within the local community.
3.14 Introduction: While SNCIs have been surveyed and found to satisfy criteria based on national guidelines, potential SNCIs have not been surveyed either because it was not possible to identify the landowner and gain their permission to survey or access to the site was not granted. However, on the basis of the information available, it is likely that some of these sites contain flora or fauna of County nature conservation importance. Should there be proposals on or adjacent to such sites, a proper site survey will be necessary to establish its true nature conservation value.
3.15 The Borough Council has identified 33 potential SNCIs.
3.16 Purpose: To identify potential Sites of Nature Conservation Importance and to ensure their protection and implementation through appropriate management.
Policy Pc 2D
The sites, as shown on the Proposals Map and listed in Appendix 2, are identified as potential Sites of Nature Conservation Importance.
Development within or affecting the potential SNCI will only be permitted if:
(i) it can be demonstrated that it will not materially harm the nature conservation value or wildlife interest of the sites; or
(ii) it can be clearly demonstrated that the reasons for the proposal outweigh the harm to the nature conservation value or wildlife interest of the site.
(1) In considering development proposals which are likely to effect potential Sites of Nature Conservation Importance and 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 on the nature conservation or wildlife interests of the site.
(2) Access to the potential Site of Nature Conservation Importance will be essential in order to assess its value.
(3) In considering development proposals on potential SNCIs it will be helpful for an applicant to submit accompanying material on the nature conservation value of the site, prepared by a specialist consultant or other competent person or body. This will have the effect of reducing the time required by the Surrey Wildlife Trust to assess the site. However, access to the site will still be required.
(4) Proposals for development within or adjoining potential SNCIs must be accompanied by an appropriate appraisal of their environmental impact. Any damage from permitted development should be kept to a minimum and appropriate compensation for any harm should be undertaken within or adjacent to the site proposed for development.
(5) The opportunity will be taken, in appropriate cases, to secure enhancements, management or protection of sites through Planning Obligations or Conditions.
(6) The Borough Council will encourage and coordinate appropriate advice to landowners to manage and maintain the nature conservation value of such sites.
3.17 Introduction: The National Parks & Access to the Countryside Act 1949 (section 21) provided the statutory basis for the designation of Local Nature Reserves (LNRs). Unlike NNRs and SSSIs the selection, declaration and management of LNRs is a function of local authorities in consultation with English Nature and the local community. They serve a more local function and provide opportunities for urban communities to experience nature on their doorstep and possibly to become involved in its management. The Borough Council has identified three proposed Local Nature Reserves at Horley which are to be safeguarded until the formal declaration process is completed. There are currently two declared LNRs within the Borough at Earlswood Common and at Reigate Heath.
3.18 Purpose: To identify declared and proposed LNR sites and to secure their protection and implementation through appropriate management.
Policy Pc 2E
The sites, as shown on the Proposals Map and listed in Appendix 2, are identified as declared and proposed Local Nature Reserves (LNRs):
Development will only be permitted within or affecting declared and proposed LNRs if it can be demonstrated that:
(i) it will not adversely affect the interests of nature conservation and wildlife on the site, or:
(ii) there are reasons for the proposal which clearly outweigh the need to safeguard the intrinsic nature conservation or community value of the site or feature.
(1) Proposals for development within or adjoining declared and proposed Local Nature Reserves must be accompanied by an appropriate appraisal of their environmental impact. Any damage from permitted development should be kept to a minimum and appropriate compensation for any harm should be undertaken within or adjacent to the site proposed for development.
(2) The proposed Local Nature Reserves currently identified are non-statutory in that they have not as yet formed part of a formal agreement with English Nature. It is intended that the sites will be put forward for consultation with English Nature and other relevant bodies and then formal designation. English Nature can advise on the conservation value of a site in terms of its wildlife and geological features, and the minimum conservation area required to support the plants and creatures which make the site significant. English Nature can also give discretionary grants, technical and management advice. The Borough Council must either have entered into an agreement with all the owners of the land or have acquired the land but it does not have to manage the site itself. The Sewage Works element of the Lee Street LNR will need to be the subject of further discussions with Thames Water Utilities.
(3) The advice of the Surrey Wildlife Trust will be sought on applications for development affecting declared and proposed LNRs.
(4) In appropriate cases the opportunity will be taken to secure enhancement, management or protection of the above sites via planning obligations or conditions. The Borough Council will encourage and coordinate appropriate advice to landowners to manage and maintain the nature conservation value of SNCIs on their land.
(5) It is anticipated that the proposed LNR sites in Horley will benefit from the management expertise of the Gatwick Greenspace Partnership which actively involves volunteers from within the local community. The management of other proposed LNR sites will depend upon the establishment of local community groups and the agreement of the relevant landowner/s.
3.19 Introduction: There are 3 RIGS within the Borough - Lavender Sand Pit, Cockshot Hill, Reigate; Tunnel Road, Reigate; and Park Lane, Reigate. RIGS are non-statutory designations given to sites identified as having geological importance. They are effectively a geological equivalent of an SNCI.
3.20 Purpose: To protect existing RIGS and to identify further sites throughout the Borough to secure their protection and implementation through appropriate management.
Policy Pc 2F
The sites, as shown on the Proposals Map, and listed in Appendix 2, are identified as Regionally Important Geological Sites. Development and land use change within or adjacent to RIGS will only be permitted if:
(i) it does not materially harm the geological value of the site:
(ii) unless it can be clearly demonstrated that there are reasons for the proposal which clearly outweigh the need to safeguard the intrinsic geological value of the site or feature
(1) Proposals for development within or adjoining RIGS must be accompanied by an appropriate appraisal of their environmental impact. Any damage from permitted development should be kept to a minimum and appropriate compensation for any harm should be undertaken within or adjacent to the site proposed for development.
(2) Surrey RIGS Group will be consulted on proposals affecting a RIGS.
(3) Where development is permitted conditions or planning obligations will be used where appropriate to ensure the protection, management and enhancement of the site’s geological interest.
3.21 Introduction: Wildlife is not confined solely to designated sites but is found throughout the Borough in a variety of locations which may be within the urban area or the countryside. For instance, ponds and ancient woodland can provide important habitats in their own right, while features such as hedgerows and watercourses can act as links between one habitat and another.
3.22 New wildlife habitats in both rural and urban areas can be of considerable landscape and local interest as well as of conservation value. Many major developments offer opportunities to create new habitats by retaining and enhancing existing features and creating new features such as ponds and hedgerows. The Surrey Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) identifies targets and actions for priority habitats and species in Surrey and delivers actions through partnership working. The aims of the Surrey BAP are to conserve and enhance the biological diversity of Surrey and contribute to conserving and enhancing both national and international biodiversity.
3.23 Purpose: To protect the distinctive habitats and nature conservation interest of the Borough.
Policy Pc 2G
The retention and enhancement of sites and features, including trees, woodlands, hedgerows, ponds, ditches, streams and other forms of wildlife corridor which contribute to the local diversity and nature conservation interest of the area, will be considered in any development proposals. The damage or loss of these features will be resisted.
Proposals affecting sites valuable for nature conservation must include sufficient information to demonstrate their impact on the site’s valuable features. Where appropriate the creation of new areas of conservation value in development proposals are welcomed.
(1) Where it is evident that a development proposal will affect a habitat or feature which is of particular local importance for nature conservation, the views of the Surrey Wildlife Trust will be sought.
(2) As well as seeking the retention of these sites and features, measures to enhance and positively manage them are welcomed.
(3) Where development is permitted conditions or planning obligations will be used where appropriate to ensure the protection, management and enhancement of the site’s nature conservation interest.
3.24 A notable feature of the Borough is the variety of woodland habitats, including copses, downland, wooded heath, hedgerows and Ancient Woodland. Not only are these visually pleasing, but they can also be valuable for recreational pursuits, or simply their ecological variety.
3.25 Achieving a sound balance between the various and sometimes conflicting objectives of woodland management is difficult and requires consideration of, amongst other things, timber production, landscape conservation, wildlife conservation, recreation and amenity. The majority of woodlands in the Borough are privately owned by those for whom woodland management is subsidiary to their main occupation.The Borough Council has limited influence over woodland policy and its powers are essentially protective. In particular the Borough Council may make Tree Preservation Orders on individual or groups of trees, or woodlands where the amenity of an area is threatened (see also Policy Pc 4).
3.26 It was estimated in 1988 that 32% of ancient semi-natural woodland in Surrey has been lost since 1920. Clearance for agriculture and urban development, together with coniferisation, have been responsible. The former Nature Conservancy Council (in its "Provisional Inventory of Ancient Woodland in Surrey" (1988) stated that: "The existing, unplanted vegetation of ancient woods, the associated animal life, the undisturbed soil and drainage patterns, historical features and characteristic landscapes comprise an irreplaceable asset of great importance to nature conservation which once destroyed can never be recreated. It is essential that as much as possible of the remaining ancient woodland area is protected and sympathetically managed." In addition to protecting Ancient Woodlands, tree loss and damage generally, as a result of the storm of October 1987, reinforces the need for a positive approach to additional planting in the Borough.
Policy Pc 3
The Borough Council will seek to retain the Ancient Woodland sites, as shown on the Proposals Map, and other sites identified as Ancient Woodlands, and will encourage the positive management of such sites in the interests of nature conservation. Generally, the Borough Council, in conjunction with the Forestry Commission, will seek to retain all existing woodlands and actively promote a larger extent of woodland by the encouragement of appropriate planting. There will be a general presumption in favour of the planting of broadleaf species.
(1) The Forestry Commission grant aids large and small scale tree and woodland planting and management. Such actions would generally be in accordance with their respective policy guidance "Guidelines for the Management of Broadleaved Woodland" and "Forestry in the Countryside". This planting would be expected to encourage the use of broadleaved species of trees in most circumstances.
(2) Afforestation, the large scale planting of trees on previously open land, would be expected to accord with landscape and nature conservation requirements throughout the Borough, especially within areas of designated landscape value. Farm woodland schemes might be a possible option for afforestation schemes during the present "climate" of agricultural diversification.
(3) The grant aiding of specific conservation works and recreation projects, where consistent with approved conservation policies, is also undertaken by the CountrysideAgency, or the County Council on its behalf. Sites over 0.25 hectares would usually be eligible for Forestry Commission grant aid for tree planting and below this size the County Council would be responsible for grant aid and advice.
(4) The Forestry Commission consults the Borough Council on felling licence applications. These are normally required when a proposal to fell growing trees exceeds more than 5 cubic metres in any calendar quarter. There are exemptions to the felling licence requirements, including those trees located in gardens, orchards, churchyards or public open spaces. However, where tree preservation orders or conservation area status applies, the statutory procedures still operate. In its consultations with the Forestry Commission on both felling licence applications and woodland grant schemes, the Borough Council will seek to ensure that landscape, nature conservation, recreational and other amenity considerations are taken fully into account.
3.27 Trees, individually or in groups, areas or woodlands make a particularly valuable contribution to the visual amenity of the Borough. A great deal of the charm and character of both townscape and landscape are the result of the presence of trees. Planning legislation provides various types of protection for trees, namely Tree Preservation Orders; protection within conservation areas and the use of planning conditions. Since 1997 countryside hedges have also been protected under the Hedgerow Regulations which control their removal, and safeguard important hedges according to various criteria including age, history and nature conservation.
3.28 These planning controls protect many thousands of trees within the Borough. There are nearly 1000 Tree Preservation Orders (2005) and a programme of making further orders is currently on-going. There are 17 Conservation Areas (2005) designated for their architectural or historical merit and tree protection is an added benefit arising from their designation. Planning conditions can, amongst other things, provide protection for existing trees during the construction period of a development or require tree planting as part of a landscaping scheme. The breach of these controls can render those responsible liable to legal proceedings.
3.29 Tree Preservation Orders are imposed primarily to protect trees and woodlands of current or future visual amenity value. The protected status of trees controls work to them, through statutorily required procedures to sanction such work. The properly administered Tree Preservation Order, or other protection, should provide for all reasonable tree work provided the optimum amenity value is maintained and proposed work is consistent with good arboricultural or silvicultural practice. Tree Preservation Orders may particularly be used where a threat is perceived to trees of amenity value.
3.30 Particular emphasis is given to the retention of existing trees in the consideration of all planning applications, and good design is encouraged to allow the effective and optimum retention of trees. Past experience has demonstrated that, unfortunately, even where an acceptable design has been achieved the protection of trees in the construction period is often inadequate. Damage, permanent decline and death of trees can follow. Soil compaction in the root spread areas of retained trees and root severance by the construction of underground services are major causes of harm to trees on development sites and the Borough Council will expect particular care to be taken by developers.
Policy Pc 4
The Borough Council will protect, conserve and enhance the tree cover in the Borough through the use of development control powers, its own resources where available, and by the making of Tree Preservation Orders.
The Borough Council will require compliance with the latest arboricultural and silvicultural standards in respect of any tree works or development near to trees.
(1) The Borough Council encourages the use of arboricultural consultants in the design of new developments. Developers will normally be required to provide details of all the existing trees on a site, including their positions, height, canopy spread, species, and condition, and works to be undertaken including felling, pruning or ground level changes. Adequate space is necessary for the effective retention of trees to ensure their acceptability to future occupants and allow for future growth and avoid nuisance or undue shading to new buildings. Additional planting will generally be required as part of the landscaping treatment.
(2) Relevant arboricultural and silvicultural standards are published in British Standards: No. 3998: 1989, "Recommendations for Tree Works BS 5837:2005 Trees in Relation to Construction and any revisions thereof.
(3) Inevitably mature trees have to be felled because of disease and decay. However, when protected trees are felled for whatever reason, appropriate replacement planting will normally be required. As "one for one" replacement will not maintain the Borough's tree cover in the long term, additional numbers of replacement trees will be sought, where appropriate.
3.31 Increasing concern with the issues of the urban fringe in the 1970s led to the view that positive management of the countryside could solve a number of problems simultaneously. Countryside management is based on the proposition that the aims and conduct of individual managers of land can be modified to accommodate the wishes of other users and the public at large by agreement with owners and occupiers. In essence schemes constitute activities outside the conventional land use planning scheme and normally involve the employment of a project officer.
3.32 Countryside management can also resolve conflicts elsewhere between wildlife and landscape interests, and recreation and farming, particularly where there is over-use by, for example, horse riders, walkers or parked cars. The large areas of informal open space in the north of the Borough comprising common land and woodland and large areas on the North Downs ridge are owned and managed by various bodies. To ensure the best use and improvement of these areas emphasis will be placed on co-operation between the Borough Council and other owners and interested parties. The Borough Council recognises the value of the Downlands Management Project and the Gatwick Greenspace Partnership and will continue to support them.
Policy Pc 5
The Borough Council will seek the co-operation of managers and landowners, through management agreements, to ensure the best use and enhancement of the countryside for appropriate informal recreational use, the extension and improvement of public rights of way and nature conservation.
The Borough Council will participate in, or initiate, countryside management schemes where required and will continue to support the Downlands Management Project and the Gatwick Greenspace Partnership.
(1) The Borough Council works closely with the National Trust in the management of their various Reigate Hill properties, which adjoin those owned by the Borough Council. As these properties are situated in the AONB and include a large SSSI, the Borough Council will investigate the need for additional management measures appropriate to these and the adjoining properties to the north.
(2) The Downlands Countryside Management Project was established in 1988 and its area of operation covers north east Surrey and adjoining parts of south London. The project is supported by the Borough Council, Surrey County Council, the London Borough Councils of Sutton and Croydon, the Corporation of London, Tandridge District Council and English Nature.
(3) The Gatwick Greenspace Partnership was established in 1994 as the Horley Crawley Countryside Management Project. Its area of operation covers Horley, Charlwood, Horsham and Crawley, as well as Gatwick Airport. The partnership is supported by the Borough Council, Surrey and West Sussex County Councils, Crawley Borough Council, Horsham and Mole Valley District Councils, Horley Town Council and BAA Gatwick.
3.33 As part of the overall strategy of maintaining the character of the established urban areas and protecting them from over-intensive development, the Borough Council considers it important to retain open land which contributes to the quality of life and visual amenity in such areas. In particular woodland, natural habitats, grassed and open areas will be retained.
3.34 Policy E4 of the Surrey Structure Plan 1989 stated that land which makes, or can make, a particularly significant contribution to the character and environmental quality of an urban area, or provides for essential social or community uses, should be protected from development. The Structure Plan 1994 also contains a similar policy. The Borough Council considers that the linkages between such areas of land are also important, and that buildings set in open grounds can also make such a contribution.
3.35 Areas of urban open land should normally be of sufficient size to possess an identifiable and distinctive character and a need for protection, and would normally include public and private recreation areas and allotments, cemeteries and gardens of remembrance, woodland areas, ponds and watercourses, schools with grounds, detached school playing fields, other social and community sites such as churches, hospitals and other establishments with grounds, other amenity areas of significant character due to their landscape, wildlife, archaeological or historic interest, together with areas which otherwise contribute to the visual amenity of the area. Those areas which are too small to be readily identified on a 1/10,000 scale map, including highway land, incidental housing estate amenity areas, and manor waste, are not shown on the Proposals Map. However, the development of such land will be considered against the policy.
Policy Pc 6
The Borough Council will normally resist the loss of Urban Open Land, as shown on the Proposals Map.
Proposals for the development of other open land within urban areas will only be permitted, if:-
(i) such land does not make a significant contribution to the recreational, community, ecological or amenity value of the area; and
(ii) it would not conflict with the policies of this Plan.
Proposals for ancillary buildings or for the extension or replacement of existing buildings included within Urban Open Land, will be considered against the appropriate design and layout policy, the contribution that the area of Urban Open Land makes to the character and visual amenity of the locality and to the functioning of any essential social, community or educational use.
(1) The scarcity value of Urban Open Land in any neighbourhood will be an overriding factor, and the absence of access to the general public or neglect would not preclude its continued protection.
(2) The existence of other protectionist policies or specific open space proposals in this Plan covering an area of Urban Open Land would be an additional presumption in favour of its continued protection.
(3) Whilst loss of Urban Open Land will be resisted, it is recognised that exceptionally a limited amount of ancillary development may be acceptable on Urban Open Land, such as pavilions on school grounds and land used for other social or community purposes, where this meets legitimate operational requirements.
(4) In the exercise of this policy there may be instances where an exchange of land would directly improve the provision and distribution of open space within the locality and so enable Urban Open Land to be released for development.
3.36 Policy Pc 7 has now become part of the Riverside Green Chain in Policy Hr 38 in Chapter 14.
3.37 Ancient Monuments are buildings or earthworks of historical, architectural, artistic or archaeological importance. The Borough contains 21 such sites ranging from barrows to the site of a former castle (2005).
3.38 Other sites of archaeological interest in the Borough have been identified by the County Council. Additional sites may be added as a result of further studies by the County Council and other agencies. However, finds may also be made unexpectedly in the course of development, e.g. new roads, mineral extraction, redevelopment or farming. In some cases preservation may not always be possible, or even essential, and excavation to record the evidence may be sufficient. In these circumstances the Borough Council will co-operate with the appropriate organisations to arrange for the investigation and recording of such remains as part of the development control process.
Policy Pc 8
The Borough Council, in conjunction with English Heritage and Surrey County Council, will identify, protect and preserve scheduled Ancient Monuments, their settings, and County Sites of Archaeological Importance. The Borough Council will also encourage the management and interpretation of such sites to develop their educational and recreational potential.
The Borough Council, in conjunction with Surrey County Council, will identify Areas of High Archaeological Potential. When such areas are affected by development proposals, the Borough Council will require field evaluation providing for proper and timely preservation or recording.
Where large scale developments occur outside known Areas of High Archaeological Potential, the Borough Council will require an Archaeological Assessment to be submitted, together with the planning application, and may require an agreed scheme for investigation, monitoring and recording.
(1) The County Archaeologist, together with local societies, will normally be allowed access to sites in advance of construction works taking place.
(2) Archaeological work is expensive particularly where it needs to be done quickly. The Borough and County Councils will look to developers to ensure that a proper record can be made of anything which cannot be retained in situ.
(4) The Borough Council has published a list of all Ancient Monuments, County Sites of Archaeological Importance and Areas of High Archaeological Potential as supplementary planning guidance.
3.39 It is important that those buildings which contribute to the historic, architectural and visual character throughout the Borough are preserved and safeguarded from unsympathetic change. Protection is afforded to the buildings that are included in the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. They may not be demolished or altered in any way that would affect their character without specific permission known as Listed Building Consent. The list is divided into three gradings:- Grade I, buildings of outstanding national interest, Grade II*, important buildings of more than special interest and Grade II, buildings of special interest.
3.40 There are some 428 Statutory Listed Buildings in the Borough (5 of which are Grade I and 18 of which are Grade II*) (2005). The items listed range from coal tax posts, milestones and cattle troughs, to three Grade I churches, Reigate Priory and Tadworth Court.
3.41 There will be a strong presumption against the demolition of any Listed Building, except in the most exceptional circumstances, and the Borough Council will seek to ensure that the existing stock of Listed Buildings is well maintained. The character of Listed Buildings and their contribution to the townscape or landscape can be severely damaged by insensitive alteration, extension or adjoining development. Therefore, through the exercise of its development control powers the Borough Council will ensure that any alteration or extension to a Listed Building, or development which would affect the setting of a Listed Building, is of the highest possible design, and fully complements the existing building. In certain circumstances a relaxation of normal planning standards and building regulations may be appropriate.
Policy Pc 9
The Borough Council will seek to retain and preserve the stock of Listed Buildings on the Statutory List and will apply the following criteria in relation to proposals affecting them:-
(i) the demolition of Listed Buildings or removal of their features of character will be resisted;
(ii) alterations and additions to Listed Buildings will only be permitted where these respect and reflect the scale, design, materials, colour and other character aspects of the building concerned;
(iii) proposals for new development, including alterations and additions, and changes of use should not detract from the character or setting of Listed Buildings;
(iv) the relaxation of planning standards and building regulations may be considered where these would assist the preservation of Listed Buildings; and
(v) advertisements affixed to a Listed Building, legitimately used for commercial purposes, will be expected to be unilluminated, of a modest nature and fully complementary to the character of the building.
Planning applications and applications for Listed Building Consent must be supported by sufficient detailed information of the proposed development and/or alterations to allow proper consideration of the effects on the Listed Building.
(1) The Borough Council has published a List of Buildings of Architectural or Historic Interest. It differentiates between buildings on the Statutory List, which are protected by the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act, and those which are protected by other legislation or are locally listed.
(2) Early consultation with the Borough Council is recommended for all works affecting Listed Buildings before submission of any formal application for building works or grant aid.
(3) The Borough Council has powers to serve "notice" on an owner of an unoccupied Listed Building requiring works to be undertaken sufficient to ensure that the property is wind and weather proof in order to prevent unnecessary deterioration. Where it is considered that a Listed Building is not properly preserved, the Borough Council may serve on the owner a "repairs notice" specifying works necessary for the proper preservation of the building. If the specified works are not carried out, compulsory purchase proceedings may be commenced. These measures will normally only be used as a last resort, and the Borough Council will normally seek, by persuasion and advice, to ensure the proper maintenance of Listed Buildings.
(4) The best use for a Listed Building is the use for which it was designed and built and, wherever possible, this original use, particularly if it is a residential use, should continue. However, where the Borough Council is satisfied that a change to another use is the only realistic means of ensuring the retention of a building, exceptions may be allowed. It is equally important, however, that Listed Buildings are not used for purposes which would detract from or be detrimental to their character, appearance or setting.
(5) Where a Listed Building is totally destroyed by fire or other accidental cause, there would generally be no requirement for rebuilding in replica, unless the building formed part of a contemporary group or terrace. In the case of partial destruction, reinstatement would need to fully respect the character of the building in terms of design and materials used.
3.42 The Borough Council, with the assistance of the County Council and local organisations, has compiled a comprehensive list of buildings of local interest to supplement the Statutory List. It currently comprises about 528 buildings and structures (2005). The Borough Council will seek to ensure that all buildings of local architectural or historic interest are not demolished and their inherent qualities are taken into account in considering proposals which may affect them.
Policy Pc 10
The Borough Council has established and will maintain a list of Buildings of Local Architectural or Historic Interest. The Borough Council will apply the following criteria to planning applications affecting them:-
(i) the demolition of Locally Listed Buildings or removal of their features of character will be resisted;
(ii) alterations and additions to Locally Listed Buildings will only be approved if they respect and reflect the scale, design, materials, colour and other character aspects of the building concerned;
(iii) proposals for new development, including alterations, additions and changes of use, should not detract from the character or setting of Locally Listed Buildings;
(iv) the relaxation of planning standards and building regulations may be considered if it would assist the preservation of Locally Listed Buildings; and
(v) advertisements fixed to a Locally Listed Building, legitimately used for commercial purposes, will be expected to be unilluminated of a modest nature and complementary to the character of the building.
Planning applications must be supported by sufficient details of the proposed development and/or alterations to allow proper consideration of the effects on the Locally Listed Buildings.
(1) Early consultation with the Borough Council is recommended for all works affecting Locally Listed Buildings before any formal application for building works or grant aid.
(2) The Borough Council has published and will maintain a List of Buildings of Local Architectural or Historic Interest, as supplementary planning guidance.
(3) The best use of a Locally Listed Building is the use for which it was designed and built and, wherever possible, this original use, particularly if it is a residential use, should continue. However, where the Borough Council is satisfied that a change to another use is the only realistic means of ensuring the retention of a building, exceptions may be allowed. It is equally important however, that Locally Listed Buildings are not used for purposes which would detract from their character, appearance or setting.
3.43 There are a number of gardens in the Borough which are considered to be of special historic interest. Of these Reigate Priory is included in the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England, compiled by English Heritage. No additional planning controls apply to gardens or parks in the Register, but they receive special consideration if and when proposals for development in the area are contemplated. Others, both large and small in the urban areas and in the countryside, have been identified for detailed study and assessment. Additional sites may be added as a result of further studies by the County Council. The Borough Council recognises the importance of preserving such gardens as they form part of the Borough's Heritage, and will ensure that the character and appearance of such gardens and their settings are not destroyed by insensitive development.
Policy Pc 11
The Borough Council will seek to identify, protect and encourage the sensitive restoration of gardens of special historic interest within the Borough. Particular emphasis will be placed on the need to secure the preservation of those gardens which are considered to be most valuable by virtue of their contribution to the national heritage and scarcity.
In considering proposals affecting such sites, the Borough Council will ensure that the development does not detract from the character and appearance of the garden and that features of architectural and historic interest are preserved. Special attention will be given to the need to protect the setting of the garden and to prevent its unsympathetic sub-division.
(1) The Borough Council will seek the co-operation of owners and other interested parties in surveying historic gardens, with a view to encouraging their future management and restoration. Replanting of species of the period will be encouraged, where appropriate, and the Borough Council will seek the advice of the County Council's Historic Parks and Gardens Advisor on these matters. Development proposals affecting Historic Gardens should be accompanied by details of the likely effect on the garden and measures for its protection, restoration or enhancement
(2) The Borough Council has published a list of Historic Gardens, as supplementary planning guidance.
3.44 The Borough Council has powers to designate those areas considered to have special architectural or historic interest as Conservation Areas. The Borough's Conservation Areas not only preserve the best of the Borough's townscape and natural environment, but also illustrate its evolution and provide an historic framework for future development, where this is appropriate. There are seventeen Conservation Areas in the Borough (2005), ranging in size and variety from the architectural interest and historic importance of Reigate town centre to the rural setting and amenity value of Chipstead Pond and Church Green. These are shown on the Proposals Map. As the boundaries may be subject to change, the appropriate designation maps should be consulted.
3.45 There is an overall presumption in favour of the retention and conservation of individual buildings and features which contribute to the particular character of a Conservation Area, rather than their redevelopment, inappropriate alteration, or demolition. The Borough Council will use its development control powers in a positive manner in order to allow the area to remain alive and prosperous, but at the same time to ensure that any new development accords with its architectural and visual qualities.
3.46 Trees contribute to the character and amenities of Conservation Areas and it is important to secure their retention. Trees in Conservation Areas are specifically protected, and notice of intention to lop, top or fell a tree in a Conservation Area has to be given to the Borough Council, unless already protected by a Tree Preservation Order when a normal application is necessary.
Policy Pc 12
The Borough Council will resist the loss of buildings, trees and other features which are important to the character of Conservation Areas, and such areas will be preserved and enhanced by applying all the relevant policies of this Plan.
(1) Where the demolition of a building in a conservation area is proposed, full justification must be submitted to show why it is necessary that the demolition should be accepted. Demolition and redevelopment will only be permitted where the proposed replacement building would enhance and not detract from the appearance of the Conservation Area and does not include Listed Buildings, Locally Listed Buildings, or other features which currently make a significant contribution to the character of the area.
(2) When notice is given of the intention to fell, top or lop trees, the Borough Council will make a Tree Preservation Order where the contribution of the trees to the character and amenities of the Conservation Area is important (see also Policy Pc 4).
3.47 Wherever new buildings and alterations to existing buildings are permitted, the highest standard of design will be required. Outline planning applications will not normally be acceptable and applications should contain illustrative plans, including elevations, showing all aspects of the design and how it fits into its surroundings, together with details of materials to be used.
3.48 Proposals for new development in Conservation Areas will be considered in terms of the effect on the character of the area and whether or not it would serve to preserve or enhance that character. This would normally preclude large scale schemes, and the emphasis will be on the selective renewal of individual buildings which are not of any great architectural or historic merit or of any significant townscape merit.
3.49 Conservation Area boundaries should not be seen as lines of strong demarcation in planning policy. Buildings and sites adjoining Conservation Areas should receive a similar degree of design control, so as not to adversely affect the actual Conservation Area or its setting.
Policy Pc 13
All new development in Conservation Areas, including additions and extensions, will be carefully controlled in terms of design, scale, colour, materials, landscape setting and impact on the skyline in order to complement and enhance the character of the Conservation Area. There will be a strong preference for pitched roofs and traditional building forms and traditional materials.
Changes of use should not detract from the character of the Conservation Area particularly if residential property would be affected. New development in the vicinity of Conservation Areas should be designed to respect the character and setting of buildings within the Conservation Area.
Planning applications must be supported by sufficient detailed information of the proposed development to allow proper consideration of the effects on the Conservation Area.
(1) The Borough Council will encourage early consultation with all persons, organisations or statutory undertakers considering new works, repairs and maintenance, to assist in the achievement of Conservation Area aims.
(2) As the various Conservation Areas in the Borough differ considerably in size and character detailed policies to supplement this general policy will be formulated for individual areas, as necessary (see Policy Pc 14).
(3) Applications for consent to demolish a building in a Conservation Area in order to redevelop the site, even where the existing building is not of sufficient merit to justify retention, will not normally be granted unless accompanied by an acceptable detailed planning application for the proposed replacement which is available for determination at the same time.
(4) Changes of use which would have a detrimental effect on the amenities of the Conservation Area will not normally be permitted, especially those which generate noise or other associated nuisance. Existing uses of this type will be encouraged to relocate to more appropriate areas, rather than expand on existing sites. Where residential use predominates there will be a presumption against new uses which, by reason of their appearance or the noise and traffic which they generate, harm the character of the area and make it a less pleasant place in which to live.
(5) In exceptional circumstances directions under Article 4 of the General Permitted Development Order to restrict development rights under the order may be made, subject to the approval of the Secretary of State.
3.50 The Borough Council will prepare design guidance and promote conservation enhancement schemes where necessary. Contributions from other sources will be encouraged, e.g. amenity societies, and joint schemes implemented, where appropriate. The boundaries of existing Conservation Areas and the need for further designations will be kept under review, in consultation with the County Council and local societies.
Policy Pc 14
The Borough Council will prepare supplementary planning guidance for development in Conservation Areas, and policies and proposals for the enhancement of each Conservation Area. The Borough Council will consider designating further Conservation Areas where the overall character or architectural or historic interest of an area is of sufficient quality.
(1) Supplementary planning guidance has already been published providing design criteria for new shopfronts and the treatment of advertisements on historic buildings and in Conservation Areas.
(2) Schemes to improve and enhance Conservation Areas could include enforcing the tidying of sites, the elimination of unsightly advertising, the relocation of inappropriate land uses, and re-routing undesirable traffic movements.
(3) Positive upgrading would involve renovating neglected buildings, landscaping and tree planting, provision of walls to link buildings and to screen unsightly areas, and rationalising street furniture and traffic signs.