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Guildford Borough Council

Draft Local Plan: strategy and sites 2014

1. Draft Local Plan strategy and sites - Strategic Policies and Appendices A to F

Policy 10: Green Belt and the countryside

4.120      Most of our open countryside is designated as part of the Metropolitan Green Belt that surrounds London. The main aim of Green Belt is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open. Green Belt also provides opportunities for people to access the countryside, to keep land for agriculture, forestry and similar land uses, and for nature conservation.

 4.121      The borough also has countryside near Ash and Tongham that is currently described as Countryside Beyond the Green Belt. This is a local designation and does not carry the same weight as Green Belt. Nevertheless, it is important that we positively manage growth in this area and prevent any inappropriate development.

POLICY 10: Green Belt and the countryside

We will continue to protect the Metropolitan Green Belt against inappropriate development in accordance with national planning policy to maintain its openness and open character. As required, we will use the NPPF to judge the suitability of development in the Green Belt, including those settlements not identified in Policy 9.

In the countryside not designated as Green Belt, only the following types of development will be permitted:

  • development which requires a countryside location or where a rural location can be justified; or
  • proposals for the reuse of existing rural buildings for employment, visitor accommodation or community use; or
  • appropriate expansion or redevelopment of existing buildings, where the need has been demonstrated and provided the development is proportionate to the nature and scale of the site, its setting and countryside location; or
  • small scale development to maintain and enhance the rural economy.

We will support sustainable rural tourism and leisure developments that benefit businesses, communities and visitors in rural areas as long as they respect the size, character and function of the countryside and comply with national policy on Green Belts.

We will support the development and diversification of agricultural and other land-based rural businesses. 

The Green Belt boundaries can be viewed on the Policies Map.


4.122   National planning policy sets out the fundamental aim, characteristics and purposes of the Green Belt. The Government attaches great importance to Green Belts and there is a general presumption against new development in the Green Belt. National planning policy includes guidance on the types of development that may be appropriate in the Green Belt, which we will use to determine all planning applications.

 4.123     National planning policy requires that Green Belt boundaries are only amended in exceptional circumstances and that this must be undertaken through the Local Plan process. Given the NPPF requirement to plan for enough sustainable development to meet our needs, we have undertaken a comprehensive review of our Green Belt boundary. This will enable us to demonstrate the level of development we consider we could accommodate whilst retaining the role and main purposes of the Green Belt. We have amended the Green Belt boundary to include the specific development sites around our urban and village settlement boundaries, and to accommodate the new free standing settlement at the former Wisley airfield, as set out in Site Allocation 66.

4.124    We also have a smaller amount of countryside, located outside the Green Belt, around Ash and Tongham in the west of the borough. As part of reviewing our Green Belt boundary, we have taken the opportunity to create new Green Belt on land that fulfils the main purposes. Based on the recommendations set out in the Green Belt and Countryside Study, we are designating additional Green Belt on land south of Tongham. This land fulfils the main purposes of the Green Belt well. The detailed boundary is shown in Appendix G. 

 4.125    National planning policy states that we should recognise the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside and support thriving rural communities within it. For this reason, we will seek to limit development in the countryside unless it has an essential need to be located there or contributes positively towards the rural economy. We will also seek to maintain the integrity of the strategic development gap that separates the Ash and Tongham urban area with neighbouring Aldershot.

 4.126     National planning policy states that we should support sustainable rural tourism and leisure developments, including the provision and expansion of visitor facilities in appropriate locations where identified needs are not met by existing facilities in rural service centres.

 4.127      The visitor economy is important to Guildford borough and the whole of the Enterprise M3 LEP area.  Tourism is a strong sector of the rural economy, and has high potential for further growth[1], and helps support the economic viability of rural services such as shops and pubs. SMEs and business start-up numbers are high in rural areas.  The Council will support sustainable rural tourism and leisure developments.

 4.128   Implementation of this policy will be through the Council’s development control process.

Monitoring Indicators

  • amount of development (by type) granted planning permission/completed in the Green Belt outside the identified villages and major previously developed sites
  • amount of development (by type) granted planning permission/completed in the countryside


 Key Evidence

  • Green Belt and Countryside Study
  • Guildford Borough Economic Strategy 2013–2031
  • The Enterprise M3 Strategic Economic Plan 2014-2020
  • The Enterprise M3 Delivery Plan 2014-2020


[1] The Economic Contribution of the Visitor Economy’, Deloitte and Oxford Economics, 2010  Enterprise M3 Strategy for Growth Strategy and Action Plan May 2013