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Guildford Borough Council

Submission Local Plan: Strategy and Sites - Main Modifications

Submission Local Plan: Strategy and Sites - Main Modifications - Part 1: Policies

Policy P3: Countryside


4.3.28 Part of the borough near Ash and Tongham consists of countryside that is not designated Green Belt. Whilst this land does not carry the same weight in the NPPF as Green Belt in terms of the inappropriateness of development, it is nevertheless important that we seek to manage growth in this area.

4.3.29 Originally consisting of the three small rural villages of Ash, Ash Vale and Tongham, the Ash and Tongham urban area has grown considerably in size and now forms Guildford borough's second largest urban area. Given its relative sustainability, countryside to the south and east of the urban area is allocated as a strategic location for development.

4.3.30 We do however wish to ensure that whilst accommodating this growth, we are able to protect the remaining countryside around it from inappropriate development.

4.3.31 The remaining land designated as countryside on the Policies Map lies immediately to the west and south of the urban area. It forms the boundary of the Blackwater Valley to the west and the A31 to the south. The Blackwater Valley contains the A331, which connects the A31 and Tongham in the south with Ash Vale in the north and Frimley beyond. It also provides an important open gap between Ash and Tongham, and the town of Aldershot to the west.

4.3.32 This area of countryside provides a green corridor and tranquil setting with considerable biodiversity and recreation value. The River Blackwater marks the borough and county boundary and maintains the rural corridor between Surrey and Hampshire.

4.3.32a It also covers the area of land between the extended Ash and Tongham urban area and Ash Green village. This provides an important anti-coalescence role that prevents further merging between the Ash and Tongham urban area and Ash Green village.

POLICY P3: Countryside

(1) Within the area of countryside, as designated on the Policies Map, development will be permitted provided it:

(a) requires a countryside location or where a rural location can be justified, and

(b) is proportionate to the nature and scale of the site, its setting and countryside location, and

(c) does not lead to greater physical or visual coalescence between the (i) Ash and Tongham urban area and (ii) either Aldershot or Ash Green village.


Reasoned justification

4.3.33 The NPPF 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 any development in the countryside unless it can be demonstrated that it is necessary in that location and contributes positively towards the rural economy.

4.3.34 Whilst the Ash and Tongham urban area sits within the wider Blackwater Valley conurbation, it is important that it retains its separate and distinct identity and character. Any development should be designed in such a way that it respects the setting of the green corridor and ensure that it does not visually intrude on the landscape. Any development proposals which compromise the integrity of the gap that separates the Ash and Tongham urban area with neighbouring Aldershot will be resisted.

4.3.34a Significant growth is planned to occur to the south eastern corner of the previously defined Ash and Tongham urban area. Whilst an element of merging will occur between the urban area and the northern extent of Ash Green village, it is important that this is limited to this area to protect the separate identities of these settlements. Any development within the remaining area of land that is designated countryside will be strongly resisted.

(4.3.35 Paragraph intentionally blank)

Key Evidence

  • Green Belt and Countryside Study Volumes I - VI (Guildford Borough Council, 2011 and 2014)
  • Landscape Character Assessment (Guildford Borough Council, 2007)


Monitoring Indicators



Data source

Percentage of appeals allowed for applications for new buildings in the inset villages

Number of planning decisions, including appeals, granting permission for development in the countryside that is not in accordance with the policy

Reduction in the percentage of appeals allowed


Planning permissions and appeals