Stax Leisure is a commercial organisation which runs two other leisure centres in Bromley and Hampton. These centres are open to members who pay an annual fee, but not to the general public. So even though it is Stax’s intention to allow public use of two of the tennis courts and the all-weather multi-use games area, the club would mainly be used by members paying the fees.
While we have no problem with Farnham Rugby Club moving to Monkton Lane on their own, we are committed to defending the Strategic Open Gap and the character of the two villages. We also believe that as Monkton Lane has already been designated for recreational use by the local community any plans for Monkton Lane should involve as many people as possible.
That is why we opposed the plans by David Lloyd Leisure to build their private leisure complex at Monkton Lane. The Stax application is in many ways identical to the David Lloyd application. It will mainly be for the benefit of the members using the private leisure centre. The additional traffic and floodlighting will disturb not on the wildlife using the fields at the moment, but also have a detrimental effect on local residents' quality of life. Furthermore Stax state in the application that their application would not prevent gravel being quarried from Monkton Lane if necessary. We could therefore end up with both a quarry and a private leisure centre. It is for these reasons that we will be opposing the application.
According to Waverley the application, due to its complexity, is likely to be considered at some point in June 2007.
If you are opposed to the Stax Leisure application please sign the petition below.
If you support our idea of gradually turning the land around Weybourne and Badshot Lea into a park and nature reserve to preserve its open nature please call or email us. More details on our proposals for a park can be found further down this page.
Cllr David Attfield, Wanda Jarnecki and Mark Norris
David: Tel: 689238 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark: Tel: 07957 101627 or email@example.com
Wanda: Tel: 07900 640418 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Fortunately the two villages have remained distinct communities from each other as well as Farnham and Aldershot because the Strategic Gap has not been built on. This local planning policy has prevented people from building on the open fields around our two communities, like those at Monkton Lane.
Pressure on the Strategic Gap
However the Strategic Gap policy is under increasing pressure. In the last six years there have been three proposals to build on it at Monkton Lane. First there was the plan for a lorry distribution centre (christened Millennium Park). This was followed by David Lloyd Leisure’s application to construct a private leisure centre there, which have now been resurrected by Stax Leisure with Farnham Rugby Club.
Even if Stax’s application was rejected it is likely there will be further applications on the site. The owners of the land at Monkton Lane want to sell their land to developers and Monkton Lane is not the only land around Weybourne and Badshot Lea which has been bought in the hope it can be sold at a great profit for someone to build on.
Won't the Strategic Gap policy stop development though?
The Strategic Gap policy is designed to prevent any development on the open land around the two villages. However, as with any planning policy there can be exceptions, and just as Green Belt land can be built on, so the Strategic Gap could also be built on. Our two communities therefore need a coherent plan if we are going to resist further applications to build on the strategic open gap in the longer term.
A park at Monkton Lane
We have therefore suggested to Waverley that the land currently designated as strategic open gap, could also be designated as replacement open space for developments within the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area.
The heaths are home to some rare species of ground nesting birds. English Nature has declared a three-mile exclusion corridor around the heaths preventing any building there. They believe that each new development brings more people to the heaths to walk their dogs and this disrupts the endangered wildlife.
English Nature have said that any new development within the corridor has to have some associated open space where people can walk their dogs. As the corridor covers parts of Farnham the strategic gap could become replacement open space for developments not only in Farnham but also for some in Aldershot.
As a result of designating the open gap as replacement open space for developments in the corridor around the heaths should we believe mean developers for any new development in Farnham or Aldershot have to make a contribution to building up a pot of money. This money would then be used to buy up the land around the two villages as and when people wished to sell. This could be added to land which is already going to be made available for public use such as the restored Farnham Quarry site. We see the land built up in this way being owned on trust for the two villages as a park along with some areas of nature reserve, all of which would be open to the local community.
If you support our idea of gradually turning the land around Weybourne and Badshot Lea into a park and nature reserve to preserve its open nature please let us know. The Town Council has already backed our proposals, but the more people that support our plans the more chance we have of getting it included in the new local development plan Waverley has to prepare due to changes in planning law.
Cllr David Attfield, Wanda Jarnecki and Mark Norris