Despite impassioned pleas from residents and the parish council Dunsfold’s postmistress will not be allowed to build a modest home in Woodland because of her ‘exceptional circumstances.’
Members of the eastern planning committee heard residents describe the plight of their village postmistress in finding an affordable home near her place of work and argued for a bungalow in the middle of ancient woodland at land to the North of North View, in Plaistow Road. The future of the post office in the community shop could depend on it?
Residents claimed Dunsfold Post Office was a “crucial service” to villagers who would be forced to travel to Godalming or Cranleigh if it were to close. The post office and the village shop where income reduced year on year, were inextricably linked and provided a community hub for Dunsfold and Hascombe. With banks closed in Cranleigh, including the recent closure of Lloyds, in the future the post office would provide an even more vital service.
Two previous applications had been refused, but, it was not to be the third time lucky. Despite supporters arguing that a small modular log cabin tucked away in woodland three miles from the village would cause no harm as it could easily be removed.
However, planning officers said they could not agree: The site was in protected ancient woodland where any built development nearby could harm the biodiversity of the land and the protected species. The Woodland Trust objected – but there were no comments from Surrey Wildlife Trust.
Offers of making a consent personal to the applicant, and in future sold only to her successor, were rejected by officers and members alike – arguing this would be an impossible condition to uphold.
Claims that the postmistress may have to move away from the area and the post office closed did not persuade planners to overturn their strict planning policies. Although sympathetic, councillors said they could not support development that was against all their planning policies and officers’ advice and set a damaging precedent and pressure to build isolated homes in the countryside.
Building a property in dense ancient woodland was not acceptable, however sympathetic the committee was to the needs of villagers, and the postmistress should be helped and encouraged to find affordable accommodation near to her place of work.