Context and reasoned justification
The Waverley Employment Land Review (ref Evidence list page 69) concludes that the borough should safeguard its existing supply of B1a (Office) and B1b (Research and Development) and seek to reuse any surplus B1c and B2 (General Industrial Use) and B8 (Storage and Distribution) units for B1a/b. The Enterprise M3 LEP’s strategy (ref WBC’s Economic Development strategy – link on page 69) for Waverley is to support small and medium enterprises and the rural economy.
Responses to all stages of Haslemere Vision’s community engagement and consultation strongly supported retaining and growing local employment; the NPPF is also supportive of building a ‘strong, responsive and competitive economy’ and the Waverley Local Plan likewise. However, it is important to note that community responses also indicate a desire to ensure that employment is sustainable, does not harm the overall semi-rural character of the area and does not add undue pressure to our transport and parking infrastructure.
Four of the five major sites identified by WBC for housing development either are currently or have recently been employment sites. The responses to Haslemere Vision’s Phase II Consultation indicate an acceptance by a majority of the community that each of these sites is acceptable for housing development but 73% of respondents also wanted to maintain at least the same level of employment on these sites as exists or existed prior to development.
With space at a premium, development possibilities for major new employment sites are limited, making it important to protect our existing sites and ensure they are kept in active use providing jobs wherever possible.
Responses to the Haslemere Vision Phase II Consultation indicated 51% of respondents support and a further 32% would consider the development, primarily for housing, of the trading estates north of the station provided that a suitable replacement site/sites on the edge of town could be found with good access to the A3. The Weydown Industrial Estate is a site of 1.8 hectares with 6,829 sqm of occupied class B employment space and the adjacent Unicorn Trading site is 0.7 hectares with 3,460 sqm of occupied class B employment space. There are no current proposals within the Plan for the redevelopment of this site, however any plans that do come forward should make provision for the relocation of the existing employment uses. Ref Section 5: Opportunities.
In line with the current Waverley Employment Land Review, it is our intention to retain employment sites whenever possible. This is particularly important given the paucity of employment land available in the Plan area. Further, to encourage business enterprise but make sure it will not have an adverse impact on the character of the area, the amenity of neighbours or the safety of road users.
H15.1 Proposals for the redevelopment or change of use of a site, where the most recent use was employment, to another use should be supported by evidence that the applicant has taken reasonable steps over a sufficient period to establish that there is no likely prospect of any employment use. Such evidence could include demonstrating that actively marketing the property on a realistic basis, for a period of 12 months, was unsuccessful and conversion for occupation by micro or small businesses is not an economically viable option.
H15.2 Proposals which retain employment through a change of use from Class B uses (business, general industrial, storage or distribution) to other employment uses should be supported.
H15.3 Applications for development that aims to support the creation of employment opportunities will be encouraged, provided that the proposed commercial activities are appropriate in terms of amenity to residential neighbours – including the effects of traffic generation, parking, noise and air pollution.