Knaphill and Hermitage

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This Local Plan summary for Knaphill and Hermitage is one of a series of guides covering Woking Borough. It aims to provide a general user friendly overview of how the Woking Borough Local Plan 1999 will manage future development in this area. The Local Plan sets out the Council's policies for the development and use of land and includes the key considerations for determining planning applications. The Council also produces a number of other key strategies which feature policies that are not covered by the Local Plan.

The Local Plan summaries contain a brief discussion of the development issues within each area and how policies will affect them. They also contain details of any specific proposals for the area, together with an extract of the Local Plan Proposals Map. As well as policies on specific development issues, the Local Plan also includes general policies on related matters such as design, landscaping, parking and the effects of traffic which apply to all developments. Although the summary provides an overview of the policies for Knaphill and Hermitage, reference should be made to the Local Plan for the full text of any policies. Relevant Local Plan policies for each issue are shown in brackets.

About Knaphill and Hermitage

Knaphill lies in the north west corner of the Borough. Prior to the development of the Goldsworth Park housing estate during the 1970s and 1980s, Knaphill was separated from the built up area of Woking. It is now however, part of the main built up area of the Borough. Knaphill has expanded rapidly in the last decade with a substantial number of new homes built on the former Brookwood Hospital site. The area includes Knaphill village centre, together with the mainly residential areas surrounding the centre extending towards Brookwood and St. John's. The open land to the north, south and west is designated as Green Belt. The northern area includes Bisley and Littlewick Commons. The Green Belts helps prevent development in the narrow gap between Brookwood and Knaphill.

The Local Plan allocates land for 400 new homes on the former Brookwood Hospital site (Redding Way) with a further 100 new homes built on land west of Bagshot Road, behind Oaktree Road. The Council has secured land (in Green Belt) between the Canal and the former hospital buildings for a proposed country park to complement these new housing developments. Additional community facilities such as a children's day nursery, are also proposed following conversion of some of the existing buildings.

Elsewhere in Knaphill the focus of the Local Plan is on protecting the environment and ensuring that any new development is in keeping with the existing character of the area. As a result, development of a modest scale, appropriate to the area concerned, will be permitted in the village centre, commercial areas and existing residential areas, whilst important open spaces, nature conservation sites and historic buildings will be protected. Only very limited types of building will be permitted in the Green Belt areas north of Chobham Road/Littlewick Road, and in the proposed Brookwood Country Park.

The following includes a brief description of some of the main features of the Knaphill area together with more general information and the relevant Local Plan polices.

Local Shopping Centres

In addition to the important village centre at Knaphill, there are local centres at Anchor Hill, Gorsewood Road and Hermitage Road.

Knaphill is the second largest village centre in the Borough and in 1999 provided a range of retailing, business, community and leisure uses. These included banks, a supermarket, restaurants, a library, village hall and toilets. The commercial area is well defined and is concentrated along the High Street, Broadway and Lower Guildford Road with a mixture of architectural styles.

There is a Sainsbury's supermarket on Redding Way which was expanded during 2000. This site is not a designated retail centre in the Local Plan.

The local centres of Anchor Hill, Gorsewood Road and Hermitage Road all have small shopping parades which serve the adjacent housing areas.

The Local Plan aims to regenerate Knaphill, to ensure its continued vitality and viability, without fundamentally altering its character. To address this, the Local Plan:

  • seeks to restrict the growth of further out of centre shopping (SHP2)
  • seeks improvements to the both the environment and access to the village centre. These will be in keeping with the Council's own programme of improvements which have included repaving, additional street furniture, new trees and landscaping and new signs (VCN3, VCN4)
  • allows the change of use of shops to other uses appropriate to the area (financial services and restaurants/takeaways) which maintain the economic health of the centre, provided that it does not involve the loss of the supermarket, which plays a major role in the centre and that an adequate range of shops remains (SHP1, SHP3, SHP4, SHP8)
  • encourages small office, shop, leisure and community developments (SHP3, EMP2, REC5, CUS1, VCN2)

In Anchor Hill, Gorsewood Road and Hermitage Road, the Local Plan:

  • allows the change of use of shops to other uses appropriate to the area (financial services and restaurants/takeaways) where it has been clearly demonstrated that there is no demand for the shop in its current use (SHP1, SHP6)

New housing area - former Brookwood Hospital (Redding Way)

The site of the former hospital buildings has been identified in the Local Plan for the development of around 400 new homes. These are in addition to the 600 new homes built in the grounds of the hospital during the 1990's. It also features playing fields, community facilities and a country park. The redevelopment of the former hospital site has made a significant contribution to the supply of new housing in the Borough.

The opening of The Vyne (the day centre in the western part of the Borough) in 1999 and a new children's day nursery have increased the range of community facilities in the area, but additional facilities are still needed as part of the redevelopment of Brookwood Hospital.

The hospital site also includes a sports ground which provides a valuable recreational resource for the area. A Country Park is proposed for the hospital grounds. Further information can be found in the Recreation and Open Space section of this summary. The Local Plan seeks to:

  • allow a phased sensitively designed residential development of the land at Brookwood Hospital which provides a range of property types including affordable housing (HSG2, HSG3, HSG9, HSG10, HSG18)
  • retain and convert the Florence buildings (western section) to residential use as part of any development scheme (HSG4)
  • safeguard the former hospital club and chapel for community use (CUS3)

New housing area - Brookwood Farm

Around 100 further homes will be built to the west of Oak Tree Road. To the west of these new houses lies the route of the proposed realigned A322 between Bisley Common and the Brookwood cross roads. Further information on this proposed road can be found in the Majors Roads section of this summary. Along the eastern edge of the proposed road, a thick line of trees has been planted to provide a barrier. The parcel of land between this tree barrier and the housing site has been identified as a potential area for future housing development (HSG6) at some time after 2006 as yet unspecified. Nevertheless, the Local Plan:

  • allows the residential development of the land west of Oaktree Road and ensures that such development is sensitively designed and provides a range of property types including affordable housing (HSG2, HSG9, HSG10, HSG18)
  • safeguards land at Brookwood Farm for possible long term housing whilst applying Green Belt policies in the interim (HSG6, GRB6)

Existing residential areas

The residential areas of Knaphill are generally characterised by medium density suburban housing, although there are a number of larger and older houses particularly in Lower Knaphill. The Hermitage Woods Estate is a post war housing development with a fairly spacious layout which retains a number of the original trees. Opportunities to build more housing within the built-up areas are limited, however, house builders may seek to redevelop sites to provide more houses. In these cases, the Local Plan policies aim to:

  • allow the construction of new housing in the urban area, provided the development reflects the character of the area (HSG18)
  • allow house extensions which reflect the form of the building and do not harm the character of the area (HSG23)

Built heritage and conservation

The area has eight buildings which have been Listed for their architectural and historic interest including Whitefield Court on Littlewick Road. There are also other buildings which are locally listed. Lower Knaphill has also been designated as a Conservation Area by the Council to protect its character. A Conservation Area has also been designated along the Basingstoke Canal. The Local Plan seeks to:

  • ensure that any development preserves the historic character of the Basingstoke Canal and Lower Knaphill Conservation Areas (BE9)
  • ensure that development does not harm the character or setting of Listed and Locally Listed Buildings in the area (BE10 - BE14)

Green Belt

There are Green Belt areas to the north, south and west of the urban area which include a variety of uses such as agriculture and recreation. The Green Belt protects the narrow gap between Knaphill and Brookwood to the south west and prevents the two settlements from merging. The Local Plan:

  • protects the Green Belt areas from new building for purposes other than agriculture and outdoor recreation (GRB1)

Natural environment

There are a range of landscape and ecological features within the area which are protected. These include the Inkerman Escarpment, Bisley Common and the Basingstoke Canal. Bisley Common is a regionally important heathland site and has been designated as a Site of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI).

The Basingstoke Canal runs along the southern edge of the area and is a fully navigable waterway through the Borough. The Canal is an important landscape feature and has been designated as a Canal Corridor in the Local Plan. The Canal west of Hermitage Bridge has also been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) to protect this nationally important wildlife habitat. The Local Plan:

  • ensures that development does not harm the nature conservation value of the Basingstoke Canal SSSI (NE1)
  • protects the regionally important SNCI at Bisley Common from development which harms its nature conservation value (NE2)
  • protects the Inkerman Escarpment and adjacent rising ground from development which harms the quality of the landscape (NE7)
  • ensures that any development preserves the landscape value of the Basingstoke Canal as a Canal Corridor (NE6)

Community facilities

There is a wide range of community facilities serving the local area including primary schools, churches and health facilities. The current library facilities in Knaphill are recognised to be inadequate. Local Plan policies will:

  • resist the loss of community facilities unless there is no longer a need for the facility or where adequate alternative provision is made (CUS2)
  • allow enhanced library facilities within Knaphill village centre (CUS4)

Industrial and office development

There is a range of office and industrial premises in the area, primarily at the Lansbury Estate and Robin Hood Works. These provide an important source of jobs, which should be retained. However, some buildings may need redevelopment to provide suitable accommodation for the needs of modern businesses. The Plan seeks to address this by:

  • allowing industrial or warehousing development at The Lansbury Estate and Robin Hood Works provided it does not harm the environment of the area (EMP4, EMP5)
  • allowing the redevelopment of existing employment sites elsewhere in the area to provide suitable modern business accommodation. These should be broadly in scale to the existing buildings (EMP3)
  • not permitting the loss of any existing employment sites unless the business activity adversely affects local residents. In such cases, a less harmful employment activity or housing development will be permitted (EMP7)

Recreation and open space

A range of recreational facilities are available within the built-up area of Knaphill, including Sussex Road Recreation Ground and Waterers Park. There is a golf course to the north of Knaphill Village, and a recreation area at the proposed Brookwood Country Park to the south of the former Brookwood Hospital. The Country Park would also enhance the recreational opportunities available along the Basingstoke Canal. There are a number of areas of open space which contribute to the character of the area and are protected. Local Plan policies:

  • resist the loss of recreational open space (REC3, REC4)
  • ensure that improvements to the recreational facilities in the area do not have an adverse impact on the environment (and respects the landscape quality) (REC5, REC7)
  • protect the important areas designated as Urban Open Space at Inkerman Escarpment, Redding Way Recreation Ground, Woking Crematorium, the parcel of land between Hermitage Road and Larchwood Road and the Winston Churchill School playing fields from development, because of their contribution to the character and appearance of the area (BE7)
  • enhance the recreational potential of the Basingstoke Canal (REC15)
  • encourage recreation through the creation of a Country Park (REC16)

Major Roads

Several major routes pass through the area including the A324 (Hermitage Road) and A322 (Bagshot Road), providing good road connections with other areas of the Borough and beyond. Whilst there were plans to build a new road between Bisley Common and Brookwood cross roads, these were abandoned by the County Council after the Local Plan was adopted on 27 August 1999. These are important through routes which suffer from heavy traffic, particularly at peak times. As well as being inconvenient for road users, this can damage the quality of the environment in the area. To address this, the Local Plan:

  • supports the implementation of route management studies for the A322 and A324 by Surrey County Council, which will establish and examine the needs of all road users whilst taking account of environmental considerations (MV26)
  • reserves land for a new road between Bisley Common and Brookwood cross roads to replace the existing A322, together with associated traffic calming measures (MV24). Since Adoption of the Local Plan on 27 August 1999, this road has been abandoned by Surrey County Council and will not now be built.

Public Transport, Walking and Cycling

Local Plan policies aim to support initiatives which reduce the demands on the road network by ensuring that alternatives such as public transport, walking and cycling are safe, convenient and accessible. Currently (2000), public transport accessibility in the area is very good in the village centre and declines as you travel away from the centre. Local Plan policies:

  • support proposals which lead to improvements in pedestrian and/or cycle facilities (MV17, MV18)
  • support infrastructure developments and priority measures which lead to improvements in the provision, accessibility and diversity of bus services together with their increased integration with other public transport modes (MV20, MV21)

Detailed proposals for maintenance and improvement of roads, cycle and pedestrian routes and public transport are not part of the Local Plan. These are set out in the Surrey Local Transport Plan (Woking Area Implementation Programme).

Useful Contacts

For any other information, please contact the Council on 01483 768746, email