Horsell and Woodham

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This Local Plan summary for Horsell and Woodham 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.

View the map of Horsell and Woodham here.

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 Horsell and Woodham, 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 Horsell and Woodham

Horsell is a residential area lying to the north of Woking town centre and the Basingstoke Canal, while Woodham lies to the north east of the town centre. Houses are mostly detached or semi-detached with a lower density of housing in the east of the area. The plan includes a special policy to protect those areas with fewer houses.

The focus of the Local Plan for Horsell and Woodham and the surrounding area 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 and existing residential areas, while important open spaces, nature conservation sites and historic buildings will be protected. This is particularly important for Horsell Common which includes recognised wildlife and archaeological features. Only very limited types of building will be permitted in the Green Belt areas to the north of Horsell and Woodham.

Local centres

Horsell village centre is the local centre for the area and has two distinct elements. The eastern section makes up the older historical part of the centre, with a loose-knit collection of individual buildings, many of which are interspersed with green areas and open spaces. The western section of the centre has purpose built shopping parades, many of which are set back with hard surfaced forecourts. These forecourts are frequently used for car parking, as there is a shortage of parking in the area. Consequently, the Council has identified a site to provide additional parking in the centre to the rear of 103-109A High Street. In 1999, there were over 50 units in the centre including a small supermarket, chemist and post office. Within the centre, the Local Plan aims to:

  • seek improvements to 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 and new signs (VCN3, VCN4)
  • allow 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 and a adequate range of shops remains (SHP1, SHP3, SHP4, SHP8)
  • encourage the regeneration and diversification of the village centre by permitting small office, shop, leisure and community developments (SHP3, EMP2, REC5, CUS1, VCN2)
  • allow the expansion of offices in the centre provided they do not harm the area (EMP2)
  • and propose a new car park to the rear of 103-109A High Street, Horsell (MV11)

Residential areas

The area is predominantly residential containing mostly detached or semi-detached housing in both built up and open areas. Gardens tend to be larger in Woodham and eastern Horsell. Opportunities to build more housing within the built-up area are limited, particular within areas with less housing where any new development could be harmful. 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 built up area, provided the development reflects the character of the area (HSG18)
  • ensure that any new housing within the areas around Kettlewell Hill/Horsell Rise/Woodham Road, and south of Woodham Lane does not detract from the very special character of the area which has low density, high quality housing. These are designated Urban Areas of Special Residential Character (HSG20)

Community facilities

There is a wide range of community facilities serving the local area including primary schools, churches and community centres. 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)

Industrial and office development

There is a limited amount of office and industrial development in the area. The Goldsworth Park Trading Estate is located on the western end of the area and provides an important source of jobs. Smaller scale commercial activities can be found in Horsell village centre. Local Plan policies:

  • allow industrial or warehousing development at Goldsworth Park Trading Estate provided it does not harm the environment of the area (EMP4, EMP5)
  • allow the redevelopment of existing employment sites elsewhere in the area to provide suitable modern business accommodation. These should be broadly similar in scale to the existing buildings (EMP3)
  • will not permit 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)

Horsell Common

Horsell Common is the largest area of common in Woking and is of great value to wildlife. Various parts of the common are important for wildlife at European, national or regional levels and are designated as Special Protection Areas (SPA), Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) or Sites of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI). Horsell Common was designated as an SPA and SSSI as it is a key heathland habitat for wild birds. The Common is owned and managed by Horsell Common Preservation Society. The range of habitats, such as grassland and heathland, surrounding the SPA/SSSI area is of regional significance and is designated as a SNCI.

There are also two nationally important archaeological sites which have been designated as Scheduled Ancient Monuments on the Common. These are a 'bell and disc' barrow and a separate 'bell' barrow which are ancient burial sites. The Common also provides a significant resource as an area of informal open space. The Local Plan seeks to:

  • ensure that development does not harm the nature conservation value of the SSSI/SPA on Horsell Common (NE1)
  • protect the regionally important SNCI at Bourne Fields and Young Stroat Meadow, Horsell Birch, Horsell Common Field, Horsell Common South and Cheapside, New Zealand Golf Course and Woodham Common from development which harms their nature conservation value (NE2)
  • ensure that development does not harm the Scheduled Ancient Monuments on Horsell Common (BE15)
  • resist the loss of informal recreational open space (REC3)

The Basingstoke Canal

The Basingstoke Canal is a significant feature in the south of the area. The Canal is a fully navigable waterway and is also recognised as a nationally important wildlife habitat through its designation as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) on the section east of Hermitage Bridge. The Canal has also been designated as a Conservation Area and Canal Corridor to protect both its historic character and its contribution to the landscape. In addition, the Canal and its towpath provide informal recreational opportunities for the area. The Local Plan seeks to:

  • ensure that development does not harm the nature conservation value of the Basingstoke Canal SSSI (NE1)
  • ensure that any development preserves the historic character of the Conservation Area (BE9) and its landscape value as a Canal Corridor (NE6)
  • enhance the recreational potential of the Basingstoke Canal (REC15)


Land alongside The Bourne in the northern part of the area is within a flood plain. The Local Plan seeks to:

  • ensure that any development in the defined flood plain does not lead to an increase risk of flooding (NE11). Development will not normally be permitted in the flood plain.

Built heritage and conservation

The Council has also designated a number of other Conservation Areas within Horsell to protect the historic character of the area. Within the area, there are a number of buildings which are either statutory Listed or Locally Listed Buildings because of their architectural or historic interest. 17 of these are nationally Listed including the Church of St. Mary the Virgin.

There are a number of sites where there may be archaeological remains. The Local Plan seeks to:

  • ensure that any development preserves the historic character of the Basingstoke Canal, Holyoake Crescent, Horsell Village, Wheatsheaf and Horsell Birch Conservation Areas (BE9)
  • ensure that development does not harm the character or setting of Listed and Locally Listed buildings in the area (BE10 - BE14)
  • require archaeological assessments in Areas of High Archaeological Potential as part of a development proposal (BE16)

Recreation and open space

The area is well provided with formal and informal open space. There are public parks and recreation grounds at Queen Elizabeth Gardens, Bullbeggars Lane and Wheatsheaf Green, and a number of informal open spaces, including Horsell Moor.

Horsell Common and the Basingstoke Canal also provide informal recreational opportunities for the area which can be enhanced. The Local Plan seeks to:

  • protect the important areas designated as Urban Open Space at Horsell Moor, Horsell and Woking Cricket Ground, Queen Elizabeth Gardens and St. Mary's Churchyard from development, because of their contribution to the character and appearance of the area (BE7)
  • resist the loss of both formal and informal recreational open space (REC3, REC4)
  • ensure that improvements and/or enhancements to the recreational facilities in the area do not have an adverse impact on the environment (and respects the quality of the landscape) (REC5, REC7)
  • enhance the recreational potential of the Basingstoke Canal (REC15)

Green Belt and McLarens

All land north of Shores Road/Woodham Lane is designated as Green Belt together with all parts of Horsell Common south of Six Cross Roads. The remaining area of Green Belt is used for a range of agricultural and recreational uses, including the New Zealand Golf Course. Local Plan policies:

  • protect the Green Belt areas from new building for purposes other than agriculture and outdoor recreation in order to protect its open character (GRB1)

The construction of new buildings in the Green Belt for purposes other than those related to agriculture or outdoor recreation is normally unacceptable. However, the development of Paragon on Chertsey Road - a new headquarters complex for the TAG McLaren Group - was allowed by the Government as a very special exception to enable the Group to house all of its current activities, which take place in 14 locations in and around Woking, in one place as no other sites were suitable. The development has been designed to minimise its impact on the open character of the area.

Major Roads

Several major routes pass through the area including the A245 (Chobham Road/Shores Road/Woodham Lane), A320 (Chertsey Road) and A3046 (Kettlewell Hill/Chobham Road), providing good road connections with other areas of the Borough and beyond. 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 A320, A245 and A3046 by Surrey County Council, which will establish and examine the needs of all road users whilst taking account of environmental considerations (MV26)

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. At present, public transport accessibility in the area varies from good in the south to poor in the north further away from Woking town 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