Planning Constraints

As part of the process of determining a planning application, there are a number of constraints that Mole Valley District Council (MVDC) has to take into account.

These include:

See also:

Metropolitan Green Belt

The majority of the district's countryside is part of the Metropolitan Green Belt, which encircles London. The Green Belt has been the main instrument behind the strict control of new development in Surrey and Mole Valley for many years. The Government's National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) indicates that 'the fundamental aim of Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; the essential characteristics of Green Belts are their openness and their permanence'.

Strict control of development in the Green Belt has helped to protect the character of the district. The quality of the countryside is highly valued, and tight controls on new developments are therefore required. This is particularly important as the district continues to experience great pressure for new development for reasons related to its attractive environment and its accessibility to large centres of population.

MVDC aims to maintain the open nature of the countryside within the Green Belt by preventing urban encroachment. Inappropriate development within the Green Belt will be resisted. The policies of the Mole Valley Core Strategy and Mole Valley Local Plan (see Adopted Planning Policy Documents under 'Related Pages') exercise strict control on new development in the Green Belt.

MVDC often gets calls from customers who are being offered the “chance” to buy a piece of land within the Green Belt, with a view to building a new dwelling. Please be aware that the development of new dwellings within the Green Belt is contrary to national and local planning policies, and will not be granted planning permission.

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Areas of Great Landscape Value

Natural England has a statutory power to designate land as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The Surrey Hills AONB covers part of the district. MVDC gives special attention to planning proposals in the AONB to ensure that the special character of the landscape is protected. Similar attention is also given to the areas of adjacent landscape designated as Areas of Great Landscape Value (AGLV). Together, these areas make up about one-third of the area of Mole Valley, covering principally the chalk slopes of the North Downs and the Greensand Hills. If you live in an AONB, you will need to apply for planning permission for certain types of work that do not require an application in other areas. More information about Natural England and the Surrey Hills can be found on their respective websites (see 'Internet Links').

Special Area of Conservation

The Mole Gap to Reigate Escarpment Special Area of Conservation (SAC) is an area of Europe-wide significance for its nature conservation value. It covers 888 hectares of the North Downs, including Norbury Park, Headley Heath, White Down and Box Hill. The boundaries are shown on the 'Interactive Proposals Map' (see 'Related Pages').

Further development in the vicinity of the SAC needs to be carefully managed, to ensure that important features are not placed at risk by increased recreational pressure. For this reason, Core Strategy Policy CS15 safeguards a buffer zone extending 800m beyond the boundary of the SAC. Within the buffer zone, there is 'a presumption against any increase in residential or employment related development ... unless its impact can be mitigated'. The Special Area of Conservation Guidance Note (see Supplementary Planning Documents, Guidance and Policy Statements in 'Related Pages') applies to development within the buffer zone, as well as to major developments just beyond that distance. The guidance identifies the main risks to the special nature conservation interests, the information that should be provided with planning applications, and the steps that MVDC will take to make sure that proposed development does not harm the SAC.

Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area

The Thames Basin Heaths, which cover parts of Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire, are a rare example of lowland heathland, and are home to three important bird species. The heaths are protected by international law as a Special Protection Area (SPA). However, areas around the Thames Basin Heaths are subject to pressure for new housing development, and Natural England has determined that the cumulative effects of developments pose a potential long-term problem for these habitats. An explanatory note sets out how proposals for new housing development in parts of Mole Valley may be required to provide measures to mitigate impacts on the SPA (see 'downloads').

Conservation Areas

MVDC has statutory powers to control changes within Conservation Areas. More information about Conservation Areas in the Mole Valley District, including maps, can be found on the Conservation Areas page (see 'Related Pages').

Article 4 Directions

Article 4 directions are made when the character of an area of acknowledged importance would be threatened. Some permitted development rights may be removed by an Article 4 direction, or a restrictive condition placed on the original permission for your house or estate. This means that a planning application may be needed for work that normally would have been Permitted Development (PD). More information about Article 4 Directions in the Mole Valley District, including maps, can be found on the Conservation Areas page (see 'Related Pages').

Listed Buildings

Information can be found on the Listed Buildings page (see 'Related Pages'). Applicants are advised to discuss proposals with Mole Valley District Council before an application is made.

Other Constraints

Other constraints in Mole Valley include those relating to Contaminated Land, Flood Risk and Tree Protection Orders (see 'Related Pages').

Planning Policy

More information regarding the policies in force in Mole Valley can be found on the Adopted Planning Policy Documents page (see 'Related Pages'). An interactive Proposals Map (see 'Related Pages') is also available.

Neighbourhood Development Plans

The Ashtead, Bookham, Capel (parish wards of Beare Green, Capel and Coldharbour) and Westcott Neighbourhood Plans now form part of the Development Plan for Mole Valley. In addition, a Neighbourhood Development Plan is currently being prepared for Ockley. More information about each plan can be found on the Neighbourhood Planning page (see 'Related Pages').

Making a Planning Application

If you wish to make a Planning Application, all of the appropriate application forms can be found on the 'Planning Application Forms and Fees' page (see 'Related Pages').

For more information

Call 01306 885001, or email