Green light for electric car factory in Chobham despite protests

The building of an electric car factory in Chobham has been approved despite claims it was the ‘biggest rape of the green belt’ in the history of Surrey Heath.

Kamkorp, a British-Swiss holding company belonging to UK-based Indian businessman Kamal Siddiqi, will extend existing buildings, put up new ones and create a test track and monorail at the 54-acre former British Oxygen Corporation (BOC) site off Highams Lane.

The owner’s son Noamaan Siddiqi was at a Surrey Heath Borough Council planning applications committee last week when councillors were asked to decide whether the plans at the land, which is near the M3 but classified as being in the green belt, could be granted planning permission.

Mr Siddiqi told Councillors that the company had been ‘privileged’ to be based in Surrey Heath at a site in Mytchett for 20 years, and the Chobham centre, to be called Kamkorp Park, would supplement these operations.

Kamkorp is part of the Frazer-Nash group, specialising in electric vehicle technologies such as the London Metrocab.

Around 350 people would be employed at Kamkorp Park, where vehicles would be fitted out and tested but it would not be bulk assembly manufacturing site, Mr Siddiqi said.

“We will be taking on graduates from colleges and universities,” he said. “As a family company we are a community company, and what we do has an important impact nationally and internationally.”

Surrey Heath 'on the map'

Mr Siddiqi said Kamkorp was ‘proud to put Surrey Heath on the global map’ with what he called ‘exciting, award-winning, game-changing technologies’.

He added that Kamkorp Park would help it to do this by bringing together ‘world-class people’ in a ‘sustainable and environmentally-friendly way’ to the benefit of the nearby community.

Kamkorp has cited the McLaren headquarters in Woking as an example of what can be achieved.

Not everyone was so excited. Chobham Parish Council was one of the objectors to the plans, which included proposed extensions at the existing main building, energy centre and at the garage by the clock tower.

Another four new buildings, along with the 1km long test track and monorail and stations, were also part of the application put to the councillors, which proposed leaving around 45 acres of the land without buildings.

Chobham’s members both opposed the plans, with Cllr Judith Trow saying that consultation exercises about them had taken place in nearby Windlesham.

“People in Chobham are rather upset,” she said. “They haven’t been consulted. It’s being dumped on Chobham.”

Cllr Trow said the monorail could make the site look like Disneyland.

“I don’t think it’s very suitable for the green belt,” she said.

Her Chobham colleague Cllr Pat Tedder was more outspoken, adding: “Since I’ve been on the council, the green belt has been sacrosanct. Where are we going now? I always thought the green belt rule was one that we never broke.

“This is the biggest rape of the green belt in Surrey Heath.”

Concerns about increased traffic going along narrow Highams Lane and other Chobham roads were also expressed, but other councillors argued that the boost for jobs and the economy was too good to turn down, meaning the plans met the special circumstances necessary to build on green belt land.

Cllr Bill Chapman (St Pauls) said: “This BOC building is already in the green belt. There’s acres and acres of land there.

“Here we have a successful company wanting to expand, and I give it my full backing.”

The application was approved by nine votes to three, but before the factory is built it will have to receive permission from the secretary of state.

Source: GetSurrey

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