By Roberts Environmental

Roberts Environmental Limited’s (REL) London Office has undertaken an Agricultural Land Classification (ALC) survey for a proposed 162No.plot residential housing scheme in Cranleigh.

Details of the Agricultural Land Classification

REL undertook an Agricultural Land Classification for an 11.7 hectare undeveloped agricultural plot of land in Cranleigh, Surrey.

REL were instructed by Gillings Planning on behalf of Gleeson Land to undertake a comprehensive Agricultural Land Classification (ALC) survey to support a planning application for 162No. residential dwellings, with associated landscaped areas, children’s play area and wildflower meadow /public open space.

Desk Study

A desk study was completed to provide the context and setting of the site, including recorded soil types and agricultural land classification using published data from the British Geological Survey, Soil Survey of England and Wales 1:250 000 Soil maps and MAFF 1:250 000 ALC Survey Maps.

Climate data was collated from the Met Office to allow potential influence and limitations on soil management to be modelled.

In addition, a flood risk assessment using published Environment Agency data was undertaken to determine if flooding poses a potential to limit the quality of the agricultural land.

Intrusive Survey

The intrusive soil survey comprised at least one hand auger boring per hectare to a maximum depth of 1.20m below ground level to examine the soil profiles, using standard soil survey methods.

As well as auger boring, hand dug pits were excavated to examine the soil profile and determine soil horizon structure in the soil type. Samples of each soil horizon were logged to provide a clear record of the ground conditions.

The land was then classified by grade according to the extent of its limitations on agricultural use for food production, some of which include:

  • Climate
  • Flood risk
  • Gradient / microrelief
  • Soil depth
  • Wetness
  • Droughtiness
  • Stoniness / stone size
  • Chemical limitations

What Were the Outcomes?

REL successfully determined the ALC Grade to satisfy the planning conditions, in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework, ensuring Best Most Versatile (BMV) agricultural land is preserved and allowing non-BMV land to be developed.

Following completion of the survey, it was concluded that the entire site is underlain by grade 3b soils and is therefore non-BMV.

Despite the complex nature of the works, REL successfully delivered the services within a very tight timeframe of 4 working days from completion of site works to submission of the report – reducing the industry standard of four-week reporting timescales by 80% and ensuring our client obtained the information they required without impacting project timescales.


REL has completed an Agricultural Land Classification on behalf of Gillings Planning for Gleeson Land to aid in the development of 162No. residential properties.  

The assessment was completed 3 weeks ahead of industry-standard timescales and on budget despite the complex nature of the work.

If you are interested in learning more about ALCs or have any queries please do not hesitate to contact us.

For further information on how we can assist you with Geo-Environmental Assessments please do not hesitate to contact us on 0207 183 8491 oremail:

1 Croft Stairs
Newcastle Upon Tyne

55 Whitfield Street

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0191 230 4521