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The Story So Far...

In 2014, OLRG, together with Woldingham Parish Council and Caterham on the Hill Parish Council took part in a Public Inquiry at which a developer tried to have the current Local Plan ruled out of date. The developer did not succeed in doing that.

In 2013, the same developer destroyed 10 old trees, including a number of mature oaks, on a Green Belt field in Oxted.

DECEMBER 2014 - INQUIRY RESULT, CURRENT LOCAL PLAN "NOT OUT OF DATE"

We are delighted that the Planning Inspector who carried out the recent Public Inquiry has found that the current Local Plan for Tandridge (Core Strategy) is not out of date.

Hundreds of residents donated many thousands of pounds to OLRG's Save the Green Belt appeal. It enabled us to submit compelling evidence in support of the Core Strategy and to be represented at the Inquiry by Paul Brown QC.

OLRG has achieved its key objective in that the Inspector did not reject Tandridge Council's current housing land supply figure and so has not given an immediate green light to developers for a flood of planning applications.

The Inquiry was brought about by Village Developments (see below) who claimed thousands more homes should be built in Tandridge, threatening the Green Belt and character of the district and putting huge pressure on schools, health services, roads, parking and other infrastructure.

Tandridge Council is now in the process of reviewing the Core Strategy. Had the developers' challenge succeeded, it could have circumvented and pre-empted that due process.

The review will set a new housing requirement figure for the district. OLRG joined together with Caterham on the Hill Parish Council and Woldingham Parish Council to submit a large amount of evidence about the housing requirement to the Public Inquiry.

OLRG is taking part in the Core Strategy review with the aim of making sure the new housing requirement is reasonable and proportionate and takes account of local factors as required by the government's latest planning guidance.

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MARCH 2013 - THE CHICHELE TREES


Early in 2013, it became clear that developers were preparing to submit a planning application for a large development on the Green Belt field behind Chichele Road between St Mary's School and Oxted School. Agents for Village Developments asked Tandridge Council if an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) would be needed to support the application. The Council decided that it would be.

This was challenged by the developer, but the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, confirmed the Council's view, ruling that an Environmental Statement should be carried out on the field because 'the proposal would be likely to have significant effects on the environment, because of its nature, size and location.'

Soon after the Council's EIA decision, 10 large old trees on the land, including a number of mature oaks, were deliberately destroyed by ring-barking.

The picture on this page shows one of the old oaks that was killed - men with chainsaws cut away the bark ensuring that the trees would slowly die. Very many people expressed their disgust at this behaviour.

An email to OLRG from Nigel Greenhalgh, writing as managing director of Village Developments but who is also a director and shareholder of Oxted Residential Limited says: 'We have ring barked our own trees which in any event, would have been removed to enable development. We are fully entitled to deal with trees that are on land owned by Oxted Residential Limited.'

Several well used and established entrances to the Chichele field were blocked off with hoardings and barbed wire by Oxted Residential Limited so that residents could no longer access the land. OLRG collected 74 statements from residents about their long standing usage of the field and, in November, we submitted an application to Surrey County Council for 4 rights of way across the field. Unfortunately, the County Council has said it takes several years to process such applications.

Since news of this potential development became public the residents group has been bombarded with emails from people shocked and dismayed by the proposal and by the ring barking of the trees. Residents have been appalled by this pre-emptive strike before any planning application has been submitted and before any environmental assessment can be carried out.

The field is highly valued by the community as a green space and has been used for many years; we believe it is also of considerable ecological importance.


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JUNE 2013 - HUGE YES TO THE GREEN BELT, RESOUNDING NO TO THE CHICHELE DEVELOPMENT


On June 8th 2013, OLRG held a 'Save the Green Belt' day when more than 1,000 residents signed up to save Tandridge's beautiful green fields. We had a stand at the Donkey Derby and a stand outside Boots and these were, at times, besieged with people wanting to pledge their support. The same day, the developers Oxted Residential Limited and architects John Thompson & Partners (JTP) held an exhibition to promote their plans to build on the Chichele field. We also had a stand outside the entrance to that event. Not many people attended the developers' exhibition and, of those who did, everyone we spoke to was vehemently opposed to the proposal, coming out of the exhibition to immediately sign an OLRG objection card.

June 8th saw a fantastic demonstration of the determination there is locally to preserve the environment. We would like to say a tremendous thank you to everyone who helped deliver leaflets beforehand, everyone who helped on the stands on the day, and to all those hundreds of local people who share our wish to keep Tandridge special and to preserve our green spaces.

Residents also made their views clear at a meeting on June 13th when JTP presented their "vision" for what they want to do to the field. To see the report, and other coverage, on Get Surrey: click here

As a result of the success of the 'Save the Green Belt' day, and because of the great concern there is about the threat to the local environment and infrastructure, OLRG had a stand at the Oxted Carnival on July 6th where, once again, large numbers of people pledged their support.

NB: As of November 2015, no planning application has been submitted for the Chichele field but one is expected at any time.