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Unjustified claim by Tandridge District Council

Tandridge District Council has issued two inaccurate news releases in the last few days which state that a report by the Planning Officers Society means that the Council's Local Plan documents are not flawed.

Of particular concern is the Council's selective quoting of our QC. In so doing, the Council has misrepresented the OLRG position and the advice provided by the QC, to the public, to other local authorities, and to planning professionals.

We have read the Planning Officers Society report and can see no justification for the Council's claim and it is worrying that the Council is attempting to give such weight to what the report itself states is a "cursory over-view."

In addition, the report says: "The review of documents was limited by time and afforded only a broad impression of the evidence base and analysis work that lies behind the published documents. In consequence, the views expressed in this report cannot be regarded as either a critical assessment of the evidence base or a definitive legal opinion."

The report does not address any of the flaws in the Local Plan work which have been highlighted in our expert opinion submissions, including those in the housing need (OAN) calculation, the Green Belt assessments and the site assessments. There is no analysis of the robustness of the work that the Council has carried out so far.

It is a matter of concern to us that the Council's news release misquotes the report.

It claims the report says that "the evidence base is likely to provide a robust justification for the examination" when what the report actually says is "from a cursory over-view, the evidence base (when complete) is likely to provide a robust justification for the emerging Local Plan."

The Planning Officers Society is a body that represents Council planning officers. To read its report click here

To read the Council news release click here

In a second misleading news release, dated February 7, the Council states, "The Council does not agree with the Oxted and Limpsfield Residents Group (OLRG) that documents it has produced so far are flawed and the OLRG's own QC's report dated 23 June 2015 states: ''There is much of the draft Methodology which is perfectly sensible and with which I agree."

What the QC's advice note actually said was, "There is much of the draft Methodology which is perfectly sensible and with which I agree. However, there are some other aspects about which I have reservations."

But the Council omitted to include the second sentence thereby giving a misleading impression of what the QC had said.

The Council's news release goes on to assert, "Although in the first conclusion point the QC says: 'While the majority of the draft Green Belt Assessment Methodology makes good sense, there are aspects of it which could and in my view, should be improved', his comments have been taken into account and were considered by the Planning Policy Committee many months ago."

This implies that the QC's advice was acted on, when it was not.

The Council also failed to give the context of the advice note which is that it was supplied to the Council because of concerns about the draft methodology the Council was intending to use to draw up its Green Belt assessments for the Local Plan. The point of the advice note was to highlight the problems early on in the hope that the methodology would be corrected before the Local Plan work was carried out, but that did not happen.

Significant failings remained resulting in the flawed Green Belt assessments contained in the Council's Local Plan proposals. There are also significant failings in others parts of the Local Plan work including the OAN calculation and the site assessments.

OLRG's expert opinion documents, compiled by our QC, our planning consultant and our demographic analyst, can be read on these two links: click here and click here