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Green Belt woodland cleared and burned

27 January 2019

There is a lot of concern about the clearing and burning of woodland to the west of Chalkpit Lane.

This woodland, some of which is protected with Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) and as ancient woodland, provides an air and noise pollution barrier for the M25. We understand from residents that the noise from the motorway has become significantly louder as woodland has been cleared.

OLRG Councillors have been liaising with Tandridge District Council tree officers and have been assured that no ancient woodland or trees with TPOs have been affected. The Forestry Commission has visited the site and is currently considering the situation. We hope the felling will not continue.

The land is owned by a company related to the one that owns Chichele field and Stoney field (next to St Mary's Church). These companies have submitted all of these Green Belt sites for housing development in Tandridge District Council's Local Plan.

Although the sites are not currently included in the Plan, we believe they are at serious risk because the Plan is so weak. We are also concerned that the developers may be preparing for speculative planning applications on one or all of these Green Belt areas.

With the help of experts' advice, OLRG has submitted more than 170 pages of detailed representations to the Planning Inspector who will examine the Plan. We've asked to take part in the Examination hearings to defend the Green, to fight for infrastructure, and to try to get the Plan put right.

One of the flaws in the Plan is that the Council's Green Belt assessments have not been carried out properly and so unjustifiably weaken protection for the Tandridge Green Belt because its importance has been understated when assessed against the five purposes set out in the Government's National Planning Policy Framework.

OLRG Councillor, Catherine Sayer, has repeatedly flagged up the problems with the Council's Local Plan to the Council administration and officers, most recently at a Planning Policy Committee meeting on 16 January 2019. Unfortunately, the meeting cannot be heard because the webcast was not turned on, the Council says due to 'technical failure.'

6 February 2019

OLRG has been getting queries about the CCTV cameras and traffic monitoring strips that have been installed around Oxted so here's the latest information we have about them:

There are 7 cameras including at the Barrow Green Road junction with Chalkpit Lane, Church Lane, Bluehouse Lane roundabout, and near the Snatts Hill junction with Westerham Road.

In addition, there are traffic monitoring strips at the junction of Barrow Green Road and Chalkpit Lane by Stoney field.

We understand that these have been put in place on behalf of Village Developments whose associated companies have a number of Green Belt sites in Oxted they want allocated for development in the Council's Local Plan, including Stoney field, Chichele field and land west of Chalkpit Lane where woodland has recently been cleared and burned.

Surrey County Council said today that a company called Patrick Parsons is putting together a Transport Statement while Traffic Survey Partners are undertaking the traffic survey. SCC was not notified beforehand although standard practice is to notify the relevant authority when undertaking surveys - but it is not a statutory requirement.

SCC said the CCTV is expected to conclude today and will be removed by the end of the week. The strips will be in place for approximately 7 days and removed shortly after.

Although the Oxted Green Belt sites in question are not currently in the Local Plan, we believe they are at serious risk because the Plan is so weak.