Dear Mr Vickery,
We are writing to express our concerns about the core strategy process in Tandridge. For the reasons detailed below we believe it is not meeting the standards set down by the government in terms of fairness and transparency.
1) We submitted comments to the Core Strategy consultation and have been reading the subsequent documents. The consultation has been bombarded with submissions from developers, all grinding their own particular axes. Two have been especially persistent - Village Developments and Asprey Homes. Village Developments have submitted detailed plans to build on two Green Belt fields which are currently an important public amenity. This is despite the fact that the legislation makes it clear that the document should not be site specific. There has been no public consultation whatsoever about developing these sites, they are not part of any old or new strategic plan and yet, what are effectively planning applications, have been submitted by the back door. We believe that to be an abuse of process.
We ask that all reference to those specific sites, including the proposals filed, be struck from the document. We'd be grateful if you would confirm that this will be done in accordance with the Planning Inspectorate's own guidelines.
2) Regarding the list of people asked to speak at the exploratory meeting on April 3rd. We note Village Developments have been asked to speak 6 times and Asprey Homes 5 times. Numerous other developers have also been asked to speak together with many agents of developers. All are intent on attacking the Green Belt with similar comments. Indeed three of them, Mr Stephen Smith, Mr Samarasekara and Mr Raison have sent in precisely the same thing. Large chunks in the comments of all three are identical or almost identical which makes it appear that they have worked in concert. (Comments attached). Yet, all three have been invited to address you.
May we ask, therefore, what criteria have been used to select those who have been invited to speak at the meeting and, in particular, why these three who have filed these identical submissions are all on the list?
3) The process itself. On April 3rd, one of your decisions will be whether to reject the Tandridge Core Strategy document. Surely, if that happens, it will be an enormous waste of public money. Tandridge Council, which has spent a large amount consulting and preparing for this Examination, would then find its plan rejected. Equally, if the process is suspended, that too must involve a considerable amount of expense. One presumes this is happening in local authorities all over the country.
4) If the pre-examination proceeds to the public examination (scheduled in June/July) we understand that you will produce a binding report which the authority is obliged to accept. Will not taking so many submissions from developers skew the view towards releasing Green Belt land, thereby negating the "Soundness" tests 1 to 3 on community consultation and is this not a very serious encroachment on local decision-making?
We should be most grateful for your views on the above.