Appeal for Funds - Tandridge Local Plan Examination
On 8 October, a Planning Inspector begins his 4 week examination of the Plan. OLRG is taking part in the examination hearings. All members of OLRG working on this are doing it for free but we need to raise another ?20,000 to pay for legal advice and professional representation.
If you would like to help and are able to make a donation - £100, £50, £25, £10 or anything at all - it will make a big difference in the fight to get the Plan put right.
There are 3 ways to donate:
The Councils Plan targets large areas of the Green Belt despite the fact that this is a mainly rural District with no big towns, few local jobs, and little infrastructure.
OLRG has engaged legal and planning experts to help us take part in the Local Plan process. They have made clear that the Council's documents are not compliant with Government policy, do not achieve sustainable development, and are not justified or effective.
We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has already kindly donated money to pay for the experts' input. Thanks also to the hundreds of residents who have copied us their emails and letters to Tandridge District Council expressing their views on the Plan which have been invaluable in making our response.
OLRG has submitted its expert opinion response to the consultation on the final version of the Plan. In it, we have made detailed alternative proposals for rewriting the Plan - and to deliver infrastructure, to correct the Green Belt assessments, and to provide higher numbers of affordable housing.
We have also made submissions to the Council's three previous Local Plan consultations. To read these submissions, click on the links in the box at the top of the front page of this website. All our submissions have been drawn up under guidance from legal and planning experts.
On 19 December 2018, the Tandridge Local Plan was approved for submission to the Planning Inspectorate for Examination. The seven Conservative Councillors on the Planning Policy Committee voted it through, the three OLRG/Independents voted against, and the three Liberal Democrats abstained.
The Plan proposes 4,000 houses in a 'garden community' on the Green Belt in South Godstone, release of Green Belt around the main settlements including Hurst Green, and increasing building density putting even greater pressure on infrastructure.
In addition, it has assessed numerous Green Belt sites as "deliverable and developable."
For three years now and right from the start of the Local Plan process, we have made clear the problems with the Council's work. Members have funded expert advice which we have given to the Council at every one of the Local Plan consultations - and in separate QC opinion. We have given the Council every opportunity at every point in the process to put things right but it has not done so.
OLRG has always said that the Council's repeated claims that the Plan is 'infrastructure led' are not supported by the evidence. This is now very clear from the consultation responses to the draft Plan from infrastructure providers such as Surrey County Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership Coast to Capital, with their denials of the Council's claims that they will fund infrastructure provision.
Overwhelmingly, the items listed in the Infrastructure Delivery Plan read as policy objectives, statements of intent, or simply a wish list, rather than as identifiable projects which have a reasonable prospect of being delivered.
The claim that there will be 'thousands of new jobs' is also not supported by the evidence. It seems a wholly unrealistic statement, given the rural nature of the District and the constraint to jobs growth through ever increasing competition from nearby expanding larger population and economic centres.
The Plan fails to maximise opportunities for affordable housing. It has set affordable housing thresholds of just 20% in the built-up areas and 40% elsewhere and for Green Belt sites. And yet the Council's own viability assessments show that higher affordable housing requirements, in some cases considerably higher, could be achieved.
The Green Belt assessments have not been carried out properly and in accordance with national policy.
These are just a few examples of the problems with the Council's Local Plan work.
Tandridge District Council has been forced to drop its proposal for a "Garden Village" on land west of Edenbridge after Sevenoaks District Council objected to the scheme.
On 6 October 2017, Sevenoaks District Council wrote to Tandridge stating "the proposal for a Garden Village on Land West of Edenbridge does not form part of SDC's emerging development strategy as outlined in the Issues and Options consultation document and the site offers many constraints that prohibit this scale of development. Therefore, the inclusion of this site within Tandridge's Local Plan is not supported."
On 8 November, Councillor Robert Piper, Sevenoaks District Council's Cabinet Member with responsibility for planning, said: "People in Edenbridge will be relieved to hear Tandridge District Council is no longer pursuing plans to build at least 6,000 new homes on the Green Belt adjoining Edenbridge. We had said all along we did not believe this to be a suitable location for a new village. Our approach is to continue to protect the Green Belt by developing land which is or has been built on or where there are 'exceptional circumstances'. We could never support this proposal to concrete over such a large area of the Green Belt that is valued by Edenbridge residents."
We believe Tandridge District Council should never have included this site in its Garden Villages consultation. There seems absolutely no justification for doing so given that Sevenoaks made clear to Tandridge District Council at a duty to cooperate meeting on 3 May - more than three months before the consultation began - that the site was unlikely to go ahead.
The inclusion of the location, part of which is in the Limpsfield ward of OLRG Councillor Phil Davies, has caused widespread unnecessary worry and distress to residents.
It is one more example of how Tandridge District Council's Local Plan work is wrong which is why OLRG is challenging it and will continue to do so. Experts have made clear that the work is poor quality, not compliant with national planning policy, and generally not fit for purpose.
The Council is still considering three locations for a garden village which are Blindley Heath, South Godstone, and Redhill Aerodrome. However, the Aerodrome could not be delivered within the Local Plan period because it would need a new junction on the M23.
To read OLRG's response to Tandridge District Council's third Regulation 18 Local Plan Consultation (Garden Villages) click here
It explains that the Council's Strategy is fundamentally misconceived and contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) because important sustainability factors and constraints that should have been taken into account have been ignored from the very start of the process. It does not reflect the distinctive characteristics of Tandridge or the needs and priorities of residents.
There has already been an exceptionally high amount of building in the District resulting in very large amounts of inward migration from other areas. This has not brought affordable housing for local people - instead, those moving in to the area with higher salaries have pushed up house prices. The vast majority of the Council's housing need figure is for more inward migration and is not to do with meeting local housing need.
The Council has no track record of providing infrastructure and its 'Preferred Strategy' document makes clear that infrastructure can't be guaranteed going forward either. Although the Council recognises that there is an existing infrastructure deficit, the type and availability of existing services and infrastructure provision is understated. The very limited services and infrastructure in this predominantly rural District and the consequent reliance on other districts has not been addressed.
The proposals will exacerbate unsustainable travel patterns and reliance on the car with consequent negative impacts on the environment and on communities within and outside of Tandridge District.
The District is 94% Green Belt and yet the Green Belt has either been ignored or sidelined from the start. The process has not correctly interpreted the NPPF or Planning Practice Guidance with regards to the Green Belt. This incorrect interpretation has been repeatedly used in Council documents published with each of its three Regulation 18 consultations.
This is a small Council, short of funds, and we believe money is the driving force - currently around 20% of its income comes from the New Homes Bonus. The more it builds, the more money it gets.
The Preferred Strategy has never been publicly consulted on. Instead, it was simply agreed by the Conservatives and the 6 Liberal Democrat Councillors on Tandridge District Council. We believe it has no validity in terms of public support. On the contrary, there is widespread opposition to it throughout the District and it does not reflect the results of the Local Plan consultation so far.
OLRG's 2 Councillors and 2 Independents are fighting it.
Last year, the Oxted & Limpsfield Residents Group (OLRG) put up 2 candidates for election to Tandridge District Council. They won with big majorities and big turnouts and one reason was the major public concern about the failings in the Council's Local Plan proposals. Our first candidate, Jackie Wren, defeated the Council leader with a landslide win.
Since then, 2 Conservative Councillors, Liz Lockwood (Lingfield & Crowhurst) and Clive Manley (Portley Ward, Caterham) have gone Independent because of their concerns about the Local Plan and have joined forces with OLRG.
Tandridge District Council is currently holding a consultation called the "Local Plan Garden Villages Consultation" but that is only part of the story...
As well as a "Garden Village" of at least 4,000 houses in the Green Belt at either Blindley Heath, South Godstone, Redhill Aerodrome or land between Lingfield and Edenbridge, the Council's Plan would mean building on the Green Belt everywhere else as well.
And that will happen first if the Plan is not stopped because any "Garden Village" would not be ready for 10 - 15 years or more. In the meantime, the Council aims to build 470 homes a year (almost 4 times its current target) and the rest of the Plan, known as the Preferred Strategy, will take effect. That is to:
We urge you to say that you are not in favour of any of the settlement sites because, if you say you are, the Council will take this as support for the principle of massive Green Belt development to accommodate inward migration.
You can submit comments by:
Email email@example.com OR
Letter marked 'Local Plan Consultation' to: Tandridge District Council, Council Offices, 8 Station Road East, Oxted, Surrey, RH8 0BT OR
Using the Council's consultation 'portal' click here.
1. The proposals exacerbate unsustainable travel patterns and reliance on the car with consequent negative impacts on the environment and on communities within and outside of Tandridge District.
2. Unlike many other local authorities, for years Tandridge District Council has approved large amounts of house-building in the District but without supporting infrastructure. There is already a large infrastructure deficit. The Preferred Strategy makes it clear that infrastructure can't be guaranteed going forward either.
3. The Council has chosen to meet an inflated and unreliable housing need figure, more than 90% of which is for inward migration that has nothing to do with local need. This is NOT required by Government policy - it is the Council's own choice as this recent article from The Times makes clear click here
4. For years there has been an exceptionally high amount of house-building in Tandridge District. Because Tandridge built so much, while other areas were not building enough, the District soaked up unmet housing need from those other areas resulting in a very large amount of inward migration. This has not brought affordable housing for local people - instead, those moving in to the area with higher salaries have pushed up house prices.
5. The Council's Strategy is unsustainable . Expert opinion has made clear that the evidence documents on which it is based are seriously flawed and not compliant with Government Policy. These have still not been corrected.
7. This is a small Council, short of funds, and we believe money is the driving force - currently around 20% of its income comes from the New Homes Bonus. The more it builds, the more money it gets.
8. The Preferred Strategy has never been publicly consulted on. Instead, it was simply agreed on by the Conservatives and the 6 Liberal Democrat Councillors on Tandridge District Council. We believe it has no validity in terms of public support. On the contrary, there is widespread opposition to it throughout the District and it does not reflect the results of the Local Plan consultation so far.
Tandridge District Councillors last night agreed a preferred strategy for the Local Plan which confirms the Council wants large scale building on the Tandridge Green Belt including around Oxted, Limpsfield and Hurst Green.
The strategy proposes building on the Green Belt around ALL the Tier 1 and Tier 2 settlements which are: Oxted, Limpsfield, Hurst Green, Caterham on the Hill, Caterham Valley, Warlingham, Whyteleafe, Godstone, Lingfield and Smallfield.
This Green Belt development would be IN ADDITION to a new settlement of around 4,000 homes to be built in the Tandridge Green Belt in one of 5 possible locations which are: Blindley Heath, South Godstone, Redhill Aerodrome, the borders between Lingfield and Edenbridge, and the Chaldon/Coulsdon area.
8 Conservative Councillors and 2 Liberal Democrats on the Planning Policy Committee voted it through. They are:
Cllr Peter Bond (chairman, Burstow, Horne & Outwood); Cllr Keith Jecks (vice-chairman, Woldingham); Cllr Gill Black (Bletchingley & Nutfield); Cllr Chris Botten (Portley, Caterham); Cllr Lindsey Dunbar (Limpsfield); Cllr Ken Harwood (Felbridge); Cllr Alun Jones (Valley, Caterham); Cllr Keith Prew (Warlingham West); Cllr Lesley Steeds (Dormansland & Felcourt); Cllr Debbie Vickers (Bletchingley & Nutfield).
OLRG's Councillor Jackie Wren was the only member of the Committee to vote against.
She said "The Council says that its preferred strategy aims to protect the Green Belt. Please do not be fooled. The details make clear this Council wants to build as much as possible and has no intention whatsoever of protecting the Green Belt.
Please do not make the mistake of believing that the new houses in the Green Belt will be 'affordable' and will be for local residents. These new houses will be sold at the highest possible price that developers can achieve irrespective of whether those purchasers are from Tandridge or anywhere else."
Conservative Councillor for Lingfield and Crowhurst, Liz Lockwood, urged the committee members to vote against the strategy.
She said "By agreeing to this, you are agreeing to the wholesale release of Green Belt sites all around the district.
This document skirts the key issue the whole of the district is shouting about - the current inadequate infrastructure and the consequences of infilling ad infinitum without any consideration of the consequences whatsoever. Flooding, congestion, surgery waiting lists and much much more.
This strategy is completely unsustainable and I would not be able to look any residents in the eye if I voted for it."
The strategy is designed to meet a housing need figure of at least 9,400 houses. As much as 90 per cent of this figure is comprised of people moving to Tandridge from other areas. It doubles the current rate of housing development.
For many years now, there have been very high levels of house-building in Tandridge which has already led to large amounts of inward migration. This huge amount of building has not brought affordable housing for local residents.
The Council has no track record of delivering new infrastructure and the strategy does not address the existing infrastructure deficit.
The strategy is based on documents which experts have made clear are not fit for purpose. It has ignored the fundamental principle of the Government's National Planning Policy Framework which is the achievement of "sustainable development."
The Council has to get its Plan approved by a Planning Inspector at Examination and, to do that, the Plan has to be based on sound planning reasons.
We believe the strategy has nothing to do with planning and everything to do with raising money to try to ensure this cash-strapped Council survives.
Please be assured that OLRG will not stand by and see the Tandridge Green Belt destroyed unjustifiably and unnecessarily.
The preferred strategy is on this link click here
The key paragraph is 5.36 on page 32 which says that Approaches 3 and 6 will be pursued.
Approach 3 specifies development on "sites that are currently in the Green Belt around the urban settlements and semi-rural service settlements."
Approach 6 is "a large urban extension or new settlement."
Paragraph 5.14 sets out Approach 3 in more detail.
OLRG has now submitted its second expert opinion response - this time to Tandridge Council's Local Plan Sites Consultation - which again makes clear the Council's proposals are not fit for purpose and do not form the basis for a sound Local Plan. It can be read on this link: click here
In addition to comments on individual site assessments, the key points the experts have made are:
We are most concerned about Tandridge Council's decision to keep open its Sites list for developers/landowners to submit sites for development until December 30 - the same day as its Local Plan Sites Consultation closed.
Inevitably, this has meant a number of sites were submitted too late for people to comment on them, including 3 of the sites put forward for a new settlement.
After persistent requests from OLRG Councillor Jackie Wren, Tandridge Council has now published a list of the extra sites. We felt it was very important to get these sites published as soon as possible so that residents were aware of them.
There are new sites in Hurst Green and Limpsfield together with some new large sites around the District including in Chaldon, Bletchingley, Blindley Heath, Dormansland, Lingfield and Woldingham.
To read the full additional site list click here
The Council says it has not yet assessed these new sites to see if it considers they are suitable for development, but will now be doing so.
We do not understand why the Council did not close the site list for the current Local Plan before going out for consultation. The problem with what has happened is that a third Regulation 18 Consultation is now necessary and - as well as the extra cost at a time when the Council is facing serious financial problems - this has delayed even further the next stage, Regulation 19, and the production of the final Local Plan.
Last June, the Council delayed the Local Plan by a year which meant it missed this year's Government deadline.
The longer the delay with getting a sound Local Plan before the Planning Inspectorate for Examination, the greater the risk of speculative planning applications being submitted by developers on Green Belt sites. This, coupled with the Council's inadequate Green Belt assessments which put the Green Belt at unjustified risk, is a real worry.
We are very anxious that a sound Local Plan is submitted to the Planning Inspectorate as soon as possible.
Deadline for comments, December 30. Please take part.
Deadline Friday, December 30 - last few days left to write in, or add more comments, to Tandridge Council's Local Plan Sites Consultation.
To save the local Green Belt from development, send comments to Tandridge Council by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by letter to Planning Policy, Tandridge District Council, Council Offices, 8 Station Road East, Oxted, Surrey, RH8 0BT. Or you can use the Council's consultation portal on this link click here. See 'Local Plan: Sites Consultation'. You will have to register first to be able to take part this way.
The Council has graded a large number of Green Belt sites as 'amber' which means they are being considered for new housing development. They include: OXT 006 Chichele field (150 units) and OXT 007 Stoney field (250 units) in Oxted, and OXT 025 Land at Holland Road, Hurst Green (200 units) together with a cluster of nearby sites in Hurst Green.
To read the Council's site list click here
Some Green Belt sites have been graded as 'red' and unsuitable for development. However, these are still marked as 'deliverable and developable' and they are not safe from development. Please also comment on these sites.
You might also want to comment on proposed housing development of non-Green Belt sites like OXT 016 (gasholder) and OXT 065 (Ellice Road car park).
It is useful to read the Council's landscape assessments and ecology assessments for the sites which are the 'LCSS' and 'SBEA' documents on this link: click here
You may want to agree or disagree with, or add to, what has been said.
Additional sites, which have not yet been assessed by the Council but can be commented on, are listed under 'HELAA Appendix 8 - Additional Sites for HELAA 2017.' These include Land south of Springfield, east of Beadles Lane, Old Oxted (120 units) which is located between the Old Oxted Conservation Area and the Broadham Green/Spring Lane Conservation Area and serves an important purpose as a setting for both these areas.
OLRG has once again commissioned legal and planning experts to draw up a response to the Sites Consultation. They will be addressing the inflated housing need figure and also the HELAA 2016 site assessments and Green Belt Assessment Part 2 which do not meet the requirements of Government guidance and omit key evidence.
As well as commenting on the sites, general comments you could make are:
November 4th 2016
November 4 - December 30. Please take part.
Our leaflet about the Sites Consultation and with details about Tandridge District Council's flawed Local Plan proposals is currently being delivered to 5,500 homes in Oxted, Limpsfield and Hurst Green. If it hasn't come through your letterbox yet, it can be read on this link: click here
Experts have made clear the Tandridge Local Plan documents are fundamentally flawed. We believe they should have been corrected before the Sites Consultation was put before the public, but now that the consultation is going ahead, please do take part.
The Council has graded a large number of Green Belt sites as 'amber' which means they are being considered for new housing development. Two applications on these amber Green Belt sites have already been submitted - one in Warlingham and one in Felbridge.
The Council has made no consideration of infrastructure pressures associated with development of these sites nor of the existing infrastructure deficit.
It has used consultants' assessments on capacity for development, landscape impact, and ecology to grade sites. There are many amber sites around Oxted, Limpsfield and Hurst Green.
They include: OXT 006 Chichele field (150 units) and OXT 007 Stoney field (250 units) in Oxted, and OXT 025 Land at Holland Road, Hurst Green (200 units) together with a cluster of nearby sites in Hurst Green.
Please submit comments to the Council about the sites you know, about what the Council and its consultants have said about those sites, and explain where what has been said is inaccurate or incomplete or both. Please repeat any comments about the sites that you made in the first consultation.
Some Green Belt sites have been graded as 'red' and unsuitable for development. However, these Green Belt sites are still marked as 'deliverable and developable' and they are not safe from development. Please also comment on these sites.
To read the Council's site list click here
The Council's assessments are on this link click here
For the Oxted/Limpsfield/Hurst Green landscape assessments of the Green Belt sites see LCSS Oxted North and Oxted South. For the ecology assessments, see SBEA 'Volume 2 Oxted (for other areas see the other LCSS and SBEA documents).
The Council has added another list of sites including one in Old Oxted (120 units) and another one in Hurst Green (200+ units). It is not clear to us how people are expected to comment on them as the Council has given no details. To read the list, click here and on 'HELAA Appendix 8 - Additional Sites for HELAA 2017'.
We have asked the Council's Planning Department for more information and have been told that as the sites have not yet been assessed in any detail or mapped "the Council are unable to determine which of these sites would be 'deliverable or developable' and no information is available."
However, we do have these further details about the location of these 2 sites so please do send in comments on them:
Land south of Springfield, east of Beadles Lane, Old Oxted (120 units): This is located between Springfield and Spring Lane and borders Beadles Lane.
Land at Holland Road, Hurst Green (200+ units): This is on the opposite side of Holland Road to the site marked as OXT 053
Other comments you may wish to make:
To read its consultation response click here
Submit comments to the Council by December 30. To do so, either:
1. Email your comments to email@example.com OR
2. Send a letter marked 'Local Plan Sites Consultation' to: Planning Policy, Tandridge District Council, Council Offices, 8 Station Road East, Oxted, Surrey, RH8 0BT OR
3. Use the Council's consultation 'portal' on this link click here. See 'Local Plan: Sites Consultation'. You will have to register first to be able to take part this way.
The Council has said there will be a copy of its documents in libraries and in reception at the Oxted Council offices which residents without internet access can go in and read.
October 29th 2016
This Monday, eight Councillors on Tandridge Council's Planning Policy Committee will decide if the Council's Local Plan Sites Consultation should be put out for public consultation. One of them is OLRG's Councillor Jackie Wren who will be speaking against because:
1. The Council has graded a large number of Green Belt sites as 'amber' which means these Green Belt sites are still being considered for new housing development. They include thirteen sites around Oxted, Limpsfield and Hurst Green.
In the last few weeks, planning applications for new housing developments have been submitted on two of the 'amber' sites - one in Warlingham and one in Felbridge. We believe all the other amber sites are at risk from planning applications.
2. Some Green Belt sites have been graded 'red.' However, instead of marking these sites as 'unsuitable and unavailable', these Green Belt sites are still marked as 'deliverable and developable' and so we believe that they remain at risk.
The Council has missed the Government's deadline of March 2017 for submitting its new Local Plan. Its delay until at least 2019 for adopting the new Local Plan means that the timeframe for developers to submit these applications on Green Belt sites all over Tandridge has lengthened significantly.
3. The Council has not corrected its flawed 2015 Green Belt assessments which our planning experts have explained seriously weaken protection for the Tandridge Green Belt. Nor has it corrected the inflated housing need figure.
4. The Council has still not made any consideration of either the pressures on existing infrastructure or new infrastructure provision for the sites in the consultation.
The seven other Councillors on the Planning Policy Committee who will decide on Monday evening are: Councillor Peter Bond (chairman), Conservative; Cllr Gill Black, Conservative; Cllr Chris Botten, Liberal Democrat; Cllr Ken Harwood, Conservative; Cllr Keith Jecks, Conservative; Cllr Lesley Steeds, Conservative; Cllr Debbie Vickers, Conservative.
October 22nd 2016
Green Belt sites across Tandridge District have been graded as 'amber' by Tandridge Council in its new Local Plan Sites Consultation.
It means that these sites are being considered for housing development. According to the Council, they would deliver a total of 4022 homes.
Thirteen of them are in Oxted, Limpsfield and Hurst Green - among them Chichele field (150 units) and Stoney field (250 units) in Oxted and Land at Holland Road in Hurst Green (200 units).
The document has just been published on the Council's website. To see details of which Green Belt sites near you have an amber rating click here. The document takes a while to download.
You'll see that despite grading these sites amber, the Council has not made any consideration of infrastructure provision.
The Council has graded some Green Belt sites as 'red'. The Planning Department says red land will not be considered for development but we believe it is not safe because it has already been flagged up as 'deliverable and developable' in the Council's previous consultation and developers can still submit planning applications for these sites.
Rather than protecting the Green Belt, the current approach to the new Local Plan effectively invites developers to put forward planning applications on Green Belt sites. This has just happened with a site in Warlingham where Chartwell Land and New Homes Ltd have applied to build 146 homes in the Green Belt.
The Council has accepted an inflated and flawed housing need figure of 9,400, the vast majority of which is for inward migration from London.
Two areas - one at Blindley Heath and one at South Godstone - are being considered for a new town with at least 2,000 houses.
In addition, sites owned by Tandridge District Council are earmarked to be sold off for new housing development.
These sites include Oxted's Ellice Road car park, which is being considered for new flats; Boulthurst Way recreation ground in Hurst Green, estimated for 35 new units; the Warren Lane Depot in Hurst Green, estimated for 48 new units which, on its own, is expected to generate ?4-5 million for the Council's coffers; Chestnut Copse playing field in Hurst Green where a 3 storey block of 12 units could be built netting the Council ?900,000.
In Caterham, Council owned land including the open space between Yorke Gate and Hambledon Road known as 'the Bellway strip' and the Timber Hill Road Recreation Ground is being earmarked.
Resources Committee Councillors are due to approve these sites for the Local Plan process at their meeting on October 25. To read the details click here. See item 6 and Appendix A for the list of Council owned sites to be included in the first stage of the Plan.
A financial briefing for Councillors was held this week which showed the Council has a predicted shortfall of ?1.4 million in 2017/18.
When discussing the proposed development of the Ellice Road car park, a senior officer stated the Council needed to develop what it could to remain solvent over the next few years.
We believe that the picture is now becoming clear that one of the unwritten objectives of the new Local Plan is to make this small Council financially viable.
Please be assured that OLRG will not stand by and let this cash-strapped local authority destroy our precious Green Belt and open spaces, destroy the character of the area, and put intolerable pressure on our already struggling infrastructure simply to ensure its own survival. Exceptional circumstances are the only basis for changing the Green Belt boundaries and raising money is not one of them.
More details of the Council's Sites Consultation are on its website: click here
Councillors on the Planning Policy Committee will be asked to approve the Sites Consultation at their meeting on October 31. The Consultation is due to take place from November 4 - December 30.
13 OCTOBER 2016
We are delighted to report that Phil Davies has been elected as Tandridge District Councillor for Limpsfield.
The vote was:
Phil Davies, Oxted & Limpsfield Residents Group: 713
Neil O'Brien, Conservative: 472
Sheelagh Crampton, Liberal Democrat: 33
Simon Charles, Labour: 25
The turnout was 43% which we understand is high for a by-election.
In a statement after the result, Phil said: 'I am overwhelmed by the support and very, very grateful. I really enjoyed meeting everybody during the campaign and the enthusiasm we found while canvassing was an inspiration.
I, and OLRG, will now do our absolute best to represent residents. Thank you so much to everyone who helped to make this happen.
October 10th 2016
Phil Davies and the Oxted and Limpsfield Residents Group have had great support from Limpsfield residents, now is the time to translate this into votes on the day. Every vote counts.
Voting for Phil and OLRG will mean that we, backed by our legal and planning experts, can:
Phil's second election leaflet is now being delivered to all residents of Limpsfield. To read it click here
Voting is at St Peter's Hall in Limpsfield High Street this Thursday, October 13th, from 7am-10pm.
We understand that redevelopment of the gasholder site is once again being promised during canvassing for the by-election. Just to clarify that the gasholder site is owned jointly by National Grid and SGN (Scotia Gas Networks) - not by the Council - and it is those owners who are in control of any redevelopment.
Councillor Wren recently looked into the prospects for redevelopment and was told in an email from the Council's Chief Executive that National Grid has told Tandridge Council it does not want any public sector funding to redevelop the site nor does it want the Council as a joint venture partner in any redevelopment. The email added that the Council has been informed that National Grid are considering a joint venture with Berkeley Homes, operating as St William, to redevelop the site.
It seems clear, therefore, that the timing and the shape of any redevelopment will be controlled solely by National Grid/SGN and the Council's role in the future of the gasholder will be to assess any planning application that may be put forward by National Grid and Berkeley Homes
Thank you so much to everyone who has helped with Phil's campaign. The support and enthusiasm has been incredible.
Please vote for Phil and OLRG on Thursday!
September 16th 2016
We have received a number of queries asking what is happening with the Tandridge Local Plan and so here is the latest that we have:
September 15th: Council officers were due to reply to the Local Plan consultation responses including the expert opinion document which was commissioned by OLRG and supported by 11 of the District's Parish Councils and 7 other Tandridge community groups. However, this was delayed and the Council has set a new date of October 31st for giving its reply.
October 6th: The Council was due to publish a Sites Consultation which we understand will include consultation on proposed areas of the Tandridge Green Belt to be released for new development. But the Council has informed Councillor Wren that is being delayed - because of the Limpsfield by-election - and has given a new date for publication of October 31st.
October 14th: On the day after the by-election result is known, Cllr Wren and other Councillors have been asked to attend a briefing meeting about the Sites Consultation. Cllr Wren has asked for the material in advance in order to prepare for the briefing, but this request has been refused by the Council.
We believe this is an unreasonable way to behave because it gives Councillors no opportunity to make informed comments on material that may have a significant impact on their wards and constituents.
October 24th: Sites Consultation documents due to be published - effectively a consultation on the release of Green Belt land proposed for housing development.
October 31st: Planning Policy Committee meeting at which Councillors will be asked by officers to approve the Sites Consultation on releasing Green Belt for development.
November 4th - December 30th: The period of public consultation.
The Council has also indicated that a reply to the Local Plan consultation responses, including the expert opinion document - all of which were submitted 7 months ago now - will finally be published.
September 8th 2016
We are delighted to announce that Limpsfield resident, Phil Davies, is standing for OLRG at the forthcoming by-election in Limpsfield to be held on October 13th.
To read Phil's first election leaflet click here
The by-election follows the resignation of Tandridge District Councillor, John Pannett, one of the two Limpsfield ward Councillors.
Having Phil as a Councillor will mean we can build on the work that OLRG's Oxted North and Tandridge Councillor, Jackie Wren, has begun to better represent residents and
Phil moved to Limpsfield from Old Oxted over 20 years ago with his wife, Kay, and family. He has worked for many years with Titsey and Limpsfield Rotary Clubs. He was a local Venture Scout leader for more than 10 years and set up The Phantoms youth group in conjunction with Rotary.
If you are a Limpsfield resident and would like to contact him to discuss any concerns, please do email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07947 313355
On Thursday, July 21 , Oxted and Limpsfield Residents Group Councillor Jackie Wren made another plea to Tandridge Councillors to correct the Local Plan documents. Her speech can be watched on this link click here
Councillor Wren said: "This Council has been given expert advice on two occasions now that its Local Plan documents are defective, but has not corrected them."
Later, Councillor Wren commented: "I made my points but they seemed to fall on deaf ears because the debate afterwards did not address any of them which was disappointing.
No-one seems willing or able to grasp what OLRG is saying which is that leading planning, legal and demographic experts have said the Planning Department's documents are badly wrong. As a result our precious Green Belt is unnecessarily threatened. Not only that, but if the documents are not corrected, the Local Plan risks being found unsound and tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers money will be wasted.
It is frustrating but I'm not disheartened. We expected these setbacks and are determined to get the Plan corrected in line with national policy."
Councillor Wren also raised concerns that minutes of a Planning Policy Committee held on 28 June meeting are neither fair nor accurate.
She said: "My own speech has been inaccurately summarised and comments from other Councillors raising concerns about how the Planning Department is proceeding with the Local Plan have not been included. I have asked the Chief Executive to correct the minutes but my request has been refused. I will therefore be voting against the motion to adopt the minutes."
On June 13, Tandridge Council told OLRG it does not think the expert opinion document "has identified any significant flaws in the process."
The Council's Chief Executive, Louise Round, said: "OLRG Regulation 18 response - my position and that of the Council is that of course we would not want to proceed to examination of the local plan on the basis of a document which is fundamentally flawed which is why, given the complexity of the process, we have sought external advice where that is appropriate. That external advice has supported our approach."
We then asked to see a copy of the external advice the Council had received to support its view on the expert opinion document. We were told there was none and that the words "external advice" that "has supported our approach" had been referring to the original Local Plan work done by consultants.
And so the Council's view on the experts' work is based on the opinion of its own Planning Department.
Now that Jackie Wren has been elected as OLRG's Councillor for Oxted North and Tandridge, we will be pressing ahead with the priorities set out in Jackie's election statements which can be read on the links below. They are to:
Oxted and Limpsfield Residents Group is calling on Tandridge Council's new leader, Martin Fisher, to follow the example of London's new Mayor and pledge to protect the District's Green Belt and immediately halt the Council's capacity assessments which are being carried out on Green Belt land.
OLRG Councillor, Jackie Wren, recently appointed to the Council's Planning Policy Committee said: 'These assessments are to work out how many houses can be built on the very many Green Belt sites in Tandridge District that the Council has identified as deliverable and developable.
60 Green Belt sites covering more than 468 hectares are involved. These assessments are being carried out on Green Belt sites that the Council has identified as deliverable and developable via a process that legal and planning experts have made clear is flawed.
They are based on a Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA) which has not been carried out in line with national planning policy and they are assessing Green Belt sites that should not have been included in the HELAA in the first place. They will be another flawed document on top of already flawed documents and therefore the Council is spending public money unreasonably and unjustifiably by commissioning consultants to undertake this work.
I am calling on Councillor Fisher to stop them at once, to pledge to protect the Green Belt as London's Mayor has done, and to ensure the Council's flawed Local Plan documents are rewritten immediately.
OLRG has set out in its expert opinion submission how badly flawed the Council's documents are and this submission is supported by eleven of the District's Parish Councils.
I am also asking Councillor Fisher to instruct the Planning Department to correct the Council's poor quality work so that it properly assesses housing need, protects the Green Belt, addresses existing and future infrastructure constraints, and reflects the needs and priorities of the community.'
London's new Mayor, Sadiq Khan, said that he will not allow building on any of the London Green Belt and that he has instructed his planning officers to ensure his view is reflected in all planning decisions made by the Greater London Authority. He said it was vitally important to protect our precious green spaces and that must include opposing building on the Green Belt.
To read the May 26 news release from the London Mayor click here
We are delighted to report that Jackie Wren has been elected as Tandridge District Councillor for Oxted North and Tandridge.
The vote was:
Jackie Wren, Oxted & Limpsfield Residents Group: 1721
Gordon Keymer, Conservative: 622
Donald Mahon, Labour: 80
Jackie said: "I am overwhelmed by the strength of the vote and very, very grateful. I really enjoyed meeting everybody during the campaign and the support and enthusiasm we found while canvassing was amazing.
I, and OLRG, will now do our absolute best to represent residents. Thank you so much to everyone who helped to make this happen."
To read Jackie's final election leaflet click here
Her second election statement is on this link click here
To read her first election statement click here
Oxted & Limpsfield Residents Group is delighted to announce that Jackie Wren is standing for us in the Oxted North and Tandridge ward in the District Council election on May 5th.
Jackie has been a member of the OLRG committee ever since the Group was formed in 2008. She has lived in Oxted since 1999 when she moved here with her husband Mark and six month old daughter and she runs her own business in Oxted.
On March 29th, OLRG published the Health Centre responses to the Tandridge Local Plan consultation because they had still not been published by the Council. For the details, see the second headline on the home page.
Jackie said: 'We want people to know what the health professionals are saying. It is very worrying that the Health Centre's views were not gathered BEFORE the Local Plan documents were compiled as government guidance says they should have been.'
OLRG is an independent and non-political group. We are standing for election because we have been shocked by the poor quality of the Council's work on the Local Plan, which experts have made clear is seriously flawed, and by the way the public consultation was handled.
We are standing because the Council leadership and Council officers are taking no notice of what the community is saying or of what experts are saying.
At a meeting of the Planning Policy Committee on Thursday 17 March, the Council's Chief Planning officer insisted the Local Plan is not flawed.
That's despite more than 90 pages of evidence to the contrary contained in the Collective Representation document submitted to the Local Plan consultation and supported by OLRG, eleven of Tandridge District's Parish Councils, seven other community groups and the Tandridge branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England.
The document can be read on the link in the box at the top of the home page - see Collective Reg 18 Representation.
The document's contributors are legal, planning and demographic analysis experts. It makes clear that the Council's Local Plan proposals do not comply with national planning policy. The evidence base is flawed and contradictory, the housing need figure is inflated, and the Green Belt assessments have not been carried out properly. In short, the Local Plan documents are not fit for purpose for developing a sound Local Plan.
The Chief Planning officer stated: 'I haven't seen anything in any of the comments or anything that has been brought specifically to my attention that would suggest to me that the plan-making process as a whole or indeed the regulation 18 consultation as a whole could be described as flawed.'
Having Jackie as an OLRG Councillor will give us the chance to influence decision making earlier. Our aims are to better represent residents on all issues, to exercise close scrutiny of officers' work, and to protect our infrastructure and environment, in particular the beautiful Green Belt surrounding this area.
Jackie says: 'It's time for a new voice to properly represent residents, to properly scrutinise the Council's work, and to put the community first.
I will fight for your interests. I will fight to protect our precious Green Belt, I will fight to protect Oxted Health Centre, our schools, roads and parking from being put under intolerable pressure by overdevelopment, and I will fight to represent you on all important local issues.
'I will continue OLRG's track record of being a highly effective voice for residents as we have been on matters like the Chalkpit Quarry lorries, Pay and Display, and the Oxted Sandpit.'
If you would like to talk to Jackie or help us with the election, just email email@example.com
There are just two other candidates standing in the Oxted North and Tandridge ward - the Conservative Gordon Keymer and Donald Mahon for Labour.
The Local Plan documents were approved for public consultation on 10 December 2015 by all but one of the Councillors on the Planning Policy Committee despite widespread criticism from residents and some other Councillors.
Caterham Councillor, Clive Manley, the only member of the Planning Policy Committee to vote against the documents being put out for consultation, said they were "seriously flawed." He said the housing need figure (OAN) was "inflated" and it was "wrong" to put it before the public.
He said the Council had been advised at a meeting with the Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis MP and officials from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), not to publish an OAN figure without also publishing a figure taking account of constraints such as infrastructure and the Green Belt. But this advice had been ignored and doing so put the Green Belt at great risk from speculative planning applications.
OLRG also attended the DCLG meeting and can confirm the position Councillor Manley has set out.
Woldingham Councillor, Sally Marks, said, "there is a fundamental issue on whether small towns and rural or semi-rural Surrey communities should be expected to absorb such migration out of London that has nothing to do with genuine local need."
She was also concerned at the "lack of contact" with the current consultants who were appointed after the Council terminated a contract with the previous consultants. She said the current consultants who were "alleged to be more expert in considering the dimension of in-migration from London", had been appointed without any consultation with Parish Councils or with the public