Date: Fri 29 Jun 2018

Oxted Gasholder/Johnsdale car park planning application 2018/729

2 May 2018

Dear Sir/Madam

Re: Oxted Gasholder/Johnsdale car park, Station Road East, Oxted, Planning Application No 2018/729

The Oxted & Limpsfield Residents Group (OLRG) welcomes the redevelopment of the Oxted Gasholder site. We are pleased to see that the owners of the site, National Grid and the gas distribution company SGN, now wish to redevelop it.

We have reviewed the planning application from St William property developers for 111 flats on the gasholder and Johnsdale car park sites and make the following comments:

1. Affordable Housing: The application contains no affordable housing which we believe is contrary to both the adopted Core Strategy and to the objectives of the emerging Local Plan. Providing affordable accommodation is a recognised priority for Oxted.
This is the largest brownfield site available for development in the centre of Oxted and represents a flagship opportunity for the Council to ensure that adopted policies and objectives for affordable housing are met. It is a unique chance to be responsive to local housing need and to provide affordable homes for local people.

We can see no reason why affordable housing is not included, particularly in light of the fact that the Johnsdale car park site, a public asset, was sold by the Council to St William at what appears to be a very discounted value of £750,000 given the high number of units being proposed in this application.

Policy CSP4 of the Council's current adopted Core Strategy requires that up to 34% of the dwellings are affordable on sites within the built up areas of 15 units or more or sites of or greater than 0.5 hectare. The proposal is in excess of these limits, the policy should be implemented and the affordable housing requirement met.

One of the revised objectives set out in the Council's Preferred Strategy for the emerging Local Plan, published in March 2017, is a Recommended Housing Objective to provide affordable housing for local people. Paragraph 3.10 of the supporting text states (emphasis added): 'As set out in the Statement of Consultation (2016), the importance of affordable homes to residents and interested parties, was evident. The need for affordable units is also identified through evidence and recognised corporately.'
In addition, the Preferred Strategy includes a recommended Green Belt objective to ensure that previously developed land is fully utilised. We believe that fully utilised includes provision of affordable housing as required by policy, and so this objective is also not met. The lack of affordable housing is contrary to Council adopted objectives and planning policies.

2. Health provision: We note, and share, the concerns expressed by Oxted Health Centre in their comments on this application about the inability of the Health Centre to cope with the extra pressures arising from this development. It is well documented that the Health Centre is already severely overstretched. This is the result of the large amount of building that has taken place without supporting infrastructure.

We support Oxted Health Centre's request for further discussions before any decision is made on this application and we request that OLRG is included in those discussions.

3. Parking Provision: the application provides for 147 car parking spaces for 20 one bedroom flats, 70 two bedroom flats and 21 three bedroom flats. This is very inadequate and considerably less than that specified by the Council's adopted Parking Standards Supplementary Planning Document, which is as follows:

As the Council is well aware, there are serious parking problems in Oxted town centre which deter shoppers and other visitors from visiting the town and the high street.

We recognise that the Council has recently given permission for a multi storey car park to be built at Ellice Road. However, this will primarily be used by business permit holders and so, contrary to what might be assumed, we understand there will be 17 fewer parking spaces for shoppers/visitors than there are at present.

The combination of the loss of Johnsdale car park and the net reduction in capacity at Ellice Road plus the increased demand from the inadequate parking on this substantial development means even more people, including residents of this new development and their guests, driving around looking for parking spaces where there is simply no spare parking capacity. The increased congestion will deter shoppers/visitors from visiting Oxted and the high street.
It should also be noted that current on-street parking capacity will be substantially reduced should proposals in the recent urban design statement commissioned by the Oxted Business Improvement District from Greer Pritchard be adopted. This statement deals with improving the appearance of the two shopping streets Station Road East and Station Road West and puts forward proposals that Greer Pritchard say 'could reduce on-street parking spaces by approximately 35%.'

All of this is contrary to the 'regeneration' objectives that are part of the emerging Local Plan.
We request that the number of on-site parking spaces included in this scheme be increased.

4. In order to ensure that the development is not overbearing and so not detrimental to the character of the area, we ask that further consideration be given to reducing the overall height of the proposed buildings so that they are more in keeping with the height of surrounding buildings.

5. Planning Conditions: This is a major construction project in the centre of Oxted on a site that has restricted access and limited space for the contractor's compound and materials storage. It is important to ensure that there is minimum disruption to local businesses, and to nearby residents, and that a safe working and living environment is maintained during demolition of the gasholder and the subsequent construction period.

Therefore, should the Council be minded to grant planning consent, the applicant should submit a full construction methodology statement giving details of all activities and durations with the objective of minimising the disruption to existing businesses and local residents. We ask that the Council formally consult with statutory consultees, local residents and community groups on this construction methodology statement.

Coupled with this, we ask that the Council impose conditions on the following, but not limited to:

  • Hours of working - with limits in Saturday working to ensure that peak shopping footfall is not adversely impacted during the works.
  • Measures to deal with traffic flows, site vehicle and contractor parking
  • Noise abatement measures
  • Timing of deliveries
  • Size of delivery vehicles
  • Health and safety measures including ensuring pedestrian safety at the Station Road East entrance to the site which is narrow and has limited visibility
  • Location of site compound
  • Site security.

The construction methodology statement should be drawn up and regularly reviewed in consultation with businesses and residents and any changes or improvements added as the redevelopment progresses.

Yours faithfully

Catherine Sayer
Chairman, Oxted & Limpsfield Residents Group