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Councillors' letter on Local Plan - the real facts

Letter to the Editor of the County Border News from OLRG Councillors with Caterham and Lingfield Independents.

Local Plan 'Garden Village' Consultation - the real facts about the Council's Local Plan.

We write to set the record straight about Tandridge District Council's 'Get the Facts' leaflet published in last week's County Border News.

We would like everyone to be aware that the Council not only wants a new settlement of more than 4,000 houses in the Green Belt, but it also plans to build in the Green Belt everywhere else too.

And that will happen very soon if the Council's Plan is not stopped because any 'Garden Village' will not be ready for 10 - 15 years. In the meantime, the rest of the Plan, known as the Council's Preferred Strategy, will take effect and that is to:

* Build on Green Belt land around all the main settlements which are Oxted, Limpsfield, Hurst Green, Caterham on the Hill, Caterham Valley, Warlingham, Whyteleafe, Godstone, Lingfield and Smallfield.

* Build on open spaces.

* Take villages that are currently in the Green Belt out of the Green Belt, so opening them up to development.

* Continue infill building within the settlement boundaries.

There will be no proper infrastructure to support all this scattergun building. This Council has no track record whatsoever of providing infrastructure and a large existing infrastructure deficit has already built up.

The Preferred Strategy has been agreed by the Conservatives and the 6 Liberal Democrat Councillors on Tandridge District Council. Only our Group of 4 Councillors are fighting it.

The Council wants to meet a huge housing need figure, more than 90% of which is to accommodate inward migration that has nothing to do with local need. The Council's claim that 'the largest part of the population increase, around 70%, is because people are living longer' is not correct.

The housing need number is NOT imposed by Central Government and Councils DO NOT have to meet it despite the impression the Council has given that it has no choice. Please do not be fooled - it is the Council's own choice to accept this huge figure.

There has already been a massive amount of inward migration into Tandridge District caused by the exceptionally high amount of house-building that has taken place here. This has not brought affordable housing for local people as those moving in to the area with higher salaries have pushed up house prices.

Another of the Council's claims that we believe is incorrect is that there will be 'locally accessible work.' Indeed, its own Local Plan evidence confirms a reliance on jobs located and created elsewhere. This approach is contrary to the sustainable development objective of national planning policy and heavily reinforces an existing pattern of overwhelming reliance on commuting by car to jobs outside of Tandridge District. The 2011 Census travel to work data shows that of those travelling out of the district to work, 65% travel to work by car and only 28% travel by train.

The Council's Plan is totally unsustainable and inappropriate for the District. Expert legal and planning opinion has made clear that the fundamental building blocks on which it is based are wrong and have not been drawn up in line with Government planning policy. This flawed work has not been corrected.

We very much hope that when you are responding to the Council's consultation, you will include your views about the Preferred Strategy as a whole and not only comment on the sites for a new settlement.

And whatever comments you make about the individual sites, we would urge you not to say that you are in favour of any other site because, by doing so, you will be accepting the principle of massive Green Belt development in Tandridge District for huge amounts of inward migration.

Please do not think that if you support a settlement being built in an area of Tandridge that is nowhere near you it will somehow protect your area from development. That couldn't be further from the truth.

Under the Council's proposals, the whole of Tandridge District is under very serious threat of losing its Green Belt and its open spaces, and of massive over - development. That's why we are determined to stop this Plan.

Best Wishes

Councillor Phil Davies (OLRG, Limpsfield)
Councillor Liz Lockwood (Independent, Lingfield & Crowhurst)
Councillor Clive Manley (Independent, Caterham Portley Ward)
Councillor Jackie Wren (OLRG, Oxted North & Tandridge)