GREEN BELT LAND AT RIST - IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED!
We are profoundly worried that extensive new housing is about to be proposed on Green Belt land in Epsom and Ewell. There is a need for new homes in Surrey and in the UK as a whole but these could be on brown field sites which would enhance the essential quality of the area – not undermine it.
Epsom & Ewell Borough Council, and the Residents’ Association councillors who run it, need to be challenged IMMEDIATELY. Our area is well known for its open spaces, and new development cannot destroy this – once it is gone, it is gone.
Our generation of young people are struggling to get onto the housing ladder, and this needs to change. We need radical, sustainable, integrated solutions that deliver not just affordable homes, but improvements to quality of life, and retention of our green spaces that are acknowledged to be imperative for healthy living.
Unfortunately, the Borough Council’s planning department do not have a great track record.
WE NEED TO MAKE THEM THINK AGAIN
There are three issues: (1) Our Green Belt could be lost; (2) An opportunity will be missed to enhance the town’s character with attractive, affordable homes that is well serviced, and; (3) The Borough will again miss the chance to finally deal with our existing Brown Field sites.
The Government position:
"Our proposals do not amount to a local housing target. Understanding housing need is the starting point in the plan-making process, not the end. Local authorities then need to determine whether there are environmental designations or other physical or policy constraints (such as Green Belt) which prevent them meeting this housing need." Sajid Javid as the Minister responsible.
The government has also stated a clear position on the Green Belt:
"Central government does not tell local authorities how many houses to build or where to put them. It is for the local authority to decide where necessary development should go, and how particular land should be used…..This Government is retaining strong protection for Green Belt land. Only in exceptional circumstances may a local authority alter a Green Belt boundary." Sajid Javid
WHY DO WE NEED TO ACT NOW?
The Government has asked all local authorities to do an assessment of their local housing needs, and to use their best endeavours to come up with a local plan to ensure that these needs are met.
Epsom and Ewell Borough Council are going through this planning exercise now and we know they are working to find the best way to meet that housing need. Unfortunately, it would seem the solutions they are coming up with means extensive building on our Green Belt which we think that is completely the wrong strategy. A few places in the Green Belt, such as the burned-out building at the end of Christchurch Road, could support development without damaging the countryside around but it appears the Council want to go further in building on our Green Belt.
The Government, however, is clear in its commitment to retaining protection for Green Belt land. Chris Grayling MP has also provided Epsom and Ewell with written confirmation from the Housing and Communities ministry that they do not have to build on Green Belt.
“Local authorities can determine whether there are environmental designations or other physical or policy constraints, such as our Green Belt, which prevent them meeting the housing need set out by the Ministry of Housing.” County Councillor Tina Mountain
THERE IS ANOTHER WAY
“There is alternative solution to building on the Green Belt which will provide the required homes and at the same time enabling Epsom to grow in a positive way that enhances its character, the quality of life for all and conserves precious green space and amenity.” County Councillor Bernie Muir.
We want a new creative Masterplan to be developed. Examples of the many potential solutions might be turning the low-rise commercial buildings in the Kiln Lane and Longmead areas into medium height mixed-use buildings with both commercial premises and flats. There is also the potential to develop other Brown Field sites like Upper High Street, where a new multi-storey car park could leave space for new housing.
Developing Brown Field sites allows Epsom and Ewell to re-shape itself, keeping pace with the evolving needs of those who live, work and visit the area. This will create a town to be proud of – which can be an example for the rest of the UK.
We can create an ambitious sustainable development which is a catalyst for growth for the whole of the area, reinforces the town centre, and promotes healthy living.
PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION
If you want to help us defend your Green Belt from the Council’s proposals to build on it, please either sign this petition form or go online to https://chn.ge/2Ir9sux .