Esher Residents Association has always implacably opposed building on the Green Belt. We have campaigned relentlessly for its preservation because it prevents urban sprawl and is green space that’s accessible to all.
We are already overwhelmed with developers clamouring to build on our Green Belt. The Jockey Club want to put up 318 apartments and a 150-bed hotel on Sandown Park and now Moore Place Golf has been acquired by developers bent on building 250 new houses.
So why are we so opposed to releasing any Green Belt at all? We know that if we give way one inch, then every piece of Green Belt land will eventually be up for grabs and the Green Belt will be subject to developers’ feeding frenzy. This new Local Plan will last 15 years (updated every 5 years), but what will we be asked to give up in the next local plan? Having allowed building on the Green Belt in this one, the next Local Plan could see its disappearance completely. If we give way now, then we are condemning the Green Belt to years of relentless development to meet Government housing targets that are based on a metric that bears no relevance to needs in our area.
We think Elmbridge Council needs to develop a robust plan based on our needs without intensifying urban development and which leaves the Green Belt untouched. Of the options, we believe that Option 4 is the only one to suit our needs.
There is a story being put around is that if we don’t meet the Government’s targets then Inspectors will intervene and take away Elmbridge’s powers to create its own local plan. This has never happened to any local authority. It is also worth noting that Government never instructs local authorities to release Green Belt land. They don’t want blood on their hands.
However, once Green Belt release has been volunteered, but targets not met, then Government has a history of asking for more and more Green Belt to be given over.
We strongly believe that residents will never forgive our Council if it caves in to Government and releases Green Belt land. We can meet our declared needs without striking the first blow in the death of the Green Belt.
Developers are waiting with baited breath for the first crack in the Green Belt to appear. We can’t afford to let them in. EBC can and must fight giving up Green Belt land.
The New Local Plan Government has asked EBC to create a Local Plan that, over the next 15 years, creates 9435 homes. We are currently building at a rate of 4230 homes/15 years, so according to the Government, we need to more than double that. EBC says the local need for new homes is about 6750 homes/15 years.
The Local plan proposes 5 Options:
• Option 1 Significantly increases densities in all urban areas = 9345 new homes
• Option 2 Optimises urban area and 3 areas of Green Belt release = 6800 new homes
• Option 3 – optimise urban area and large Green Belt release = 16,300 new homes
• Option 4 – optimise urban area = 5,300 new homes
• Option 5 – Optimise urban area and small areas of Green Belt release = 9,400 new homes