Proposed changes to the current planning system consultation

This letter has been sent to Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Dear Mr. Jenrick,

Proposed changes to the current planning system consultation
I write as Chairman of the Esher Residents Association which represents 1800 people who actually voted in the last local elections and have, historically, elected a number of ERA Councillors. We are an entirely independent association and do not align ourselves with any one party.

You should know that we are inundated with concern and anger from residents about the current and future housing targets.

I have copied this letter to our local MP, Dominic Raab, since there seems to be a genuine fear that your government is about to concrete over the very people who voted him into power.

Your local housing targets
Changes to the formula in your proposed new ‘Standard Method’ mean that the housing target for Elmbridge has rocketed to 774 units per year for the next 10 years. In 2011 the target was 225 units per year and by 2017 it had risen to an absurd and already unachievable 623 units per year.

Your proposed new Standard Method ‘algorithm’ scraps the link to population growth and bases the new housing numbers on house prices alone. Why this, when the ONS’s households forecast for Elmbridge has been declining continuously for some years? Their prediction is that numbers will rise by 2,523 in 2030, yet two years ago they were predicting a rise of 3,643 and 4,519 two years prior to that.

For some inexplicable reason this is not reflected in your new formula. I fail to see how you can lumber the country with such wildly inaccurate and inappropriate figures – in our case, all way below the need to build 774 units a year.

Like other wards in Elmbridge, we disagree that high house prices point to an unmet demand that can only be solved by imposing greater housing delivery targets. The notion that increasing housing supply will reduce house prices in Elmbridge is false and has been challenged by planning experts and economists alike. Yet this government chooses to ignore the facts and plays to the gallery instead – ignoring the ONS’s household growth forecasts completely.

This Government has always sworn its allegiance to protecting the Green Belt, but to get anywhere near Elmbridge’s original target of 623 (now rising to 774 housing units) will mean massive incursions into that very Green Belt and other treasured green spaces. It will also lead to the construction of high-rise blocks (we thought they had been consigned to the bin labelled ‘Failed Social Experiments’) and the general urbanisation of parts of the borough that are already straining under overdevelopment, the subsequent loss of character and a failing infrastructure – you have visited Elmbridge and must be aware of the appalling roads, matched only by our dearth of acceptable public transport and crowded surgeries.

Before it is too late, please abandon the proposed algorithm and follow the ONS projections in defining housing numbers.

Yours sincerely
Paul Fielding,

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