Do not let Elmbridge get away with hiding planning comments!

Elmbridge Council’s Planning Committee recently voted, by a narrow margin, to stop publishing letters commenting on planning applications on their website. If they get their way, you won’t be able to go online and see what others think about an application that interests you.

Imagine that you couldn’t see other peoples’, often expert, opinions on some of the most recent controversial proposals – Sandown Park, Esher Place House, Cafe Rouge – all would have been hidden from you.

People expect complete transparency from their Council and planning is one of the subjects they are most suspicious about. “They’re in league with the developers” or “I bet money changed hands” are so often heard on the doorstep. Knowing Elmbridge, as we do via our councillors, we are certain that neither of these accusations have any merit, but making planning more opaque will only make people more suspicious.

We can see, in national politics, what being secretive does for trust in democracy and we think residents deserve better.

Elmbridge Council says it needs to remove the letters from the website for data protection reasons, but we think they could just remove peoples’ names and addresses and show only their postcodes. As is standard practice in these matters, Elmbridge is asking residents for their opinion on this matter and one other (stopping placing hard copies of Local Plan documents in the Borough Libraries during a consultation).

It’s almost impossible to find the consultation on the Elmbridge website, but we think it’s vital that you complete it. Here is the link: The consultation runs until 24th February.

We want greater transparency in Elmbridge Council and not to be fobbed off with more opacity masquerading as data protection. We can stop this happening, but only with your help.


  • This is simply undemocratic, the proposed hiding of planning comments will diminish the objections as different ideas will not be visible.
    This will heavily favour the developer, in my opinion.


    • If one allows them to gradually erode the democratic process and any transparency and local government openness then how much further will they push this. Once these rights are lost then they never return.


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