As Elmbridge Borough Council officers prepare the new Local Plan there is increasing concern that, in an effort to get close to the Government’s spuriously concocted housing numbers, they will propose giving up some ‘less well performing’ Green Belt land to developers.
Many of you will have completed last year’s consultation that sought views on how the Council might hit the Government’s proposed housing numbers. The results were overwhelmingly in favour of ‘Option 4’ – no building on Green Belt land. However, the Council does not have to abide by this.
The consultation was not a referendum and officers may be fearful that Option 4 is so far from the Government’s targets that, if proposed, Government inspectors would just reject their plans and could, in an extreme case, wrest control of the Local Plan from the Council. It has to be said that this is highly unlikely since no council in the country has had its powers withdrawn in this way.
What is clear is that if you voted for Option 4, you’ve been listened to, but your views carry very little weight indeed and there is a desperate need to make sure that Council officers understand that THE GREEN BELT IS NOT FOR SALE!
Further consultation – A further consultation ‘Creating our vision, objectives and the direction for development management policies 2020’ begins on 27 January and runs until 9 March. It is anticipated that there will be far fewer respondents, consequently the results will carry even less weight than the last. However, this is very important and we urge you to complete it. Go to: https://consult.elmbridge.gov.uk/consult.ti/visobjdir/consultationHome. Anyone who hasn’t already responded to the September consultation will need to register with Elmbridge first. This is another chance to tell Elmbridge Council about the value of green spaces.
The Green Belt and the Climate Emergency
Elmbridge Borough Council declared a climate emergency in July 2019. This was supported by all councillors. Green spaces are the lungs of our environment and vital in the fight against climate change. How is it then, that a Council that appreciates the gravity of this emergency can consider giving over our much loved and hugely valuable Green Belt to developers?
We clearly need to build new homes, but we should be building them where there is already development, where the infrastructure is in place and where we are not throttling our precious environment with yet more cars and more traffic jams.
We have said before that Government inspectors never demand that councils give up Green Belt land, but if it is offered, they take it and, once offered, demand that more is given up.
If you value Elmbridge’s green spaces, then we urge you to push the Council to take a very strong stand against giving up any Green Belt land at all. Once the dam is broken, developers will be all over our Green Belt and councillors and officers will find it hard to defend any Green Belt from development. If you thought Sandown was a terrible idea, wait until every piece of Elmbridge’s Green Belt is in developers’ cross hairs.
We are calling on all groups around Elmbridge, from all parties, to support a campaign to press Elmbridge Borough Council and its officers to declare THE GREEN BELT IS NOT FOR SALE!
Sites under threat in Esher
If Elmbridge Borough Council supports giving up areas of our Green Belt, two significant sites in Esher are under threat: Moore Place Golf Club and Sandown Park
In a shock move in 2019, the owners of Moore Place Golf Club suddenly closed its doors. Charterhouse Strategic Land plans to build 250 homes on the 30 acre site should Elmbridge Council release Green Belt land as part of the New Local Plan.
The Jockey Club may have been spurned at their last attempt to build 318 flats and a 150 bed hotel on their site, but give them a whiff of Green Belt permission and they’ll be off to the races again.
Make no mistake, very significant and much valued green spaces will be vulnerable if any Green Belt land is given up to placate the Government inspectors.
Esher and Walton MP, Dominic Raab felt the heat in the last election with his majority being slashed. He has previously refused help to Elmbridge Council over the Government’s excessive and illogical housing numbers. We think he should listen to his residents, most of whom do not want any building on the Green Belt and actively help us and the Council win this battle.
The Green Belt Is Not For Sale!