What is the Elmbridge Local Plan?

If you follow information about planning within Elmbridge, you will have seen reference to the “Local Plan”. What is a Local Plan? It is a document that every planning authority, such as Elmbridge Borough Council, has to produce to define the local planning policies and how communities and places in the area will develop over a period of 15 years.

Why do we need a Local Plan?

The Local Plan includes policies and site allocations to guide the development and use of land in Elmbridge as well as defining the Green Belt and those areas that will be protected from development.

The Local Plan is at the core of the planning system and sets the rules when it comes to reviewing planning applications. However, it is important to note that the Plan defines the rules within which development can occur and how developments should be designed but it cannot mandate that a particular area must be developed – even if it is a disused, brownfield site. That is up to the individual land owners to determine and decide what planning applications to submit.

Do we have a Local Plan? 

Yes. The current Elmbridge Local Plan was published in 2011 with the Core Strategy and was updated in 2015 with the Development Management Plan.

  • The Core Strategy (2011) is the main planning document that defines the vision, spatial strategy and core policies that have been used for shaping Elmbridge development in the Borough up to 2026.
  • The Development Management Plan contains more detailed “every day” policies that all planning applications are assessed against.

Unfortunately, no single document defines all the rules. There are also a number of supporting Supplementary Planning Documents and Guidance Notes that give more detailed guidance on implementation of the plan as well as guidance for each Ward within Elmbridge. Companion guides for Esher and Hersham can be found with the Supplementary Planning Documents.

Why is a new Local Plan required? 

The Government requires all local planning authorities to review their Local Plans every five years so ours is now due for renewal. If we don’t update the plan then the government could take over and write our Local Plan for us which would not be good for local residents.

We also need an updated plan to keep up with the changing and increasing development approaches being made. Otherwise we will be finding more large scale development being proposed for inappropriate locations and we won’t have the correct rules in place to protect against this. We also need to update the development guidelines to address Climate Change by ensuring new properties are built fit for the future and with the minimal environmental impact.

What’s the status of the new Local Plan?

In June, we asked the Council officers to revise the current draft of the Local plan to bring it more into line with the views of the Councillors who represent Elmbridge residents – see article “New Local Plan is Put Back to Officers for More Work“.