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Wednesday, 26 March 2008
Threat to Oxted Green Belt

image

If the company Village Developments get their way the field in this photograph will soon be covered in houses.

From an email that I recently received:

Developers are meeting with an Inspector from Central Government on April 3rd at 2.00pm at the council offices in Oxted to discuss building on your Green Belt. 400 homes are planned for the field at the end of Wheeler Avenue and 250 for the field behind Bluehouse Lane and Chichele Road. If you believe, like us, that Oxted needs its green spaces and that the schools, doctors and dentists are already over subscribed; that the roads and the parking are already an issue, then please come to the council offices at 2.00pm on April 3rd. We need to make sure that the Inspector hears from the people of Oxted and not just the developers who want to maximise their profits on our Green Belt.

Thursday April 3rd at 2.00pm at Council Offices, Oxted.

This is a public meeting and we urge you all to attend. We need to show the Inspector that we don’t want to lose our Green Belt fields and we don’t like developers manipulating the process. If we don’t make our views known there is little chance of saving Oxted & Limpsfield.

For details of the developers plans go to:
http://consult.tandridge.gov.uk/file/143616  and   http://consult.tandridge.gov.uk/file/143656.

The plans have been submitted by Village Developments to the council’s Core Strategy consultation – that’s its ten year development plan. The developers are using this planning process to attack the council’s policy and get a direct route through to the Inspector to persuade him to open up the Green Belt for building.

The Inspector has chosen who he wants to speak at the meeting and he has asked Village Developments to speak six times and Asprey Homes five times – far more than anyone else.

We hope you will be able to come along and show your support for keeping Green Belt fields in Oxted

From: The Threat Leaflet (Microsoft Word, 31 Kb). See also: Village Developments’ Scoping Report (PDF file, 930 Kb).

You can contact the Oxted and Limpsfield Residents’ Group as follows: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or post (PO Box 233, Oxted Post Office, Station Road West, Oxted, RH8 9EH).

I wonder how the meeting will go on 3 April. For an account of a Planning Committee meeting earlier this year (also dealing with the threat of inappropriate local development) read the following letter from a local resident which was published in the local free sheet (which is usually a loyal publicity organ for the local Council):

I attended the Tandridge District Council’s (TDC) Planning Committee meeting on Thursday February 21.

The meeting was attended by some 14 councillors and by about 80 local residents squeezed into the public gallery.

It was my first visit to such a meeting and was driven by the recent various planning applications to pull down six houses along Church Lane, Oxted, to build two large blocks of flats. The vast majority of local residents are passionately opposed to the plans and the intent was to articulate these feelings to the committee.

However, early on it became apparent that the TDC planning committee had little intention of letting local feeling get in the way of central government planning inspectors who are in the process of effectively overturning the council’s original rejection of the plans. In other words the TDC planning committee is acquiescing to the central government planning inspectors.

I viewed with much displeasure how totally ineffective the committee was and worse, but for a few notable exceptions (Councillors Connolly, Groves and Cannon) how lacking in substance and fortitude our local representative councillors were with one, Councillor Simon Morrow, even stating that when debating such planning issues ‘they’ (gesturing at those of us in the public gallery ) the local public did not matter’ - such crass arrogance from a locally elected councillor is not only highly illuminating but almost beyond belief. Indeed if I had not been there and heard it for myself I would not have believed it.

The TDC Planning Committee meeting was a total sham. It is an impotent group and worse has no will to ‘take on’ over-bearing central government. What is the point of local government if the wishes of the local community are so manifestly ignored like this? The winners in all of this are of course the developers who have no interest in Oxted other than profit. This result just underlines that developers can effectively do as they please, with no one to interdict with them and certainly no collective effort by our own locally elected representatives to fight.

But clearly, TDC should stand and fight as the consequences for Oxted (and other towns) could be appalling over-development without matching parallel development of local infrastructure. Surely this is where TDC (and any bullied local council) has an outstanding chance to score a victory against such ill-thought out central government planning. Planning applications such as the current Church Lane crop are flawed in that they only consider the building plans and give limited consideration to traffic and parking concerns and nothing else. However, such continuous development and related population growth has of course a major impact for local infrastructure.

What are the consequences for healthcare, education, refuse, environmental, utilities, policing, water provision and sewage?

Oxted already has major issues regarding traffic, car parking, stretched health & educational services, an acute litter problem, lack of policing and critically a growing sewage problem - just ask the residents along Gresham Road in Oxted as well as Church Lane. Given the lack of thought into the impact of such over development TDC surely has an outstanding opportunity to hit back and fight central government planning inspectors via the Courts and judicial review.
TDC could win and therefore should fight!

In the longer term there will likely be a change of government and with it, hopefully, a return of local power but in the interim we will suffer further over-development meaning Oxted and similar towns will lose ever more of their unique character.
However, one thing that the local community can do is to see that all of those gutless prima-donna councillors that voted in favour of not taking on the government planning inspectors (including those craven individuals who abstained in the vote) do not get re-elected.

David Doe, Oxted

Posted by bigblue on 26/03/2008 at 07:36 PM
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