Tandridge Local Plan: An open letter to residents

Thank you to everyone who took part in the recent Tandridge District Council Draft Local Plan Consultation (Regulation 19). All representations will be published on our website, as soon as practicably possible.

This will take time as some of the responses are very detailed- for example one attachment to a developer’s response was more than 600 pages.

Listening to the views of people living in different wards in the district has been a key part of the Local Plan preparation. We all know there is a critical shortage of housing across the country, especially homes younger people can afford or older people can downsize to. It is difficult for us to balance this requirement with our desire to protect our district, but we think the proposed Local Plan delivers the correct balance.

Many have criticised the plan, but no-one has suggested any alternative. Our Local Plan: 2033 is not just about housing. We are taking full advantage of the opportunities managed development can bring including employment, new schools, health and transport improvements.

The plan we have created has been soundly prepared and takes account of our constraints, such as Green Belt, our valued landscape and infrastructure capacity, to the extent the regulations allow. Developers have submitted far more sites than our evidence demonstrates are appropriate for development.

The developers and those parties which think we can do more are arguing our housing delivery is too low and the value we place on the Green Belt and our environment is too high.

We will put up a robust defence of the Green Belt and the character of our district, but we have formidable opponents in the developers, of which many of the largest have formed a syndicate (Tandridge Housing Forum) to push for much higher housing numbers.

Even if you do not feel you can get behind the Plan, I am sure you will support our efforts to make sure the outcome is right for our district.

Many of you have contacted me with your questions about the Draft Local Plan, which I have been answering individually. Quite a few questions have come up several times, so I thought it would be useful to provide some of the answers here.

Why are we asking for responses about legal compliance and soundness at this stage?
The requirements for the Regulation 19 consultation are defined by legislation and we have to comply with this. Having said that, we have always stated that all responses from every consultation we have carried out will be made available to the Inspector, but it is for the inspector to decide which ones they will take into account.

How can we be sure the thousands of new jobs will actually arrive?
Building on the work of our published Economic Proposition, we will maximise opportunities for businesses which are already in the district, as well as attracting others to relocate here. The plan envisages a significant expansion in employment space and will actively look to expand and make better use of existing employment sites, particularly Lambs Business Park and Hobbs Industrial, as well as providing employment at the proposed development in South Godstone.

We are preparing a Strategic Employment Impact Assessment which will set out what specific characteristics should be provided to make these sites attractive to businesses while complementing neighbouring employment areas.

Given the geographical advantage of our proximity to Gatwick airport, London and the coast, we will capitalise on this and be ambitious in benefiting our residents.

Increased job opportunities will also come from the new schools, shops and community facilities proposed. Indirectly, an increase in building and regeneration projects will also provide jobs, not just for local construction firms and building suppliers, but also from the wider south-east area.

How will we deliver rail improvements to South Godstone station?
We are in discussions with Network Rail about our plans for a Garden Community and the necessity of delivering improvements to the railway service. The company’s representatives have told us this is achievable and they look forward to working with us.

What about J6 on the M25?
This junction already exists and upgrades to the roundabout can be implemented within the existing highways land. This improvement to the roundabout is fairly simple, but will provide benefit to all users of this junction.

We are continuing to liaise with Highways England and Surrey County Council about this, so a planned programme for delivery can be put in place. A full feasibility assessment is currently being prepared, which will contain more detail about the proposed scheme and a revised costing, which is likely to be far lower than the original estimate of £200m.

Do we have a viable partner for the South Godstone development?
We are aware some people have expressed concern about the companies interested in the land in South Godstone, for example Bonnar Allen. We are committed to the delivery of a successful Garden Community and have had very robust discussions with a number of relevant parties.

We will continue with these discussions to ensure we can be confident developers will deliver what we want for the Garden Community and that they represent organisations the community will have confidence in and which will deliver what is promised. More details relating to the deliverability of the Garden Community, will accompany the submission version of Our Local Plan: 2033.

Our Local Plan is far more than building houses. It is an infrastructure-led plan, underpinned by a sound economic strategy. At least 1,000 of the new homes in South Godstone will be genuinely affordable, to help meet the needs of people on the Council’s housing register so we can build homes for our existing residents who need them.

Once the plan is adopted and we start drawing up the South Godstone Garden Community Area Action Plan, which will set out the detail of how the Garden Community will be developed, it will bring to life the aspirations we have set out in the Draft Local Plan and demonstrate how it will benefit the whole district. We will be inviting you all to be involved in this and to help shape the development.

Please e-mail me directly at cllr.keith.jecks@tandridgedc.gov.uk if you have any further questions.

District Councillor Keith Jecks, Chairman of Tandridge District Council Planning Policy Committee

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