TANDRIDGE District Council has issued its Local Plan proposals and residents can comment on them now by email to email@example.com
But the proposals hammer Warlingham the hardest of any of the settlements in the district (barring the housing estate intended for South Godstone). A whopping 406 homes is being suggested for development – the majority, 400, in a big ring around Warlingham exclusively on Green Belt, which is designed to prevent not allow urban creep into surrounding countryside.
That’s half the proposed Warlingham sites that were controversially put forward for development in the Local Plan drafts. The next highest total of proposed houses anywhere else in the whole of Tandridge is 305 at Smallfield. This is wholly unfair.
It appears clear now that residents’ fears that district councillors for Warlingham are doing little and may even be encouraging this building have come true.
All five of them – Simon Morrow, Jeremy Pursehouse, Cindy Steer, Robin Bloore, David Cooley – also sit on the parish council, which Simon Morrow chairs, and in its response to the Local Plan proposals the parish council actually made suggestions as to how to build on some of the sites.
Apologists for Green Belt development try to suggest that it is for young people in the district who cannot find houses. But this is incorrect according to Tandridge District Council’s own Housing Market Assessment, which shows that in Tandridge the number of young people who own homes with a mortgage is well above the average for England, at 44.7% versus 30.5%. Plus there has been a rapid rise in building in Tandridge in recent years anyway.
Critics of the proposed building, especially across the over-crowded north of the district, point out that 90 per cent or more of the housing won’t go to residents anyway, but will lead to inward migration for which there aren’t enough local jobs. The council says thousands of new jobs will be created, but this doesn’t seem credible, because there are no recognised economic centres in the district.
Most residents commute to work, and will continue to do so. Hence these plans will inevitably produce more commuting, and at the same time more pollution and crime. What we are looking at in the district’s north is the Croydonisation of places like Warlingham, dressed up by councillors (and their friends) as a bonus for residents. It is not.
Jeremy Pursehouse pointed out previously that the council was selling off assets – sports grounds, open spaces, car parks etc – to plug a hole in finances caused by freezing council tax earlier. It’s ironic then, that the Warlingham Green Belt sites have paddocks, sports grounds etc. on them. And the only site among those originally listed in the draft proposals for Warlingham that isn’t Green Belt sits next to Warlingham train station car park (WAR 016, now quietly assigned in the proposals to Whyteleafe parish), which might therefore be used to increase parking, but would instead contribute to congestion if houses are built on it.
The same is true for locations like those around Warlingham Green where businesses have closed, which are not in the proposals, but if they also have dwellings put on them will further contribute to general infrastructure problems. We lament the loss of businesses on the Village Green, something previous district council plans were supposed to prevent, but did not.
Now our Green Belt is also at risk. High value sites on the east of Warlingham at Alexandra Avenue prevent sprawl towards Chelsham in an area of ancient woodland, listed buildings, Tandridge’s main concentration of chalk down with woodland, narrow rural roads and ribbon housing where residents often can’t park or walk safely on pavements. These roads will be turned into even more dangerous rat runs (fatalities have occurred on Farleigh Common).
Perhaps the worst thing about these particular sites is that one of them is owned by five charities – RNLI, Macmillan Cancer, Royal Society for Blind Children, British Home and Hospital for Incurables, Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society – who were bequeathed this land by a local lady presumably to preserve it in a good cause.
What would donors nationally to the RNLI make of it profiting from such an act when on its website it boasts that it works to protect the environment and natural habitats?
Simon Morrow said that he wanted to safeguard green space and amenities, and he earlier swept aside a large Warlingham petition of several hundred signatures to the parish council opposing this sort of development which, it’s clear now, was ignored too by the district council on which he and the others also sit.
Over 400 houses around Warlingham is far too much, and he and our other representatives should now lead effective opposition to such damaging proposals on behalf of Warlingham’s community.
On Behalf of Warlingham Residents’ Group