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.

Continue reading “Tandridge Local Plan: An open letter to residents”

Letter: Is this the ‘Croydonisation’ of Warlingham?

TANDRIDGE District Council has issued its Local Plan proposals and residents can comment on them now by email to localplan@tandridge.gov.uk
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.

Neil Anthony
On Behalf of Warlingham Residents’ Group

Letter: Closing Douglas Brunton Centre will harm welfare of local elderly

I AM amazed at the short sightedness regarding the possible closure of the Douglas Brunton Centre for the use of elderly people in Caterham.

I have been running along with my fellow volunteers a small club for elderly people at the Community Centre, Caterham-on-the Hill for over 24 years on Wednesdays on a weekly basis, 52 weeks of the year.

I know and understand what my club means to my members as they so look forward to meeting up for lunch but mostly to meet their peers and be with others for a few hours, also taking part in a variety of activities to help keep them mobile and mentally alert whilst having fun. With the present situation regarding Social Services and the lack of help in the community it would seem to me quite ridiculous to close the Brunton Centre.

There are so many lonely and vulnerable elderly in our community, and of course being an aging population, the problem will only become worse. Surely, they deserve to have this facility. Where are the elderly who cannot manage to bath or shower on their own going to go? Loneliness is such an awful problem, it is a known fact that if the elderly can keep active and have others to talk too, they are much less likely to become ill and be a burden on the system. They do not go to the doctors as much and stay healthier. I read that the centre was not being used as it once had been- surely someone needs to look into the reasons for this. Some of my members who go to the Douglas Brunton Centre have told me that the food at the centre is not always suitable for them, so this could put some off from coming.

Since the closure of Dormers, I believe Surrey Choices who help people with mental health problems attend the Brunton, apparently the partition between them is not adequate, and that due to them making lots of different noises and talking loudly the elderly are unable to hear what is going on or talk to others. This, and the cramped space, also could be another reason for the loss of members! Twenty years ago, the Brunton was a thriving place, and with the increase of the elderly population it should still be so. I truly believe that it could be so again with the right information being given to the community.

The elderly who are referred to social workers, those passing through the Dene Hospital after an illness would be a good start. Their doctors, and the nurses in the surgeries plus District Nurses could also be a good source to encourage elderly to join the Brunton. There could be a Liaison Officer who could introduce them to the centre as most elderly people especially those who have lost their confidence would not like entering the centre for the first time on their own.

A visit to other thriving centres would be useful to see how they manage. One such centre which  springs to mind is the Woodhatch Centre near Reigate.

What will happen regarding the Churches Together Christmas Day lunch celebrations at the Brunton that so many of our local elderly and disabled folk, who would otherwise be alone, go to?. There is nowhere else nearby that could cope for such a large amount of people. If this event did not happen there would be so many people in our community spending the day on their own. There must be another building the hospice can use as a drop in centre other than using a purpose-built building for an elderly centre. One such building comes to mind is Dormers old nursing home in Foxon Lane, perhaps that could also be used at sometime in the future for a hospice as Crawley is too far away for local people.

We could certainly do with such a facility in our community. I read also that the elderly, if the Brunton were to close, would be informed of other clubs etc., in the area. Elderly people are not going to want to go here and there to find company. Under one roof has far more appeal to them.

If the Douglas Brunton Centre closes to be used as a drop-in centre then something special to make our elderly peoples lives have more quality will be lost for ever.

The other Wednesday there were individual meetings being held at the Douglas Brunton Centre for those who wished to discuss matters. Some of my members went along. They have told me that it was a young woman who had only been with the Council since May and who could not give them any answers or that much help. What a waste of her and their time!!!

Beware all those of you dealing with this matter, you may now be in your 40s of 50s or even older, you never know when you may be struck down with some dreadful illness. You think that you have lots of time before becoming elderly, when the reality is that it comes around very fast and before you know it you’re over 70 and possibly needing help from your community either for care or social interaction. In past times families took care of their frail and elderly and would be company also for those people, nowadays mostly their children need to go to work or don’t live locally and are not around on a daily basis to keep an eye on their elderly parent or parents, also there are many elderly people who have absolutely no-one left to care for them.

Independence can be taken away from you at the blink of an eye- having somewhere like the Douglas Brunton helps you stay more independent and again less of a burden on everyone.
If Tandridge District Council continues with its proposals and closes the Douglas Brunton Centre it will just culminate in harming the welfare of our local elderly people. Instead he Council could revive the centre in the ways mentioned earlier in my letter and give our elderly residents a better quality of life which they deserve.

Please Tandridge District Council – be sensible and for once do something for our local community because during the past 50 years I have seen little evidence that you have done much else.

Jan Henderson Club Organiser
Wednesday Lunch Club, Caterham