You will have read in the press about the Government’s new 10 year housing strategy which is out for consultation. The new 10 year target for Elmbridge will be 7,733 dwellings – nearly 25% higher than the previous figure of 6,230 which we and others have already disputed as unrealistic, unjustifiable and unrequired. The previous figure could have meant destroying over 800 acres of Green Belt while the new proposals could destroy nearly 1,000 acres and much of this will be in the Cobham and Oxshott area. Our communities would simply not be able to sustain this level of development and the existing infrastructure can’t cope with what we have at the moment let alone what is now planned. The proposals would give builders and developers carte blanche. The algorithm used by the government takes the overall housing number the government wants for the country and skews it towards building in the more expensive areas like ours. Furthermore, all this can be enacted by simply publishing new regulations to local authorities with no voting nor debates.
House building is now being wholly divorced from housing need. The ONS households forecast for Elmbridge has been going down (for 2030 there are now forecast to be 2,523 compared with 3,643 only two years ago and 4,519 two years before that). So, the government’s new proposals will require more than three times the number of houses to be built in Elmbridge than the population trends indicate are needed.
The PR accompanying these proposed changes is deceptive. This says the Green Belt is being protected but the truth is that it will not be protected if there is pressure to reclassify it for housing. With that change to the Green Belt all its protection could be lost.
The Consultation document can be read here and Adrian Wise has done a brilliant job analysing everything and has extracted all the questions asked in the Consultation, preparing answers which can be downloaded here. This detailed response document can be used as the basis for your response to the consultation.
The planning teams from Cobham Green Belt Group and the Cobham Conservation and Heritage Trust are meeting our MP, Dominic Raab, to explain our concerns in the strongest terms and to make clear to him the strength of local feeling.
To help change this policy, the Cobham Green Belt Group and the Cobham Conservation and Heritage Trust urgently need your support in two ways:
Thank you for your support as we simply cannot allow these proposals to go unchallenged. They would destroy our communities as we know them forever.
The Latest Statement from Elmbridge Borough Council regarding the Local Plan is shown below:
Local Plan May 2020 update: Work is continuing on preparing the new Local Plan, however, due to the COVID-19 situation production of this work is taking longer than envisaged. We will share our revised timetable any further updates on the website in due course. We ask that you bear with us during this difficult time. Although moving forward our work on the emerging Local Plan is extremely important, the council's top priority is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its staff and its communities. For more information please see the latest statement from the Portfolio Member for Planning Services.