Have your say on Mole Valley Local Plan

Have your say on Mole Valley Local Plan
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) is encouraging local residents to participate in the District Council’s “Future Mole Valley” public consultation, which runs until 1st September. 
The District Council is consulting on its draft Local Plan – the “Issues and Options” document may be viewed online at http://www.futuremolevalley.org/ – and is holding a series of public meetings and exhibitions around the district, seeking the views of Mole Valley residents and businesses on options for development in the area over the next 15 years.
CPRE is urging local residents to take part in the consultation by completing the Future Mole Valley online survey. The group, which campaigns to promote and defend the Surrey countryside, hopes that public opinion will steer the Council towards options that focus on regeneration of urban and brownfield sites rather than allowing housebuilding and other development to sprawl out into the countryside, the Green Belt and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Andy Smith, CPRE Surrey Branch Director, says: “CPRE welcomes the publication of the Future Mole Valley plan and we applaud Mole Valley District Council for its commitment to maintaining a sensible balance between development and the protection of the countryside and character of our area. We are concerned, however, about the danger of Mole Valley being pressured into unnecessary and inappropriate development in the Green Belt and AONB, and into a scale of new development that is unsustainable in a largely rural district.
“The Council has rightly identified options such as town centre redevelopment, the reallocation of commercial and retail land for housing, and the creation of more mixed use (residential and commercial) development. There may also be a case for some suitably located extensions to towns and villages, but these must be on a small and manageable scale, and, most importantly, must be in response to genuine local needs. 
“There is no justification for the loss of countryside and open spaces if it is purely to build expensive ‘executive homes’ when the real need is for affordable and social housing. A recent report by CPRE’s National Office showed clearly that housebuilding in the Green Belt, where it had been permitted, has done nothing whatever to alleviate the housing crisis or meet genuine local housing needs.”
CPRE is particularly concerned about the proposed option of creating a new standalone settlement within the district. Mr Smith says: “We see insurmountable problems with such a proposal. Where would we find a suitable site in Mole Valley, in which a new town or village could be built, that could overcome the huge environmental, social and infrastructure constraints that exist?
“Mole Valley should continue to prioritise brownfield and urban re-development as the way to meet local housing needs. The proposal to make more innovative use of town centre car parks is very welcome. There are a number of surface car parks across the district which are a waste of land. Just as many shops have flats over the top of them, so should car parks. Similarly, the shift in patterns of working and the reduction in reliance on office space should free up commercial buildings for conversion to residential use. 
“There should be no question at all of spreading development into the countryside around our towns and villages while there are still opportunities to make better use of the land and redundant buildings within the towns.”
CPRE Surrey is calling for up to 50% of any new housing to be “genuinely affordable” and for a high proportion of social and key-worker housing to be included. The group also argues that the overall housebuilding targets for Mole Valley, arising from last year’s Kingston & North East Surrey SHMA (Strategic Housing Market Assessment), are far too high for the district, and says that the proposed housing numbers set out in the draft Local Plan Issues & Options do not take sufficient account of the constraints on development in this mainly rural area.

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