Sadiq Khan’s draft London Plan makes Green Belt protection a priority

Sadiq Khan’s draft London Plan makes Green Belt protection a priority

The Surrey Branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has welcomed the draft London Plan, published last week by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, and has called for local authorities in Surrey to revise their own Local Plans to take account of the Mayor’s proposals.

CPRE, which is fighting to defend Green Belt countryside and green spaces threatened by development pressures in Surrey, believes that local councils outside London should emulate Mr Khan’s pledge to protect the Green Belt. Surrey in fact has a higher proportion of Green Belt land than Greater London, but in CPRE’s view many local authorities in the county have shown less commitment to protecting this precious natural asset than has the London Mayor.

The Mayor’s draft Plan states categorically: “The Plan aims to accommodate all of London’s growth within its boundaries without intruding on its Green Belt or other protected open spaces.” CPRE is calling for borough and district councils in Surrey to amend their own draft Local Plans to follow London’s lead and guarantee protection for the Green Belt.

Statements in the London Plan which are welcomed by CPRE Surrey include the Mayor’s pledge to “Protect London’s open spaces, including the Green Belt, Metropolitan Open Land, designated nature conservation sites and local spaces”, to “promote the creation of new green infrastructure and urban greening” and to “work with boroughs and other strategic partners to enhance access to the Green Belt and to improve the quality of these areas in ways that are appropriate within the Green Belt.”

CPRE is also impressed by the London Mayor’s commitment to create “places of higher density in appropriate locations to get more out of limited land, encouraging a mix of land uses, and co-locating different uses to provide communities with a wide range of services and amenities.” The campaign group also welcomes the Mayor’s aim to make 50% of all new homes in London “genuinely affordable” which in turn would also reduce the pressures on Surrey.

CPRE Surrey is urging Surrey councils to acknowledge that if Sadiq Khan says that all London’s growth can be met “within London” by building on brownfield and urban sites, and increasing urban development densities, then inevitably the pressures for population growth in areas outside London will be reduced.

CPRE Surrey Branch Director Andy Smith explains: “Local authorities around Surrey all assume a high proportion of population growth, and therefore housing need, in their districts, and much of this increase represents inward migration from London. Coupled with this, the latest immigration statistics show a drop of over 100,000 in the annual rate of international migration into England – this also must surely affect Surrey.

“With all these changes, the ‘housing need’ figures which Surrey’s local authorities are currently using could well be out-of-date. In several districts, it is assumed that between a half and two thirds of all new housing demand is generated by inward migration, mostly into Surrey from London. And in Mole Valley almost the entire projected increase in population supposedly originates in London. But if migration levels are now dropping sharply, and if the London Mayor believes that his city can accommodate its own growth adequately within its own boundaries, surely this means that Surrey districts need to build far fewer new homes.”

CPRE Surrey is calling on all Surrey councils to follow London’s example – by committing to protect the whole of the Green Belt, by increasing the proportion of affordable and social housing within their Local Plans, and by revising down their districts’ housing targets to reflect London’s commitment to meet all of the city’s growth within its own borders, and the fact that the rate of international immigration is dropping. “We believe that the housebuilding targets for all the Surrey districts should be significantly reduced to reflect these major changes,” says Mr Smith.

-ENDS

For further information please contact: Andy Smith, CPRE Surrey Branch Director, tel 01372 362720, mobile 07737 271676, email cpre.surrey@btconnect.com

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