The High Court has ruled that Elmbridge Borough Council’s scheme to develop a ‘sports hub’ at Waterside Drive, by the Thames in Walton, was unlawful. The site is a large area (14 Ha) of Green Belt land which used to consist of a small playing field for Walton Casuals FC, a large grassed area, and scrub, overlying an old landfill site. CPRE Surrey branch director Andy Smith said: said “CPRE has supported the local campaign against this development since 2015, so we are delighted with today’s judgment. It is vital that we oppose unwanted, unnecessary and inappropriate developments like this, especially when they threaten the openness of the Green Belt and destroy local tranquillity. The fact that Elmbridge Council gave itself permission for this Sports Hub development, disregarding Green Belt planning constraints, was a major concern for CPRE and we are pleased that the High Court judgment reflects this.”
Hands off the Green Belt
A joint report by CPRE and the London Green Belt Council entitled “Safe Under Us?: An investigation into widespread threats from housebuilding in the London Metropolitan Green Belt” highlights how Government policies and sanctions appear to be forcing councils to release Green Belt land for development. Drawing on local evidence provided by CPRE branches in Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, London and Surrey, the report demonstrates that the London Green Belt is likely to be under greater threat than ever. There are now plans for 203 sites within the London Green Belt including proposals for 123,528 homes.
The population of Kingston-upon-Thames & North East Surrey (Elmbridge, Epsom & Ewell and Mole Valley) is set to grow by a third over the next two decades, raising fears of massive strain on public services and the prospect of losing large swathes of the area’s Green Belt and countryside to development. This is the warning from the local Surrey and London branches of CPRE who are challenging the figures in the area’s Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), the strategic document that will play a major part in shaping the planning and housing policies of all four local authorities in this area. The SHMA sets out an overall requirement for more than 40,000 new dwellings to be built across the Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames, the Borough of Elmbridge, the Borough of Epsom & Ewell and Mole Valley District between now and 2035. CPRE said it wished to “raise the alarm about this population bombshell and what it means for local communities and countryside.”
Guildford Borough Council’s draft Local Plan has been described as “unrealistic”, “over-ambitious”, “misguided” and “unsound”. In CPRE’s 28-page submission to the Borough Council’s consultation on the Local Plan, CPRE Guildford Chairman Tim Harrold challenges Guildford’s calculation of figures for new housebuilding. Under the Plan, the Borough must find land for the building of 13,860 new houses over 20 years (693 houses per year), of which more than 8,000 are to be built on sites currently within the Green Belt. CPRE believes the maximum per-annum figure should be 481. This is based on extensive research undertaken for CPRE by planning consultants Green Balance.
Join us for our annual meeting on Friday 1st July at The Institute, 67 High Street, Leatherhead, when our guest speaker will be Oliver Hilliam, co-author of “22 ideas that saved the English countryside”. This meeting will be a celebration of 90 years of CPRE achievements (CPRE was formed in 1926) and will look at how we can best go on defending the countryside in the years and decades ahead. The meeting starts at 7.30pm (doors open 7pm). Admission free – all welcome, members & non-members.
CPRE has published a new map highlighting current threats to London’s Green Belt, which covers 84% of Surrey’s countryside but which is increasingly being “nibbled away”, say the campaigners, by inappropriate development. The map shows nearly 200 sites under threat from development, and proposals for building over 110,000 houses on supposedly “protected” Green Belt land including 41,500 houses in Hertfordshire, 27,000 in Essex, and 20,000 here in Surrey. These include the large housing schemes proposed for Wisley and for Blackwell Farm on the Hogs Back, both included in the latest draft of the Guildford Local Plan.
CPRE Surrey has welcomed the decision by Guildford Borough Council to reject the planning application for a major housing development at Three Farm Meadows, the former Wisley airfield. The vote by councillors follows the recent recommendation by the Borough Council’s planning officers to oppose the application. CPRE Surrey Branch Director Andy Smith said: “CPRE has consistently opposed building on this Green Belt site and we were pleased last month when Guildford Council planning officers recommended refusal of the latest application – and even more delighted to hear tonight that councillors had agreed with their planning officers and had voted to reject the application.