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Surrey Countryside Champions – Epsom Green Belt Group

Andy Smith
By Andy Smith
29th April 2024

In 2022, the Council released a Draft Local Plan which includes plans to build on large areas of Green Belt land across Epsom and Ewell. Residents were concerned by the loss of these areas which are very much valued by locals and the surrounding wildlife. So they decided to do something about it and the Epsom Green Belt Group was born.

The Epsom Green Belt Group aims to get the council to rethink their plans and to leave the areas of Green Belt land out of the developments. We spoke to Katherine Alexander of the Epsom Green Belt Group to find out how things are going and how residents can support their work.

1. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Please could you summarise who you are and what you do?

We are a voluntary group who are campaigning against the Council’s policies in the Draft Local Plan to build on large areas of the Green Belt in Epsom and Ewell.

2. How did the Epsom Green Belt organisation come about?

When the Draft Local Plan was issued, in late 2022, we were appalled by the prospect of losing so much valuable Green Belt.

3. What is it you aim to do?

We aim to provide accurate information about the issues involved and the need to protect these areas of Green Belt. By informing the Councillors and the public we hope to change the course of the Draft Local Plan so that the development of Green Belt sites is omitted from the final version.

4. How do you protect Green Belt land?

We hope that by raising awareness of the value of this land, we will encourage the residents of Epsom to contact their Councillors, and strongly protest about the inclusion of Green Belt sites in the areas for development.

5. Why is protecting the Epsom and Ewell Green Belt so important?

The large areas of Green Belt which are under threat from development are extremely important for wildlife and for leisure. Two of the sites include sports pitches, which would be lost, and one of these sites immediately adjoins a local Nature Reserve run by Surrey Wildlife Trust. The effect of large scale development on this Reserve would be considerable. Another site, the largest proposed for development, adjoins Horton Country Park and shares with this a huge variety of wildlife, including mammals, birds, and invertebrates. The Council is proud of the Country Park for its leisure and environmental value, yet is prepared to fully develop the site next to it for housing!

Climate change is now a reality. The areas of Green Belt under threat perform two important functions; storage and dissipation of flood water, and combating climate change by absorbing CO2.  Surface water levels are very high on some of these sites, and the impact of development would be to increase flooding in adjoining areas.

All the threatened areas are valued by the public for different reasons, but at the moment the Council appears to be deaf to our objections.

6. How can Surrey residents get involved and support this project?

By writing to the Councillors and the Planning Officers voicing their opposition to the Draft Local Plan proposals! We now have a very informative website which includes helpful guidance on what points residents can make in their objection letters. And it would be extremely helpful if residents would spread the word among their friends and neighbours and on Facebook.

We need to convince the Councillors and Planners to change their minds!

7. Your team are doing amazing work. When you’re not busy protecting the green belt what is your favourite Surrey greenspace to explore?

Box Hill and Epsom Downs were a favourite spots when I was a child.  Now I love walking around Norbury Park, and riding my horse around Epsom Common.

Image of Epsom Green Belt Land. Wide open green field with blue sky and white fluffy clouds. Horses are grazing in the field.