Housing Meeting notes

Elmbridge Insight Forum

Tuesday 19th November 2019 Meeting

Local Housing Plan

Summary of meeting:

Della Reynolds opened the meeting by citing three key issues.

  1.  According to EBC (Elmbridge Borough Council) the purpose of the local plan and consultation is to shape new development to meet the needs of the residents.
  2. The overbuild target delivered by central government via the ‘Standard Methodology’ has pushed our housing target up to 9,345. This is putting pressure on our green belt which local residents wish to preserve. 
  3. Points 1 & 2 are mutually exclusive. The policy of dividing Elmbridge into sub-areas has made it difficult for local residents and campaign groups to see the bigger picture. 

Tim Murphy from CPRE (Campaign to protect rural England) provided some interesting information applicable to Surrey and the South East.  I bullet point main points here. Tim is keen to set up an Elmbridge CPRE group if there is interest. 

  • All parties agree that 300,000 homes should be build every year to solve the housing crisis. This target does not necessarily represent housing need or population growth.
  • In the SE the housing crisis is in affordable housing. [EBC have given a target of 70% affordable housing need]. 
  • Affordability requires social housing to be prioritised and made available for social rent at 50% market rate.  [It would also require an end to ‘right to buy’ if local councils are to invest in building social housing]. 
  • The private sector has consistently built about 160,000 homes per year. It is unlikely that they could build the 300,000 required.  [Leaving a gap for local councils to fill]
  • Since the Land Compensation Act of 1961, it has been difficult for councils to acquire building land as they must pay the full value of the land with planning permission which is 100x the cost of the land without planning permission. Private developers can buy land at cost price before planning permission has been granted then apply for planning permission later. Once given, the value of the land they purchased immediately increases in value. 
  • There are not enough brownfield sites to build the number of homes set by central government. There are basically two options, build in greater density by going up or release areas of greenbelt. 
  • The target of 9,345 homes is linked to affordability but there is no evidence that building more homes in the SE would reduce prices. 
  • We need to build the homes which match our population growth and there is concern that government will not release the latest ONS population projections which Tim believes show a drop in projected population growth.  
  • Tim estimates that one third of our housing need is natural growth and two thirds internal migration with people mainly relocating from London. 
  • The London Mayor says he will keep growth inside the London boundaries. 
  • The CPRE did not support any of the options in the recent consultation as they either damaged green belt or damaged the character of the urban environment.
  • CPRE recommend higher density, good design, social housing as a priority. 
  • CPRE do not agree with the ARUP report on poorly performing green belt. 
  • Tim Murphy concluded by suggesting that all the local authorities combined together to push back against the over-build targets. 

Geoff Bills – local activist.  Using evidence supplied by Geoff Bills a local activist who has made a number of information requests, Della Reynolds presented a slide show looking at links between our growing housing target and the projected population growth within the GLA.  There is no ‘smoking gun’ evidence which confirms that EBC are prepared to take in London overspill from the GLA but there is evidence which suggests that the squeeze within the London area is putting pressure on reclassifying green belt which currently lies on the Elmbridge/London border in a bid to open it up to developers. Area 58 in Long Ditton has been designated by ARUP as ‘poorly performing’ and this green belt land lies alongside the London boundary. 

This timeline shows that in 2011 it was accepted by all parties that Elmbridge needed to build just 3,375 homes in 15 years. By 2017 this had risen to 9,345 homes thanks to the government’s standard methodology which produced an overbuild figure which does not relate to local need or to our ability to provide suitable space. The projected population growth in London following the 2014 census appears to be the trigger for revising the Elmbridge housing target. 

  • 2011  –   3,375 net additional dwellings over 15 years accepted.​
  • 2012  –   National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) released.​
  • 2014  –   Census in London doubles expected pop growth from 50,000 to 100,00 pa. ​
  • 2015  –   (March) London Plan published.​
  • 2015  –   (May) ARUP review of greenbelt in EBC.​
  • 2017  –   (Feb) consultation draft identifies 3 strategic areas for​ greenbelt status 

                         removal including area 58, Long Ditton.​

  • 2017  –   9 days after consultation closes Taylor Wimpey take ownership of ​

                            Rose Nursery/One Tree Hill location Long Ditton.​

  • 2017  –   Sub-areas identified.  

                        Government ‘standardised methodology’ delivers over-build target of 9,345

                        homes over 15 years. 

  • 2018  –   Revised NPPF plan released which uses standard methodology uplift target.​

Julie Hennig – campaigner from Hampton Court Action Campaign addressed the audience last to discuss the planned development at the Jolly Boatman/Hampton court station site. She showed a series of slides to demonstrate the way in which the 

Hampton Court Way would be affected by the proposed development which is not in keeping with current low-rise development. Julie and the campaign team are concerned that the company who have registered the Jolly Boatman land-title are based off-shore in the Isle of Man and therefore beyond the reach of UK authorities due to a lack of transparency. 

http://www.hamptoncourtrescuecampaign.com

“The Boatman’s land-title has been registered since 2014 to Alexpo (Isle of Man) Ltd. This offshore Co. is the chosen joint-venture partner with Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd. and has tabled a scheme that includes 97 apartments, an 84 bedroom hotel, cafés/restaurants, a mini-supermarket and a car park for 207 spaces. However, when the application for this huge scheme was submitted to Elmbridge, the proposals were attributed to another entity, Alexpo Ltd. The key detail that the applicant was offshore-registered had been omitted. The Company listed on the declaration did not actually exist at the time.”

This development, which includes an additional 80 flats at the level crossing at Summer Road plus a possibility of more on Unit 3 and the pony field adjacent to the level crossing will not deliver the affordable homes required in Elmbridge but will deliver potential ‘investment properties’ due to their proximity to the station.  Richard Patient from ‘Your Shout’ the PR company employed to deliver public engagement on the project has been out campaigning during the election period. Here is Richard Patient’s cv. 

More information on the Jolly Boatman/Hampton Court proposal can be seen here:  Hampton Court Rescue Campaign

Conclusions:

In discussions from the floor there was general agreement that the 9,345 overbuild target set by the government’s ‘standard methodology’ bore no relation to our actual housing need or our capacity to build more homes. EBC appear to be under great pressure to square the circle and find ways in which the total number of homes can be built without damage to the greenbelt or to the character of our communities. There is a continual threat from London overspill and the greenbelt in Long Ditton is functioning as it should, to separate London from Elmbridge. Under this criteria area 58 could not be considered to be ‘poorly performing’.  We agree with Tim Murphy from CPRE that we must all get together, across Elmbridge and if possible across Surrey and the SE to challenge these arbitrary housing targets set by central government. 

Houses of Parliament,

Westminster,

London SW1A 0AA

Dear Mr Raab,

at the hustings you said that during your time as Housing Minister (January 2018 – July 2018) you had strengthened protections for the greenbelt.  Can you please provide details of your actions at this time which strengthened protection for the greenbelt?

You also said that you opposed the building plans for area 58 in Long Ditton and those in Cobham. Can you confirm that following your opposition, neither of these areas will be included in the Elmbridge local plan?

Can you outline any actions you have taken to mitigate against the uplift figure which puts pressure on Elmbridge to build on green belt land? This uplift figure comes as a result of the ‘standard methodology’ which was introduced in the updated NPPF in July 2018 – at the time you were Minister for Housing.

Can you confirm that the following individuals/groups gave donations to you as listed in the Donors Registration for 2019?

  • Toby Ward – operations consultant at ARUP with specialist expertise with Crossrail and Heathrow.  
  • Dunmoore West London Ltd – letting and real estate
  • Arbuthnot Banking Group in connection with Arbuthnot Latham – a property investment bank.  £44,258 to supply a member of staff to Mr Raab’s office for 6 months. 
  • IPGL – Broker and asset management.  
  • Sir Michael Hintze – Hedge Fund manager 
  • Cerus Engineering – specialised construction activities.  
  • Dominic Burke – Investment director at Lankelly Chase Foundation. An endowment foundation with assets from land and property management. 
  • Martin Harris – Director of Accuracy who provide a forensic analysis of construction delay with a specialism in arbitration and Appeal Court litigation

We are preparing for a public meeting in February to which the local press will be invited and wish to ensure that our facts are accurate. 

I look forward to hearing from you.

Della Reynolds

Elmbridge Insight Forum. 

First sent 16.1.20  recorded delivery signed for

Re sent 31.1.20 recorded delivery next day delivery

From Radio 4 Today broadcast 26.2.20 - are developers making too much money and running an Oligopoly?

Radio 4 - The Bottom Line - planners and developers. 22.2.20

An update on Local Plans which have been rejected.
This part is of interest as it is clear that central government want to take no responsibility for the release of greenbelt land for development.

 

An Inspector cannot force a council to release GB where the LPA has not made the case for ‘exceptional circumstances’. This was confirmed through correspondence in 2014 between the Planning Inspectorate and the Sec of State with regards to the Reigate and Banstead LP. The letter from the Sec of State made it clear that, whilst it has always been the case that LPAs can adjust the boundary of GB through their local plan process

“It must however always be transparently clear that it is the local authority itself which has chosen that path”

To read in full click here: Local Housing Plans rejected

  
 

Yet it is of interest to note that in the document it is clear that central government have a range of tools to apply should LPA (local councils) deviate from a housing plan which doesn’t meet central government targets. These tools include direct intervention from the secretary of state.