In January 2021, Elmbridge Community Assembly member, Tony Charlesworth began a round-robin email regarding housing numbers and development across Elmbridge which culminated in the formation of a community alliance committed to pushing back against the high housing numbers for our area. Bringing the various campaign groups together enables residents to speak with one, united voice.
The Alliance of Elmbridge Residents and Civic Groups (AERC) have prepared a letter to political organisations. They aim to influence councillors and candidates standing in the May local election to discover which candidates and/or parties are most likely to assist in pushing back on the central government housing targets. You can read their position statement below.
Alliance of Elmbridge Residents and Civic Groups
Statement of Position on the preparation of the Elmbridge Local Plan made to the political organisations in Elmbridge.
We are an alliance of Residents and Civic Groups speaking for many thousands of residents right across Elmbridge. We are highly concerned that the current Government imposed housing target for the preparation of the Local Plan in Elmbridge, 633 new dwellings per annum (some 9,500 over the fifteen- year period), will destroy the character of our towns and villages. This number would result in intensification on a grotesque scale and/ or see the release of Green Belt land for development.
Most residents in the borough understand that more dwellings are needed and especially affordable homes. However, they categorically do not want to see a level of development imposed on Elmbridge that would change its character forever and turn it into another overdeveloped London borough.
With the local elections upon us, you will be acutely aware that the issue of the Local Plan will be foremost in many electors’ minds and will be one of the first issues the new Council will need to resolve.
The basis for the preparation of the Local Plan, NPPF paragraph 60, means the housing target for the next 15 years must be either:
- The Government issued figure of 633 new dwellings per annum; or
- A locally developed target derived from first principles and justified by the council arguing that there are many exceptional local circumstances – only 43% urban land supply being just one.
The Covid-19 pandemic is permanently changing land use around the Borough and will have a significant impact on land supply for housing. Amongst other factors, the presence of permanently vacated office and retail buildings, much-changed commuting habits, and the greater importance of green spaces, must materially change the planning and development landscape and has to be considered in the context of the Local Plan.
This Alliance believes the Council should show strength of resolve, reject the Government figure of 633 and adopt the latter approach which we believe can be wholly and objectively justified. For many local reasons Elmbridge can justify not adopting the Government’s figure and such an approach is allowed under Law. Basing our figure on local needs using up to date figures would result in an achievable Local Plan that did not lead to unacceptable intensification. Incidentally, the 633 figure is more than double that achieved by Elmbridge in recent years and many view it as unachievable.
We urge you to make clear, in your election manifestos and material, and, if elected, subsequent actions, that your party and candidates are strongly against a Local Plan based on a housing number of 633 new dwellings per annum. This is a perfectly acceptable stance, since it is regarded as being ‘pre-disposed’ and not ‘pre-determined’.
We urge you to explain that such a housing target would result in unacceptable urban intensification across the Borough and that declassification of any Green Belt land, would expose it all to challenges from housing developers. Furthermore, that, if your candidates are elected, you will strongly encourage them to vote against any Local Plan containing such proposals.
The Covid-19 pandemic has made most people very much more aware of the quality of life in their local surroundings. They categorically want that quality enhanced not destroyed. So, this is your chance to put a popular and a sound message before your electorate!
This note is supported by the following
Alliance of Elmbridge Residents and Civic Groups:
Blu-Wav Group Oxshott
Cobham Conservation and Heritage Trust
Cobham and Downside Residents Association
Elmbridge Community Assembly
FEDORA – the Voice of Oxshott
Long Ditton Residents Association
Oxshott Way Residents Association
Save HWLD Green Belt
Stoke D’Abernon Residents Association
Stop Wrecking Thames Ditton and Beyond Summer Road Action Group
The Weybridge Society
Organisations with a political affiliation who support this statement:
Elmbridge Conservative Group
Esher Residents Association
Other organisations who support this statement:
Thames Ditton & Gigs Hill Green Conservation Area Advisory Committee