A determined group of Epsom & Ewell residents, representing over 1,700 petitioners , that took to the podium at last night’s Planning Committee (Jan 19th) at Epsom Town Hall to ask councillors eleven questions about the threat of Green Belt sites being included as “Preferred Options” in the imminent Draft Local Plan.
Given every indication that the Government no longer thinks Green Belt reviews are necessary with housing targets advisory only, and fresh from Mole Valley District Coucil’s unanimous vote to remove Green Belt sites, residents challenged the councillors and planners to seize the opportunity to save the Green Belt now and focus on brownfield sites for new affordable homes.
In answer to one question about whether planners had consulted HM Inspectors about Green Belt removal, council officers confirmed that, as EEBC was at an initial stage of decision taking , they had no need to consult the Inspectorate at this time, unlike Mole Valley are now required to do.
Given this difference, residents believe that it will now be entirely the responsibility of Councillors – the majority of whom are Residents Association voted in to preserve Epsom & Ewell’s special character, if Green Belt land ends up being destroyed forever. According to CPRE, over 99% of sites earmarked for development by local authorities eventually get built upon, so it is both crucial and necessary to ensure no Green Belt sites are included at the outset.
Residents vow to return to make more representations at the final decision-taking Planning Committee meeting on 30th January before the EEBC Draft Plan is published on 1st February 2023.
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