EEBC Local Plan Clutches at Green Belt Straws for Houses

Opinion Piece – #greenbelt #epsom #surrey

– Saving of Downs Farm only bright spot , as brownfield priorities missed

Given the Government’s “brownfield first” brief, it looks like the planners did not get the memo. They certainly did not get the new memo from Government saying that it is not necessary to review Green Belt for housing. And they appear not to have taken the hint from neighbouring Elmbridge, who creatively avoided any Green Belt destruction, and Mole Valley, whose councillors this month voted unanimously to remove all Green Belt sites from its Local Plan.

Out of 5,400 new homes proposed in the Draft Local Plan (2023-2040) , with Epsom & Ewell BC councillors due to take a final Section 18 publication decision on 30 January, some 2,175 homes (almost 41%) are earmarked to be built on the borough’s Green Belt land.

Of nine “Preferred Option” development sites proposed, five are Green Belt – with Downs Farm, where 650 homes were proposed, only narrowly missing the cut after a huge campaign by residents.

Over 55 hectares – or some 137 acres – of Green Belt land could be sacrificed. The plans include one gigantic estate of some 1,500 homes on land around Horton Farm, which will have its Green Belt status stripped away.

The “Preferred Options” for Green Belt development are:

  • 150 homes around West Park Hospital
  • 1,500 homes around Horton Farm
  • 25 homes next to Chantilly Way
  • 350 homes on the sports fields by Ewell East Station
  • 150 homes on sports pitches at Hook Road Arena (land owned by the Council)

Only on its own land can the Council specify 100% affordable homes – the rest will be 40% at best, as developers have many canny ways to get round this stipulation and build more profitable higher end housing.

The Council even admits that they have already taken some slugs of Green Belt land for housing, on the NESCOT campus and the five hospitals housing developments – but they need more.

There is a whole Appendix (Appendix 4) revealing yet more Green Belt sites that have been offered up by opportunistic developers in a “ Call for Sites” that have been mercifully excluded as “Preferred Options”. Much of the analysis seems subjective and open to question.

And then there is this – the previous Council Green Belt studies of 2017-19 have been considered out of date and a new 2022 Green Belt Study has been commissioned- but we all have yet to see this document.

EEBC needs to plunder more Green Belt, as it appears only a few brownfield landowners came forward in its “Call for Sites”. So the Plan is offering just around 1,000 homes in Epsom Town Centre until year 2040, and the same meagre number over 15 years on Urban Land Availability Assessment sites, and it reckons the same number again for existing planning permissions.

So where is the real challenge taken up, to redevelop Epsom Town surroundings, which most commentators agree could do with some rejuvenation, to say the least? Well, the Kiln Lane and Longmead industrial areas are said to be off limits, according to consultants for EEBC, because of the 1,800 jobs there. So not a single new brownfield affordable home is put forward here, with no imaginative plan to mix housing with job creation and revitalise an area close to the station, shops and entertainment facilities that many people prefer.

Smaller brownfield developments of around 5 to 10 homes each, do not seem to be in the Draft Plan either, although we may have missed the brownwood for the trees “We are left with the conclusion that the planners – and by extension our ruling Councillors – are in a “Call for Sites” trap. This has inhibited visionary thinking and pro-active engagement with urban developers on how much-needed affordable housing might be built in tandem with an exciting redevelopment programme that Epsom’s brownfield areas so desperately need” said Yufan Si, campaign leader for

Keep Epsom & Ewell’s Green Belt

“All they seem able to do about it is to bulldozer yet another field of our Green Belt heritage” said Ms Si.

24th January 2023

Recent News on a Brownfield Plan

Interesting Article on one of the many Brownfields Regeneration alternative options. Please see the full article via the link below.

Epsom and Ewell and indeed the whole country has a real shortage of homes. We cannot go on with a generation of young people who aspire to home ownership but have little hope of achieving this. And we must have more affordable homes locally.

As a country we are already now building more homes than at any time for decades, but there is still more to do. Locally precious little has happened in recent years. Four years ago, just before the local elections, the Borough Council was due to publish its plan for housing and for the area for the future. It was postponed then, and only now is the Council in the process of publishing and developing its local plan for the area for the next 10-15 years.

But here we do need to do all we can to meet the housing need and not nearly enough has been done on this locally in recent years.  That’s why I have proposed a comprehensive redevelopment of the Kiln Lane and Longmead areas to achieve this without building all over our green belt.

I hope that as the local plan develops the Council will adopt this plan. I think it’s the best way forward for our area.

#planning #epsom #surrey