“SAVE OUR EPSOM GREEN BELT” PETITION
Local residents heard authoritatively that Epsom and Ewell Borough Council (EEBC) would advise to build thousands of houses on Epsom’s precious Green Belt, on the Draft Local Plan to be published on 1ST February 2023. There is a HUGE threat to Epsom’s Green Belt in areas like Downs Farm, Greater Horton Farm, Hook Road Arena to name a few. Please see the below for the timeline, although there will be a 6-week public consultation from 1st Feb(Regulation 18), the process to change this decision for the next 2.5 years would be very challenging if Green Belt is put on the “Preferred Option” list in February 2023. Local residents URGENTLY need to tell EEBC Councillors and Planning Officers that this is wrong.
It is demanded that EEBC gather all evidence to challenge the unrealistic housing target and engage swiftly and work diligently on other brownfields options, instead of entertaining opportunistic developers for this environmental vandalism. EEBC should not put Green Belt developments as its “Preferred Option” on the Draft Local Plan, which is certainly not needed and not sustainable.
Central government has set the Council an impossible and outdated high target of nearly 700 new homes every year up to 2040. That would mean 10,000 extra houses & nearly 25,000 more people in our small Borough.
EEBC has a choice …
- Like Elmbridge did, challenge the top-down housing target and focus on Brownfield Regeneration,
2. Take the easy option of quickly developing on Epsom and Ewell’s Green Belt to meet a large portion of their target.
Epsom & Ewell need affordable homes in central easily accessible locations with superb transport links. There are alternative brownfield plans which offer more affordable homes, together with town rejuvenation and employment opportunities.
Out-of-town Green Belt lands such as Downs Farm (110-acre open land on either side of College Road between Epsom and Nork) has no infrastructure (surgeries, schools, dentists are all oversubscribed), limited public transport subsequently adding hundreds more cars to the already congested and polluted roads which is certainly not a sustainable way for development.
Developing this green and beautiful land with an abundance of wildlife (skylarks, deer, bats, hedgehogs, owls, woodpeckers and many more), will set the precedent of horrendously ripping up Epsom’s Green Belt, destroying biodiversity and green space that is crucially needed right now, and changing Epsom into another over-developed urban town forever.
PLEASE TAKE ACTION NOW BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE! ONCE IT’S GONE, IT’S GONE FOREVER
- Please sign the petition https://www.change.org/EpsomGreenBelt
- Please register your objections to EEBC Councilors (Email list here: https://democracy.epsom-ewell.gov.uk/mgCommitteeMailingList.aspx?EM=0&ID=0) and Cllr Steven McCormick(Chair of the Planning Committee firstname.lastname@example.org) and other Councilors from Planning Committee: po’email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
- Write your objections to Victoria Potts (Chief Planning officer: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com)
- Please subscribe us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100087921227030
Instagram epsomgreenbelt Twitter @epsomgreenbelt
- Join our Committee please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Some other considerations:
- Will the demand for housing continue at past rates into the future, given higher mortgage costs and uncertainties related to Covid, Brexit and the war in Ukraine?
- Has the Council examined all the possibilities for development of existing brownfield sites within the Borough? An alternative plan offering a higher proportion of starter and affordable homes, together with much needed rejuvenation of central location near to fast transport links and town centre facilities, has also been put forward to the Council, but that this has NOT been fully evaluated by planning officers.
- Is the housing target set by Whitehall bureaucrats valid? No! It is based on two wrong assumptions. The first is that our local population will grow at the rate expected back in 2014, which is the date employed in the central government’s algorithm that arrives at the 700 figure. In fact, it is now clear that the 2014 projections greatly exaggerated how fast the Borough would grow. According to the 2021 Census, we had just 31,300 households whereas in 2014 this figure was expected to be 34,000, a 9% over-estimation. The second incorrect assumption is that Whitehall states that, by building more houses in the Borough, their prices will fall. We all know that this isn’t how the housing market works in this area – house builders only release as many homes onto the market as they need to in order to keep the price artificially high so that they maximise shareholder return. However, on this assumption, the algorithm substantially increases our housing target. To make matters even worse, because too few houses are being built in the Borough the target is further increased by another 20%!
- How many truly affordable homes, which are the types of houses that are needed locally, will be provided at Downs Farm and other Green Belt areas? The current Borough Plan would expect at least 35% to be affordable.
- With climate change an increasing cause of concern, shouldn’t we keep as many of our open spaces as possible?
- Instead of considering Green Belt for housing, shouldn’t the Council be promoting a restoration project for the land, for the benefits of future generations?
- What is Central Government’s view on Green Belt? The government attaches great importance to Green Belts. The NPPF states that Green Belt boundaries should only be altered where exceptional circumstances are fully evidenced and justified. Central Government policy is now also changing with Rishi Sunak having stated that brownfield developments must be the first priority, and much valued Green Belt sites are not to be released for mass housing.
- What will be the consequences? In all probability, areas such as Downs Farm will be lost forever. Downs Farm is a perfectly green, beautiful, and natural land with an abundance of wildlife on its rare chalk grassland (see the photos on our website of wild deer, 20+ bird species including skylarks, bats, hedgehogs and other animals). The Council’s own studies indicate that Downs Farm meets the requirements for land to be retained as Green Belt – it serves to separate the eastern part of Epsom from the Drift Bridge area of Reigate and Banstead. The Green Belt study concluded with respect to Downs Farm – “due to its landscape and visual sensitivity, and high sensitivity to development, it is not suitable for release”. The area is relatively poorly served by public transport, so development on Downs Farm will, inevitably, put more cars and other vehicles on to our already overcrowded roads. What assurances will there be that the additional school places and medical and social care facilities will be made available for all these extra people?
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