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Save Tandridge District - Local Plan Appeal

Tandridge District Council wants to build on large swathes of the Green Belt despite the fact that this is a mainly rural District with no big towns, few local jobs, and little infrastructure.

OLRG has engaged legal and planning experts to help us take part in the Local Plan process. They have made clear that the Council's documents are not compliant with Government policy, do not achieve sustainable development, and are not justified or effective. In short, they are not fit for purpose.

We are determined to fight the Council's flawed Plan and have launched an appeal for funds to pay for the experts' continued input.

If you would like to help and are able to make a donation - £100, £50, £25, £10 or anything at all - it will make a big difference in the fight to protect the local Green Belt and to protect local infrastructure from being swamped.

There are 3 ways to donate:

1. By bank transfer to: account name 'Oxted & Limpsfield Residents' at Santander, sort code: 09 06 66, account no: 43510171

2. Send a cheque made payable to 'Oxted & Limpsfield Residents' to PO BOX 233, Oxted Post Office, Station Road West, Oxted, RH8 9EH

3. The PayPal button under 'Donate Here' in the box above.

Thank you.

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14 August - 9 October 2017
Local Plan 'Garden Village' Consultation - the facts:

Tandridge District Council wants to build a new settlement of at least 4,000 houses in the Green Belt at either Blindley Heath, South Godstone, Redhill Aerodrome or land between Lingfield and Edenbridge. It is holding a consultation which runs until 9 October.

It also wants to build in the Green Belt everywhere else too.

And that will happen first if the Plan is not stopped because any 'Garden Village' will not be ready for 10 - 15 years or more. In the meantime, the rest of the Plan, known as the Preferred Strategy, will take effect and that is to:

* Build on Green Belt land around all the main settlements which are Oxted, Limpsfield, Hurst Green, Caterham on the Hill, Caterham Valley, Warlingham, Whyteleafe, Godstone, Lingfield and Smallfield.

* Build on open spaces.

* Take villages that are currently in the Green Belt out of the Green Belt, so opening them up to development.

* Continue infill building within the settlement boundaries.

The Council says its Plan will be 'infrastructure led' but we believe there will be no proper infrastructure to support all this building. This Council has no track record of providing infrastructure and there is already a large infrastructure deficit. The Preferred Strategy makes it clear it can't be guaranteed going forward either.

The Council wants to meet a huge housing need figure, more than 90% of which is to accommodate inward migration that has nothing to do with local need.

This figure is NOT imposed by Central Government and Councils DO NOT have to meet it despite the impression the Council is giving that it has no choice. It is the Council's own choice to do so.

This is a small Council, short of funds, and we believe money is the driving force - currently around 20% of its income comes from the New Homes Bonus. The more it builds, the more money it gets.

Now it wants to carry on building at an even greater rate and that means the loss of large amounts of Green Belt.

There has already been an exceptionally high amount of house-building in Tandridge District resulting in a very large amount of inward migration. This has not brought affordable housing for local people - instead, those moving in to the area with higher salaries have pushed up house prices.

The Council is relying on jobs located and created elsewhere rather than local jobs so that residents will have to commute out, mainly by car, which is not sustainable development.

The Council's Strategy is unsustainable. Expert opinion has made clear that the evidence documents on which it is based are seriously flawed and not compliant with Government Policy. These have still not been corrected.

The consultation runs from tomorrow until 9 October click here

We very much hope that when you are responding to the consultation, you will include your views about the whole Preferred Strategy and not only comment on the sites for a new settlement.

Also, whatever comments you do make about the individual sites, we would urge you not to say that you are in favour of any other site because, by doing so, you will be accepting the principle of massive Green Belt development in Tandridge District for huge amounts of inward migration.

You can submit comments by:

1. Email localplan@tandridge.gov.uk OR

2. Letter marked 'Local Plan Consultation' to: Tandridge District Council, Council Offices, 8 Station Road East, Oxted, Surrey, RH8 0BT OR

3. Using the Council's consultation 'portal' click here. You will have to register first to be able to take part this way.

The Preferred Strategy has never been publicly consulted on. Instead, it was simply agreed on by the Conservatives and the 6 Liberal Democrat Councillors on Tandridge District Council. We believe it has no validity in terms of public support. On the contrary, there is widespread opposition to it throughout the District and it does not reflect the results of the Local Plan consultation so far.

Only OLRG's 2 Councillors and 2 Independents are fighting it.

Last year, the Oxted & Limpsfield Residents Group (OLRG) put up 2 candidates for election to Tandridge District Council. They won with big majorities and big turnouts and one reason was the major public concern about the failings in the Council's Local Plan proposals. Our first candidate, Jackie Wren, defeated the Council leader with a landslide win.

Since then, 2 Conservative Councillors, Liz Lockwood (Lingfield & Crowhurst) and Clive Manley (Portley Ward, Caterham) have gone Independent because of their concerns about the Local Plan and have joined forces with OLRG.

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Tandridge District Council puts Green Belt up for grabs with flawed Local Plan proposals


In December 2016, OLRG submitted its second expert opinion response - this time to Tandridge Council's Local Plan Sites Consultation - which again makes clear the Council's proposals are not fit for purpose and do not form the basis for a sound Local Plan. It can be read on the first link in the box above or click here

In addition to comments on individual site assessments, the key points the experts have made are:

* The consultation is based on an inflated and unreliable objectively assessed housing need (OAN) figure.

* The Council's documents consistently misquote the definition of sustainable development set out in Paragraph 14 of the Government's National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which explains that the Green Belt is a policy that indicates development should be restricted. This omission was first identified in the Collective Representation submitted last February by OLRG, 11 Parish Councils, 7 other community groups and the Tandridge branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England. The Council acknowledged this omission in its Consultation Response. Despite that, the Sites Consultation documents once again misquote the NPPF and this once again calls into question whether there is any priority being placed on protecting the Green Belt in the Local Plan.

* The Green Belt Assessment Part 2 is flawed and has not been carried out in line with Government policy. There is an imprecise and inaccurate analysis of the Green Belt purposes performed by specific areas of the Green Belt promoted for development.

* In assessing suitability, the Council's site assessments (that is the HELAA 2016, as with the HELAA 2015), do not meet the requirements of Government guidance and omit key evidence.

* The Consultation is being conducted in the absence of any strategic planning context for the District.

* The Council has not corrected its earlier Local Plan documents despite the flaws being pointed out to it in the Collective Representation. Until they are corrected, they should not form the basis for assessing site options or for the long term planning strategy for Tandridge District.

We are concerned about Tandridge Council's decision to keep open its Sites list for developers/landowners to submit sites for development until December 30 - the same day as its Local Plan Sites Consultation closed.

Inevitably, this has meant a number of sites were submitted too late for people to comment on them, including 3 of the sites put forward for a new settlement.

After persistent requests from OLRG Councillor Jackie Wren, Tandridge Council has now published a list of the extra sites. We felt it was very important to get these sites published as soon as possible so that residents were aware of them.

There are new sites in Hurst Green and Limpsfield together with some new large sites around the District including in Chaldon, Bletchingley, Blindley Heath, Dormansland, Lingfield and Woldingham.

To read the full additional site list click here

We do not understand why the Council did not close the site list for the current Local Plan before going out for consultation. The problem with what has happened is that a third Regulation 18 Consultation is now necessary and - as well as the extra cost at a time when the Council is facing serious financial problems - this has delayed even further the next stage, Regulation 19, and the production of the final Local Plan.

In June 2016, the Council delayed the Local Plan by a year which meant it missed this year's Government deadline.

The longer the delay with getting a sound Local Plan before the Planning Inspectorate for Examination, the greater the risk of speculative planning applications being submitted by developers on Green Belt sites. This, coupled with the Council's inadequate Green Belt assessments which put the Green Belt at unjustified risk, is a real worry.

We are anxious that a sound Local Plan is submitted to the Planning Inspectorate as soon as possible.


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OLRG is an independent and non-political group. We stood for election because we were shocked by the poor quality of the Tandridge Local Plan documents which experts have made clear are seriously flawed, by the inadequate scrutiny of the planning officers' work, and by the inadequate and confusing public consultation.

The Local Plan documents claim 9,400 new houses are needed - up to 90 per cent of this figure is to accommodate inward migration. This is 470 new houses every year, almost 4 times the current housing target. It would mean a likely increase of a third in the District's population with approximately one new house built for every four existing, and would mean the loss of large areas of the Tandridge Green Belt.

Experts have shown that this need figure is inflated, unreliable and contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework and National Planning Practice Guidance.

In putting it forward, the Council has contradicted its own evidence given to the Planning Inspectorate at a recent Public Inquiry.

The Council's Green Belt assessments have not been carried out in line with Government planning policy. They unjustifiably weaken protection for the Tandridge Green Belt by understating its importance because the 5 purposes of the Green Belt listed in the Government's National Planning Policy Framwork, have not been assessed properly. As a result, the Council has concluded Green Belt land meets fewer of the purposes than it actually does.

There are a vast number of Green Belt sites across the District together with open spaces and recreation grounds that the Council has listed as 'deliverable and developable'. To see the sites near you click here and open "HELAA Appendix 3".

The Council has listed deliverable and developable sites for more than 1200 new houses around Oxted, Limpsfield and Hurst Green - 980 of them are on our local Green Belt.

The sites include:

OXT 006 Chichele field, Oxted (150 houses)

OXT 007 Stoney field beside St Mary's Church, Oxted (250 houses)

OXT 025 Holland Road, Hurst Green (165 houses)

The Council's documents have provoked a storm of criticism from across Tandridge District for their poor quality, their misrepresentation of the District and the issues it faces, and their failure to give any information about how jobs or infrastructure would be provided to support the massive amount of new development proposed or to meet the existing infrastructure deficit caused by the massive amount of new development that has already taken place - for many years, Tandridge Council has been building roughly double its housing target.

This scale of building has already put intolerable and unsustainable pressure on infrastructure such as schools, health services, roads, rail services and parking which are struggling to cope with the existing demand. Other services, such as water, landfill and cemeteries are also at full capacity.


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February 2016 - our response to the Tandridge Local Plan Consultation

OLRG commissioned legal, planning and demographic experts to review the Council's documents. The result can be read on the second link in the box at the top of this page - see Collective Reg 18 Representation.

It is more than 90 pages of expert evidence. As well as OLRG, it is supported by 11 of Tandridge District's Parish Councils, 7 other community groups and the Tandridge branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

It explains why the Council's work does not comply with national policy and unnecessarily puts our precious Green Belt, and our infrastructure, at serious risk.

It makes clear that the evidence base is flawed and contradictory, the housing need figure is inflated, and the Green Belt assessments have not been carried out properly. In short, the Local Plan documents are not fit for purpose for developing a sound Local Plan.

No account has been taken of the existing strains on infrastructure or of how it would cope with such a significant increase in population.

In its documents, the Council stated that it had written to all 10 surgeries in the District to ask for comments but received "no responses" and so had concluded "there is no indication of any specific requirements at this present time."

Oxted Health Centre then made clear it never received any letter from the Council's Planning Department. Therefore its views were not taken into account in preparing the Local Plan documents.

The Health Centre has now highlighted how stretched resources are, with more than 2,000 patients per full time partner. The Oxted Health Centre Patients Participation Group (PPG), which represents the 17,000 patients, has also now submitted a response to the Local Plan consultation which says health services in the area are under significant strain with the present population.

The Council's options (Delivery Strategies) are not compliant with national planning policy. Options 3-6 propose large amounts of building on the Green Belt as well as open spaces and recreation grounds. These options are based on an unreliable needs figure which includes unrealistic economic assumptions that are being used to justify extensive release of Green Belt for inherently unsustainable development.

Soon after submitting our representation, the Council insisted that the Local Plan is not flawed despite saying that it will take five months to consider the comments submitted to its consultation. This appears to make a mockery of the consultation process.

And in June 2016, Tandridge District Council told OLRG it does not think the expert opinion document "has identified any significant flaws in the process."

The Council's Chief Executive, Louise Round, said: "OLRG Regulation 18 response (incorrect reference to the Collective Regulation 18 response) - my position and that of the Council is that of course we would not want to proceed to examination of the local plan on the basis of a document which is fundamentally flawed which is why, given the complexity of the process, we have sought external advice where that is appropriate. That external advice has supported our approach."

As a result of that statement, we asked to see a copy of the external advice the Council had received to support its view on the expert opinion document. Ms Round then said there was none and that she had been using the words "external advice" that "has supported our approach" to refer to some of the original Local Plan work done by consultants many months before the expert opinion document was submitted...

And so the Council's view on the experts' work is based solely on the opinion of its own Planning Department...

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The third link in the box at the top of this page has a separate representation solely from OLRG, called OLRG Reg 18 Representation. It deals with the flaws in the settlement hierarchy assessment for Oxted, inadequate infrastructure assessment, procedural deficiencies, and the problems Tandridge residents have had with the consultation process.

There is widespread concern that the consultation was inadequately publicised and that the little publicity there was failed to make clear the contents of the Plan. The documents are opaque and confusing, at times misleading, with important facts buried in footnotes.

In particular, many residents are concerned about the Council's incorrect paraphrasing of the requirement to meet housing need which has misled some into thinking the housing need figure has to be met even if that means building on the Green Belt. That is not correct, Green Belt is specifically mentioned in national planning policy as a reason for not meeting a need figure.

The OLRG representation also includes a section on the Settlement Hierarchy document which persistently attempts to portray Tandridge's small settlements as larger and better resourced than they actually are. Efforts are made to equate them to large towns like Crawley, Redhill and East Grinstead. The larger and more sustainable they are made out to be, the more development will be directed towards them.

In another of the Council's Local Plan documents, Oxted, Limpsfield and Hurst Green are frequently erroneously described as an "urban conurbation." The definition of the word conurbation is 'an extended urban area, typically consisting of several towns merging with the suburbs of a central city.'

We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who kindly donated money to pay for the experts' input. Thanks also to everyone who has copied us their emails and letters to Tandridge Council expressing their views on the Plan which have been invaluable in making our response.


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OLRG is taking part in the Local Plan process with the aim of protecting the local environment, of protecting local infrastructure from being swamped by overdevelopment, of meeting local need rather than London's need, and of achieving a reasonable and proportionate outcome for Tandridge District.


Membership is free. Join now by emailing oxted.residents@btinternet.com

OLRG has more than 2,700 members - the larger it is, the stronger our voice. Please do join and encourage others to join. All you need to do is email oxted.residents@btinternet.com or write to: Oxted & Limpsfield Residents Group, PO Box 233, Oxted Post Office, Station Road West, Oxted, RH8 9EH.

Most members are from Oxted & Limpsfield, but there are others from across Tandridge and anyone in the district is welcome to join. OLRG is a member of the National Organisation of Residents Associations.


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Ring Bark

NB: This picture shows one of the trees on the Chichele field in Oxted that was deliberately destroyed by developers. Ten large old trees, including a number of mature oaks, were ring barked. Men with chainsaws cut away the bark ensuring that the trees would slowly die. Very many people expressed their disgust at this behaviour.

For more details see the headline "The Story So Far". No planning application has yet been submitted for the Chichele Green Belt field but one is expected at any time.