Green Belt Fields Green Belt Fields Green Belt Fields Green Belt Fields Green Belt Fields Green Belt Fields Green Belt Fields Green Belt Fields Green Belt Fields Green Belt Fields Green Belt Fields
Bark Ringed old oak by Village Developments

Old Oak Ring-Barked


SAVE THE GREEN BELT

PUBLIC INQUIRY 14 - 16 OCTOBER

This is the final part of the Public Inquiry which started in June and had to be extended due to the large amount of evidence being heard. It is running for 3 more days from 14th to 16th October.

The Inquiry has been brought about by Village Developments (see below) which is claiming that thousands more homes should be built in the district, threatening the local Green Belt and putting huge pressure on local schools, health services, roads and parking.

Hundreds of local people have donated to our Green Belt appeal and this generosity means that we are being represented at the Inquiry by Paul Brown QC. We have put together an excellent case for protecting our green spaces.

If the developers are successful, Green Belt land across Tandridge District, including the Chichele field in Oxted, will be under threat like never before, along with the whole nature and character of the district.

Green Belt sites are being targeted while brownfield sites, like the Oxted gasholder, are left undeveloped because they are not as profitable.

Oxted & Limpsfield Residents Group (OLRG), Caterham on the Hill Parish Council and Woldingham Parish Council have joined together as a party to the Inquiry. Some other Parish Councils and other community groups have given their support.

We have submitted a large amount of evidence to prove that the Council is more than meeting the housing requirement and should be left alone to review that requirement without interference.

If you are able to make a donation to help save the Green Belt - £100, £50, £25, £10, it will make a huge difference in the battle to protect our beautiful environment.

The residents group needs to employ specialists, as the developers are doing, to make sure we are effectively represented.

You can donate via PayPal to Oxted & Limpsfield Residents by clicking here:


Or send a cheque payable to 'Oxted & Limpsfield Residents' to PO BOX 233, Oxted Post Office, Station Road West, Oxted, RH8 9EH. Thank you.


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THE CHICHELE TREES

In August 2013, Tandridge Council launched a prosecution of Village Developments and ATC Arboriculturalists Ltd regarding the ring barking of 4 oaks on Chichele field. The prosecution centred around a Tree Preservation Order - click here

The two firms challenged the prosecution in the High Court. In February 2014, after a two day hearing, the judge ruled that the TPO had not been served properly. As a result, the TPO was quashed and the prosecution has been dropped.

The picture on this page shows one of the old oaks that was killed - men with chainsaws cut away the bark ensuring that the trees would slowly die. Very many people have expressed their disgust at this behaviour.

NB: As of September 2014, no planning application has been submitted for the Chichele field but one is expected at any time.

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THE STORY SO FAR

Early in 2013, it became clear that developers were preparing to submit a planning application for around 140 houses on the Green Belt field behind Chichele Road between St Mary's School and Oxted School. Agents for Village Developments asked Tandridge Council if an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) would be needed to support the application. The Council decided that it would be.

This was challenged by the developer, but the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, confirmed the Council's view, ruling that an Environmental Statement should be carried out on the field because 'the proposal would be likely to have significant effects on the environment, because of its nature, size and location.'

Soon after the Council's EIA decision, 10 large old trees on the land, including mature oaks, were deliberately destroyed by ring-barking.

An email to OLRG from Nigel Greenhalgh, writing as managing director of Village Developments but who is also a director and shareholder of Oxted Residential Limited says: 'We have ring barked our own trees which in any event, would have been removed to enable development. We are fully entitled to deal with trees that are on land owned by Oxted Residential Limited.'

Several well used and established entrances to the Chichele field were blocked off with hoardings and barbed wire by Oxted Residential Limited so that residents could no longer access the land. OLRG collected 74 statements from residents about their long standing usage of the field and, in November, we submitted an application to Surrey County Council for 4 rights of way across the field. Unfortunately, the County Council has said it takes several years to process such applications.

Since news of this potential development became public the residents group has been bombarded with emails from people shocked and dismayed by the proposal and by the ring barking of the trees. Residents have been appalled by this pre-emptive strike before any planning application has been submitted and before any environmental assessment can be carried out.

The field is highly valued by the community as a green space and has been used for many years; we believe it is also of considerable ecological importance.

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HUGE YES TO THE GREEN BELT, RESOUNDING NO TO THE CHICHELE DEVELOPMENT


On June 8th 2013, OLRG held a 'Save the Green Belt' day when more than 1,000 residents signed up to save Tandridge's beautiful green fields. We had a stand at the Donkey Derby and a stand outside Boots and these were, at times, besieged with people wanting to pledge their support. The same day, the developers Oxted Residential Limited and architects John Thompson & Partners (JTP) held an exhibition to promote their plans to build on the Chichele field. We also had a stand outside the entrance to that event. Not many people attended the developers' exhibition and, of those who did, everyone we spoke to was vehemently opposed to the proposal and determined to protect the Green Belt, coming out of the exhibition to immediately sign an OLRG objection card.

June 8th saw a fantastic demonstration of the determination there is locally to preserve the environment from destruction by developers. We would like to say a tremendous thank you to everyone who helped deliver leaflets beforehand, everyone who helped on the stands on the day, and to all those hundreds of local people who share our wish to keep Tandridge special and to preserve our green spaces.

Residents also made their views crystal clear at a meeting on June 13th when JTP presented their so called "vision" for what they want to do to the field. To see the report, and other coverage, on Get Surrey: click here

As a result of the success of the 'Save the Green Belt' day, and because of the huge concern there is about the threat to the local environment and local infrastructure, OLRG had a stand at the Oxted Carnival on July 6th where, once again, large numbers of people pledged their support.

Oxted resident, Mohamed Al Fayed, has spoken of his shock at 'this appalling plan.' To read the statement on his website click here

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THE TRAFFIC SURVEY

At the end of June 2013, the developers carried out a traffic survey. It was done during a week when 90 children at St Mary's School (25%) were away at camp and more than 400 children had already left Oxted School for the summer (All upper sixth having completed their A levels and year 11 having completed their GCSEs.) See second headline. As many people pointed out, carrying out the survey at the quietest time of the school year inevitably gives an inaccurate picture of traffic flow and underplays the road safety dangers.

At the end of January 2014, the traffic sensors were back on the roads around Chichele. From Wednesday 29th to Friday 31th January, once again 90 children at St Mary's School (25%) were away on a school trip.

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INFRASTRUCTURE

People are worried that the infrastructure cannot support this level of building. There are already huge traffic problems in the area. In their application for an EIA opinion, Village Developments say the main access to the site is likely to be via the track at the junction of Chichele Road and Silkham Road, next to St Mary's School, with a secondary access option being via The Larks access to Bluehouse Lane.

There's concern, too, about the waiting time for appointments at the health centre and that the recent planning permission for 172 houses at Hurst Green will push local services to breaking point.

If you value the Green Belt in Oxted and in Tandridge District, then please join the residents group by emailing oxted.residents@btinternet.com and show your support for maintaining our precious green spaces and your opposition to the proposed development and the pressure it would put on local infrastructure like health services and roads/parking as well as affecting catchment areas for Oxted schools.

If the Chichele Road Green Belt planning application succeeds, it will set a precedent that will open the floodgates for planning applications on many other Green Belt sites in Oxted and in Tandridge District. The Chichele field is potentially just the beginning. Developers are targeting greenfield sites because they yield maximum profits. They see the government's new planning policy as a green light to target the Green Belt. We need to STOP the destruction now.


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CHALKPIT QUARRY - PLANNING APPLICATION SUBMITTED FOR 27 HOUSES

SEND COMMENTS TO TANDRIDGE COUNCIL AS SOON AS POSSIBLE

A planning application has now been submitted to build 27 detached houses on the quarry site.

Details can be read on the Tandridge Council website, see planning application TA/2014/741.

Comments should be sent as soon as possible to: comaps@tandridge.gov.uk

Southern Gravel Limited (SGL) say they will close the quarry for good, but only if they get the housing permission from Tandridge Council. Otherwise, they say, they will re-open the quarry which has been shut, temporarily, since September 2011.

So, they are saying take the houses or the lorries. But the site is in the Green Belt, and also within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where no development should take place unless the developer can prove that "very special circumstances" exist to justify it.

We've listed some points below for consideration in case they are helpful:


* Under Tandridge Council's current development plan there is no need to release areas of Green Belt for housing development. Tandridge has consistently exceeded its annual housing requirement and currently maintains a healthy supply of new housing opportunities (in excess of the five-year requirement). This housing development is not necessary to meet any currently identified housing requirement.


* SGL is pursuing the housing application at the same time as Surrey County Council are carrying out the Chalkpit Review to decide a new set of operating conditions for the quarry. The review affects the way SGL can operate the quarry, for example the number of lorries allowed per day, but it does not affect the underlying planning permission. SGL has a permission for the extraction of minerals and deposit of inert waste which lasts until 2042.


* OLRG is concerned that any planning permission given for a Green Belt site might set a precedent for other GB sites such as the Chichele field. The only way this would not happen is if there were what is termed "very special circumstances" for giving the permission as a one off. In August 2012, Tandridge Council asked the County Council to deal with the Review as 'a matter of urgency' because whether such special circumstances existed was likely to depend on the impact of the existing quarry use - that would only be clear when the new conditions were known. More than two years later, the County Council have still not made a decision.


* In July 2012, more than 160 letters from residents were sent in to the Review objecting to the new conditions proposed by SGL because they were much the same as the old conditions and did not propose any limit on lorry numbers. In the years before the temporary closure, the unlimited numbers of quarry lorries had become intolerable and led to major protests from residents about the extreme road safety dangers and the damage to the local environment.


* The existing planning permission requires restoration of the quarry to "amenity, conservation and agricultural grazing''. But SGL say they are not able to fund early restoration of the site unless they get the planning permission and the money from the 27 detached houses.


* The suitability, or otherwise, of Chalkpit Lane to cope with the amount of new traffic generated by the proposed development.


Comments on this application should be sent to Tandridge Council as soon as possible by emailing: comaps@tandridge.gov.uk

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OLRG has 1700+ members but bigger is better if it wants to stand a chance of being listened to.

Please do join and encourage others to join. Membership is free. All you need to do is email oxted.residents@btinternet.com or write to: Oxted & Limpsfield Residents Group, P O Box 233, Oxted Post Office, Station Road West, Oxted, RH8 9EH.

Most members are from Oxted & Limpsfield, but there are others from across northern Tandridge and anyone in the district is welcome to join. The group is solely concerned with planning matters.