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Bark Ringed old oak by Village Developments

Old Oak Ring-Barked




Tandridge District Council is currently drawing up a new Local Plan. It is reviewing the local Green Belt boundaries and deciding how many more houses should be built in the next 20 years and where they should go. The documents are due to be published in December 2015.

The Council has carried out a 'call for sites' asking developers and landowners to submit land they want to make available for housing development. Very many Green Belt sites have been submitted, including:

* field behind Chichele Road, next to St Mary's School.
* Stoney field beside St Mary's Church.
* fields behind Chalkpit Lane.
* field behind Park Road and other fields in Limpsfield.
* fields in Hurst Green and South Godstone.

As well as the loss of Green Belt, thousands more houses would put intolerable and unsustainable pressure on infrastructure such as schools, health services, roads and parking. All these, and other services, are already struggling to cope with the existing demand placed upon them by the massive amount of building that has already taken place.

There has been more new house building in Tandridge District in the last 8 years than in the whole of the Guildford Borough Council area despite Tandridge having a very much smaller population.

Tandridge Council has already commissioned one report which proposed a further 9,000 new homes - nearly four times the current requirement. Oxted & Limpsfield Residents Group engaged experts who showed that the report was flawed. The report was not accepted.

In December, a new report commissioned by Tandridge Council will be published. If it proposes a high housing figure again, large swathes of Green Belt will be at risk immediately and we need your support to defend it. The more members we have, the bigger our voice.



In a recent article in the Surrey Mirror, a former Tandridge District Councillor speaks of his fears that the Council's cash crisis will mean it decides to allow major building in the Green Belt as a way of raising money - see first headline.



We are delighted that the Planning Inspector who carried out the recent Public Inquiry has found that the current Local Plan for Tandridge (Core Strategy) is not out of date.

Hundreds of people from across Oxted and Limpsfield, and some from other areas, donated money to OLRG's Save the Green Belt appeal. It enabled us to submit compelling evidence in support of the Core Strategy and to be represented at the Inquiry by Paul Brown QC.

We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who contributed and so helped to achieve this result.

Oxted & Limpsfield Residents Group (OLRG) has achieved its key objective in that the Inspector did not reject Tandridge Council's current housing land supply figure and so has not given an immediate green light to developers for a flood of planning applications.

The Inquiry was 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 character of the district, and putting huge pressure on local schools, health services, roads and parking.

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

THE NEXT STEP: Tandridge Council is now in the process of reviewing the Core Strategy. Had the developers' challenge succeeded, it could have circumvented and pre-empted that due process.

The review will set a new housing requirement figure for the district. OLRG joined together with Caterham on the Hill Parish Council and Woldingham Parish Council to submit a large amount of evidence about the housing requirement to the Public Inquiry.

OLRG is currently taking part in the Core Strategy review process with the aim of making sure the new housing requirement figure is reasonable and proportionate and takes account of local factors as required by the government's latest planning guidance. We want it to reflect properly assessed need not developers' wishes.



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 June 2015, no planning application has been submitted for the Chichele field but one is expected at any time.



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.



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.

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.



Tandridge Council has refused planning permission for housing on the quarry site. The operator of Chalkpit Quarry, Southern Gravel Limited (SGL), had submitted a planning application to build 27 detached houses there. The decision to refuse was taken unanimously by the Council's Planning Committee.

Meanwhile, after what is now almost two and a half years, Surrey County Council has still not made a decision on the Chalkpit Review which will decide a new set of operating conditions for the quarry should it open again. It seems an extraordinary length of time to be considering a decision.


OLRG has 1800+ 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 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 northern Tandridge and anyone in the district is welcome to join. The group is solely concerned with planning matters.